by   David Hancock

CHAPTER 2                                   

The English Mastiff

                  "The mastiff is a huge, stubborn, ugly and impetuous hound."
                       'Description of England' by William Harrison, 1586.

"Mastiffs were still kept as guard-dogs, but their value in hunting disappeared with the wild boar."
'The English Squire and his Sport' (Chapter 2 - The Later Middle Ages) by Roger Longrigg (Michael Joseph, 1977).

The Dogge of England
  "And what should they know of England who only England know?" wrote Kipling perceptively. "And what should they know of the mastiffs of England who only of modern breeds know?" might well be equally true and just as perceptive. Many books on the surviving mastiff breeds tell us plenty about the Deutsche Dogge, the German Mastiff or Great Dane, and the Dogue de Bordeaux or French Mastiff. But not many tell us the story of the Englische Dogge or Mastiff of England, most prized hunting mastiff in Central Europe in medieval times. Cox, writing in 1674, described how the King of Poland 'hath a great race of English Mastiffs' which 'are brought up to play upon greater Beasts.' As already discussed, until the thirteenth century in England, a mastiff-type dog was called a 'docga', an Old English word, still retained on mainland Europe as dogge in Germany, dogue in France, dogg in Sweden and dogo in Spain. The master-engraver Riedinger portrayed the Englische Dogge at the end of the 17th century. No one claimed them as a breed, dogs then being bred for function not form, and never to a closed gene pool. German writers had no doubt about the prowess of the English dog, as these two quotes reveal:

"He was very fond of hunting and chasing; every morning at one o'clock, surrounded by his huntsmen and horsemen, he went forth...He had with him some English dogs, such as Ball, Turk, Anhalt and the young Weckuff, which later was his favourite and even slept in his bedroom; he was snow-white, with a red spot on the ear and on the back of the head; he was a faithful dog, and what he seized he held."
Wilhelm Buch, writing on Prince Phillip of Hesse, (1505-67).

"Besides the Englische Doggen which are the largest, there are the Baren and Bullenbeisser, which, in comparison with the Englische Dogge, are much smaller, so, in fact, that they can crawl beneath them without touching..."
Heinrick Wilm Doebel, Huntsman Practica, 1746-86.

This Mongrel Mastiff 

Those wishful thinkers seeking a long and pure ancestry for the Mastiff would be wise to ignore the absurd claims of English Victorian breed enthusiasts and accept that in previous centuries the Mastiff was, in modern terms, a very large mongrel. 'Idstone', writing in his 'The Dog' of 1871, states: "We cannot visit a fair or market in any provincial town without observing this mongrel Mastiff on guard amongst the travellers' carts, generally brindled, frequently blazed...and blended with the Greyhound." In his A General History of Quadrupeds of 1790, Thomas Bewick records: "The Mastiff, in its pure and unmixed state, is now seldom to be met with. The generality of Dogs distinguished by that name, seem to be compounded of the Bull-Dog, Danish Mastiff, and the Ban-Dog." His words should be heeded by those claiming a long and pure ancestry for the modern breed. Such dogs were recklessly brave, many being killed by their quarry. Eventually there came a separation between the running mastiffs or alauntes gentil/veutreres, rather like today's Great Dane and the Dogo Argentino, and the 'killing' mastiffs or matins/mastini/alauntes of the butcheries. The former were par force hounds, used in the chase, the latter were used, rather like the infantry in warfare, to close with and kill the quarry. In France the word 'vautre' was eventually used exclusively for boarhounds. Cotgrave defines the 'vaultre' as "a mongrell betweene a hound and a for the chase or hunting of wild Beares and Boares."

Mixed Blood

 Famous names on early Mastiff breeding records indicate the remarkable mixture behind the breed. The esteemed 'Couchez' was in fact an Alpine Mastiff; Waterman's 'Tiger' was a Great Dane from Ireland. Lukey's 'Pluto' and 'Countess' were reportedly 'of Thibet Mastiff type'. The Mastiff breeder HD Kingdon, writing in Webb's Dogs of 1883, mentions "breeders who insist no mastiff has a pedigree of forty years' standing, and who have 'manufactured' for our shows a big cross-bred dog that...has been exhibited ”under the name of mastiff." James Watson, in his The Dog Book of 1906, wrote, and I believe he is quite right, that: "The patent facts are that from a number of dogs of various types of English watchdogs and baiting dogs, running from 26" to "29" or perhaps 30" in height, crossed with continental dogs of Great Dane and of old fashioned St Bernard type, the mastiff has been elevated through the efforts of English breeders to the dog he became about twenty years ago." Those last few words are important; the ‘dog he became’ especially.

Ancestor Blood

 An acceptance of that view would allow Mastiff breeders to be more vigilant in watching out for the blood of an ancestor breed coming through too strongly. HD Kingdon wrote, again in Webb's Dogs of 1883: "We do not believe in the purity of mastiffs over thirty inches..." I support that; the universal mastiff type is between 24" and 28" at the shoulder; the flock guarding breeds are bigger and I suspect it is their blood, i.e. that of the smooth St Bernard and the Tibetan Mastiff, which have produced this size increase in the Mastiff. In his British Dogs of 1888, Hugh Dalziel writes that "I do not care to consider whether they were manufactured twenty years ago or have an unspotted lineage from the Flood...although we may produce a fine dog by a mixture of breeds, we cannot have a Mastiff unless that blood is allowed to predominate..." In other words, type matters!

Manifestations of Crosses

 The longer coat of the Alpine Mastiff, the Great Dane cranium and the Tibetan Mastiff's upward-curving tail and thicker heavier coat have already surfaced to the detriment of true Mastiff type. Breed type once lost takes decades of devoted breeding to restore. In his The Practical Dog Book of 1931, the much respected Edward Ash recorded: "In 1867 we read that the Mastiff was being crossed with the Bulldog in order to get a shorter face, for the Mastiff head then was a longer head than was desired. Bloodhounds were also used. The heads became narrow, the eyes sunken and the haw exaggerated." In his The Dogs of the British Islands of 1878, 'Stonehenge' wrote: "A much worse stain in the pedigree of the mastiff is the cross with the bloodhound..." But so many contemporary show ring Mastiffs resemble in outline the early importations of the smooth St. Bernard, only the solid fawn coat reveals the advertised breed. Is this really what the famed Mastiff of England should be like? Is the fawn coat just the colour favoured in the show ring? This, I discuss later in the book.

Mistaken Mentions

 There is plenty of evidence to show that the Mastiff, the English breed of that name, has not always been enriched by the breeders who bred it or the breed historians who wrote about it. Flowery accounts have been composed on how it was brought to Britain by the Phoenicians, without a shred of evidence to back them up. Every mention of the word 'mastiff' in historical documents has been instantly interpreted as referring to the modern breed, whereas the word 'mastiff' itself, for several centuries, meant any large mongrel or huge formidable dog, regardless of coat colour, shape of skull or function. In The Journals of Two Travellers in England in Elizabethan and Early Stuart Times, edited by P. Razzell in 1998, one of the travellers gives his account of one experience: “In the middle of this place a large bear on a rope was bound to a stake; then a number of great English mastiffs were brought in…On leaving we descended the steps, went behind the theatre and saw the English mastiffs, of which there were one hundred and twenty together in one enclosure, each chained up to his own kennel however.” This should be regarded, not as evidence of the Mastiff breed, but as a description of very large baiting dogs, no doubt strong-headed and physically powerful. The writer might well have described them as huge bull-dogs, well known in the baiting rings of those times.

More Precise Breed Title

 This confused background in no sense degrades the modern breed of Mastiff, it merely indicates a lack of wisdom in its fanciers. I would much prefer the breed to be called the English Mastiff, for that is what it is. The Pointer is similarly inadequately named; British breeders made it what it is and there are a dozen breeds in the world bred and trained to point unseen game. There are German, French, Spanish and Portuguese pointers - why can't we claim the fine breed, by name, which we created? Similarly with the Mastiff; there are a dozen mastiff breeds in the world. Why can't we claim ours? Was it Victorian arrogance which took the view that the only real pointers and mastiffs were here and decided that the noun was good enough by itself? There seems also a strange reluctance to prize breeds of dog with ‘English’ in their title; we have lost the English Water Spaniel and the English White Terrier for example.

Conserving the Genuine Breed

 Mastiff breeders have to conduct very careful breeding programmes if the real breed characteristics are to be preserved. The breed was re-established after the Second World War with a relatively tiny gene pool. It would be wise too to accept that the modern breed was actually re-created at the end of the last century, by including the blood of Alpine Mastiffs (like smooth St Bernards), Tibetan 'Mastiffs' of uncertain breeding, Great Danes with dodgy pedigrees and the biggest Mastiffs to hand. In his The Dogs of the British Islands of 1878, the celebrated 'Stonehenge' wrote: "Now the point to which I wish to draw attention is, that both Couchez and L'Ami came direct from the Convent of Mount St Bernard. The mighty dogs which used to be kept at Chatsworth (and one of which stood 34" at the shoulder) were pure Alpine mastiffs, as also were the two magnificent animals I have mentioned as having seen at Bill George's kennel some sixteen years ago..." From such a mixed background, is it surprising when features turn up in litters that evoke misguided cries of ‘outside blood’.

Protecting Type

 These dogs were the foundation stock of the modern breed. When long coats crop up in the breed, it should be an automatic disqualification (although one Mastiff breeder at Crufts once told me she 'rather liked them'!) In Henry Webb's Dogs: their points, whims, instincts and peculiarities of 1883, it's recorded that the distinguished animal painter Earl sought to paint the Lyme Hall Mastiff 'Barry' because this dog "so completely brought out, by comparison, the evidence of the impurity of many of the show dogs he had been painting, and, by contrast, so showed the bull and bloodhound crosses in most of them..." A Bloodhound head, with its giant ears and sunken eyes, or the Bulldoggy (brachycephalic) look, with its foreshortened muzzle and excessive wrinkle, should be avoided like the plague. Both, once accepted, take years of dedicated breeding to remove. In his The Conformation of the Dog of 1957 (Popular Dogs), RH Smythe writes: "Once the brachycephalic strain is introduced it is seldom completely bred out again. Its existence is associated with a special endocrine (glandular) mechanism which influences temperament, eye placement and eye shape." In other words it brings in a very different type in both mental and physical forms.

Foreign Type

 In his The History of the Mastiff of 1886, MB Wynn wrote: "The English mastiff has not been so much improved as some people ignorantly think, it has simply been resuscitated, and in some instances from very doubtful blood..." 'Doubtful blood' has a nasty habit of coming through, at some stage. Wynn was scathing about the often-praised Mastiff breeder Lukey, writing that: "It should be a significant warning to modern breeders that in crossing, he introduced a foreign and distinct type, and ignorantly made use of the male offspring arising therefrom, thereby losing his old type..." Today's breeders appear to have lost the 'old type' if depictions of the latter are at all accurate. The Mastiff judge at the Windsor show in 2003 gave the view that: "When I last judged two years ago, there were still a number of the older type around, but on this occasion, I was stunned to see what was almost a different breed."
The Advent of 'Crown Prince'
It is said by some that the advent of a Mastiff called 'Crown Prince' is responsible for many of the problems in the breed. He became a champion and a much sought after sire, even with his light eyes, Dudley-coloured foreface, straight hocks, short body, poor movement, very short muzzle, unattractive colour and huge out of proportion skull. In Hutchinson's Dog Encyclopaedia of 1934 he is described as 'the worst influence which ever operated on the breed.' The writer then went on to state that: "Another point on which breeders have been much deceived is the undue search for wrinkle." The American Mastiff expert, William Wade, writing in The American Book of the Dog of 1891, gave the view that: “These dogs (i.e. Mastiffs like Turk, DH) had long muzzles, deep and blunt, showed general symmetry and vigor, and were succeeded by the ‘Crown Prince dispensation’ of puggy, undershot muzzles, straight hocks, flabby obesity and a lack of vigor.” He could have been writing today! Do dog breeders learn from past mistakes?

'Dancing into the Ring'

 In his The Complete Book of the Dog of 1922, Robert Leighton wrote: "It is to be deplored that ever since the era of Crown Prince there has been a perceptible diminution in the number of good examples of this fine old English breed...The difficulty of obtaining dogs of unblemished pedigree and superlative type may partly account for this decline..." In his Dogs since 1900 of 1950,  Croxton Smith wrote of Colonel Walker's kennel: "He was a steadfast adherent of the older stamp of dog and did not approve of the short face that became fashionable in a few years. He guarded his strain zealously, rarely going outside for breeding stock and if that became necessary he examined minutely the pedigrees of any dogs or bitches that were brought in. Colonel Walker laid particular stress on soundness...I can remember some of his dogs dancing into the ring with a movement that was delightful." Oh, for a latter-day Colonel Walker!

Restoring Essential Type   

 England's breed of Mastiff is famous throughout the world but no breed can live on past glories. It is the dogs of today that we must do our best for, they carry the genes to be used, or not to be used. We live in times when animal welfare rightly has a high profile. The Council of Europe threatens to legislate against the breeding of dogs to an unhealthy design, and in principle I have no quarrel with that. The pressure to win in the show ring should not influence true lovers of a breed; the future well-being of their breed is enough for the genuine breed fancier. But who is producing the immobile monsters, masquerading as Mastiffs, that I see at the World Dog Shows and, sadly, even in Britain's show rings too? This breed is principally the responsibility of UK breeders surely. Writing in Dog World in December 2009, Lynda Lyons, gave the view that: "Like any breed, the Mastiff varies in so many ways - height, bone, head, body length. However, one thing immediately noticeable is if the dog is not sound and the construction is wrong. One of the issues around this is of course when judges promotes these dogs through awarding CCs and creating champions who then go on to produce progeny which of course are also unsound."

Our 'Leal and Trusty Mastiff'

 Lloyd George once made reference to our 'leal and trusty mastiff'; leal being an old Middle English word meaning loyal and honest, trusty means reliable and faithful. Is it right to expect the breed to be loyal, honest, reliable and faithful when its breeders are not? Is it honest or loyal to breed a dog so heavy that it cannot walk with ease and enjoyment? Is it reliable and faithful to make use of a successful but wholly unsatisfactory sire like 'Crown Prince'? At what stage do a group of enlightened breeders say 'Enough is enough, our dogs are not true to their distinguished heritage?' A Mastiff called Monarch, owned by Green, has a good case for being regarded as the pillar of the studbook; he was one of most substantial and best proportioned dogs ever exhibited but it's rare to see his name praised or even mentioned in Mastiff breed histories.
Encouraging Examples
 Not surprisingly, I do see Mastiffs that give me hope for the future. Lesley Thomas's Albert is my favourite, a sound and commendably athletic dog. From the ringside I see show dogs that impress: Beverley Reeder's Santmichal Verdi Requiem at Verzon (bred by the Rischmillers), Elaine Knight's Klanzmun Tiberius at Cyberus and Susan Hill's April Queen of Sobriety. Some of the American show dogs have better movement and construction than most of ours. But I hear talk of some disgruntled fanciers there, fed up with unsound types, looking for an outcross to the Anatolian Shepherd Dog in order to produce what they term an 'American Mastiff'. If they succeed in developing a sounder Mastiff, good for them, but type may be illusive for a while. No doubt the died-in-the-wool Mastiff breeders worshipping the god of pure-breeding at any cost will pour scorn upon them and oppose their plans. If a healthier Mastiff emerges from such an outcross, would that not be admirable? 

Ugly Brutes

 Concern about the wisdom of breeding Mastiffs to a flawed design is hardly new. Writing on the Mastiff in The American Book of the Dog of 1891, William Wade made these remarks about the Breed Standard cast by MB Wynn: "If you interpret this standard and scale of points with strictness in every particular, and breed to it faithfully, you will get dogs that will be, bodily at least, all you want, and it may be mentally; but if because the scale allots forty points in a hundred to head properties, you magnify that forty to ninety nine, and condone weak loins, straight hocks, too short bodies, weak joints, and frightfully undershot muzzles, as weighing nothing against 'that grand head', you will probably get waddling, ugly brutes that will never rise above the position of prize-winners under 'fancy' judges." Prophetic words! The judge's critique for the Mastiff classes at a 2006 Championship Show started with: "A few quality examples of the breed appeared but the number of untypical specimens with major constructional faults and appalling movement gave much food for thought." In Dog World in September 2009, breed expert Betty Baxter was writing, on the History of the Mastiff: "So what of today? Looking at the dogs in the ring now, so many faults become apparent and the worst of them, to my way of thinking, are the weak hindquarters, straight stifles and lack of width in the second thigh. Hindquarters appear weak, and there is no proper drive and power on the move for many Mastiffs."

'Sorry Protectors'

 Can you imagine the King of Poland sending for the Mastiff of today to hunt boar and bear, as Nicholas Cox in his The Gentleman's Recreation of 1674 relates that he once did? In his Modern Dogs of 1894, Rawdon Lee wrote: "Some of our modern mastiffs of the Crown Prince strain would, I am afraid, have made but sorry protectors for an English warrior who lay grievously wounded on the field of Agincourt." Would his words not, sadly, be fair once again today? Surely there are patriotic Englishmen out there both willing to and capable of restoring the king of our native breeds to its historically correct, more athletic form? In 2009, Carl Bael, a Belgian Mastiff breeder, wrote to a breed newsletter to say that he and Dutch breeder Hans Rosingh will not be coming to English shows any more because our Mastiffs are so bad and they have far better at home. What a commentary on English breeders!
A Damaged Breed
 Why did 19th century breeders inflict so much damage on the breed of Mastiff? Why did 20th century breeders continue this regrettable trend? Why are 21st century breeders condoning this and even perpetuating such harm to their breed? Mastiff breeders of today need to ask themselves these questions if the breed they favour is going to survive contemporary welfare and financial pressures. Breed club officials in this very special breed must also be willing to debate whether the breed clubs themselves have, over the years, done as much damage to this famous breed as did the inexplicable use of the seriously-flawed sire Crown Prince in the 19th century. His wholly unsound, totally untypical imprint still lies on the breed. Do today's breeders want a fawn St Bernard (the Alpine Mastiff type, once favoured at Chatsworth) or the descendent of a renowned hunting dog, famed throughout Western Europe four centuries ago for its use as a hound.

Unfit for Role

 In his masterly British Dogs of 1888, the esteemed Hugh Dalziel wrote: "In recent years, a desire for immense bulk seems to have led exhibitors of Mastiffs to obtain this by fleshiness rather than increase of frame. This is done at a loss of symmetry and activity of action; and so over-fat are some Mastiffs when exhibited that, far from suggesting that they are a race of dogs of war, their appearance shows they would be of use only to the commissariat department of an army when besieged." Has anything changed in one hundred years? Breeders with courage, vision, skill and dedication to a breed and its heritage are now urgently needed if the next one hundred years are to see this magnificent breed restored to its former glory and hard-earned fame. What a superb challenge for any breed devotee! Sic vos non vobis!              

We need a new Breed Standard and one worded to produce a heavy hound, for that is what our Mastiff truly is.
(First Draft)


Phenotypal Word Picture

 The Mastiff breed comes from a sporting background, used as a running mastiff in the medieval hunt; once this role lapsed, as the hunting of big game became either a tracking skill, following the development of firearms, or a pack task, the breed lost its founding role and became a guard/companion breed. This breed needs size with strength; it is fundamentally different from the Livestock Protection Dogs, like the Pyrenean Mountain Dog, requiring the bone and bulk to withstand the elements and the long distance walking involved in transhumance. The Mastiff needed muscularity, dash, athleticism and sheer power; it was never bred for beef! The bigger the dog, the greater the need for soundness; a huge hound needs power on the move, great physical coordination, a well-balanced anatomy and should be prized for its muscularity ahead of its height and weight.  
The following word picture is designed to honour the breed's first role, a role that shaped both its anatomy and its nature:
Sporting Role: To seize and hold big game, such as auroch, bison, boar and wild bulls.
Working Role: To pin wayward cattle, to drive stubborn stock, to provide support for butchers and cattle farmers; to patrol estates and ranches, detaining poachers and rustlers, to guard property.
General Appearance: A powerfully-built, well-muscled, broad-mouthed but not short--muzzled, short-haired, heavy hound, just over two feet high at the shoulder; coat colour: the dilutions of black (fawn, brindle, red tan, apricot, etc.,) black or black brindle, with white markings, pied - embraced by the gene pool; usually featuring a black mask and muzzle on the lighter coats; active, athletic, symmetrical, formidable-looking and hinting at great power and muscular athleticism. Never over-boned or exhibiting sluggish movement.
Characteristics: Bold, confident and protective, without unwanted aggression, naturally inquisitive, physically and mentally reliable, possessing great stamina yet able to produce bursts of dynamic energy, alert and eager to learn, devoted to its own family but suspicious of strangers, tolerant of other dogs, impressively magnanimous. Not noisy by nature.
Temperament: Mentally stable, utterly trustworthy with children, spirited at times but mainly calm and phlegmatic, showing no sign of shyness or needless apprehension, able instinctively to discern between acceptable human activity and that warranting suspicion. Can be diffident when young.
Aptitude: Willingness to investigate suspicious activity, able to track, prepared to tackle quarry without hesitation but under control, possessing the instinct to seize and hold or 'pin' its quarry.
Construction: Must have the anatomy of a heavy hound, powerful but agile, strongly-made but never heavy-boned in a cumbersome way, really broad in the chest with the ribs carried well back, strong in the neck and powerful in the head, with most of the weight on the forehand, showing appreciable width and ample length in the muzzle. A balanced dog with a low station. Capability of powerful movement apparent.
Forefront: The head was designed for seizing and gripping sizeable quarry, it therefore needs: a jaw with width and length - at least one third of the whole head length, the jaws closing in a scissor bite, with well-formed strong even teeth. The Mastiff should not feature a massive head, with its accompanying whelping problems, undershot jaws, with its tendency to exaggerate itself with each generation, too short a muzzle, with its loss of gripping power and concomitant dentition problems or excessive loose skin on the cheeks and foreface, flews or dewlaps; these are show ring whims not the requirements of a functional holding dog. The 'stop' is appreciable but not too deep or abrupt (associated with cleft palate). The nose is wide, displaying well-developed nostrils; the eyes are full, tight and dark. The ears are soft-leathered, high set, drop, neither large nor pendulous. The neck is extremely powerful, strongly muscled, clean without throatiness, sweeping into the shoulders without coarseness. A low head carriage on the move is characteristic, the occipital foramen, through which the spinal cord emerges, is placed a little lower in the skull in this type of dog.
Forehand: The shoulder blades are long and set well apart; the shoulders are well laid back, sloped to allow the seeking of ground scent without difficulty; the upper arm is of sufficient length to allow good forward extension; the elbows fit closely but the 'elbow slash' controls the degree of forward reach; the forelegs are straight when seen from the front but show a forward slope of pastern when seen from the side, to allow spring when jumping and landing, an important feature in a heavy active dog. The forelegs should not be over-timbered, with strong flat bone preferred to round heavy bone. The feet are oval and sizeable, wolf-like, with strong toes, robust pads and sturdy nails.
Torso: The chest is really broad, deep and well-sprung; the body is compact but with a good length of ribcage; the underline of the abdomen shows discernible but not appreciable tuck-up; the loins are wide, slightly arched and strongly muscled; the top-line is level, with the length from point of shoulder to point of buttock being more than the height at the withers.
Hindhand: The croup is slightly lower than the withers, falling away gently towards the root of tail. The hindquarters are extremely powerfully muscled, with well let down hocks, a distinct turn of stifle, and straight legs when seen from the rear; The feet are oval - wolf-like, compact without being bunched, with strong tough durable pads and sturdy nails, which must not be brittle. The tail has a thick root, not set too high and carried low. A tail which is set on too high indicates too flat a placement of the croup or sacrum, so often accompanied by straight stifles and then the inevitable slipping kneecaps.
Movement: This should demonstrate obvious power, with a strong action, powerful drive from the rear, with minimal leg lift and obvious economy of effort, based on good coordination of front and rear actions. The forelegs must retain separation when moving, so that the dog remains balanced. Heavy dogs should not 'pull' themselves along, but drive themselves along. The heavier the dog then the greater the importance of balance and sound movement, which indicates, more than any human visual judgement, sound construction. Hunting mastiffs had to have the stamina to accompany mounted hunters and the sprinting power to dash forward and seize their quarry, unlike scent-hounds that bayed their prey.
Coat: Colour; the dilutions of black, i.e. rich tan, apricot, red, fawn, brindle, with small white markings, usually on the chest. Black mask, eye rims, nails and lips desired. Solid black and pied coats can occur quite legitimately in the Mastiff, and should be treasured in the pursuit of genetic diversity.
Texture: short, hard, dense; softer on the head and ear leathers.
Size: Height at withers: from 28 inches upwards; height not bred for ahead of
Weight: from 100lbs upwards; always commensurate with height.
Size without soundness has no merit!
Faults: Disqualifying; Obesity (which shortens lifespan and inhibits lifestyle).
Unwanted aggression.
Knitting, plaiting or paddling in the front action.
Over-reaching or weaving in the rear action.
Lack of 'spread' in the chest.
Cow hocks.
Wry mouth.
Visible incisors, when mouth closed.

            Serious;         Too short a muzzle.
Straight stifles.
Lack of purposeful movement.
Massive heavy bone.
Over-large heads.
Out at elbow.
Angle of the hock too closed.

            Others;          Too abrupt a 'stop'.
Poor pigmentation.
Splay feet.
Sway back.
Narrow across the hips.
Prominent eyes.
Any degree of haw.

Note: Every attempt has to be made to avoid the long-acknowledged built-in faults in the pedigree stock - dippy backs, straight stifles, limp tails, massive bone, giant heads, too large an ear, over-wrinkling and excessive dewlaps, the presence of haw, poor forward reach and a lack of drive from behind. There should be no exaggeration in any part of the breed's anatomy.   

 "...I know of no dog that stands confinement so well as the mastiff, and it is probably owing to the unfair advantage taken of this peculiarity that we see so many mastiffs deficient in legs and feet, as the result of want of exercise."
The Dogs of the British Islands  by 'Stonehenge' of 1878.

 "Although the Mastiff is not so active as some other breeds of large dogs, being much heavier built, yet he should be sufficiently so to be able to accompany his owner on a walk without showing fatigue; it is doubtful whether many of the Mastiffs exhibited of late years would be able to do this."
British Dogs  by WD Drury, 1903.

"...when the present rage for heads of immense girth, and exaggerated truncated muzzles in Mastiffs subsides, the well-knit, strong, yet active Great Dane may be used to correct the extravagantly massive and unwieldy frame that is so popular. Such a cross may give us once more a Mastiff that can gallop and take a fence with more ease than many of them now 'wobble'."
British Dogs Vol III, by Hugh Dalziel, Upcott Gill, 1897.