English Mastiffs - Breeders
English Mastiffs are definitely ancient dogs. Their history is hard to trace now, even though many brilliant people racked their brains to solve the mystery. What aggravates the task is confusion of the name "Mastiff" that denotes both the family and the breed. However, there are a few suppositions that are adhered to by the majority of English Mastiff lovers.
Mastiff-like dogs probably originated in Assyria. Archeological digs held in Niniveh city revealed some pieces of Assyrian art, among them being an ancient vase. That item, dated about 612 BC, depicted a massive dog with a square head wearing armor. This fact confirms that the ancestors of the English Mastiff were used as war dogs.
There is an opinion that the Phoenicians, who would cover long distances to trade, introduced dogs of Mastiff type to Great Britain about 500 BC. However, this version has both adherents and opponents. Opponents argue that it was impossible for the Phoenicians to take Mastiff-like dogs with them. Their ships were too small and frail to carry heavy dogs, plus large stores of meat needed for feeding.
The version that the English Mastiff's forefathers were brought to Britain by the Celtic tribes sounds more true to life. Echelon layout was instrumental in breeding a special type of war dog. One can imagine how strong and robust that breed was to attract attention of the Romans, who valued highly fighting qualities of dogs. It was, probably, the Romans who named the breed "Mastiff." Mastiffs served as gladiators, war dogs, and were used to pull carts with weapons.
In the Medieval, Mastiffs helped to guard property, fight wild animals, and hunt large game. Historical evidence makes one sure that they were noted for their strength, skill, and courage. During barter sessions one Mastiff equaled 20 hounds. The Mastiff could also fight two armed warriors on foot
The whole involvement completely exceeded many of our expectations.
A famous story states that an English Mastiff owned by Sir Peers Legh was very devoted to his master, who was wounded in the Agincourt battle. It continued to guard Sir Legh until the English came to the rescue. The King was so impressed by the courage of the dog that he ordered the dog honored like other heroes.
The Mastiff returned later to the Lyme Hall, Sir Legh's estate. It became the progenitor of the famous breeding line. It is believed that every English Mastiff of the present day carries a part of her blood.
The English Mastiff suffered much in the course of wars that enveloped numerous countries in the 20th century. The first half of the century was particularly hard for English Mastiffs, especially for those living in Europe. However, the breed was not gone for good. It was practically revived thanks to breeding lines from America. But even today, English Mastiffs are believed to be more widely spread in the US than on the European continent.