Is Mastiff a smart dog?

Did you know that a Mastiff nearly won the Westminster Dog Show in 2004, one of the premiere dog shows in the world? Not bad for a breed that many mistakenly consider to be “dull-witted.” Many people spend their whole lives believing that Mollie, Sam, or Max – the affable, drooling mastiffs of their youth – were beautiful but ditzy. The truth is – Mastiffs are intelligent dogs. They just show their cleverness differently to more commonly recognized ‘smart breeds’ like the Border Collie or the Poodle. If you have ever been surprised by a sly grin, a well-timed nudge, or an unexpected act of heroism from a mastiff, this article will explain everything.

Mastiffs are a fascinating breed. These giant, ancient dogs known as the “Gamekeepers Night Dog” have been used for guarding since time immemorial. Their size does much of the work, but their intelligence is key to their prowess. A mastiff can distinguish between casual visitors, stray animals, and genuine threats with uncanny accuracy. Many Mastiff owners speak of their pet’s almost-human understanding of moods and emotions; they can sense their owner’s distress and will act to comfort or defend as needed. This emotional intelligence is part of what makes Mastiffs remarkable dogs.

The perception of Mastiffs as ‘less intelligent’ arises from an inbuilt slow maturation rate. Mastiffs grow up slow; reaching full maturity at three years-old, later than many breeds. This means that Labradors or Collies – those breeds frequently seen as highly intelligent – may be sitting, fetching, and responding to complex commands long before the mastiff has stopped chewing slippers. The slow growth leads to a lag that contributes to the Mastiff’s underserving reputation as slow. But make no mistake. When a Mastiff mentally matures, they display significant smarts.

Mastiffs are also stubborn. We often equate obedience with intelligence in dogs. If that’s the measurement, then the Mastiff may seem less intelligent, because they can be willful. They want to do things their way. They were bred to protect, and that sometimes means disregarding commands if they perceive an overarching need. This stubbornness is not a sign of low intelligence, but rather high independence coupled with a protective nature. Also, this stubborn streak means they are not the best breed for first-time owners who don’t understand dog psychology and body language.

When it comes to training a Mastiff, harnessing their intelligence requires understanding their psychology. Mastiffs respond well to positive reinforcement training. Their sensitive nature means they don’t react well to harsh tones or punishments. They are incredibly loyal, and want to please their owners. So, encourage your mastiff by rewarding good behavior with treats and words of praise.

To make the most out of a Mastiff’s intelligence, socialization and mental stimulation are key. Don’t expect your Mastiff to be a high-energy, anxious-to-please pooch like a Border Collie. However, they can be alert, responsive, and impressively intuitive when trained and socialized appropriately.

Mastiffs are fantastic problem solvers. Stories from throughout the centuries have shown Mastiffs navigating intricate London streets to return home, locating family members in distress, and even outsmarting burglars. They have a keen problem-solving ability, which they apply to real-world situations. This is reflected in their ability to overcome obstacles, from figuring out how to open gates, to finding the shortest path to their favorite sofa.

A Mastiff’s intelligence is a different kind of smart – the quiet, contemplative, and deeply intuitive kind. It is a stark contrast to the hyper-focused intensity of Border Collies or the playful genius of Poodles. However, it is intelligence nevertheless. These gentle giants are more than capable of demonstrating problem-solving skills, protectiveness, and adaptability that is just as impressive, if not more, as fetching a ball or performing tricks.

So yes, in conclusion, your drooling, affable Mastiff is smart. Just in a dignifiedly silent, intuitively sensitive, and subtly profound sort of way. These giant protectors with heart-melting eyes might come around to learning new tricks slower than other breeds, but once they get it, they’ve got it down pat. Remember, in the dog world, just like in the human world, intelligence comes in all shapes and sizes. The Mastiff breed is the embodiment of this truth.