Mastiff (Canis Urcanus), a variety of the dog family, large and powerful, with truncated muzzle and elevated skull, strong neck, muscular back, and robust limbs. The condyles of the lower jaw are above the line of the upper molars; the head is large, with the ears small and partly drooping; the tail truncated and carried erect; there is occasionally a fifth hind toe. The mastiff is calm, dignified, courageous, not easily Irritated, but when angry a most determined and tierce assailant. If we seek for the original where the race is now the most numerous and in the highest perfection, it would be in the mountains of Thibet, though there in no similar wild animal in that region; the nearest wild type is the hjcaon of the Cape of Good Hope (see HyAena), which possesses many of the characteristics of the mastiffs. The mastiff form became known to the Greeks about the time of the Macedonian conquest, and the classic Roman writers describe the pendulous lips, fiery eyes, loose folds of skin above the brows, and other characters of the modem mastiff of Thibet. The color of the Asiatic breed is generally very dark, almost black, with a few tan-colored spots about the face and limbs.
The mastiff of Thibet is the largest and finest of the breed, and extends through S. and E. Tartary. The English mastiff, perhaps derived from this, but smaller and somewhat crossed with the stag and blood hounds, is more elegant in form and more majestic; the color is usually dark buff, with dark muzzle and ears; one mentioned by Haniilton Smith measured 29 1/2 in. in height at the shoulder, and others are described as engaging singly with the lion, and able to cope with the bear and leopard. On the continent of Europe they are generally white, with large clouds of black or reddish; they have been seen 30 in. high at the shoulder. Mastiffs are verv sagacious, and make excellent watch dogs.
Mastiff (Canis urcanus).