Developed at the same time and from the same stock of dogs as the much smaller Maltese Kelb Tal-Gliet, the larger and heavier Maltese Mastiff is believed to had become extinct during the first half of the 20th century. Being much more influenced by the Sicilian working dogs of the Cane Guzzo type than its smaller cousin, the Maltese Mastiff had also been enriched with a fair share of the English Mastiff blood during the British rule of Malta. Often seen as just a size variant of the Maltese Bulldog, it was never standardized or recognized as a separate breed, even though it resembled early Corsi, Bullmastiffs and French working dogges much more than typical bulldogs. Some believe that the breed survived in parts of southern Sicily, where a number of dogs were reportedly taken by Maltese immigrants during and after WW2. Primarily a home guardian and personal protector for butchers, the Mastino Maltais also participated in animal baiting contests, as well as dog fights. Said to have been overly vicious and stubborn, the Maltese Mastiff was more common in rural regions, where it was chained during the day and released at night to roam the property.
Related to certain strains of the Cane Corso, this Maltese breed belonged to the old bull-mastiff type of dog commonly found throughout Europe, without much uniformity in terms of appearance of the population, with some lines exhibiting stronger English Mastiff influence than others. Regardless of type, these dogs were strong-boned, muscular and reportedly quite agile for their size. The chest was wide, the shoulders broad and the neck was thick and powerful, while the head was large and round, with a moderately short muzzle and well-developed jaws.
The breed was short-coated and often with docked tails and sometimes only one ear cropped, with most examples being red, fawn or brown in colour, with or without black masks and small white markings. The average height was around 25 inches, although taller dogs existed.