by   David Hancock


Safeguarding Their Future  -  The Way Ahead for the Breeds

 "In the 6th (Forest Law) of Edward the First (King of England, 1272-1307) it was ordained, if any mastiff be found on any deer, the same mastiff being expeditated (i.e. made lame), then the owner shall be quit of that deed...the mastiff in those ages was a very different animal from the massive creature of later times."
'Researches into the History of the British Dog' by George Jesse, 1866.

"In the very specialised circumstances of the Tudor animal fight, the mastiff was really very much at a disadvantage. It had never been bred, originally, as an animal-fighting dog at all. It was a hunting dog."
'The British Dog' by Carson Ritchie, Robert Hale, 1981.

Past Sacrifices - Lost Role
 More than any other group of dogs, the mastiff group has long been misused by man - directly in the baiting rings and combat arenas and indirectly, both in the barbaric medieval hunting fields and, in a gentler way but as threatening to their well-being, in the false glamour of the modern show ring. For such brave, determined, admirable dogs to be so misused is undeserved and unjust.  At man's behest, such dogs sacrificed themselves in the big game hunt, initially to provide food, then to provide sport. In many boar hunts in the Middle Ages, more dogs died than boars. Whether called beissers or bandogges, holding dogs like filas or presas, saufangers or seizers, catch-dogs or Ca de Bou, leibhunden or bull-lurchers, this type of dog has suffered at the hand of man. They may have lost their original role but must soon be recognised for what they are: the most impressive form of hunting mastiff or heavy hound imaginable. They thoroughly deserve to be bred as powerful athletic hounds and never as overweight, badly-constructed yard-dogs, valued purely for their sheer size and bulk. We should be immensely proud of their heritage and breed them to honour it. 

Hound Groups

 The Hound Group, as recognised by the Kennel Club of England, embraces a distinguished and extremely varied collection of breeds of dog. The scenthounds are well represented, from the lugubrious Bloodhound to the lively Beagle, with more foreign breeds like the Basset Fauve de Bretagne, the Petit Basset Griffon Vendeen and the Hamiltonstovare, entering the list with each decade. The sighthounds also feature strongly, from the aristocratic Afghan Hound to the once humble Whippet. The Group even includes a breed that works to the gun, the Finnish Spitz, and a breed better classified as a terrier, the Dachshund. But, as I have argued throughout this book,  there is a serious omission in this Group, that of the heavy hounds, sometimes called the hunting mastiffs.

Serious Omission

 The omission of the Great Dane, as argued in more detail earlier, once a renowned boarhound, from the Hound Group has long been not just a significant loss from the group but also a threat to the credibility of the group system itself. That omission is however much more understandable when related to the omission of the hunting mastiffs altogether. Why should wolfhounds feature in this group but not boarhounds and the heavy hounds once used to hunt other big game, such as wild bulls, buffalo, bears and even wild asses? I suspect that one reason is the influence that Victorian writers on dogs had on the emerging Kennel Club. The former offer us fascinating reading material and provide quaint quotes but their scholarship, particularly any objective corroborated research, is sadly lacking. Regrettably, such sources are always the first resort of the eager breed historian or the overnight dog expert. A fair general summary might be that the Victorian writers on dogs were all too often gundog enthusiasts only too willing to portray other breeds in their contemporary rather than their historic setting.

Wrong Groupings

 From such a background, the mastiff type became embraced by the Working Group and a breed like the Bulldog, so much a sporting dog in previous centuries, became a Utility Group breed, a description even sounding disparaging. Small wonder that this splendid breed developed more and more into an unathletic exaggeration of its former sporting self. We may thankfully not actually want our Bulldogs to bait bulls nowadays, but, to be true to their origins they should be physically capable of doing so. Most of their breed historians strangely overlook their much more valuable and ancient role as bull-pinners or butchers' aides, adapted to a shameful sport by mainly town-dwelling blood-sports enthusiasts. Our Staghounds don't hunt stags any more but are bred to a proven design to permit this. Our Borzois don't hunt wolves anymore but they retain the physical ability to do so - and expect to be judged as hounds born to run. The Bulldog seems to be judged mainly on its head.

Muddled Thinking

 Unfortunately the FCI too has got itself into a considerable muddle over the heavy hound breeds it recognises and Britain does not. The Fila Brasileiro and the Dogo Argentino, both still used as heavy hounds in their native countries, are not classified as hounds but collected together with a real hotch-potch of breeds including what they dub the Molossers, mainly the broad-mouthed breeds. Even overlooking the fact that the Molossian dog took two forms, a big flock guardian and, separately, a huge hound, and did not include the broad-mouthed breeds, such a grouping wrongly transplants the descendants of the heavy hounds into the guarding breeds. This betrays their rich heritage and seriously misleads breeders and judges of such admirable dogs. Group 2 under the FCI system includes Pinschers, Schnauzers, 'Molossian Type' and Swiss Cattle Dogs. In other words, terriers from Germany, hunting dogs from South America, a boarhound from Germany, flock guardians from the Pyrenees and the Caucasus, the mastiff breeds of Europe, the Bulldog and a water-dog from Canada, the Newfoundland, are considered to have some sort of collective bond or rational congregation. Scent-hounds are in Group 6. This means that scent-hounds like the Grand Bleu de Gascogne, the Grand Gascon-Saintongeois, the Anglo-Francais Blanc et Noir and the Francais Tricolore, all around 0.65m high are candidates for Group 6. But hounds from South America of that size are not. The Fila Brasileiro was developed from a number of breeds including the Bloodhound and the Great Dane, but is assessed by the FCI to be not a hound but purely a guarding breed. Our Kennel Club puts the Bloodhound in the Hound Group, the Great Dane in the Working Group and the Bulldog in the Utility Group. There is some very muddled thinking going on here and it can't produce judges with the desired experience or knowledge in the right rings.

Distinctive Type

 Of course the loss of function once the hunting of big game with hounds lapsed led to the disappearance of many types of heavy hound: the Bullenbeisser in Germany, the Mendelan, a huge bearhound, in Russia and the Suliot Dog in Macedonia/Greece, for example. The huge staghounds of Devon and Somerset, disbanded early in the last century, were twenty seven inches (0.68m) high and described by Dr. Charles Palk Collyns in his 'The Chase of the Wild Red Deer' as "A nobler pack of hounds no man ever saw. They had been in the country for years, and had been bred with the utmost care for the express purpose of stag-hunting...their great size enabled them to cross the long heather and rough, sedgy pasturage of the forest without effort or difficulty." Sir Walter Scott, in 'Woodstock', produces an interesting description with his words on 'Bevis': "It was a large wolf-dog, in strength a Mastiff, in form and almost in fleetness a Greyhound. Bevis was the noblest of the kind which ever pulled down a stag, tawny-coloured like a lion, with a black muzzle and feet." That, at the start of the 19th century in Britain, is a good description of the alauntes or hunting mastiffs of Gaston de Foix four hundred years earlier. Topsell, writing in 1607, stated that: "There be in France, dogs brought out of Great Britain to kill bears, wolves, and wild boars", describing such dogs as "singularly swift and strong." We have clearly lost a distinctive type of heavy hound.

Lost Breeds - Sporting Origins

 Denmark has also lost hound breeds, the Augustenborg Hunter and the Strelluf Hound, for example, but has saved the Broholmer, an ancient type of hunting mastiff. The word 'mastiff', now utilised precisely to describe a specific British breed of pedigree dog, has long been used, and misused, by scholars to describe huge fierce dogs of all types. This has allowed researchers in the breed of Mastiff to indulge in all kinds of whimsical thinking, as Adcock, Taunton, Kingdon and MacDona demonstrated a century ago. In his valuable book 'Hunting and Hunting Reserves in Medieval Scotland', John Gilbert writes of references to mastiffs in the Scottish Forest Laws; capable of attacking and pulling down deer, they wore spiked collars and were used to attack wolves and hunt boar, when they hunted to the horn. Gilbert was referring to a heavy hound not what is now the modern breed of Mastiff, whose appearance and especially its movement is scarcely hound-like. This makes a point for me. Directly you stop breeding a dog to a known function, even one long lapsed, then the breed that dog belongs to loses its way. We saw this in the Bulldog and now see it increasingly in the broad-mouthed dogs, worryingly too short in the muzzle and progressively less athletic. Their fanciers forget the sporting origins of their breed, foolishly to my mind, and pursue obsessions with heads, bone and bulk. This is not only historically incorrect but never to the benefit of the dog.

Lost Function

 The heavy hounds were highly rated in the ancient world, from China to Assyria and throughout Europe. Their function may have been overtaken by the invention of firearms and the march of time, but those which survive should not be insulted by being bred as unathletic yard-dogs, described as 'Utility' breeds and removed from the sporting division, to be lumped with the herding breeds or sled-dogs. The Hound Group both in the FCI and the Kennel Club interpretation urgently needs a truly radical rethink. Showing dogs may be rooted in appearance ahead of performance but the function any breed was developed for must have the primary influence on its design, its anatomy and its physical capability. Judging dogs on their appearance without regard for their purpose gives scope to the faddists, permits exaggeration and allows the less well-informed fanciers to get lost and misled. The dawning of a new millennium allows us to benefit from a faster pace of scientific progress, a more enlightened attitude to subject creatures and greater respect for heritage. This must gradually restore common sense to the breeding of famous breeds based on a new respect for their immense service to primitive man in his ceaseless struggle for survival. This can only lead to a revival of interest in what breeds were bred for.  The functional ability of breeds has to be re-emphasized. The reverence allotted to pedigree needs to be questioned; blindly repeating the immediate past, whilst overlooking what went before is not honest.
Recasting the Pedigree Recording System
The last few years have been momentous in the world of the domestic dog. The canine genome has been unravelled, the dog's DNA analysed, health clearances are increasingly available and quarantine relaxed. But if you study the records of just over a century ago, the French expression, 'deja vu', comes to mind; there is that illusory feeling of having already experienced a contemporary happening. A glance at the dog scene of 1883 provides all the material to explain that nostalgic sensation.  In a letter to the Kennel Gazette of that year, a Gordon Setter breeder boasts that his bitch 'had eleven whelps on the 2nd of January 1883, eleven more on the 18th of July following, and that she is in whelp again, and due to pup January 25th (1884)'.  Over-breeding is no new phenomenon. In the same issue of the Kennel Gazette, the Old English Mastiff Club adopted 'The Points of the Mastiff', which required a massive body, a short muzzle, small eyes, heavy shoulders and very large bones in the forelegs. Such requirements still afflict this breed today. 
In 1883 too, Dean and Son published a further edition of the first dog book to contain photographs of winning dogs, 'Dogs' edited by Henry Webb.  Webb records that in 1861, the dog show in Holborn attracted 240 dogs in 48 classes, but in 1871 the Crystal Palace show drew 834 entries to 110 classes. The biggest increases occurred in Pointers, Setters, Mastiffs and Fox Terriers. Terriers were classed as non-sporting dogs. Keepers' Night-dogs, the Bullmastiffs of today, and Harriers were both recognised and shown. Webb wrote of Skye Terrier classes for short and long-coated varieties and drop-eared and prick-eared varieties too. The breed was then required to be 'three times as long as he is high'. It is not difficult to see where the exaggerations started, although today the breed is expected to be only twice as long as it is high. There could so easily have been a 'Norfolk/Norwich' Terrier situation in the breed over ear-carriage, but both sets are tolerated today.
Varying Nomenclature
The Field Magazine of 1883 covered dog shows very comprehensively, their editor acting as a judge at some. This sporting magazine covered the Ostend Dog Show, attended by British exhibitors, and the appearance in English field trials of Pointers and Setters from the United States. With progress, we might one day be able to achieve the latter again! It is noteworthy that Great Danes were termed German Mastiffs at one dog show, Boarhounds at another and German Boarhounds or Saufangers (literally pig-catchers) at the Essex Agricultural Show, all in the space of a few months. Nowadays Great Danes are still denied their hound ancestry and languish in the Working Group. But once again British exhibitors can now enter dogs at a show held in Ostend.  
A number of breeds now lost to us featured at the 1883 shows, the English White Terrier and the English Water Spaniel among them. Rather than touring the world looking for exotic breeds to import as kudos-earning novelties, perhaps one day a patriotic breeder will attempt to re-create these lost native breeds; it would be timely and deserved. We have gained some admirable foreign breeds, it is undeniably true. But  I would be better pleased to see the admirable Harrier restored to the list of recognised breeds, along with born-again English breeds like our lost Water Spaniel and White Terrier. Is every foreign breed being favoured here truly more meritorious? Do we not care about our canine heritage?
In the last 120 years many aspects of owning and breeding dogs have changed. Some sadly have not and there is often human frailty behind such failings. What is especially disappointing is the failure of the pedigree form itself not to move with the times, respond to increased knowledge and our ability to obtain and store information. If you look at a pedigree form of 2004, it could so easily be one from 1883: five generations of names of sires and dams, nothing else. Is this Kennel Club inertia, an unwillingness of breeders to expose their shortcomings, mere laziness or a fear of progress itself? There are needs not being met here, a significant omission of any indication of quality through grading and no genetic content. Both omissions do not advance the science of dog breeding or the stated desire to improve dogs. Is a healthier breed not worth pursuing?     
Grading the Entry
We now have every facility for recording not just information on the phenotype of each pedigree dog, but the genotype too. But do we have the will? On mainland Europe, dogs examined at dog shows are not just placed in order of anatomical merit, they are graded too. This grading or classification relates to their assessment against the beau ideal for that breed; usually these grades are listed as Excellent, Very Good, Good, Satisfactory, Poor and Unsatisfactory. The top grade cannot be achieved until the dog is 2. A dog graded Excellent is considered to be exceptional, with no major faults, an admirable character and correct dentition. Unsatisfactory exhibits would be very poor specimens and be unlikely to be bred from---that is the major value of grading to me.
Why should we be afraid of such a scheme? Do we not accept that far too many poor quality pedigree dogs get bred from, partly because nobody is brave enough to tell their owners how poor they are? This system of judging may be slower but is speed-judging the best way to identify future breeding material? But a far more important omission on pedigree forms is any reference to the genetic health of the subject dog. In his most informative book Control of Canine Genetic Diseases (Howell Book house, 1998), George Padgett, himself a vet and professor of pathology, makes a compelling case for the inclusion of genetic information on pedigree forms. Such an inclusion could play a vital role in reducing the incidence of inherited diseases in breeds of dog. Is that not desirable?
Recording Genetic History
Padgett points out the need for a registry capable of recording genetic histories in registered dogs. He is wise enough to acknowledge that breeders cannot map their dogs alone. He writes: "You do not have to be around dog breeders (purebred or otherwise) very long before you realise that the vast majority of these breeders do not have the background to allow them to draw the most accurate conclusions about the genetic makeup of a phenotypically normal dog based on a disease occuring in one of its first-degree relatives." He sets out a distinct role for registries, like our Kennel Club. He also provides the view that: "We need to forget the registries we had yesterday, because it is obvious that they did not accomplish what we thought they would. It's time to get out of the 1960s and move into the new millennium." Time too surely to get away from the pedigrees of 1883 and enhance the value of registration itself.
Padgett cites the work of a group of American breeders, in the Northwest, who reduced the prevalence of Collie Eye by 38% over a three year period. He mentions the achievement of Portuguese Water Dog breeders there who all but eliminated the breed's storage-disease problem in just a few short years. He concludes that: "It is clearly time for breeders, breed clubs, the AKC and the veterinary profession to come to grips with the problem to preserve the integrity, health and well-being of our canine friends." Again and again he stresses the key role of the registry and the need for such a body to review its role in a new millennium. Whilst we rely on the same piece of paper to certify a dog's birth and the names of its ancestors as we did in 1883, we miss a golden opportunity to advance. Such things must never remain the same, they must change.
Do we truly want to be stuck in 1883 as far as the compilation of written pedigrees is concerned? Robert Louis Stevenson wrote a classic, Treasure Island, in 1883, but he produced a classic phrase two years later, the desire 'to change what we can; to better what we can...' This should be the leitmotiv of every dog breeder and dog-registry; perpetuating the past is just not good enough for dogs. Bettering the past is the real challenge. We have the technology to better the past, all we need is the will and the vision. This is an opportunity for our dog registry, the much-criticised Kennel Club, to delight us all. And what a mission statement that would make: To establish before 2013 the issue of a written pedigree for every dog registered with us, setting out the quality of its phenotype and the health of its genotype.  
The time frame should frighten no one; the information should please anyone who cares about the welfare of dogs and the integrity of breeds; the intention should impress everyone who seeks to better the lives of domestic dogs. Livestock breeders sneer at dog breeders sometimes, calling them Luddites. Breeders themselves want to enjoy a degree of freedom in their work, but surely not the freedom to breed crippled dogs. 1883 was an interesting year in dogdom; 2015 could be too. 
Protecting the Constitution
There are any number of canine terms or descriptions which over the years have either fallen into disuse or lost their meaning. Words like messet, riggot, sapling and lymer; expressions like dog-breaking, in and in breeding, saw-horse stance, sand toe and east-west action, and distinct forms of a breed like a fox collie, a Wold greyhound, an Anglesea setter and a chinchilla hound have all lapsed. There is one old-fashioned word however which could with justification be revived, the word 'constitution'. As a boy I can remember being asked by a kindly relative if my puppy had a 'good constitution.' It meant robustness, natural resilience, disease-resistance or, in old dictionaries, the natural condition of the body. Sadly, today, far too many dogs are not robust, have little natural resilience or disease-resistance and their bodies are simply not in a 'natural condition'. I have grave concerns about  the constitution of our mastiff breeds; they have lost virility.
A century ago, writers prized constitution in their dogs. The Foxhound Magazine of 1909 referred to inbreeding as a threat to it: 'a great (perhaps the greatest) factor of success in the field, namely, constitution, is lost' .The writer had found from personal experience that 'loss of constitution entails many evil consequences', listing the inability of hounds to hunt when required, increase in mortality from disease, irregularity of conformation and lack of physical development. A century later, are we breeding dogs with an enhanced constitution, what with scientifically designed food, immense advances in veterinary science, thousands of books on rearing and caring and a century and a half of dog-shows exhibiting the 'best of the very best'? Dissenters might argue that modern dog food is weakening our dogs, over-immunisation is harming our dogs and modern lifestyles punishing our dogs! An elderly vet told me recently that it was his view that today's dogs were sicklier than at any time previously. Big dogs need a sound constitution so much more than lighter smaller breeds; height and bulk make greater demands on a dog's physique.
Need and Value of New Blood
A couple of decades ago when the management of a rare breeds farm was part of my responsibilities, we crossed a wild boar with a Tamworth sow to create what we called an 'iron-age pig' . The resultant piglets were astonishingly virile, amazingly robust, remarkably precocious and just glowing with health and vitality, noticeably more so than the pure Tamworths and Gloucester Old Spots. When our pure Bagot goats became unacceptably prone to bloat, we successfully out-crossed to a Swiss breed, reducing the incidence of bloat to practically zero and producing far more robust more active kids. After three generations of breeding back to pure Bagots, every trace of outside blood had disappeared and our stock once again won at the livestock shows. When I mention this to pedigree dog breeders they pretend not to hear! We can recreate our Mastiff using Great Dane, Tibetan Mastiff and Bullmastiff blood in days gone by but we cannot let the breed benefit from outside blood today!
No Foxhound breeder would endlessly breed just from his own stock. In seeking, not just a stronger constitution, but enhanced performance, outcrosses would be introduced: to French hounds, Fell hounds, Harriers, American Foxhounds, Welsh Hounds, even Bloodhounds, as well as drafts from other unrelated packs. Breeding for function imposes such a method; but in the show dog world such thinking would instantly reveal the 'only over my dead body' school of opposition. When a BBC programme on dogs mentions the dreaded word 'eugenics' the pedigree dog breeders reach for their shotguns. Perhaps they should reach for their books on genetics. In the wider livestock world, purity of blood is only valued when it's working. Our famous breeds of dog came to us from open-minded pioneer breeders using the best blood they could and to the best purpose. To permit your breed to become paralysed by its genes is not my idea of animal welfare, not sound breeding practice and certainly not the most convincing way to demonstrate affection for a breed.
Perils of Consensus
Surrendering to consensual thinking or committing your stock to 'fashion' can never improve it. Writers in the Foxhound Magazine of 1909 had no doubt about the dangers of only breeding a 'fashionable' hound: 'We maintain the real cause is the result of loss of constitution from inbreeding, in order to obtain the requirements of the one exclusive Show standard type and the artificial characteristics necessary to the same object. ' and ...the answer is that the constitution of the fashionable hound, deteriorated by the process of inbreeding...is consequently unable to take his place in the field so frequently... ' Another contributor wrote that 'In course of time the crosses of one line of blood become so numerous that, whilst type is produced (and even that will in time fail to ensue...)...constitution is lost. ' These writers bred superb hounds, for function, and their words should not be dismissed lightly. Heavy hounds such as the mastiff group need brave and loyal breeders not mere perpetuators.
I applaud the Kennel Club's campaign to breed dogs that are 'fit for function'; if they see it through then every breed, not just the sporting ones, should benefit. In quite a significant way it could be the leading edge in a new canine fundamentalism. For dog breeders this isn't merely a change of approach, it is a moral challenge. The Czech-born writer- philosopher Milan Kundera has a message for us all when he writes: 'Mankind's real moral test, a test so radical and so deep that it escapes our gaze, is probably the one of its relations with those that are the most at its mercy: the animals.’

The Future of  Protective Dogs

  What arrogance modern man displays, and what ignorance too, in brushing aside the choice of property owners for centuries of the mastiff group as canine sentries, choosing instead breeds with quite the wrong instincts. When I see snarling police dogs or hear endlessly barking so-called "guard-dogs", I wonder why such fearful aggression is not seen through. WD Drury, in his British Dogs of 1903, wrote: "Many are under the impression that what is required in a night-dog is ferocity. No greater mistake could be made, as those who have witnessed the work of night-dogs, alike in this country and abroad, can testify. Strength, a good dark colour, and the knowledge of how to floor an 'undesirable' are essentials in any night-dog...found naturally in the Mastiff."
Earlier I have quoted a police dog-handler of eighty years ago in Norfolk who wrote: "Personally I want no better dog than a bullmastiff for police work and I am ready to back it against any other breed...A gamekeeper friend recommended it to me, and said I should never regret having one. His words were true." Before the Great War, Count VC Hollander, who knew a thing or two about dogs, recorded this little incident: "...Mr and Mrs Bennett had gone to a party, leaving the children in the charge of the maids. A man forced his way into the house; one of the maids loosed a dog, a bullmastiff, who held the man from nine o'clock in the evening until Mr. and Mrs. Bennett returned in the early morning." If your ancestors could pin a bull, what's the problem with a mere man!
In an earlier chapter, I have described my experience in using two Bullmastiffs to patrol the 1,000 acre estate that I once managed. Silent operators with good scenting powers, they were perfect for the task. I am a great believer in breeds of dog still being able to carry out their original function, even if we don't need them to. If they simply cannot, then in my book they do not belong to that breed. Only in this way can we keep a breed in touch with its roots and retained as a functional useful animal as opposed to a mere ornament. The strong ‘seizing and holding’ instincts of the Gamekeeper’s Night-dog are still available to us; these are not noisy watchdogs or savage sentinels but dogs that use controlled aggression in an acceptable way. They merit greater recognition and wider use. 

Use of Senses

 I would like to see a move away from the rather arbitrary division of hound breeds into scent or sight hounds. All hounds hunt by sight at times and versatile hounds like the Ibizan use their ears, noses and eyes to equal effect. A better separation would be between those which hunt using stamina, like most of the scent-hounds, those which hunt mainly using their sheer speed, like the sight-hounds, those which hunted using scent and sight as par force hounds (like the Great Dane) and those which were employed 'at the kill', as holding and seizing hounds. This would bring the hunting mastiffs into the Hound Group, but more importantly bring them under judges who are used to assessing animals which were designed to hunt their prey. Movement, athleticism generally, and probably feet and 'bite', would soon improve. Recognising mastiff breeds as hounds would undoubtedly improve their health and their ability to enjoy life - with a much more athletic physique. If this requires the introduction of outside blood, then that would just be a repeat of history, that is how they were 'made'!
Alien Forms
But the choice of breeding material should be based surely on need, not dogma. In recent years I have seen quite a number of 'Mastiffs', bred by artisan breeders, that conformed to the type depicted in so many 17th, 18th and early 19th century portrayals. One was a Mastiff-Staffie cross and another a Mastiff-Bullmastiff cross. The Mastiff of the show ring is for me a fawn Alpine Mastiff, lacking the anatomy of our famous native breed. That may not be surprising, bearing in mind the blend of breeds behind the Mastiff's re-shaping in the 19th century, but is it historically correct? Once, at an Irish Wolfhound ring, I watched a shaggy exhibit for a while and then remembered where I had seen that 'look' previously - in the depiction of an early importation of a Tibetan Mastiff. Capt Graham, re-creator of the Irish Wolfhound used a Tibetan Mastiff sire 'Wolf' on the wolfhound 'Tara' and their offspring appear in the pedigree of every modern Irish Wolfhound.
It is always a risk when crossing two breeds or introducing outside blood into a breed that too much of one feature will crop up in time to the detriment of true breed type. A closed breed gene-pool is unlikely to provide redress. Only once have I detected this 'Tibetan Mastiff look' in an Irish Wolfhound, but I see the 'Alpine Mastiff look' in every contemporary Mastiff ring I view. When long-haired Mastiffs crop up in litters, they look very much like the Livestock Protection Dog breeds. The Mastiff of England was a hunting dog, a hound; the Alpine Mastiff was a mountain dog, requiring bulk and less athleticism. The mountain dog anatomy is now dominant and in my view true type has been lost in this famous native breed. But the breed fanciers seem happy with their stock, which is disappointing. The Mastiff is a feature of our canine heritage and should not be represented by an alien form. If this breed has been 're-created' once and that action condoned, why can't it be done again and with greater historical accuracy this time?  

Recognising Service

 The mastiff breeds, whether huge like the Mastiff of England, as small as the Bulldog of Britain, cropped-eared like the Cane Corso of Italy and the Perro de Presa of the Canaries, loose-skinned like the Mastini of Italy or dock-tailed and cropped-eared like the Boxer of Germany in many countries, are not only fine examples of powerful but good-tempered dogs but form part of their respective nation's canine heritage. It is vital that they do not fall victim to show ring faddists or misguided cliques of rosette-chasing, over-competitive zealots. A giant Mastiff which can hardly walk, a muzzle-less Bulldog which can hardly breathe and a Bullmastiff dying young from an avoidable inherited disease are all sad reflections on the moral sterility of the last two centuries’ breeders. In the English breed of Mastiff, a new approach is desperately needed; my own plan to assure this fine breed a better future would be based on this: 
Six Point Plan For The Restoration of the True Mastiff of England
1. Amend the Breed Standard (see earlier draft, in Chapter 3) to omit harmful or untypical features, e.g. pursuit of great size, the word 'massive', short muzzle, small eyes, heavy forequarters, restricted coat colours and any mention of wrinkle.
2. Brief specialist breed judges and as many all-rounders as you can to despatch from the ring: lamentably unsound or exhibits that breach the Standard e.g. sunken eyes, seriously overweight, limp tails, huge ears, heavy forehead, appalling movement. If you truly love the breed, be assertive!
3. Hold seminars to highlight the madness of continuing to breed Mastiffs with dippy backs, straight stifles, size at the expense of soundness and dreadful movement.
4. Breed out the 'mountain dog look'; it comes from alien blood introduced in the 19th century. A Mastiff should never look like a fawn St Bernard. Long-haired specimens indicate the presence of this blood, or that of the Leonberger, in the gene pool.
5. Form a Restoration Working Party of real Mastiff devotees to get the breed back on track - before some political body does it for you, like the IFAW-influenced European Council. Be aware of the morality poseurs/animal welfare activists at work nowadays, they are vocal, dedicated and not breed lovers!
6. Accept that pied, solid-white and solid black Mastiffs can be purebred and admitted to the stud book. (I have referred to the Gammonwood pieds and Daisy, a purebred white Mastiff registered with the AKC as a Mastiff. The pied dog Dozer in Australia has Jenglen and Bredwardine on both sides; this is no stigma on those kennels whatsoever, they are not responsible for the appearance of a different coat colour - read Wynn to find the origin!)
Each recognised mastiff breed merits such a plan for its restoration to true type and role-recognition.

Honouring Heritage

 May 21st century breeders wake up to such unacceptable excesses, honour the proud heritage of these distinguished breeds and respect them for what they are: the light heavyweights of the canine world, quick on their feet and devastating at close quarter protection when threatened. They are not mountain dogs or draught dogs needing massive bone but strongly-built hounds with their own distinct type, that must be conserved. Contemporary attitudes no longer support the use of fierce dogs to hunt wild animals. That I support. But there could still be a role for brave determined dogs to be used to ‘seize and hold’ animals such as escaped rampaging cattle or feral wild boar endangering human beings, where this removes the requirement to shoot and kill them. There is a huge difference between wild animals being savaged by a pack and their being detained by trained dogs, under strict control, for their own long-term good. There is a risk however of dogs being employed in such an historic role themselves being harmed. There is a judgement to be made here in the best interests of the quarry and the dogs. Such magnificent canine athletes deserve the very best custodianship, with every fancier respecting their hound ancestry, remembering their bravery at man's behest and revering their renowned stoicism. Long live the mastiffs of the world!