"Is that a horse you've got there?" Every Great Dane owner who has ever walked his full-grown dog on a leash in public has heard that line -- but mastiffs sometimes loom even larger. Both breeds stand more than 30 inches tall and can weigh up to 200 pounds, making them effective protection by looks alone.
Male Great Danes stand an average of 35 inches tall at the shoulder; mastiff males stay closer to the 30-inch mark. Female mastiffs tend to stay close to the 27½-inch minimum shoulder height mandated by the American Kennel Club. The average female Great Dane tends to rise above the 28-inch AKC minimum height by three or more inches. Both male and female mastiffs weigh between 175 and190 pounds. Danes are lighter-framed, with males averaging between 130 and 180 pounds and females generally between 100 and 150 pounds.
If you're looking for a dog who follows you from room to room and is content to lie at your feet, a mastiff is a good choice. His soft mouth and calm demeanor enable him to pick up things like kittens without hurting them and to play gently with children. The mastiff is courageous, too; he rises to the occasion when his family or property needs protection. He has minimal exercise needs, with a daily walk satisfying him, but he's always up for weight-pulling and other physical tasks. Great Danes tend to have slightly higher energy but are usually content with a brisk 20-minute walk each day. They have a gentle but protective nature that makes them good family pets and guardians, but they are clumsier than mastiffs and often knock children -- and some adults -- over accidentally.
Great Danes are prone to a variety of health issues. Bloat is the No. 1 cause of death for Great Danes, and they are at greater risk for the condition than any other breed, although mastiffs are also susceptible. This painful swelling and twisting of the stomach cuts off circulation and breathing; it can be fatal within hours. Both breeds are prone to joint dysplasia, with the mastiff also prone to elbow dysplasia and knee ligament injuries. Heart problems also affect both breeds. Before purchasing a puppy, ask the breeder for the parents' Canine Health Information Center numbers. You can look the numbers up on the center's website and see results of a variety of genetic tests to determine the likelihood of health issues in the offspring.
Both the mastiff and the Great Dane are prolific droolers, so take that into account before letting your puppy get used to being up on the furniture or bed. You'll need to wipe the mastiff's facial wrinkles daily using a baby wipe or dampened cloth followed up with a dry towel. Great Danes tend toward clumsiness more than mastiffs and can clear off a living room table with a single sweep of his tail. Mastiffs shed heavily, with some individuals dropping hair year-round. Great Danes have a heavy shedding period each spring and fall. Both dogs come with loud barks not suited for apartments with noise regulations -- the Great Dane has one of the most far-carrying barks in the dog world.
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