Monday, January 30, 2012

Choosing a Top Quality Dry Food

UPDATE: January 2016 - This post is several years old.  I have been feeding a raw diet for nearly 5 years now and it is in my opinion the best thing I could ever do for my dogs. If you are looking for advice or opinions on a specific brand of food please follow the protocol below and visit to find out their rating. I have fed raw so long I can't comment on any one food other than what is outlined below and at

I personally feed my dogs, and always have fed, Diamond Naturals Large Breed 60+lb dog food.  I’m seriously considering switching over to a raw diet because it is the absolute best thing you can feed your dog, however it takes a little more planning than I’m sure I can handle right now.  If you do choose to feed a dry kibble to your dog, be it an English Mastiff or a Toy Poodle, below is a list of criteria we believe a food must meet to be considered a quality kibble. 
  • Food contains NO corn and doesn’t have a lot of grains in the top ingredients.
  • Company has disclosed where the food is manufactured.
  • Food contains a good amount of animal protein in the top ingredients (prefer a named meal as #1 or at least a named meat as #1 followed by a named meal in the top ingredients).
  • Food contains NO meat or poultry by-products.
  • Food contains NO synthetic Vitamin K.
  • Food has only named ingredients, especially in the fats and proteins.
  • Food contains NO gluten meals.
  • If food contains grains and vegetables, they are whole grains and vegetables, not fragments.
  • Food contains NO artificial colors, flavors or preservatives. For instance, no BHA, BHT or Ethoxyquin.
  • Food contains NO added sweeteners.
And remember, a top food is only top if your dog likes it and does well on it.   All of this information was taken from a list my friend puts together for the forum, Mastiff Online Community.  Here is a link to the article which contains a list of foods that adhere to the criteria above.  This list, in my opinion, is what I would consider the Dog Food Bible! 
On a side note, while it is outlined in the article, I wanted to bring attention to this: Please use caution in feeding grain free foods to growing dogs! Many grain free foods have calcium and phosphorus levels that are too high for growing giant pups. Feeding those foods can harm your puppy. So the general rule is steer clear of grain free until your dog's growth plates have closed, usually around 2 years of age.

Friday, January 27, 2012

How to find a quality English Mastiff puppy and a reputable breeder

When looking at any English Mastiff breeder these are the things I suggest:

Be sure to ask to see all the health testing.  At absolute minimum the parents (and hopefully) grandparents should have:

  • OFA Pennhip testing done on the hips.
  • OFA done on the elbows
  • Thyroid testing
  • Cardiac testing
  • Cystinuria testing
  • PRA DNA (either the actual test or clear through parentage)
  • CERF (eye examination)
Ask to see copies of the parents registration papers.  Puppies will only be registerable if both parents have their AKC papers.

Does the breeder show their dogs?  While it is not imperative that a puppy’s parents are champions it is important that the breeder understands the breed standard and that their breedings strive to improve their dogs.  Conformation is important, many things in the Breed Standard directly link to health, form and function.  For example, a mastiff with a straight rear could be prone to cruciate problems; or a mastiff with too long a back may be at risk for Wobbler's.  Showing also is a test of a dog’s temperament – can they handle stressful situations?  Are they dog /people aggressive away from the home?  We are seeing more and more temperament problems coming from poorly bred mastiffs.  If they aren’t shown in conformation do they do therapy work; have temperament testing done (i.e. CGC, TDI or a working dog title)?  Mastiffs are large dogs and temperament is essential.

Ask why they have chosen to do this breeding.  How do they hope it will improve the breed? Are they keeping a puppy from the breeding?

Visit their home.  What are the living conditions?  Meet both parents if possible and get a feel for their temperaments.  Make sure you feel comfortable with the breeders as you should have a relationship with them for the life of the dog. If I am going to financially support a breeder I want to be darn sure I know what kind of environment the dogs are kept in.

Do they belong to a breed club?  Most reputable breeders will belong to the Mastiff Club of America which has a Code of Ethics that a breeder must adhere to.  

What age are the parents?  I wouldn’t breed before 22 months (for both males and females) when you are able to see how the dog has matured and all health testing can be completed.  I’ve seen many mastiffs that were nice as puppies and teenagers that never matured into half decent adults.   Girls should not be bred after 6 years (preferably much younger).

Ask about how often the female has been bred are they pumping out puppies not allowing the female to recover in between breedings?  How many litters does the breeder produce in a year?

How are the pups socialized?  What age do they let them go?  Pups should never, ever leave before 8 weeks, I prefer a little longer as long as they are staying with their siblings.  Dogs learn a lot about bite inhibition and how to be a dog from littermates and their mother.

Ask to see the contract beforehand and read it carefully.  If there’s something you don’t agree with don’t be shy.  Mastiffs from a quality breeder should be sold on non-breeding contracts – these can be lifted when certain health/showing requirements are met.  If you are asked to enter into a co-ownership, think about it carefully before agreeing.

And ask for references and follow up on them.  Ask around the mastiff community, as well.

Please have a look at the Mastiff Club of America website for further information about the breed, health and much more.  They also have breeder referral lists that they will send you upon request.  That's a great place to start looking for a breeder.  Another website I recommend is  There are  a ton of Mastiff resources there as well as a nice listing of health tested stud dogs and upcoming litters from all across the US.  If you need further assistance finding a quality puppy or even a rescue, please contact me and I would be happy to help you in your search.

How not to buy an English Mastiff puppy, or any puppy for that matter

What's the first thing you do when you want to buy something?  10 years ago you went to a store that sold that particular product or called someone you knew that had that particular item and asked them where they got it.  In today's day and age what do we do?  We go to Google.  It's a way of doing business, a lifeline to the outside world of basically everything, shopping, information, education, social networking, the list is infinite.

So what is the first thing that most people do when they've decided they want to buy an English Mastiff puppy?  They go to their computer, pull up their old friend Google and type in "English Mastiff puppies for sale in Missouri" or whatever state they are in.  We've been conditioned to go to the internet for every single scrap of everything we need, so why not to buy a puppy? Here's why.

Puppies and dogs are NOT products.  They are living creatures, a soul, a heartbeat.  You can't just add an English Mastiff puppy to your shopping cart and Paypal them instantly. Can you?  The problem is that you can.  Backyard Breeders, Puppy Mills and pretty much every single place you wouldn't want to buy a puppy from market their puppies in this way.  Online websites like and make tons of money from these not so reputable breeders advertising their puppies in this manner.  I am by not any means saying a reputable breeder should not have a website.  I have gained countless knowlege from reading articles, blogs, etc from breeder websites.  I'm just saying don't buy a puppy directly from a webpage!

Most of these puppies have parents with not a lick of health testing done, oh and by the way, having a vet check is not the same thing as having health testing done.  There is a huge difference in having OFA's done on hips, elbows, knees; having a Cardiac and Thyroid screening done; completing DNA tests to rule out the development of blinding eye conditions like PRA and CMR.

Here's another thing to consider.  I personally (and assume most others do to) shop online to find the absolute best price on something.  The problem with this ideology is that a low priced puppy is more than likely a poorly bred puppy.  Responsible breeders spend large amounts of money on reproduction, health, showing, etc.  There are too many expenses to even list, but if you see a puppy priced very low, chances are you would not be getting a quality bred puppy.

Another indication that the breeder you found online is selling poorly bred puppies is if they allow their puppies to be purchased on credit. If a puppy must be purchased on credit, the family may not be financially secure enough to take care of unexpected medical expenses.  Mastiffs are a giant breed and vet care can become very expensive in no time. 

 I could go on and on, but for the effort of keeping this short enough people might actually read it I'll stop for now.  These are some very definate ways of how not to go about purchasing an English Mastiff puppy.  I'll give some information on some good ways to find a reputable breeder for your puppy purchase.  If you want to read more here's a link to the article on our website:

I'll throw out one more quick item of note!  RESCUE! 

Brinkley is a Top 5 Cutest Pet in November!

From Inside Columbia Magazine
by Haley Adams, Ashley Carman, Lauran Fitzpatrick & Jame Hausman
The first thing you notice about Brinkley is her size. The English mastiff weighs more than her owner, Amanda Griffin. Her neck is so big that Griffin has to make her collars. But once you get over Brinkley’s size, she is anything but intimidating. Her calm demeanor and leisurely walk is the mark of a gentle giant, not a dog that requires a “Beware” sign.

“Personality wise, Brinkley is  bout the weirdest dog ever,” her owner says. “She is a lap dog and she weighs 150 pounds.” Brinkley isn’t very ladylike — she snores, snorts and occasionally farts. “Her nickname is Piglet for good reason,” Griffin says.

Despite her less-than-mannerly proclivities, Brinkley is a show dog, and she earned her AKC Canine Good Citizen title last summer, which is the first step in
becoming a therapy dog.

She and her “brother,” Boone, the Griffins’ first mastiff, also participate in various rescue efforts and fundraising events locally and across the country.

Griffin acquired Brinkley from a breeder because she was interested in finding a show dog, but she is a strong believer in rescuing dogs. Reliable breeders are key, she says. “It is important to find a reputable breeder, not a pet store selling puppy mill pups or a backyard breeder breeding dogs just because they are registered,” she says. “You want to find someone who really cares about the betterment of the breed.”

The Griffins pour out their love to Brinkley and Boone. “These dogs are our children,” she says, “and we couldn’t love them more.”

How we chose our name

Most of us involved with Mastiffs have heard or read the quote from the 1800 version of the Cynographia Britannica:
What the Lion is to the Cat the Mastiff is to the Dog, the noblest of the family; he stands alone, and all others sinking before him. His courage does not exceed its temper and generosity and in attachment he equals the kindest of his race.
I don't know why, but I always really loved this quote, maybe because it does ring so true to our breed.  Well, my last name is Griffin, but it's a pretty common name and there are several other "Griffin Mastiffs" out there.  I was doing some research and found the definition of "Griffin" was this:
griffin, griffon or  gryphon  (‘grifin)  - noun  
a legendary creature with the body of a lion and the head and wings of an eagle. As the lion was traditionally considered the king of the beasts and the eagle was the king of the birds, the gryphon was thought to be an especially powerful and majestic creature. The gryphon was also thought of as king of the creatures.  In antiquity the gryphon was a symbol of divine power and a guardian of the divine.

[Greek: grýpon, early form grýps; Latin: gryphus; Old French grifon]
Seriously, how fitting is that for a Mastiff!  How can I not use the name Griffin Mastiffs!  So I just had to do it, I chose the coolest spelling of Gryphon I could find and here we are.