Bullmastiff
Bullmastiff

The Bullmastiff is an alert, loyal and intelligent companion, that loves to jump over fences!

Facts

Personality: High spirited, very good temperament, level-headed attitude, alert, faithful, docile, intelligent, territorial, likes to lay about and can be stubborn.

Backyard requirements: Normal-sized backyard with a sturdy fence, preferably 5’6″ as they have been known to jump over high fences. Large backyard or country space is preferable if you have more than one dog.

Health problems: Cancer, heart murmurs, bloat, hip and elbow dysplasia.

Watchdog qualities: Excellent. It knows when and when not to bark. Has good protection and guarding instincts and will alert you to danger.

Exercise requirements: Careful that you don’t exercise your puppy too much as high-impact exercise and running is not recommended for puppies until well over 18 months old. If you must walk your puppy, start with short and slow strolls.

The Bullmastiff is a loveable large breed with a heart of gold. It has great guarding capabilities while being a loyal, loving companion.

Watch out, this dog is able to knock you down in a single bound and can leap high fences in a single jump! Despite its imposing size and bully-dog looks, the Bullmastiff is really a calm, gentle and level-headed pooch. Breeders describe the Bullmastiff as an excellent companion and guard dog and most value it for its quiet virtues. It is not much of a barker and will only bark if necessary. The Bullmastiff should not be confused with the much larger Mastiff, also called the English Mastiff. The Bullmastiff is a separate breed, originating in England in the early to middle 1800s.

History

The history of the breed is an interesting and purposeful one. As a number of private estates got larger and larger in early 19th-century England, it became increasingly difficult for gamekeepers to patrol and keep poachers under control. Punishment for poaching on private property was very severe in those days, in some cases punishable by death. As rewards for poaching became higher and more attractive, poachers took more risks and the crime ultimately became more dangerous. This lead to estate gamekeepers keeping powerful dogs that could track down and help them confront and hold the poachers.

Initially they tested the Mastiff but found it to be too slow and not agile enough. They then trialled the smaller Bulldog but found it too vicious. These dogs tended to wound their victims rather badly, sometimes even mortally.

The ideal breed for the task came in the form of the Bullmastiff, a cross between the two earlier breeds. It proved to be the best dog for the job — quiet enough to track the poacher and fast and powerful enough to pounce on and keep the perpetrator down until the handler came. The beauty of this breed is that its instinct is not to bite, but to hold down.

Because of its history, the Bullmastiff is also called the “gamekeeper’s dog”. As larger estates got broken down into smaller lots and sold off, the need for Bullmastiffs as tracking and guard dogs declined. Today, they fit in remarkably well with families as companions and guard dogs.

Characteristics

Although the true mixture of the Bullmastiff is 60 per cent Mastiff and 40 per cent Bulldog, it seems the English preferred their Bullmastiff with a 50/50 combination while the Americans and Australians preferred 60/40 Mastiff and Bulldog cross. Bullmastiffs are intelligent, stubborn, fearless, possess good watchdog instincts, are quiet, alert and faithful.

This giant is surprisingly good with young children, but be careful around small kids as this breed grows very quickly and in its excitement can knock down kids accidentally during playtime. Breeders Kath and Barry Marion and Nikki Marshall advise that children and dog should be taught to respect each other.

Something to remember is that although the puppy may be adult-sized, it is still a puppy! Firm obedience training, education and dog-friendly playtime should be encouraged and taught as early as possible. This breed responds to firm obedience training and it’s best to start as early as possible. They’re very strong dogs and it would be wise to get the dog to respond to you as soon as possible. Remember, you should always supervise your children when playing with dogs, no matter what the breed.

According to the Marions, who have been breeding for more than 20 years, Bullmastiffs are territorial and don’t always put out the welcome mat for other strange dogs (they’re good if they’ve grown up with other animals) or strangers. One good way to get your dog to accept your guests is to welcome your guests and introduce them to your dog, letting your dog slowly approach and sniff their legs. Bullmastiffs may take a while to approach a guest so it’s best not to rush towards the dog. Let it come to you first. When it comes to strangers, Nikki agrees that a bonus with the Bullmastiff is its impressive size, which is always a good deterrent to intruders.

But the coat is so short. Do I still need to maintain it?

Bullmastiffs shed quite a bit of their coat so regular brushing is recommended. Kath and Barry say their dogs shed mostly in spring and depending on how dirty they are, they are bathed about three times a month. They use a rubber horse curry brush after a bath to get rid of those loose hairs.
Some dogs moult badly but Kath says this is quite natural as the new coat comes through a shade darker, giving the coat a mottled look. If you don’t want to bathe your dog, Nikki has some good tips for dry bathing. She rubs down the dogs thoroughly with warm water and a small amount of disinfectant to rid the coat of dust. She says you shouldn’t always give your dog a full shampoo wash as that can strip the coat of its natural protective oils and can make it susceptible to skin problems, such as hot spots.

Kath and Barry remind us to check the dog’s ears as well and clean them regularly; if they start shaking their ears incessantly, it could mean they have grass seeds in their ears. Take your dog to the vet if you are unsure.

Things to remember

Bullmastiffs do no like the heat so take them for their walk in the morning or in the evenings. The Marions’ dogs love the coolness of the cement kennel floors in summer, when temperatures really soar. They have also installed water mist sprays across the top of the kennels which spray a fine mist over the dogs when it’s very hot.

And not too much lazing about, please! Don’t forget that without proper exercise and stimulation, Bullmastiffs can turn into fat couch potatoes just like humans. If you keep your dog in a small backyard, make sure it gets enough exercise.

Kath warns that while it is tempting to stuff your pup as much as you can because you think it will make it grow faster, this can backfire. Instead, you could end up with a fat, greedy and often unhealthy puppy. Kath says that you should be able to see the last rib on an adult dog or bitch.
Though there is no hard and fast rule as to what to feed your dogs, you might want to try some of these breeders’ dietary tips. Kath and Barry recommend that you feed your dogs a low-protein diet through the summer months to prevent your dogs developing skin problems. “Ours are lucky. They have plenty of fruit in their diets through the summer as we have lots of fruit trees. They love their treats of apricots, plums, apples and figs,” says Kath. Nikki has experimented with feeding her dogs solely on the BARF diet but found they needed the bulk of a good-quality dry food as well. She recommends that an all-natural, colour-free dry food is best, supplemented with raw chicken carcasses minced up with vegetables, pasta, egg and red meat if you have time.

Like a lot of large, deep-chested breeds, the Bullmastiff can suffer from bloat. This occurs most commonly after vigorously exercising your dog several hours after a meal. Make sure that if you want to walk your dog after a meal, do it slowly and gently or exercise before a meal. Hip, elbow dysplasia, kidney disease, thyroid problems, heart murmurs and certain cancers are some of the more common problems prevalent in the breed. All honest breeders should have their stock hip X-rayed and scored before breeding. Always ask your breeder if their stock is hip scored and X-rayed if you’re not sure.

The only disadvantage to this breed is that it has a short lifespan, living up to 10 years. So make all those formative, fun and productive years with your Bullmastiff count. Both breeders testify to the joys of owning this pooch and like any addiction, once you have one, you just can’t stop.

Breed Care

Daily: Fresh water and a good balanced diet.

Weekly: A brush with a rubber or slicker brush to promote good skin and coat.

Monthly: Heartworm, gastrointestinal and flea prevention. Also check the nails to see if they need to be clipped and wipe inside the ears. Bath once a month or when required.

Regular: This breed loves to get out and about with their owners and will really enjoy a good off-leash run at least once a week. Walking daily with the dog is a requirement.

Breed Contacts

If you would like to find out more about this breed and watch some of these dogs in action, please contact the club in your state for weekend show details:

NSW Club
SA Club
Victoria Club
QLD Club

Boxer dogs: a close-up image of a Boxer dog
Boxer

Boxer dogs are suitable for families as they are fun, smart and willing to please.

Facts

Personality:

A fun-loving family dog, the Boxer dog has a good sense of humour and a genuine willingness to please. A smart individual with energy to burn, the Boxer remains a puppy for most of its life.

A great dog for:

Families with children, singles or couples. The Boxer thrives in an environment where it can take part in most family activities. Not a leave in the backyard kind of dog, Boxer dogs are best suited to active individuals who will give it the physical and mental stimulus it needs to thrive. Not an apartment dog.

Boxer dog: favourite activities:

If there are people involved, just about anything. Boxers thrive on activities where they can stretch their legs and work their brain. Some become very adept swimmers, others sink like stones. Your pooch will let you know what it likes doing so follow its lead.

Backyard requirements:

A well-fenced backyard, but provided you are able to take your dog for regular walks, you don’t need loads of space.

Watchdog qualities:

Very good. This is a thinking guard dog it doesn’t bite first and ask questions later because it was bred as both a companion and a guard dog.

When a Boxer dog wiggles its way into your life for the first time, never expect things to be dull or lacklustre. This is a breed whose last name is hyphenated by the word FUN; whose sense of humour and readiness for a game is tireless; and whose good looks and huge heart will reach even the coldest corners of your own.

When a Boxer enters your life you don’t gain a dog, you gain another family member. Talk to anyone who has owned the breed and they’ll sing its praises. Spend time in the company of a Boxer and you’ll probably find yourself making room in your heart and home for this fabulous dog, especially if you’re looking for a medium-sized, short-coated breed which is great with growing children, adaptable and dependable.

Humble beginnings

Liz and Miles Gunter of Guntop Boxers in Pheasants Nest, New South Wales, are two of Australia’s top breeders and have owned and loved the breed for more than 30 years. Liz jokes that she knows shes been involved with the breed for a long time because she is now selling puppies to the children of people she sold dogs to many years ago.

Liz and Miles decided to own their first Boxer dog after they’d heard about the fun-loving nature of the breed. We did all the wrong things. We bought one out of the paper and it had everything wrong with it under the sun wrong, Liz said. We thought we could buy a pet and show it. We thought she was a lovely colour and had nice feet, but we had a lot to learn. After having taken her to a couple of shows we became hooked. But when we bought our next dog, this time we did the right thing.

The couple went to a reputable breeder and bought a puppy sired by Champion Cherry Burton Playboy, imported from the UK. That dog, Champion Lalaguli Woowookurung, won five Royal Show dog challenges; and his number one son, Regal, won both a Sydney and Melbourne Royal Show challenge. The couples top homebred bitch, Champion Guntop Minute Maid, won four Royal challenges in succession.

The Gunters dogs give them a lot of pleasure, particularly when it comes to seeing the way their Boxers enrich the lives of those who buy them. They are the breed that people, once having had one, will always stay with. We know families who are now on their third Boxer from us and their children are coming to us for a Boxer, too.

The Gunters run a sizeable Boxer kennel but say that the breed is very accepting of being a kennel dog. However, at Guntop the Boxers are always kennelled with another dog because they do enjoy company.

Puppy purchase

Liz, who is secretary of both the Boxer Club of NSW and the National Boxer Council, recommends that when looking for a Boxer dog, it is important that would-be owners go through the right channels. They should contact their state canine council and ask for a list of registered breeders and the contact details of the secretary of the local Boxer club. If they do this, Liz says they stand a better chance of going to someone who will stand by the puppies they breed, and someone who has made sure their puppies have had the necessary vet check and vaccinations.

Liz recommends prospective owners don’t see a puppy before it is three to four weeks old. And make sure, if possible, that you see both Mum and Dad. That’s the best guide to see how your puppy is going to turn out in temperament, looks and everything else.

The breed is well known for its excellent temperament and should be stable and trustworthy. Even a bitch with her puppies should let a stranger approach providing the owner is there.

A dog or a bitch? Liz says there is very little difference between the temperament of dogs and bitches, and it really comes down to the personal preference of the owner. People tend to stay with what they’re used to or what their family has had. Other than that the sexes should have much the same temperament, although the dog should be slightly larger than the bitch.

Owners have two colour choices, either red or brindle, with or without white markings. The Boxer should always have its characteristic black mask on its muzzle but there is no requirement for them to have white markings, although white on a Boxer dog can be very attractive.

The white markings should appear on the feet, legs, chest, on the back of the neck and on the muzzle. There should not be white markings on the body or the torso and the amount of white on the dog should not exceed one third of the whole body.

Loving and reliable

Shirley Dunn of Shirbel Boxers in Victoria, and the secretary of the Victorian Boxer Club, got her first Boxer as a pet in 1965. She says its the breeds loving nature and reliable temperament that have endeared her to this dog for the past 35 years. Originally a fan of obedience, Shirley got bitten by the showing bug many years after buying her first dog. She met Arthur Fry of Australia’s well-known Lambda Boxer Kennels and bought a dog from him to start exhibiting in the conformation ring.

While showing is now one of the things she enjoys with her dogs, Shirley says she loves her Boxers at home just as much.

I love their temperament. They’re such loving dogs and you always feel very safe with them. Each has its own distinct personality and I just love them. As companion dogs they always get between you and the door when someone is there. They come to the door and they just sort of inch in front of you you’re not even aware that they’re looking after you.

Shirley says Boxers are a great family dog and love romping with growing members of the household.

They don’t mind the children dressing them up. They’re also great with older people.

They are very much a person dog and keep you company. They like to be with you and are always one step behind you when you’re moving around, or they’re always lying across your feet or lap.

The expression in their faces when they look at you makes them hard to resist, she says.

Origin: Germany

The breed was developed in Germany in the late 1800s, where its ancestors were used by butchers for baiting bulls. The dogs were developed and owned by members of the Butchers Guild of Munich. Historically, butchers believed that the meat of slaughtered bulls that had been baited by the dog was more tender.

The butchers looked for a dog that had agility and strength of character as well as a willingness to serve. So the Boxer was born.

The first Boxer club, the Munich Boxer Club, was established in 1895; and the first breed standard, which specifies the breeds personality and physical characteristics, was written in 1902 and was adopted officially in 1904. In relative terms, as we know him, the Boxer is a fairly new breed having been developed only within the past 100 years.

The early ancestors of the modern Boxer dog were exported from Germany to America in the 1930s. Some also went to England, but predominantly they found favour in the US, particularly among some of the early stars of the big screen including Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall.

The Boxer dog arrived in Australia in 1948, brought in by Fred Wheatland of Victoria, who imported dogs from England. The first American Boxer was brought into Australia by Rena Gerardy of Sydney in the 1950s. They were bred as companion dogs.

Boxer Dog: Breed Care

Daily: This is a drip-dry breed which doesn’t need much in the way of day-to-day maintenance. However, the more you brush it, the more itll love you for it. This also gives you a chance to check for ticks and fleas. If your dog is swimming in the sea, wash the seawater out of its coat.

Weekly: A hard biscuit or a marrowbone (not small bones) should be given to help keep teeth clean. Ears should be examined and cleaned and nails clipped.

Monthly: A bath once a month should suffice.

Regular: Regular treatment for heartworm and other worms. Vaccinations and annual boosters.

Hereditary diseases: There are also some known heart diseases in the breed, so work with a breeder who screens their breeding stock. Puppies should be vet checked before they leave the breeder.

Breed Contacts

NSW Club
Victoria Club
QLD Club

Breeder quote
“There was a Boxer that became famous for his water-skiing antics on the Hawkesbury River. They’re an all-round fun, family dog; whatever the family wants to do the Boxer wants to be in it” – Liz Gunter, Guntop Boxers

cane corso
Cane Corso

Also known as the Italian Mastiff, the Cane Corso is a large breed of mastiff, originally bred to hunt wild boar and protect property. The breed  is characterized by their short fur and strong, muscular build, similar to that of the close cousin breed, the Neapolitan Mastiff. The Cane Corso lacks the skin folds and drooling nature of the Neapolitan but retains many of the same traits. The breed is very rare in Australia.

Facts

Personality: The high energy Cane Corso is completely devoted to their family or owners and no one else outside of that sphere. The dog is hardworking and can’t be left to his own devices. The highly intelligent breed require training and socialization from a young age to avoid destructive behaviours later in life.

cane corso

A great dog for: Experienced dog owners who are willing to train and can handle a large dog. They breed make a great work companion, especially for farmers.

Favourite activities: Digging, training, working, helping owners on jobs and playing.

Backyard requirements: The Cane Corso requires a large and securely fenced backyard. Don’t expect this breed to sit still for very long.

Breed Care

Grooming: The short coat of the Corso sheds once to twice a year and requires brushing weekly. Ears and eyes should also be checked weekly for any signs of infection. The breed are stubborn and should be trained to learn bathing and grooming requirements from a young age to avoid developing a dislike for them.

cane corso

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Australian Stumpy Tail Cattle Dog

Bred to work, the Stumpy Tail Australian Cattle dog is much like the other beloved breed of Australian Cattle dog, possessing personality traits the breed are famous for. In total, three breeds were crossbred to create the “Stumpy” as it is known locally, they include the Australian dingo, the British Smithfield and the German Coolie. The Stumpy is characterized by its stumpy tail, blue coat and work ethic.

Facts

Personality: The Stumpy is a very loyal and hard working breed. To owners the stumpy truly is man’s best friend. A courageous dog suspicious of strangers, the Stumpy won’t give up on hard work and won’t back down from defending its owners. The obedient breed is intelligent and won’t act unless commanded to do so.

A great dog for: Farmers with cattle and energetic owners. These dogs love to work.

Favourite activities: Working, herding cattle and long daily walks.

Backyard requirements: The Stumpy is not suited to apartment living and needs a large amount of backyard space to keep energetic. The hardworking breed require a job to keep them busy. High fences are a must as the Stumpy is great at hurdles. They also love to dig and burrow if they get bored.

Breed Care

Grooming: The Stumpy’s coat is short and weather resistant so requires minimal grooming. They need to be bathed only when necessary and their coat groomed with a firm bristle brush. Some dogs will shed depending on their sex and the region they live.

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Australian-Stumpy-Tail-pup

Irish Setter
Irish Setter

The Irish Setter originated as a gun dog in Ireland but their rich mahogany coat quickly attracted the attention of dog lovers everywhere. The Setter will carry itself with poise and grace but maintains a very muscular build and active persona. Popular in dog shows and competitions, the breed are very competitive and successful.

Facts

Personality: The Irish Setter is an incredibly friendly breed who gets along well with other dog breeds. Always a pup at heart, the breed thrive from early training and keeping active.

A great dog for: The Irish Setter makes a great addition to the family, especially a young and active family. The breed need to be exercised at least twice daily and with the family for as much of the day as possible. As a social breed, the Irish Setter can become destructive when left alone for too long.

Favourite activities: Playing, running, spending time with the family and socializing.

Backyard requirements: The breed need to be kept active to avoid boredom which will lead to destructive behaviours. A large and fenced backyard is required to keep this pooch active throughout the day. However the Irish Setter is not an outdoor dog. They need to be indoors and close to the family, especially at night.

Irish SetterBreed Care

Grooming: Daily brushing will keep the Irish Setter’s coat from becoming tangled. The coat should be trimmed between the pads of the feet and around the ears by a professional occasionally.

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Newfoundland
Newfoundland

The Newfoundland, or Newie, is one of the gentle giants of the dog world. They are a large breed and have a thick coat, resembling a teddy bear as a pup. As members of the working dog group, the Newfoundland was used to hunt and help fishermen. A strong swimmer with a strong work ethic, the Newie is also a slobber dog.

Facts

Personality: The Newfoundland is considered a gentle giant with a mellow attitude. They have a strong work ethic, high intelligence and protective nature, especially around young children. The breed are considered one of the friendliest.

A great dog for: Families with young children will find the Newie to be a great companion and watch dog. Small toddlers will need to be monitored around the breed as their large size makes them clumsy.

Favourite activities: Swimming, frolicking and lazing around.

Backyard requirements: As with all large dogs, the Newfoundland needs space. A colder climate is best as their thick coat can often cause them to overheat. They can adapt to warmer climates if they have a fan or air conditioner to sit in front of. They are adaptable to apartment living, provided they receive daily exercise.

Newfoundland puppy

Breed Care

Grooming: The breed are one of the more higher maintenance dogs in terms of grooming. Their coat needs to be brushed a number of times a week as they shed moderately. Bathing occasionally is sufficient and dry shampoo can be used when brushing the coat to avoid stripping the coat of its natural oils.

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Tibetan Mastiff
Tibetan Mastiff

Believed to be one of the oldest dog breeds in the world, the Tibetan Mastiff was first record hundreds of years ago in Tibet. The breed is strong built and characterised by their long and thick double coat and curled over fluffy tail. The Mastiff was originally bred to help manage livestock. Although the working dog still exists in the breed today, they often make companions or show dogs.

Facts

Personality: Without early socialisation, the Tibetan Mastiff can become over-protective, stubborn and in some cases, aggressive. Extensive training and patience will help the Mastiff find their place within the family to avoid destructive behaviours in their adult life.

A great dog for: The Tibetan Mastiff’s high tendancies to bark and distrust of strangers make them a great guard dog. They are also very good with young children and full of energy.

Favourite activities: Walks during the morning or evening when they are most active, sleeping and barking.

Backyard requirements: The Tibetan Mastiff will grow into a large dog so it’s not a suitable apartment breed. These dogs need their outdoor space. However, if left outside during the night, the Mastiff will bark so an indoor bed is more appropriate. 

Tibetan Mastiff Puppy

Breed Care

Grooming: The Tibetan Mastiff’s thick double coat needs to be groomed a couple of times a week. They start shedding their undercoat and malt before summer so excessive grooming and combing is required to keep the coat tangle free.

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Valley Bulldog
Valley Bulldog

Also known as the Bull Boxer, the Valley Bulldog is derived from a cross breed of the English Bulldog and the Boxer. The distinguishing characteristics of this breed include their broad head, muscular stature, thick neck and broad shoulders. Their short coat is commonly brindle, solid white, fawn or a mixture of those colours.

Facts

Personality: These athletic dogs have a funny and playful personality. The Valley Bulldog thrives on human interaction and isn’t afraid to show their love and loyalty to their owners. If raised indoors they also develop a protective nature.

A great dog for: Clean by nature and very low maintenance, the Valley Bulldog makes a great addition to the family. They have a lot of energy so they make a great companion for active children. The Valley Bulldog will assume responsibility and guardianship of young children, keeping them safe.

Favourite activities: Playing, getting pats, long walks and chew toys.

Backyard requirements: The Valley Bulldog is of medium size so they can handle living indoors. A brisk, long walk will help them keep fit and avoid destructive behaviour. They are also comfortable living outdoors with room for exercise as long as they are paid attention.

Breed Care

Grooming: With a short coat and minimal shedding, the Valley Bulldog doesn’t require much grooming. Baths are only necessary if they get dirty and they can be wiped down with a wet cloth. The skin fold around the face, tail and genitals needs to be cleaned and dried regularly to avoid infection.

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