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Mastiff Club of America collection

Identifier: AKD -3.14

Scope and Contents

The MCOA collection chronciles the operations, functions, and events of the club devoted to the large Working dog. While early breed history is well documented, the bulk of the collection documents the period beginning in the 1970s when the Mastiff breed signficicantly raised in popularity, which also required dedicated work to combat puppy mills and overbreeding. Regional and international Mastiff organizations are also well-represented.

The Breed History research and clippings files contain both originals and photocopies of Mastiff articles, pamphlets, illustrations, research notes, kennel ads, show reports/results, pedigrees, registrations, ephemera and further published information dating back to 1890. Candid photographs and win shots originally present in the files, have been removed and stored separately. Some items are relate to organizations such as the American Mastiff Club and Old English Mastiff Club (including a catalog from its first ever show in 1890). Canadian pedigrees, champion and breeder lists, and a collection of photographs and plates of late-19th century Mastiff champions are also present. A small personal collection of the Chapman family, prominent early 20th-century British breeders, contains images of their two major imports, Mattesdon Tondelayo and Bernardo of Pinetrees, and correspondence regarding the donation of the latter to the Yale University Peabody Museum of Natural History for study supporting their breed preservation program.

The Club Administration files hold records of the club's functions and operations dating back to 1938: constitution and by-laws revisions, news bulletins and memos, meeting minutes, officer correspondence, membership lists, financial documents and receipts, officer nominations and ballots, committee reports, questionnaires, documentation of the organizations the Canadian Mastiff Club and North & East Mastiff Fanciers, and more. The files appear to have been assembled by the club's historian-archivist Patricia Hoffman, whose personal letters and judge's ribbon are present in addition to correspondence establishing the mission of the club archives. The late 1980s, a tumultuous period suggesting a need for rehaul of club administration, are chronicled. Documents retained by Marissa Clements between 1985 and 2008, including meeting minutes and Judges Education Commitee materials, have been maintained separately.

Dog Shows materials include marked catalogs, premium lists, various handouts, and photographs dating back to the first independent independent MCOA Specialty in 1983. Some MCOA show committee, related correspondence, and other materials are present but researchers are also advised to consult the Club Administration files. Also present is audovisual footage of the 2007 Specialty and a small selection of ribbons, medals, and other souvenirs from MCOA and other events.

Publications and Printed Matter features the parent club’s newsletters as well as many regional and select international newsletters. The MCOA’s first newsletter was published in 1965, with the name "The Journal" added in the fall of 1974. The earliest newsletters, and issues of the later "MCOA Bulletin," are in the collection, complimenting the runs held by the AKC Library. Newsletters for organizations the Midwest Mastiff Fanciers, Old English Mastiff Club Nederland, Canadian Mastiff Club, and more are present in addition to a substantive run of the Old English Mastiff Club newsletter (as well as a handbook and annual report for the OEMC). MCOA breed columns for the AKC Gazette and further Mastiff articles, pamphlets, books, and ephemera round out this group.

The Canine Health and Genetic Data contains a Dysplasia Control Registry (1974-2001) and a variety of further health registries, reports, and related correspondence dating between 1992 and 2000, including collaboration and communications with the Canine Eye Registration Foundation and Institute for Genetic Disease Control in Animals.


  • 1890-2008


Language of Materials

The bulk of materials are in English; select materials from the Netherlands are in Dutch.

Access Restrictions

This material is open to research without restrictions.

Publishing and Use Restrictions

Many of the materials, particularly photographs, may still be under copyright and require permission of the AKC and/or the creator before publishing. Please consult the Archivist.

Biographical/Historical note

BREED HISTORY It is a breed that evokes strength, durability and loyalty. Ancient cultures used mastiff-type dogs as a central part of their culture, proven by ample archeological evidence: they appear on Babylonian bas reliefs from 2,220 B.C.; the Assyrians depict mastiffs on their pottery and terra cotta images; and the Greeks and Romans were known to use mastiff-type dogs as part of their daily lives. There should be something said about the term “mastiff” which is a bit of a misnomer. Before 1800 the term wasn’t associated with any particular breed, but rather was associated with any large and strong dog. Nonetheless it’s long history is well documented.

In modern times it is believed that the mastiff was associated primarily with England, however evidence suggests its deep roots with other European countries and Asia. In England this breed was used as watchdogs, some of whom even accompanied knights and warriors into battle. Eventually a decline in mastiffs occurred when breed crossing began; as a result it was a struggle to maintain a healthy number of mastiffs and by the 20th century the breed was all but extinct. The English aristocrats managed to protect and maintain a pure bloodline. They launched a campaign in the 1920s to save the breed, with Americans soon joining the efforts. With the founding of the Mastiff Club of America in 1929, an interest and a revival of the breed was underway. However, another set back in the breed’s development in Europe occurred with the onset of World War II. Many of the English breeders were forced to export some of their finest specimens to America.

By 1932 there were an estimated 35 mastiffs in America, with only eight registered with the American Kennel Club. Meanwhile, Peach Farms owned by Patty and John Brill acquired their first mastiffs, Manthorne Peach Farm Matilda and Manthorne Mogul. It is believed that most mastiffs of today can trace their linage back to the Peach Farm bloodlines. They produced such champions as Ch. Funk Farm Lulu, the MCOA’s national specialty Best of Breed in 1951, and Hobo, the 1952 MCOA national specialty Best of Breed. They continued to raise and show dogs up until the mid-1980s.

Another important early kennel was established and owned by Colonel P. Hobart Titus. His Manthorne kennel produced champions such as Ch. Manthorne June.

The Altnacraig kennels, owned by Mr. & Mrs. James Foster Clark and situated in Greenwich, Connecticut, was described by Arthur Frederick Jones: “…they are breeding mastiffs in such a way as to preserve their legendary charm, yet doing it in a manner that will fit these big dogs to modern standards and the swinging tempo of this age.”

Between 1950 and 1959 registrations for mastiffs nearly tripled. During this time Marie A. Moore became an important force in the mastiff world. Patricia Hoffman writes in her book The History and Management of the Mastiff, “It is sage to say that without her kennel, Mooreleigh, and that of the Brille’s Peach Farm, the breed in the United States would have virtually died out.” An important step in the breed’s history and its relation to the AKC was the establishment of a regular breed column in the AKC Gazette in 1965, to which Marie Moore was a long time contributor.

In 1970, AKC records indicate that there were 285 mastiffs registered. Puppy mills and over-breeding lead to a huge increase in the number of mastiffs; by 1975 the total number of registrations almost tripled.

Meanwhile, Deer Run Kennels, an inestimably important bloodline, had been established in 1975. Owned by Tobin Jackson, he began his kennel with Ch. Deer Run Jupiter and a steady stream of additions thereafter. His crowning achievement was Ch. Deer Run Wycliff, who produced 45 champions and considered a top winning sire. Dee Dee Anderson estimates that 95 percent of all Mastiffs today descend from Deer Run kennels.

CLUB HISTORY The Mastiff Club of America was founded on 13 March 1929, and Shortly incorporated under New York State laws shortly therafter. On September 7 they held their first meeting on Elizabeth Stillman’s Kenridge Farms, Cornwall-on-Hudson, New York. There they established the bylaws and constitution as well as the breed standard. They also elected their first executive officers including: F. J. A. Bier, President, John Barnhard, Vice-President, Paul Chapman, Jr. Vice-President/Treasurer and C. R. Williams Secretary. The early club focus was the preservation of the bloodlines of the mastiff, as well as revitalization of interest in the breed.

These goals led to the development of the Adoption Plan, which was created to allow those dogs that were adopted from kennels to remain under breeding control by the kennel owners. The person adopting the dog obtained it without any initial costs. Male dogs were used as studs only for approved matings by the kennel. Both the adopter and kennel equally share in the stud fees. With bitches there are the same constraints, with the additional stipulation that the resulting litter be divided equally between the adopter and kennel. The club’s work with this plan was an extraordinary step in building up the number of mastiffs in this country.

In 1940 the MCOA held it first national specialty with the Old English Mastiff Club Challenge Trophy going to Aldwin of Altnacraig. Another important milestone in the club’s history was its acceptance as a member into the AKC in 1941, the same year the club adopted the breed’s standard. By 1943 the club boasted 41 members. By 1978 they had 228 members.

The MCOA responded to over-breeding and puppy mill rampance in the 1970s and 1980s by creating a breed rescue organization in 1988. It now boasts nationwide network of volunteers aimed at rescuing mastiffs. It has been documented that in 1999, 366 mastiffs were rescued by the organization. In addition to rescue, the club is also dedicated to protecting the health of the breed through genetic testing. The club began the Genetic Data Collection wherein dogs are tested for various diseases such as hip dysplasia, Von Willebrand’s disease and other ailments.

Physical Description

13 Linear feet (in 19 boxes (8 document boxes; 1 half-width legal document box; 2 cartons; 2 small flat boxes; 3 photo boxes; 1 oversize box; 1 mixed collections AV box; and 1 mixed collection oversize box))


The Mastiff Club of America (MCOA) collection contains breed research, clippings, and photograph files dating back to 1890; club administration files holding a wide variety of club records dating between 1938 and 2008; catalogs, premium lists, and photographs for events beginning with the club's first independent specialty in 1983; a broad swath of Mastiff-related publications released by the club, its affiliates, and other regional and international associations devoted to the breed (chiefly the Old English Mastiff Club and Canadian Mastiff Club); and registries, reports, and correspondence related to canine health and genetic data collection and analysis. The bulk of materials document the period beginning in the 1970s when the Mastiff breed signficicantly raised in popularity, which also required dedicated work to combat puppy mills and overbreeding.


The collection is organized into five groups based on form and/or content:

  1. Breed History, 1890-1998
  2. Club Administration, 1938-2008
  3. Dog Shows, 1983-2007
  4. Publications and Printed Matter, 1965-2007
  5. Canine Health and Genetic Data, 1974-2002


A gift from the Mastiff Club of America (MCOA) in 2009.

Related Materials

Club newsletters and other publications previously collected by the AKC Library may be searched using the online catalog, CAIUS.



Guide to the Mastiff Club of America Collection
Originally processed by Norma Rosado-Blake (2009); additions, edits, and conversion of legacy finding aid by Brynn White (2016)
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
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Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the American Kennel Club Library & Archives Repository

101 Park Ave
FL 5
New York NEW YORK 10178 United States