If you’re in the market for a new dog, it’s important to consider all attributes of the breed you are thinking about bringing home. While many dog lovers may be interested in a Mastiff as a new animal companion, this breed requires special consideration and attention. While all dogs can suffer from health problems, if you’re serious about introducing this animal into your life, you must make sure you are prepared for handling whatever Mastiff health issues may come your way.
Regardless of the breed, all dogs will face health concerns at some point during their life. As a responsible pet owner, one of the most important things we can do for our pets is to make sure we are ready and prepared for any issues that could affect them. And when it comes to Mastiff health issues, there are a few serious concerns to be aware of and keep in mind.
Mastiff Health Concerns
When parenting this breed, there are three main health problems to be aware of. The most common cause of death in Mastiffs, by far, is canine cancer, especially bone cancer osteosarcoma, and also lymphosarcoma. No screening tests are available for this problem, which may not occur until later in life, but if you went through a breeder, you can ask them about any problems they have seen in the past from your dog’s family lineage.
The second major cause of deaths in Mastiffs is Gastric dilatation volvulus (GDV) or bloat in dogs, which is common in large, deep-chested breeds such as these. GDV is a disease in which the animal’s stomach dilates and then rotates, or twists, around its short axis. “This twisting” prevents the dog from being able to burp or vomit and eventually cuts off the blood supply to the stomach and sometimes also the spleen, both of which can quickly lead to shock and death.
Finally, canine heart disease is a serious Mastiff health issue, especially subaortic stenosis, cardiomyopathy, mitral valve disease, and occasionally pulmonic stenosis. Regular heart exams can increase the chances of catching these conditions early. Dogs with any of these conditions should not be bred, nor should any Mastiff be bred without first passing a comprehensive heart examination by a board-certified veterinary cardiologist and having OFA certification within the previous year. The sad reality, however, is that even a puppy of two healthy parents without heart disease can still develop it.
Other Health Concerns
The Mastiff can be affected by a very long list of eye diseases. Unfortunately, this large and lovable breed commonly suffers from canine cataracts, eyelid abnormalities (ectropion and entropion), progressive retinal atrophy, corneal dystrophy, retinal dysplasia and prolapse of the nictitans gland commonly referred to as “cherry eye.”
Like other giant breeds, the Mastiff is not a long-lived pet and has an average lifespan of only 9 to 10 years. This incredibly short life span can be attributed in part, to the Mastiff’s extreme size and weight that can cause unnecessary strain on their joints. Other common orthopedic diseases in Mastiffs include cruciate ligament rupture, panosteitis, osteochondritis, “wobbler’s” syndrome, a disease of the cervical spine at the neck, and occasionally hypertrophic osteodystrophy.
Hip & Elbow Dysplasia
Mastiff health problems also include elbow and canine hip dysplasia. Canine hip dysplasia (CHD) is a condition that begins in dogs as they grow and results in instability or a loose hip joint. Hip dysplasia can eventually lead to severe pain, joint degeneration, and arthritis. Genetics is the single biggest factor causing hip and elbow dysplasia in dogs, so it’s important to know the lineage of your Mastiff.
The wear-and-tear from the malformation of the elbow joint can lead to further wear-and-tear of the joints, and eventually lead to joint inflammation and osteoarthritis. Be sure to discuss with your vet how nutrition plays a role in supporting controlled growth in order to prevent future problems such as hip and elbow dysplasia.
In addition to the concerns above, other Mastiff health issues to be aware of are dog skin conditions that occur in the folds around their face and neck. Urinary tract infections are also common in Mastiffs, and a serious urinary disease called cystinuria is more common in this breed than in any other breed. Lastly, Epilepsy in dogs is also a large concern, especially since it’s so difficult to treat in this breed. Most epileptic Mastiffs die by age three.
As you can see, there are many health issues that are prone to the Mastiff breed. Keep in mind that just because you have a Mastiff does not mean that they are going to fall victim to these conditions. As a dog owner, the best thing you can do to prevent any future health conditions is to feed them a healthy, nutritious diet and make sure they get the recommended amount of exercise on a daily basis.