Please remember this: While
asking a Breeder these questions do NOT allow that Breeder to shrug any of the questions
off nor tell you that no other Breeder does those things. The answers to these
questions came from actual Bullmastiff Breeders and Veterinarians. This is basically a
summation of the most desirable and most realistic answers you should expect to receive.
My Thought on Contracts:
A written contract is strongly suggested. As the author of
this site, I strongly believe that it never hurts to put anything in writing if both
parties are true to their word. It helps for both you and the breeder to remember
what you both agreed to when you adopted the puppy/dog from them.
If you feel comfortable and confident enough to
buy from a breeder without a written contract that is your decision to make. If you
do decide to sign a written contract, make sure that you understand and can live with the
constraints specified within the contract.
Realize that not all contracts are created
equally. Some contracts are too constraining to the puppy buyer, and some contracts
have no real meaning to them at all and are used as part of a sales pitch.
My Thoughts on Testing:
If the goal of a breeder is to improve upon the Bullmastiff
breed with each litter they produce, then this cannot be accomplished without first
testing the breeding stock to try and determine genetic soundness. My personal
belief is that all Bullmastiff Breeders should at a minimum certify/register the hips,
elbows, eyes, and thyroid of all potential breeding stock with the appropriate
certification/registration authority. Then only breeding those Bullmastiffs that
actually "passed" those certifications/registrations. For breeders that go
to the extra time and expense to include kidney, heart, etc. certification/registration in
addition to the previously mentioned - this is quite exceptional. And yes, I would
consider it an honor if this type of breeder would allow me to adopt one of their puppies.
For breeders that do absolutely no testing of congenital
defects, cannot provide documented proof of certification/registration, and/or purposely
breed Bullmastiffs that did not pass certification/registration - yes, I do
question their motivation and ethics for breeding. And no, I personally would not
even consider buying a puppy from them.
HEALTH RELATED QUESTIONS:
General Contract Coverage Information::
A fair contract will generally cover what genetic
information the breeder will assume some responsibility for. Please
realize that it is unrealistic for the breeder to guarantee that nothing genetically wrong
will ever happen to your Bullmastiff. A contract will usually cover 1-2
years for general genetic defects and or until certifications are passed. The
contract should also cover care issues for your bullmastiff that you, as the owner, are
responsible for such as, yearly vet checks.
For more information on contract types, please read the
Time Length of Contract as a whole? (1 year, 2 years, 3 years, lifetime
One (1) year contracts are the very minimum you should
accept for genetic concerns. Care concerns the Bullmastiff owner is responsible for
will last for the lifetime of the Bullmastiff.
Health guarantee and time limit once puppy is received? (ex:
replacement/refund if puppy dies within 72 hours of uncontrollable causes or has a serious
Refer to the individual questions below for the specific
health coverages. If your Bullmastiff is shipped to you or if you pick him/her up
yourself, that puppy should be lively, healthy, and happy. Be sure to have your vet
examine the puppy thoroughly as soon as possible. You should even consider having a
blood panel done to identify the less obvious disorders such as the possible presence of
kidney disease (renal failure). If the puppy is not in good health, it is YOUR
responsibility to notify the breeder immediately and return the puppy to them.
You should either get a puppy of the same quality or a total refund.
Hip Dysplasia - length
of time coverage is for? (1 year, 2 years, or until Bullmastiff passes Penn-Hip or OFA)
Hip dysplasia coverage is very controversial because it
can be both hereditary and/or environmentally induced. Some breeders have stopped
covering hips because if the puppy (male or female) does not grow in the proper physical
environment, that puppy (male or female) can become dysplastic even though his past
generations were cleared. If you can get a two (2) year coverage or passing
certification coverage from the breeder, although rare, it is desirable. If the
breeder you are conferring with does not cover hips, that is not unrealistic and does not
mean that this breeder is irresponsible.
Elbow Dysplasia -
length of time coverage is for? (1 year, 2 years, 3 years or until OFA passed)
This falls in the same category as hip dysplasia
Inoculations and worming provided?
Yes, the breeder must do these things to ensure you get
a healthy puppy.
Pedigree documentation provided?
Yes, the breeder should provide this information to you
without an extra fee. If you are interested in participating in the professional
circuit, this is could be very important to you. Without a pedigree, you may not be
able to show your Bullmastiff. And if you intend on breeding this Bullmastiff, other
Responsible Bullmastiff Breeders will not breed with your Bullmastiff unless you can
provide an acceptable pedigree to them. Read the pedigree! Who are the
breeders that bred these previous generations? Are they also Responsible Bullmastiff
Breeders who do congenital testing? Or does the previous generations come from less
than desirable breeders?
Registration costs included (if you are getting a show quality
Sometimes this is included in the selling price of your
Bullmastiff. If there is a spay/neuter restriction, the breeder may retain the right
to withhold your puppy's registration papers until you provide proof that the puppy has
been spayed/neutered. This will need to be discussed with the breeder.
What Registry do you register
your Bullmastiffs with?
If you are interested in having your Bullmastiff
participate in the professional circuit - this could be very important for you. If
your Bullmastiff is registered with the American Kennel Club (AKC)- that means that he/she
will be allowed to participate in AKC related events. However, your Bullmastiff
might not be allowed to participate in any other Kennel Clubs' events that they are
not a member of. This will also affect as to whether your Bullmastiff will be
considered as "show quality", "breed quality", or "pet
quality" based on the Kennel Club that your Bullmastiff is registered with.
Breeding rights - are there any and what are the requirements?
Be very careful here. Refer to the "Finding the Right Breeder" document, section
"Show-N-Tell Breeders" in order to realize what you are really getting into with
this type of a requirement. Responsible breeders will not encourage you to breed nor
provide any incentive for you to breed. Breeding is a huge expense and responsibility best
left to the professionals.
Showing rights - are there any and what are the requirements?
Again be very careful here. Refer to the "Finding the Right Breeder" document, section
"Show-N-Tell Breeders" in order to realize what you are really getting into with
this type of a requirement. This can be a very expensive endeavor on your part.
- what are the requirements?
Expect to either have your "pet quality"
Bullmastiff puppy spayed/neutered before you receive the puppy or several months later as
a requirement. Please realize that this is in the BEST interest for your
Bullmastiff puppy, especially if you are not going to participate in the professional
circuit. Spayed/neutered Bullmastiffs are less likely to be stolen by undesirables
and it helps them avoid future health problems. If you have bought a "show
quality" Bullmastiff that is going to perform in the professional circuit, this will
be the only exception to the rule.
Home environment restrictions - list any (ex: must be kept indoors,
cannot ride in truck beds, etc.)
Expect restrictions such as the quality of food you feed
your Bullmastiff, maintaining proper weight, keeping the Bullmastiff as an inside pet,
maintaining proper veterinarian care for your Bullmastiff, obedience training, etc.
Additional restrictions not covered in the above questions?
Additional restrictions may also include things like
returning your Bullmastiff to the breeder should you not be able to care for it any longer
or requiring you to take certain obedience classes.
Sire and Dam Screening (Must provide documented proof of results):
||AT LEAST GOOD
||AT LEAST GOOD
Request to see documented proof of at least three (3)
generations' worth of health clearances from both the sire AND the dam. Believe it or not,
some breeders are just now starting to do genetic testing and cannot provide this much
information. Tactics a breeder may use on a puppy buyer in order to "seem"
- Claim that they do testing, but in reality they may have tested
only the sire OR the dam - but not BOTH.
- State that they do testing verbally, but upon request of
documented proof of certification/registration from their vet - there are no documents to
present because they had their vet "look" at their dog - hence, they believe
their dog to be "tested".
- Show bogus documents to the puppy buyer in hopes that the puppy
buyer will be too inexperienced to know that what they are reading are not real
certifications or medical records.
- Do actual testing of their dogs and will still breed the dog even
if they do NOT pass or qualify for certification/registration. These breeders are
dependent on the puppy buyer to not ask to see the documented proof of results from the
If a breeder presents the issue that their "bloodline"
does not carry any genetic defects OR that these defects are cannot be inherited,
therefore there is no need for them to test their dogs - these are false statements.
Be sure to see the documented proof for yourself from their veterinarian for
both the sire AND the dam. Please remember that although the breeder's dogs have cleared
every test with flying colors, that still does not guarantee that your Bullmastiff puppy
will never have health problems as they age.
Have you had any Bullmastiffs of your breeding die from
Kidney Disease (or Renal Failure)?
Unless you want to bear the pain of having to put down
your newly adopted Bullmastiff before the age of 6 years old (most will die before the age
of 3 years old), you need to ask this question. If the problem has existed within
the last 4 generations of their line, ask for documented proof from their veterinarian
that the breeder conducts a BUN/Creatine blood panel test and that the parents and
grandparents and littermates of the puppies you are inquiring about passed.
Have you had any indication of
Heart Problems within your breeding program?
Some lines do or have had problems with congenital heart
disorders. Ask the breeder if this has been a prevalent problem in their line and if
they test for this disorder in their breeding stock, what tests are conducted, what
certifications/registrations are completed, how many past generations have proven clear of
this disorder, or if they simply have their vet listen to the heartbeat and all's well.
Have you had any Bullmastiffs of your breeding die from
Ask what kind of cancer(s). Some forms of cancer
are believed to be an inherited disorder, such as lymphoma sarcoma. If this has
existed in previous litters, ask the breeder what they have done in order to move towards
eradicating this defect from their line. How many past generations have proven clear
from this defect?
Have you had any problems in the past with the
Temperaments in any of the above
generations? If so, please explain.
Breeders should not have had any temperament problems
with the previous generations they have been using as their breeding stock.
Temperament problems include unpredictable and/or uncontrollable aggression and
prey drive. The true nature of any dog is "bred" into them. Training
is only a basis to controlling that true nature to a certain extent.
with temperament problems should never be bred.
Do you Temperament Test your puppies before placement in new homes? If
so, please explain.
Experienced Bullmastiff breeders will
temperament test their puppies before
placement to ensure proper placement in homes that can handle particular temperament
types. For example, a dominant male puppy will need to be placed carefully in the
right home that can handle the extra responsibility.
What is the average lifespan of the Bullmastiffs and their litters in
your specific breeding program?
It has been speculated that certain Bullmastiff lines do
live longer in different breeding programs. I know of two breeders whose goal is to
increase not only the health and quality of the Bullmastiff, but also their lifespan.
Their personal litters have reported that at least 50% of their puppies produced
live up to the ages of 13 years old of quality life, versus the standard 8 - 10 years old.
It has also been reported that puppymilled Bullmastiffs rarely live past the age of
5 years old - averaging death at a short 3 years of age due to various congenial defects.
Why did you decide to breed this bitch? Why did you decide to
breed this bitch with this particular stud?
The goal of a Responsible and Experienced Bullmastiff
breeder is to improve the Bullmastiff breed. Improvements such as creating a better
bone structure, improving on temperament, or preventing a genetic defect by breeding only with genetically tested
Bullmastiffs. If a Bullmastiff breeder cannot substantiate as to why they bred this
litter outside of "we thought it would be nice to have some puppies" or "we
are trying to get our money back for what we spent on this dog", then you should take
your business elsewhere.
BREEDER'S PERSONAL INFORMATION:
How many litters do you have available per month, per year, per 5 years,
As stated before, puppymillers will breed "much
more" than two (2) litters per year. Two (2) litters per year is the general
practice that I polled for those breeders that breed every single year. There may
be some exceptions where a breeder has not breed for a year or two and then decides to do
three breedings - with different females - within one (1) year. Read the links I
have provided defining puppymills from the "Buyer Beware" page in order to make
your own determination as to whether you may potentially be dealing with a puppymiller or
What specific congenital defects have you encountered during the course
of your Bullmastiff breeding history?
All breeders - repeat, all breeders have
experienced some form of congenital disorder during their breeding history. If a
breeder that has been breeding for the last 10 years claims that they have never
had a congenital defect of any kind happen in any of the litters they have produced - you
might want to reconsider the honesty and/or experience level of this particular breeder.
Breeders with a claim of 10 years or more of breeding history would have definitely
encountered several congenital defects that they currently test for in order to
avoid these defects from occurring in future litters.
What specific activities, tournaments, and/or special
events are you and your Bullmastiffs involved in?
Ask the breeder what it is they are breeding
their Bullmastiff to do. Some breeders may only breed for the conformation
(showing) ring. Some breeders breed for performance in the agility and/or
tracking rings. What are you looking to get out of your Bullmastiff - one
that is built with the intelligence and strength to "work" or one that is bred
to be a family pet to just lay around the house?
There is nothing wrong with either so long as you get what you are looking for.
A Bullmastiff built and bred for agility and "Gamekeeper Trials" will be a more
energetic and usually dominant dog - preferably not placed in a household with
children. A Bullmastiff bred to be more docile is typically less
energetic, less dominant, and will do better with children and as a common
family pet. Keep in mind that the modern Bullmastiff is a much
tamer dog that it was 100 years ago. This breed is not
quite the "guard dog" that it once was - it mostly just "looks ferocious".
If you are looking for a "guard dog", a different breed, such as, the Fila would
be a better choice.
What type of environment do your dogs and puppies live in? (ex: crated
outside/inside, kennel atmosphere, etc.)
Check to see that the environment where the dogs spend
their most time in is clean, and that the dogs themselves are cheery and healthy -
especially if the dogs are kept kenneled/outside (yard dogs) for most of their time.
When I visit a breeder, I like to see their dogs integrated with them
in the household with the rest of the family as a normal practice.
That is my
"personal" preference. Observe how that
Bullmastiff interacts with their owner - how does that Bullmastiff interact with
At least one reference of each of the following categories (none of
which may be related to you:
- Veterinarian(s): (The vet should be the one to provide proof
of certification/registration of all testing the breeder(s) has done for the sire and
- Past customer(s) who has one or more of your Show Quality Bullmastiffs:
- Past customer(s) who has one or more of your Pet Quality Bullmastiffs:
Demand references from all of the above! If a
breeder is reluctant to give you references - it is in your best interest to not deal with
them because they may have something to hide. Proof of certifications/registrations
for genetic testing should be acquired from their vet to ensure legitimacy. A
Responsible Bullmastiff Breeder will notify their vet clinic that potential puppy buyers
will be inquiring about their breeding stock's medical records so that the vet clinic can
openly discuss this breeder's dogs' information with the puppy buyer(s). Another good
point of reference is to ask what other breeders and rescue volunteers think about the
breeder you are conferring with.
What type of customers do you sell to for your:
- Show Quality Bullmastiffs (ex: exhibitors, professional handlers,
- Pet Quality Bullmastiffs (ex: private individuals, breeders, etc.)
Responsible breeders will sell to quality homes first.
Show homes are a secondary concern especially since most breeders will usually keep their
best show puppy for themselves.
Your availability should I have a problem concerning the puppy?
Breeder should be available at your every beckoning call
- no excuses!
Permission to visit your bullmastiffs and the premises on which they
live? Appointment time?
If at all possible - visit, visit, visit! If
distance makes that impossible, get more references or try to find someone who can visit
the premises for you. If the breeder refuses to allow you to visit them - take your
business elsewhere. Personal interaction with their
Bullmastiffs is immeasurable. This is what your new puppy will grow up to
be like - physically and temperamentally!
Will you provide information on where I can visit the stud?
If the stud is not on the premises - and usually they
will not be. The breeder should be more than willing to provide contact information
so that you may also visit the stud or call the owner of the stud if you so choose to.
Remember, both parents will have a genetic influence on the puppies and the
stud owner should be interviewed just as prudently. Again, if the breeder refuses
to give you this information - take your business elsewhere.
Will you take the Bullmastiff back should I not want it or cannot keep
it any longer?
Responsible breeders will not hesitate to take any of
their dogs back, no matter what condition that dog is in and whether it is or is not
spayed/neutered. Some breeders may microchip their puppies with the breeder's
information and the new owners' information before releasing them to their new owners.
Are there any reasons as to which you would refuse to take the
Bullmastiff back? If yes, what are those reasons?
Be very careful of the "right to refusal"
phrase. Most of the time this phrase means that the breeder gets the dog no matter
what if you cannot keep it. But sometimes, a breeder will say that if your dog is
spayed/neutered they will not take the dog back. Be sure to specifically ask about
this! If a breeder tells you this, there is room for suspicion here and you should
consider taking your business elsewhere.
What types of questions should you expect a Bullmastiff breeder to ask you - on a
preliminary interview that is?
You deserve the very best for your money! Yes,
you are only buying a dog, but you are buying an expensive dog that is high on the list of
having very expensive health problems compared to other breeds. Whether you are
looking for a show quality Bullmastiff or a pet quality Bullmastiff, take the time to
investigate and compare breeders. Choose the breeder that you are the most
comfortable with, that you feel is being completely honest with you, and that share the
same ideals as you do for the Bullmastiff puppy involved.
Bullmastiff pictured in main caption at
just 8 months old is Cassie.
Cassie's photo was contributed by her
breeder and owner Renee King of
Bullmastiffs. Cassie is a fine physical
specimen of a compact, tightly built, agile Bullmastiff with a gorgeous