English Mastiff vs Pitbull: In Choosing the Better Companion

Torn between the English Mastiff and the Pitbull? You’ll be surprised to know how many similarities they share and the differences that set them apart! Both dogs can be wonderful as long as they end up with the right owner.

Deciding over which dog to go for can be daunting. It should require long hours of research to understand how a certain breed acts as well as what lifestyle it would require. Other influential factors include preferences and taste! If you are eager to learn more about these two, you have just come to the right place. Let’s dive in!

Breed Origins

English Mastiff

The English Mastiff has been successfully developed as a domestic breed in England, however, there is more history about him before that. This colossal dog is believed to be a descendant of the Molossian Hound. Both canines are renowned to be warrior dogs who were widely used in battles. 

The English Mastiff was also not just a part of the army. Farmers took advantage of this dog and made him the guardian of the flocks. Unsurprisingly, his presence dispelled lurking predators and wild animals. There is a huge disparity regarding his past and modern size. It is believed that the English Mastiff was much smaller but then, his size gradually turned into what we commonly see today.

Just like the other dog breeds, he faced a great crisis when two world wars occurred. Famine deprived them of acquiring the appropriate amount of food and they slowly vanished. To reignite the breed, two English Mastiffs from Canada were used.


Pitbulls descended from Terriers and Bulldogs and such a term has been first used in 1927. Dogs from the said combination line came into North America in the 1870s, yet they are originally from England and they all have such a bloody history.

Pitbulls were mainly used for entertainment by the struggling classes. Bloodsports were prevalent and the said dog was always a participant. Often, bears and bulls are placed in the arena and about two dogs are set loose to harass the pitted animal. When dog fights got banned eventually, Pitbull-type breeders attempted to have their creation to be recognized by the prestigious American Kennel Club (AKC).  However, due to the dog’s association with dog fights, the proposal was quickly turned down.

Presently, the Pitbull has earned a bad light due to being the primary choice of criminal organizations to guard drugs such as narcotics and to intimidate civilians. Several groups tried to re-brand this type of dog as a family companion, but it has been unsuccessful until now. 

Size, Appearance, & Coloring

English Mastiff

Known for its size, the English Mastiff is deemed to be the largest of all known breeds. You can easily spot this dog thanks to his common features such as his mysterious black mask that cover almost his entire face. His eyes are brown and his nose, black. His ears are black as well and they look small as they rest gracefully up high on his head. 

English Mastiffs are known to be heavy droolers due to their loose and saggy jowls. The overall body is described to be bulky, muscular, and proportionate. His tail tapers at the end and it moves gaily when his mood is uplifted. All his feet are robust with his front ones looking straight and the hindlegs slightly angular and powerful.

The English Mastiff’s natural colors only include three which are:

  • Fawn
  • Brindle
  • Apricot 


Photo from: pittzhub (IG)

Pitbulls are easily identifiable since they all share the same athletic and sinewy look. In some cases, other dogs would look more muscular and intimidating. There isn’t one absolute mold for a Pitbull to fit in observing how some can be wider while the rest are leaner. 

The Pitbull’s eyes are descriptively almond in shape which can be dark brown, hazel, or green. His neck is heavy, broad, and muscular, while his tail tapers on the end. Often, some Pitbull owners opt to crop their dog’s ears for cosmetic purposes or misinformed medical reasons. This can be a very painful experience for a young Pitbull hence why the practice is highly discouraged.

The size of a Pitbull varies from medium to large, but no matter the size, his looks give off a sort of impression toward onlookers. When it comes to coat colors, there is a lot of possibilities which are:

  • Black
  • Brindle
  • White
  • Fawn
  • Grey
  • Tan
  • Blue
  • Red
  • Brown 


English Mastiff

This giant dog is one of the most loyal breeds you’ll ever get. While being faithful and protective are two of his original keystone traits, breeders have successfully ingrained gentleness in his nature. 

Serious, behaved, and dignified. These are what you’ll usually behold from the great English Mastiff. He adores kids and won’t mind playing with them. Even though he loves interaction, supervision is still necessary considering how big he is. Unwanted injuries or accidents may potentially happen and these can be prevented through monitoring.

Despite being such a sweetheart to his family, this old dog is aloof and wary toward strangers. Should there be visitors for the day, make sure you introduce them properly to each other. Good behavior will show from this breed if he grew up with adequate socialization training. 


One misconception most people have toward the Pitbull is that he is an aggressive dog. However, the American Temperament Test Society shows that this canine ranks high when it comes to being affectionate and least aggressive. There may be cases of Pitbull attacks worldwide, but this shouldn’t be a blanket statement to describe them all negatively.

The truth is, Pitbulls are simple. They are hilariously smart, sweet, and strongly loyal to their owners. They would only need the right person who can understand them and help bring out their excellent behaviors. Although Pitties love people, owners should be cautious about introducing other dogs. Pitbulls may have a strong dislike when other canines are near them, but this can be mellowed through training and socialization. 

Trainability & Intelligence Level

English Mastiff

By human standards, the English Mastiff won’t be tagged as the most intelligent canine of all. This doesn’t mean, however, that he’s dumb or incapable of picking up commands. The English Mastiff is smart for all the right reasons. Although he may seem stubborn, certain ways can be fixed or done to encourage him to obey.

Challenging training and drills are what catch the interest of the English Mastiff. But, even though he’s stimulated, each session has to be kept short considering his short attention span. Sensitive by nature, you should never speak harshly toward this dog. Rather, praise him when he deserves it or reward him with treats and pets to encourage his good behavior. 


Photo from: brianpk51 (IG)

Training won’t be overwhelming when you deal with a Pitbull. He is a people-pleaser and would do just anything to make his owner happy. With his ability to learn quickly, it is undeniable that this dog is smart. Sharp, alert, and agile. The Pitbull is ready to take in any commands. 

Treats and other positive reinforcements remain to be important so he’d associate obedience with rewards. He’ll be more encouraged to make drills easier for you to conduct which at the same time, is a means to improve your bond. Since Pitbulls have a great amount of strength and speed, they will do well in agility or flyball classes.

Exercise Needs

English Mastiff

All English Mastiffs are genetically predisposed to be colossal, yet, their sheer size is a great factor that affects their life span. Such a breed only gets to live 6 to 10 years, so owners are encouraged to keep their dogs’ weight down. 

An hour of daily exercise either by walking or letting him navigate the yard is enough. You can also include occasional swimming activities if he loves to play in the water. One thing to always remember is that this dog breed should never be exhausted or persuaded to jump around since this can damage his joints. 

Puppies are more fragile and vulnerable to future health issues if they sweat out overly. Their high levels of energy should be redirected to milder tasks for the sake of their joints.


Getting to sweat off will make any Pitbull happy. At least 1 to 2 hours of daily exercise will not just make his mood lighter but as well as his body healthier. 

In every activity that you give him, it is best if you accompany him. He’ll be delighted to see you share the same fun he experiences! Don’t just open the door and let him rush out the yard. Bonding with your Pitbull as often as you can makes him the best family companion.

Coat Maintenance

English Mastiff

Grooming frequency highly depends on the kind of lifestyle you’ve indulged your English Mastiff to. Dogs who are fond of laying around in the mud would need baths after, but those who like to remain clean can be washed every 6 to 8 weeks. Brushing his short coat should be done every week to help remove loose hairs and to promote a healthy coat and skin. Never forget to check his ears for wax build-up, teeth for calculus and tartar, and nails for overgrowth.


Pitbulls don’t require lots of grooming. However, this doesn’t mean that you’ll just leave his coat untouched. He still needs to be brushed a few times per week and baths when deemed necessary. Since his coat is easy to handle, washing him won’t have to be done too long. 

In choosing products, make sure that he gets mild shampoos to prevent his skin from getting dry. Check his other body areas as well to ensure his overall health such as the teeth, ears, nails, and anal glands.

Health Problems

English Mastiff

All breeds of dogs are prone to medical issues no matter how healthy they are. This is why appropriate lifestyle and regular vet check-ups should be done to help lengthen your dog’s life. The English Mastiff, in particular, can be stricken by a few possible health problems which can be:

  • Subaortic stenosis
  • Pulmonic stenosis
  • Mitral dysplasia
  • Cardiomyopathy 


Pitbulls tend to live a long life span of 12 to 14 years. Despite being generally healthy, they remain to be largely vulnerable to bone diseases such as:

  • Hip dysplasia
  • Kneecap dislocation
  • degenerative myelopathy

Other kinds of ailments can be found from this type as well and they are:

  • Congenital heart defect
  • Thyroid problems
  • Skin problems

Breed Popularity

Between the English Mastiff and the Pitbull, only the Mastiff is recognized by the AKC. He consistently ranks 29th out of 200 breeds when it comes to popularity in the United States. As for the Pitbull, his fame is not certain, but if he’s compared with other strong breeds, the said dog comprises about 20% of the total dog population in the US. 

Entertaining Facts

English Mastiff

  1. English Mastiffs were originally bred to fight and guard fields.
  2. The oldest Mastiff to have ever lived is Kush from Australia.
  3. Zorba made the English Mastiff breed the largest in terms of mass as he reached a whopping 343 pounds!


  1. Pitbulls are excellent at work and rescue jobs.
  2. Despite the bad reputation, Pitbulls can be used as therapy dogs!
  3. Fascinatingly enough, they can climb walls.

Which Dog Is Right for You?

Assessing what you’re looking for in a dog will help you in determining. There is a huge discrepancy between the English Mastiff and the Pitbull when it comes to energy levels, life expectancy, exercise needs, temperament, and size. This is what makes them unique from each other. Whatever lifestyle you have that is closely appropriate for any of them, that alone will tell you which one is right for you.