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The Fluffy English Mastiff: Can Mastiffs Have Long Hair?

Did you know that English Mastiffs can have long hair and fluffy coats? Read on to find out what makes the Fluffy English Mastiff so special!

Last Updated: October 5, 2020 | 8 min read

Uhtred the Fluffy English Mastiff

Can English Mastiffs have long hair and be fluffy?  They most certainly can!  Fluffies are no different than a normal English Mastiff except for the fact that they have inherited a long haired genetic trait.  Breeders view the long hair as a fault, and will breed it out of their breeding lines if they have a pup that happened to inherit the gene.  They are often mistaken for a Caucasian Mastiff, otherwise known as the Russian Bear Dog.

There is some mixed thoughts on how the fluffy gene came to be, but from what I found doing some research is that the long hair is thought to be brought in from when the breed may have had some Saint Bernard brought into the breed in order to save it from extinction in the early 1900’s.

Fluffy Mastiffs look bigger because of their fluff, but they fall into the same buckets as all EMs when it comes to size and traits.  We personally own a fluffy mastiff, and we will tell you a little bit of his story if you’ll hang with us!

Finding Our Fluffy

We’d been shopping for Mastiffs for a long time when we bought Freyja, our American Mastiff Puppy.  We brought her home and it wasn’t long before we decided that we wanted to get her a friend to keep her company.  She was about 6 months old and we started looking for a rescue to add to the household.

I was surfing Facebook one day, and an interesting looking mastiff popped up in our feed from our local Mastiff Rescue here in Arizona.  We went to go check him out and see how he would respond to Freyja, our American Mastiff and Bailey, our Chocolate Labrador Retriever.

The Wilson Dog Clan
Here’s the Wilson Dog Clan, with our AM Freyja on the left, Uhtred the Fluffy in the Middle and Bailey our Chocolate lab on the right!

Once we went down to the rescue, they brought us into a room to meet our new fluffy friend.  When he came in, he was still a puppy, around 9 months old.  His hair was long, but not nearly as long as it is now that he’s 2 years old.  He got along extremely well with both our old lab (she was 11 years old at the time) and his new best friend, our AM puppy.

We chatted with the Rescue Volunteer and agreed to foster him.   We took him home and after 3 days we decided he was staying with us forever and it was time to adopt.  It was slightly crazy for a while with 3 dogs and 4 kids, but we eventually found our groove and he was home.  We get lots of questions about him, so we figured we would answer a few since there seems to be a lot of misinformation about them out there on the internet.

He’s not a Leonberger or a Tibetian Mastiff

Uhtred Outdoors in Grass
He might look like both breeds, but he’s neither!

Uhtred often gets mistaken for a Leonberger when we take him to Petsmart or just out for a walk.  Leonbergers are another large breed dog, and they look very much like Uhtred but their fur is noticeably more dense and long.  Our Fluffy almost looks like the Golden Retriever coat equivalent when comparing that breed to the Lab.

At one local groomer, they have him labeled as a Tibetian Mastiff in their breed system because they bill us out for the cost it takes to groom him and that’s the closest thing they could find to label him.  He’s not a Tibetian Mastiff, and those dogs look FAR furrier than our Fluffy does.

How Did He Get Long Hair?

Uhtred the Mastiff Looking at Yard
A common theory is that a Saint Bernard was introduced into the Mastiff Breed at some point.

As mentioned prior, many breeders think that it’s when there was some Saint Bernard introduced into the breed when the English Mastiffs were all but going extinct back in the early 1900s.  There has also been some research done that indicates that it could have come through completely normal means, and just be a complete genetic variation where there’s long hair instead of short.

One thing is certain, breeders breed it out.  I’ve read some forum posts and some Facebook content that show how many people would actually love a fluffy, but breeders generally do not breed them.  When they are born, those pups will not be bred.  If they were bred with another fluffy mastiff, genetically there is a high likelihood that the offspring would also have long hair.

Because the Fluffy gene is not something that’s bred actively, they only usually randomly pop up if a breeder hasn’t DNA tested their dog for the gene and eliminated it from the line.  The types of fluffy hair can range from longer and silky to all out major fluff ball.

If you are interested in the genetics behind it, there’s a good chart right here that will walk you through the genetics.

Does He Shed?

Uhtred with Metal Tooth
Yes, our fluffy English Mastiff sheds a lot!

Yep.  He sheds more than our American Mastiff, which leads me to believe that he probably sheds more than a normal English Mastiff too.  Because of the sheer volume of hair, we have it on our stairs, in our kitchen, in our bedroom and just about everywhere else.  It’s a running joke that we take him with us wherever we go, whether we want to or not.

We have family that have Golden Retrievers and he does not shed really any more than they do.  He’s just bigger and has more hair, so it’s likely he sheds about the same amount as two full grown Goldens, seeing is he weighs about as much as two of them combined (he’s about 155 pounds).  So yes, if you get a fluffy, be prepared to brush them frequently and deal with the hair. A deshedder can help with keeping fur under control.

Does He Take a Long Time to Groom?

Yep, because he’s twice the dog with twice the amount of hair, he takes longer to groom.  We do have to brush him pretty frequently.  We make it a point to stay on top of his hair on a daily or every other day basis so it doesn’t get too overwhelming.  But whenever we clean out his crate area, there’s always tons of hair hanging out in the cracks.

Uhtred the Fluffy in a Chair
Uhtred loves to sit his fluffy backside in chairs he can’t really fit in.

We do use a special oatmeal shampoo for him because he’s got relatively sensitive skin.  We use that shampoo for both him and our American Mastiff and t hey both react very well to it.  He gets matted hair behind his ears as well if we don’t keep up with it.  When we got him from the rescue, he had huge clumps of matted hair behind his ears, and we had to shave the fur off the back of his ears to get rid of them.

Keep in mind, he’s just a hairier version of a normal English Mastiff, so being a giant breed means in general he’s going to take longer to bathe.

Is his Fur Soft?

Uhtred with Long Hair in Grass
Yes, his fur is incredibly soft! Moreso than our purebred EM.

We get this question a lot because some people are too intimidated to touch his fur and find out for themselves.  Owning a mastiff is not for everyone.  He’s quite imposing with his size, even though we don’t see it anymore.  He’s only 2 years old, so he’s still got some puppy tendencies in him, but he’s a complete lover and will be anyone’s best friend that will give him attention.  His fur is quite soft, I would say even more than our AM.

It probably helps that we use a special shampoo and conditioner to keep his fur soft and well taken care of, but his fur is naturally very soft and our kids love to snuggle with him on his bed or on the floor.

Where Can I Get One?

Uhtred Playing with Stick
Because they are rarer, Fluffy English Mastiffs can be difficult to find.

Your best bet is to put feelers out to every breeder out there and tell them what you are looking for.  If they have any mastiffs in their breeding line that are carriers of the long haired gene, it’s possible any breeder could end up with a Fluffy.  It’s also a possibility you just get a mastiff mix if you adopt from a rescue – there’s really no way to know unless you are adopting a pup with papers.  In reality because the gene is bred out, they are quite rare.

The best thing to do is put feelers out to every breeder out there and tell them what you want.  They are pretty rare to come along, but if you put your name on a waiting list with a large number of breeders, there’s a  chance you will eventually end up with one.  We just got lucky when we got ours because we wanted a fluffy when we got our AM, so we lucked out with our rescue.

Are You Sure He’s an English Mastiff?

Fluffy Mastiff Embark Test Results
We actually did an Embark DNA test on him to double-check his breed.

Yep!  In fact, we had him take a pet DNA test from Embark because we were curious if he was a carrier of any other type of breed.  You can see the results below, and if you are curious about our experience with Embark, we can say we were quite satisfied with the results.  The Embark test not only confirmed he is 100% Mastiff, but we also got the health screening.

The health screening was helpful because it can identify problem markers for other health defects.  Mastiffs are known for elbow and hip dysplasia, and he was not a carrier of either of those genes.  Our AM has already torn her ACL (thank goodness for pet insurance) and we were told that defect is degenerative (meaning it’s genetic and will likely happen to her other knee).  While things can definitely happen, we are happy to know he’s not only a purebred English Mastiff but that he’s got good genes and should be healthy for a long time.

Would You Recommend a Fluffy?

Uhtred with Tennis Ball in Grass
We would recommend a Fluffy English Mastiff without hesitation.

It’s a personal choice.  We love our fluff – but we love him because of his personality.  It definitely got our foot in the door at the rescue when we saw him come up as an available dog to adopt.  We wanted a fluff when we first found out it was a possibility.  We were looking at a number of large and giant breeds at the time, including the Bermese Mountain Dog or even a Bernese Mountain Dog Mix.

The fluff got us in the door, but ultimately our Uhtred won us over with his shining personality and velcro like ability to follow you into just about any room you walk into.  Overall he’s a great dog, and we love him very much.  We’d recommend you get the dog you want based on breed and feel with that dog around your family rather than looks, but if it has to be a fluffy, the mastiff has quickly become our favorite breed of any dog we’ve ever owned.  Make sure you can afford a giant dog breed, because we can tell you that they eat a lot and dog food for mastiffs can get expensive!

Final Thoughts

Yes, Mastiffs can have long hair and they are called “fluffies” or “floofs.”  We’ve heard folks call them “long coats” as well.  Really when it comes down to our fluffy boy, we love him and would have probably adopted him regardless of the length of his coat. If you are looking for a great breed to fit your family’s needs, the English Mastiff is one of the best family dogs you can introduce to your tribe. Just be prepared to spend more than you would on a smaller dog. Mastiffs require bigger beds and eat upwards of 6-8 cups of mastiff friendly dry kibble each day.

We will continue loving the slobber, long hair and sparkling personality that our fluffy brings into our home for as long as we have him.  If you find a fluff at a rescue, the Embark DNA test was a really cool experience for us and allowed us to get a little insight into our boy’s heritage.  We’d recommend it if you really want to know what kind of dog you have, regardless of if it’s a Mastiff or another “question mark” looking dog breed.

Leave a Comment

20 Comments

Karen Martin

September 26, 2019 at 8:00 pm

We also have a fluffy that will soon turn six. We just lost our 9 1/2 yr old Irish wolfhound and want to have a companion for our mastiff. We are set on a fluffy so I will go with your recommendations of reaching out to breeders. Thanks for sharing. If you know of any reputable breeders please let me know.

Kelly Wilson (Author)

September 28, 2019 at 4:22 am

Thanks for writing Karen! We got ours as a rescue, so I can't be much help on that - but keep your eyes peeled! Many Mastiff breeders have them pop up randomly which can be quite the surprise! Good luck!

Jeremi putzi

December 15, 2019 at 8:34 pm

I also have a fluffy and just absolutely adore her!! I was just told last week that she has lymphoma and am just devastated! I want another fluffy so so badly but know they are hard to come by. My girl looks so much like your boy.

Kelly Wilson (Author)

December 17, 2019 at 2:53 pm

Thanks for the comment Jeremi - very sorry to hear about your pup, and will send love & prayers your way!

Rhonda White

December 17, 2019 at 5:29 pm

I had a fluffy Bullmastiff 12 years ago. She was so beautiful and just the love of my life. I purchased her from the breeder I have used for all of my Bullies, she just happened (somehow) to come upon that gene. She has shown Bullies for years and is actually usually the person mentioned in any book about Bullmastiffs.

Anyway, of course, dog show people don't want a fluff so I took her!!! She was red and absolutely gorgeous!!! I had people stopping me all of the time to ask what kind of a dog she was. She lives to be 10 1/2 and I've been looking for a fluffy ever since. Enjoy your fluffs!!! Few and far between!!

Kelly Wilson (Author)

December 27, 2019 at 1:51 pm

Thanks for the comment Rhonda - we love our fluffy boy, he's a great pup!

Lisa

December 30, 2019 at 11:41 pm

I just got one a week before Christmas. I love him!!

Kelly Wilson (Author)

December 31, 2019 at 4:16 am

Enjoy your fluffy, they are the best!

Missie

January 11, 2020 at 1:49 am

We have a Dane/mastiff mix that is a fluffy! She looks just like yours! So sweet!

Kelly Wilson (Author)

January 11, 2020 at 1:53 am

Thanks for stopping by and commenting Missie! We love the fluffies, give yours a big hug!

Cindi

January 22, 2020 at 1:47 pm

I too have a fluffy, she is so beautiful! She is a little timid and scared but she was on 8 months old when we got her and we’ve had her for 4 months now. She is 165lbs fawn. I also have her half brother and is not a fluffy, he is brindle 220lbs at 16 months old. Both intact.

So I am definitely a mastiff lover. My boy is an animal therapy dog his personality is perfect for it. We were just certified last month and he is so popular people ask for him to come back. You can see both of them on his Facebook page at Porters Post.

Had one before that died at 5 years old with small cell lung cancer in 2017. They are such amazing dogs that once you have one you have to have another. They are truly the love of our lives for our family. Wish I could send you pics. Thank you for all of your information very helpful.

Oatty

January 23, 2020 at 1:21 am

I have a fluffy! His name is Rosco! He will be 6 months old Feb 10! He’s all boy and ornery as can be! He’s our second mastiff! We absolutely love his long hair! Soft and fluffy!

Kelly Wilson (Author)

January 23, 2020 at 3:32 am

Sounds like a great dog, fluffies are the best! Thanks for commenting!

Kelly Wilson (Author)

January 23, 2020 at 3:34 am

Thanks for the comment Cindi! Sounds like a great pup. We love the fluffs! A brindle mastiff is definitely on our list soon!

alan conner

February 5, 2020 at 10:15 am

We have a fluffy EM little girl, she's weighing in around 85 kilo and is just coming up to 3 years old. We got ours from a breeder in Carmarthen Wales from a litter of twelve two sisters from the group were fluffy. :-)

Great dog and I'm told by the breeder that they do get a little larger due to the gene throw back. must admit she's very heavy boned and around the size of the males. The breeder gets fluffs every now and then her names is Pauline Gittens. Great breeder and great dogs can recommend them to anyone in the UK!

Kelly Wilson (Author)

February 5, 2020 at 1:30 pm

Thanks for the comment Alan! Sounds like you have a great pup!

Theresa Arendsee

September 25, 2020 at 1:31 am

Thank you for posting. I am on my 2nd fluffy. Took me 4 yrs to find her. Being a breeder of mastiffs and possibly showing in the last 5 years, I have noticed that the fluffy is much more accepted than once was. There are even fluffies that have made champions in the show ring. I have also met English Mastiff show dog owners that actively sought out a fluffy. It is a personal preference, and you either like or don't like them. Thank you for an informative article!

Kelly Wilson (Author)

September 25, 2020 at 4:34 pm

Thanks Theresa! We love your fluffy and wouldn't mind adding another to our pack at some point!

Renee Brown

September 28, 2020 at 9:09 pm

I love my fluffy. When we drove in the breeder's yard and I saw him, I told my husband, "I have to have that dog!" We went around to other breeders, but I came back and he was still there so I happily brought him home. He's been one of the smartest dogs I've ever owned.

Unlike some elderly people I like a big dog because he doesn't get underfoot and I can see where he is. I've had many breeds over the years, always preferred Great Danes but now wouldn't have anything but a Mastiff.

Kelly Wilson (Author)

September 30, 2020 at 10:28 pm

We are with you there Renee! We love our Fluffy! They are so unique, and it's a mystery to most people that see them. Glad you have a wonderful pup, and thanks for the comment!