The Gamekeeper's Night Dog
The Bullmastiff breed, as its name suggests, is a combination of the English Mastiff and the English Bulldog. It was created in England in the mid-1800s. At the time of the Bullmastiff's creation, large estate owners in England needed to protect their land and game from poachers. Gamekeepers, employed to oversee and protect the game on behalf of the estate owner, needed an able canine assistant. Poachers were a rather dangerous lot; punishment for poaching was hanging.
English Mastiffs proved too slow and English Bulldogs too ferocious; they tended to harm the poacher before he could be caught, tried, and hanged. Crosses of the English Mastiff and Bulldog were bred until a 60% Mastiff, 40% Bulldog standard was achieved.
This type of dog, eventually called the Bullmastiff, served the needs of the gamekeeper very well. The dog could track a man in the forest at night; work quietly; and, when close enough, spring to a hard charge, knocking the man down and holding him there until the gamekeeper arrived. This was no small feat since the poachers, knowing that they faced hanging, used every trick and tool at their disposal to escape. More than one Bullmastiff suffered death at the hands of a desperate criminal.
However, the breed was exactly what the gamekeeper needed and they did their job well. One highly trained bullmastiff, Thorneywood Terror, toured England with his owner putting on demonstrations for crowds. The owner would muzzle the dog, give a volunteer a 10-minute head start into the forest, and bet any takers that his dog could catch the volunteer. Thorneywood Terror never failed to catch, down, and hold his man. Such tenacity is a trait of the breed and makes them a challenge for the novice owner. Bullmastiffs are fearless yet docile, protective of property and children, very loyal and devoted to their family, intelligent, and accepting of strangers welcomed by their owners.
In short, they are protective, yet not vicious. They take their cue from their owner in any situation, accepting and welcoming those people their owner accepts, and standing down those people the owner doesn't accept. Each Bullmastiff has a distinct personality. They will amuse you, love you, guard you and generally become "one of the family" not just the family dog. Treat them with love and kindness and your reward will be overwhelming.