Frequent Asked Questions
We have kids. Is a bullmastiff suitable as a family pet?
We prefer to see dogs of our kennel living in a normal Household. So certainly not only as a guard dog! However the bullmastiff has a sturdy appearance and therefore can scare people, they have a very soft and friendly character. Of course a bullmastiff will guard and protect but we think it doesn’t have to be the mean reason to purchase a bullmastiff, there are other breeds which are more suitable for this. A bullmastiff is normally very sweet for children. However they can be very clumsy and therefore can run over a child in accident. Often they don’t know how big and heavy they are and forget the World around them for a cookie or a toy. Still we think it is important that there always is supervision with a child and a dog. Therefore never send a kid to walk the dog because you never know what they run into and what will happen. A child doesn’t have enough power and insight to solve or prevent certain issues.
Which colours do you breed?
Because we are working with genetics we have only limited influence and we can’t exclude anything. Therefore there are 3 colours which could presence; fawn, red and brindle. Because you can and there will be bred with mixed colours there can be a variation on these colours, for example light red / deep red / dark brindle etc. On the pedigree only the main colour will be mentioned. By our self we prefer fawn and red and therefore most of our combinations will be with these colours. Although we have our preferences we will not exclude brindles, for example maybe we will use a brindle in the future because he is very well build, has good health and a sweet character. Besides that breeding is mixing genetics of different bloodlines and a brindle ancestor can have influence in a combination whereby a brindle puppy can be born out of a red – red or even a red – fawn combination.
Is health, character or exterior the most important for you?
The most people in our target audience have a bullmastiff as a social/ friendly (family)pet and for them health and character is the most import. Also for us these points are absolutely important. Finally it’s pleasant to have a healthy dog which is easy to handle. It also very important for the development of the breed to take a close look at the exterior, in the end the exterior features the breed. Therefore we do our outmost best to take a close look at all three points when we choose a combination. Still it stays nature which we are working with so we can’t predict what a combination will bring.
What do you feed your dogs?
We are feeding our dogs chunks of Kivo. After we feed them multiple types of food, this chunks has the best results for us; shiny coats, good stool, no itching or irritation and a happy dog because of the tasty meal. Kivo makes a distinction between pressed and extruded (baked) chunks. We feed our adult dogs the pressed chunks. There are multiple reason why we choose to do that; 1) the chance on a gastric torsion (discriped by 'what is a gastric torsion?') is smaller because the chunks are falling apart instead of floating in the stomach, 2) the heating by creating the chunks is lower whereby the vitamines and minerals are better preserved, 3) the quantity of the chunks is less because the nutrients are pressed together. The pressed chunks of Kivo are available in different kind of variaties, we use the Salmon/Rice version for a good degestion and good vitamines. Our puppies are offered the extruded chunks, still good nutrients but on this age not low (read: heavier) on the stomach.
The feedingsschedule we manage is as following;
from 2 months -> Kivo Puppy extruded
from 4 months -> Kivo Puppy pressed (option)
from 6 months -> Kivo complete meat (for a little extra, as discriped bellow)
from 9 months -> Kivo Salmon/Rice pressed
From 4 months you can choose for the pressed chunks, it's also no problem to change from extruded to pressed around 9 months of age.
We feed our (adult) dogs 2 meals a day. Puppies are getting 3 meals on the moment they leave us, we advice to follow this till about 5 months of age. Some dogs are needing a quicker switch to two meals a day but they will let you know by regular skipping meals (often the second meal).
Our dogs also are getting meat once a week. Because changing or even mixing a meat meal with chunks is very bad for digesting in the stomach we are having 1 or 2 meat days a week. On that day they don’t get any chunks served but only meat. We are doing this for cleaning the intestines. It’s not necessary to do and if you like we advice to only start after an age of 6 months. The first months a puppy is growing very fast and we don’t prefer changing food in this phase. There are different types of good meat but not all meat products are well composed and are a complete meal. We prefer Kivo or Carnibest.
How much food do you give your dogs?
We are using the feedings schedule which is on the bag as a guideline because every dog is and grows different. You have to watch closely that the ribs are just not visible but easy to feel. Certainly in the growing phase you can rather have a dog a little too small than to fat. This because the growing joints have enough to endure during this period and every kilo more is an extra kilo to carry with them. So keep a close eye on your dog, if you see he is too small give him some extra but if you see he has a little too much weight give him less.
Further we don’t offer food the whole day. Besides the change on a gastric torsion (see question ‘what is a gastric torsion?’) because you don’t know exactly when the dog eats, the dog also learns to eat his bowl empty. If the dog doesn’t eat than he or she will get the next feeding time the same meal and he or she have to wait. We always keep 2 feeding times a day (adult dogs) and get around 20 minutes for their meal. It is not pitiful to take a full bowl after that time because they learn when to eat and you can prevent a life threatening torsion.
* Pay attention; however bad or too less food can cause arrears in growth it doesn’t mean that with good or too much food the dog is growing big! Genetics provides the size of a dog.
What more can you tell about food and feeding?
Overstock or malnutrition
The size of a dog never is stated by the amount of feeding. The bone structure doesn’t change when they get to much food, only the fat level. The bone structure and size of the head are genetic. The only benefit is that you can see your dog weights so many kilos. The disadvantage is much bigger; a slow, lazy dog in a bad condition (and susceptible for all kind of illness), poor development for the joints and therefore a big chance on Hip- or Elbow dysplasia and a fat dog has a worse quality of living and will live less longer (!), although he in the end isn’t grown bigger than he would have with normal weight. Then against that cheaper food with less nutrients or way to less food (in proportion) can cause growth restriction! Because they get not enough nutrients they can get arrears in developing which mostly cannot be caught up.
Maybe it sounds weird but a difficult eater is often created by the owner. They prefer to see their dog eating well (read: many). If this don’t happen for a moment than the owner starts to add ‘variation’ through the meal, so the dog finally starts eating. The dog learns that when he doesn’t start eating immediately he gets nice treats as an extra. Often this ‘variation’ become a habit because the dog is a difficult eater, although it can easily happen, just like humans, that a dog don’t is hungry due to warm weather, (the smell of) a dog in season) or because he isn’t feeling completely well which can easily pass with one meal less. A dog easily can survive about 60 days without food. So skip a meal is really no problem. If they skip multiple meals check if something is changed, a dog is a creature of habit. Further we handle strict rules; if they don’t eat their food within 15 or 20 minutes, we take their bowl away and we offer the food again the next feeding time. We don’t give them treats for not eating, on the long term this only creates difficult eaters.
Changing of food
We think it’s a fable that when you change food you need to mix it. In that way you are creating taking different type / compositions for a longer period. Just switching is in our eyes the best option. Besides that is just wrong to mix pressed and unexpanded chunks or even mix chunks with meat. Always switch suddenly, preferred in the morning because than there is the most time between ‘old’ and ‘new’ food. It’s normal that the intestines are reacting and have to get used to the new food and therefore the stool is a bit less of quality but within a couple days this have to recover.
What is a gastric torsion?
A bullmastiff is a molossor and they have change on a gastric torsion (= turned stomach). A gastric torsion is caused by busy playing with a full stomach or fast (unexpected) turnings. Also water with a big temperature difference can cause a torsion (water has to be room temperature). The metabolism will be heavily disturbed which causes the stomach to blow up. Also the bloodsupply from and to the stomach will be cut of which causes the dog to get in shock. In both cases an immediate action is necessary! The dog has to be checked by a vet and in some cases he has to operate immediately. Unfortunately there are regular dying dogs on a gastric torsion and we advice to let the dog rest after a meal for at least 1 or 1,5 hour. Symptoms of a gastric torsion are; a blown belly, restless, be slow, nausea without vomiting, hard time breathing and besides that it’s very painful. Also they familiar don’t know what to do and keep wondering around or they just keep lying still. If in doubt always consult a veterinarian!
What is Hip dysplasia (HD) and Elbow dysplasia (ED)?
HD is an abbreviation for Hip dysplasia en ED for Elbow dysplasia. Dysplasia means deviation/ malformation in this case of the hip- or elbow joint. A puppy is normally born with good hips and elbows but by growing the joints are also developing. Because of different factors like heredity, food and motion during the growth of a puppy this development can be prevented. Hereby there can arise deviation, malformation or even broken pieces in a hip- or elbow joint. Also on later age malformation can arises by overpressure or trauma (heavy smack on a joint by making a wrong jump). The diagnoses HD and ED can only be given by a veterinarian through x-rays. If a dog doesn’t walk supple it also can be a problem with the heel, knee, foot or footpad. In the joints different kind of things can be deviated to have HD or ED as a result. With hips this can be; poor connection of femoral head or acetabulum, malformation of femoral head or acetabulum, broken pieces of bone, bone growth (=arthrosis), poor cartilage or a wrong composition of synovial fluid. With elbows this can be; poor connection (of cubit and radius or cubit/radius in opposite of the upper arm), loose cartilage, arthrosis, a loose piece of bone or a not well grown piece of bone. You understand that a loose piece of bone can be solved with an operation, but a little piece of bone can create damage in joint which cannot be solved. All this diseases have to be taken seriously and timely identification is always better than let it simmer.
What can we, and what are you doing, against Hip- and Elbows dysplasia?
Both deviations are common with big breeds, as well as the bullmastiff. Therefore it’s important to pay attention with this by purchasing a puppy and while a puppy grows. As you can see in the question above (What is HD and ED?) genetics, food and motion can contribute to these deviations.
Genetically is defined how hips and elbows of a pup will grow. Therefore we only breed with the most favourable results, however this isn’t a guarantee for good, strong joints. When you make a combination you are genetically independent of different bloodlines, multiple generations and also the effect of combine bloodlines. Therefore it isn’t (unfortunately) possible to completely rule out these problems. We try to rule out these problems as much as possible by breeding only with good joints and results, finally it is possible to select this so why shouldn’t we? If our dogs are over 18 months we make x-rays and let these be judged officially.
Only a dog with positive results will (and besides that requires to our other demands, which you can read in the question ‘Which makes your dogs different than average?’) be used for our breeding programme.
A proper food is also very important for a dog joints. A good composition of a meal and besides that a good amount supports a growing puppy. A good food in a wrong amount can also create overpressure on the joints. How good a chunk is, if a dog gets way too many and therefore has overweight he or she has to carry all that extra weight and his or her joints will have a tuff job. Too less food or nutrition can, in opposite of too much food, create arrears in the growing process and affect the joints. A good chunk has a good amount of protein, fat, carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals and hydrogen but has to be served in the right amount. We are feeding our dogs Kivo and are very content about this. Shiny coats, good stool, good but not too hard growing dogs and besides that, they like the food.
The last important thing to prevent or determine HD and ED is motion. A good type of motion, not too many but certainly not to less, is very important. The muscles support the joints and a correct muscularity makes the joints stay in the right position. However too much movement can lead to overpressure and then the effect is reversed. Certainly during the growth (the First 18 months) is important to move enough by walking etc but certainly avoid overpressure. We therefore advice to walk multiple small walks than big distends in once. Besides that the First 18 months intensive walks on the beach or in the forest have to be avoid. Because of the shifting sand the joints have to work harder and with long distance (which people mostly do when a puppy is having fun) does it result quick in overpressure. Also climbing stairs is a clincher for joints, these have to take a smack every step. These three elements can separately but also together create bad joints. Guarantee on good hips and elbows can never be given! We can try together to handle this as good as possible. We are doing this by setting high demands when we make a combination and with giving good information for awareness. You can do this by following the advices and inform us when there are unexpected problems so we can adjust our breeding programme if necessary.
They advice to be very carefully with a puppy. Isn’t this overdone?
We don’t think it’s overdone! Also we think that some puppy-owners are not aware of the fragility of a puppy. Just like a baby every joint and bone is fragile because it’s growing fast and isn’t hardened yet. Therefore we advice to play controlled and with the fragility in your mind. For example with ballgames there is mostly lots of running, jumping and turning involved. All these movements are heavy loads for the bones. And as a guideline we advice to walk 10 minutes each month of age. A dog of 4 months should therefore walk maximum for 10 min. X 4 months = 40 minutes a day. Divided over 4 times a day it is 10 minutes for a walk. Important with this is also the speed, so nice and easy and not as a speed walker, which demands more of the joints and bones.
You advice to follow an obedience training. Isn’t it possible to teach this by myself?
We advice to follow at least a puppy course, also if you have years of experience with a dog. A puppy course isn’t only for teaching the commands like sit, down and come but the most important is the socialisation with other dogs and to create a bond with your dog. By undergo this together the dogs learns to trust you on moments of play but also that he or she has to listen on certain moments. Besides that our puppies are used to big dogs (but only bullmastiffs) and they never had seen other breeds before which can be strange for them. With going to puppy course they see and play with other breeds and this is very helpful for socialisation and can’t be theached at home. You can start with a puppy course at the age of 9 weeks. This is because there already changes a lot when they are 8 weeks and are moving to their new home, with new people. After a couple days they are used to this and you can start undertake more things like a class. If dog and owner still have a great time after that you can always go further with the basis obedience or other classes. For other sports like agility etc we strictly advice to start with this after an age of 18 months because of the load on the joints. We also advice everybody to visit a dog school (without dog) before you participate to a class. Than you can see of the way of teaching corresponds to what you like and if you think your puppy will fit in the Group.
Where are you looking for by selecting a stud?
We are following the next guidelines: At First they have to be in optimal health (HD, ED etc). Without a good health result we wouldn’t look even further for our other requirements. Then the male have to connect to our female. In the end we make a combination and hope the good characteristics of both parents come back in the puppies. We are looking to character and exterior. If our female could have some more mass than this is certainly a thing the male must have. If we have a female which has the maximum sizes, than we are looking for a male which can meet this. And if we have an active female, we prefer a more quiet male. Further our preference goes out to a red or fawn colour. Of course this will not say that a brindle bullmastiff isn’t beautiful! Also the ancestors will be accurately viewed. In the end genetics of both bloodlines will be continued so it’s important to know what happened generations back. Also we are looking to eventually other offspring’s because often you can see how some males are inherited.
How does Social Giant socialise the puppies?
After a starting period of very much rest our socialisation programme starts from about 3 weeks and will slowly extended. Regular the puppies are out of the welpingbox to discover the whole room (living room and later the complete ground floor). Besides that we are simulating all kind of things: bicycle bell, hard noises by a voice or clapping, the radio/television extra loud, suddenly opening an umbrella or garbage bag or even vacuum cleaning more often than necessary. While we are making these noises we don’t pay extra attention to the puppies, so they understand that it is normal. Sometimes they need a moment to recover but within 30 seconds they will continue playing or sleeping.
The Young puppies are also getting different kind of toys; in the beginning mostly stuffed animals and later toy rope for pullingames, tennis- and footballs, rubber toys etc. We also start with making the puppies (newspaper)neat. A puppy has instinct for this but it, of course, has to be activated. We are doing this by putting newspapers in a corner of the welpingbox. They are starting to do their pee and poo by their self and with a bit of our help on the newspapers.
From 5 weeks we are going a step further. You can find them, if the weather is allowing this, regular outside where they hear new noises like trucks (which sizzle, beep, hum etc.), motors and other traffic noises. We also going further in trying to get them neat by take them outside after sleeping etc. The pressure is than the highest and when they do it outside we react very enthusiastic so they are rewarded for it. Further they are getting more toys with harder noises like a bottle with stones and a tunnel to play with. From the 6th week they have had their shots and the socialisation traject is going another step further. We are also welcoming regular visitors. Especially kids do really like this and cuddle and play carefully with the puppies. Also in the last weeks we are going for a little walk on a leash so the puppies are getting used to a collar, seeing traffic and many other things on the street. Of course we are doing this by degrees and we accompany them. During all these weeks there is also many time to cuddle and they get much individual attention.
By accompany this socialisation programme carefully we give them a good start in a loving home. Socialisation doesn’t stop when they left us! The First 12 weeks are very important for a puppy and everything what a puppy pass through will not be forgotten for the rest of his or her life. We therefore advice to continue this socialisation after he or she moved to the new home. Visit mostly situations which he or she will have to do with on an older age like fairs, shops, terrace, fun fairs etc. We do advice to be a bit more careful with playing and meeting other dogs. On dog schools the vaccinations are checked most of the time but outside on the street it isn’t. A dog doesn’t have to be ill but still can carry a virus or other illness and infect your puppy. You can better prevent nasty (or sometimes even deadly) diseases than try to solve it! Keep your puppy who is not completely vaccinated therefore away off dog fields are places where many dogs are walked, the stool of other dogs are often a source of bacteria or infections.
What makes your dogs different than average?
We are passing some selection moments before we use a dog for breeding. The Young dogs are selected in a First critical phase to stay with us. Also during their grow we keep a close eye if they will do to our breeding wishes. The last selection is on the age of 18 months. They will be completely checked; HD and ED, complete health and then we look if their typical enough to the breed for breeding. If they pass all these tests than they will used for breeding but only on an age that we think they are adult enough to have a litter. Most of the time this will be at earliest when they past their 2nd birthday. Also we keep a close eye on the puppies we have bred, if we are not satisfied by the results of a combination we certainly aren’t too shy to take a dog out of our breeding programme. Only when we are for the full 100 % convinced if a dog is suited for breeding we will use him or her!!
What is the difference between you and other breeders?
Every breeder is breeding on his own way and everybody does this in a good way by its own opinion. Of course there are disagreements about what a good way is. Below we are calling the reasons why we thing we are breeding on a good way:
- We only breed with carefully selected females,
- We are looking strict to our studs for a ‘best match’,
- When we make a combination we keep a close eye on health, character and exterior,
- We handle strict requirements to our parents (character, typical for breed, bite, HD and ED),
- No line breeding for just a nice exterior but outcross for a bigger variety of genes and optimal health,
- We are investing lots of time and attention to socialisation because we have a very extensive socialisation programme and are getting the puppies used to lots of things,
- All our dogs live in our home and not in kennels,
- Strict health,
- We provide much information; through our website but when you get a Social Giant puppy also by our Mediwijzer and of course during the whole life of a Social Giant dog.
Of course we can mention more reasons here why we thing that we are doing our outmost best for this breed but if you are interested, or if you want to Judge by yourself, we like to invite you to look for yourself.
Do you also participate at dog shows?
Yes we do, we visit multiple shows and will keep doing this. Regular you can find us on a show but certainly not on all shows. However we like to visit a show now and then we also like to do other things with our dogs. We often enter our dogs on shows which we like, like shows outside or the Winner in Amsterdam and we look also to which Judge is judging. We like to meet with other breeders/bullmastiff people and it’s a good socialisation for the dogs. On that moment we are of course willing to give information to everyone who is asking.
Can we visit your kennel?
Yes of course, you can contact us for making a noncommittal appointment to meet our dogs and our method. Further you can see us regular on shows, please approach us if you want. We are there to speak with everybody, look at other dogs and meet interested.
To which criteria a puppy buyer has to answer?
Many breeders are using lists with questions about your house and experience. Uncontrollable, social desirable answers are easy to give, so we don’t choose for this. Often it doesn’t tell much, cause we prefer to see a dog in a smaller house where is giving on a good way attention to a dog, than someone which has a very big garden and doesn’t invest time in a dog. Therefore we think it’s important to meet in front. Both parties can decide if there is enough trust to purchase a puppy or for us to place a puppy in a for him or her nice environment. For impulse buying you don’t have to contact us because we always have a waiting list.
How is the procedure if we are interested in a puppy?
When you are seriously interested and have made a deliberately choice to welcome one of our puppies in your home and we are also convinced that a puppy will have a careful and good home, than you can register yourself for a Social Giant puppy. We have two waiting lists; one for males and one for females. There are no specific selection criteria but if we have the feeling that a puppy will not be happy with you as a new owner, we still cancel the reservation. From the sixed week we are inviting people to come over and watch and meet the puppies. We than ask to give a First and second preference. We are consciously inviting people not earlier for a visit because the puppies aren’t vaccinated earlier and are easily susceptible, the health of the puppies and mother are our First priority! We know the sixed week is maybe a bit late for meeting the puppies but we think it’s important that you and also all the other new owners will have a healthy puppy and therefore are asking for your understanding. In the meantime we are placing very much pictures and movies so you still can enjoy your future puppy. At the sixed or seventh week we will announce to whom which puppy is going. By making this decision we will mainly look to the behaviour of the puppy in combination with the new family. We try to take the given preferences into account as much as possible.
What does a purchase agreement contain?
The purchase agreement is for both parties an important document. Here you can find information about the puppy and his or her parents, the guarantee is defined, the condition are mentioned about care which we impose for the new owners and information is mentioned about transfer of the dog. By visiting our kennel we can show you an example. Besides the purchase agreement we will also provide a ‘mediwijzer’. In this mediwijzer we are giving explanation and information about disabilities of the breed like hip- and elbow dysplasia but also information about dangerous plants, food and castration.