Great Dane vs. English Mastiff

Last Updated on September 20, 2023

If you are looking for a dog that will make people smile when they see you, the Great Dane or the English Mastiff can do that. Both are part of the big boy gang, big in heart and big on body.

There are similarities, but also significant differences between them. The English Mastiff is the oldest known dog breed. The Great Dane was bred from an English Mastiff. The Great Dane and English Mastiff are at opposite ends of the huge spectrum. The Great Dane stands tall and is very long, while the English Mastiff is large and heavy.

If you are trying to decide which breed is best for you, or just curious, this article will provide all the information you need. They will gladly fill any space you have in your home or your heart.

Great Dane vs. English Mastiff

Breed History

It is fascinating to dig a little deeper into the past of a dog. But it is also vital to understand their history. It will help you understand your dog better and may even reveal some of their needs.

Great Dane

The history of the Great Dane is a little perplexing. The name ‘Great Dane’ originated in Denmark, although the breed itself has absolutely nothing to do with Denmark. A Danish man thought that the Danish climate would make the Greyhound breed the Great Dane. He nicknamed them the ‘Grand Danois,’ which means ‘Big Danish’, but he is more well-known as the Great Dane. These dogs were bred and born in Germany.

The Great Dane was thought to have been bred out of Mastiff-type dogs many thousands of years ago. They are also called the German Mastiff ), and in particular the English Mastiff. Because of their size and power, they were originally used for hunting wild Boar.

After the 16th Century, they were bred by German Nobleman to be more slender in appearance and to be kept indoors as family companions. They were also known in Germany as Kammerhunde. This is German for ‘Chamber Dog.’

They were only owned by Royalty and very rich people; the dogs were seen to be the most beautiful breed around and were often decorated by their family in velvet collars studded with jewels.

To this day they are still used as companion dogs rather than for hunting, and they have been ranked as the 16th most popular breed out of 193 breeds by the American Kennel Club (AKC). They are also popular purebreds to mix with other breeds to create designer dogs, like the Labradane.

English Mastiff

The English Mastiff originated from England, they have been around for thousands of years, first recorded in the year 55 B.C. Julias Caesar, the famous conqueror, saw the Mastiffs fighting and described them as formidable defenders of Britain who fought alongside those they commanded.

The English Mastiff impressed the invaders enough that they brought him back to Rome where they fought against Lions and other incredible animals.

Around the time of the First World War, the English Mastiff breed nearly died out in Britain because food rations meant that families couldn’t feed them (we’ll get onto how much food they need later in the article!). Two English Mastiff puppies from Canada were sent to England after the war and their numbers started to rise again.

During that time, some say Saint Bernards were used to keep the breed alive, which is why some of them still have long hair. The English Mastiff’s loving nature and protective abilities have made them more popular. They have been ranked as the 29th most popular breed in America today.

Their sweet disposition has made them a breeder favorite when crossing over with other purebred dogs, like the mastiff lab mix, the American Mastiff (which has 1/16th of Anatolian shepherd), and have at times been crossbred with Pitbulls.


Despite having what seems like hundreds of names the Great Dane can only be described as one thing, regal. Their face is long and narrow, often appearing a bit squizzical. His appearance is distinctive. He is athletic and muscular, and has long legs that reach up to his neck.

He stands at up to 32 inches in height, but when he climbs up on his hind legs, he is often taller than a human. He weighs up to 175 pounds, and although this is no mean feat, he is much lighter than the English Mastiff.

His parents often refer to the English Mastiff as a cuddly !. The appearance of this guy is very distinctive, but for different reasons. He is wide, muscular, and thick and weighs up to 230 pounds. This beautiful beast stands at 30 inches in height and upwards. His head is large with a small muzzle. His skin is loose and wrinkled, which some might describe as “chubby rolls”, but who cares?

Large drop down ears fall naturally from the Great Dane’s side, just below its cheek. His ears were originally cut so they wouldn’t get torn by Boars’ husks while hunting them. It is still common for Great Danes to have their ears cut to preserve his noble appearance, despite all the controversy surrounding the practice. He often sports extremely long, pointy ears.

The English Mastiff ears look more natural than the Great Dane and are very similar to the Great Dane’s natural ears.

The biggest difference between these two beautiful breeds is their appearance. The Great Dane wins if you want a taller, more athletic dog. However, if you want a bigger, beefier boy, the English Mastiff is the best choice.


Even though both the Great Danes and the English Mastiff were the first hunters, they are not as good hunting partners today as their forefathers. Both breeds prefer to relax and spend time with their families than go hunting.

These breeds can be described as the gentle huge in dog kingdom. However, the parents would claim that their pet is the winner (which would not be incorrect!). They are both equally happy to lie on your lap, so be ready to squash them.

They are very affectionate and loving with their family, and both are known to be patient and this trait makes them great with kids of all ages. Children with large dogs should be supervised, no matter how caring they are.

An important difference between the English Mastiff and the German Mastiff is their protective nature. He can be wary .of strangers. Although it may take some time for him to welcome strangers into his pack, it is well worth the effort.

The Great Dane, by comparison, is a serious sociable pup that will play with any person who can bear his size. Do not mistake his playful nature for stupidity. However, if his family is in danger, he will protect them. His bark will scare everyone off!

The Great Dane is a class clown. He is quite clumsy, and can often lose control over his long limbs. Although the English Mastiff is a large dog, he can sometimes be a bit clumsy and will often fall into things. This is due to his size. Although the English Mastiff is a serious dog, it can also be a cuddly one.


Both the Great Danes and English Mastiffs have moderate energy levels and are able to exercise. They will both require between 30 and 60 minute walks a day, and this is where their similarity in exercise ends.

After the daily walks or exercise, the English Mastiff will happily lie down with his family and get as many snoozes in as possible. He doesn’t need to exercise, even though he pretends he is asleep or tries to convince you otherwise. To keep himself in top shape and healthy, he needs to get his heart pumping at minimum once per day.

The Great Dane is much more playful and requires more mental stimulation. Interactive games are more appealing to him as he needs to be attentive throughout the day. To keep him busy, he loves to play tug of war and frisbee. You may have to leave him alone for a time, but treat-filled puzzle toys will always be a hit with him. He can suffer from separation anxiety.

You should be cautious of over-exercising both the breeds up until the age of at least 18 months due to the fast rate at which their bodies grow, as this can damage their bone and joint growth. Keep walks short and avoid jumping from garden walls or beds.


These guys are very different in terms of their training ability. I think the intelligence of the Great Dane is slightly higher than that of the English Mastiff. This means that the Great Dane is easier to train and picks up commands faster.

Due to the English Mastiff’s previous employment in the guarding sector, it is even more important to socialize him from a young age. You should not mix him with animals and humans outside the family. This could lead to over-protectiveness. Make every interaction positive. Give him small treats and lots of praise.

Training an English Mastiff is not something that a novice dog owner should attempt. The Mastiff can also do things on his own, also known “Mastiff time.” If he doesn’t feel like it, he likely won’t. Be consistent and don’t get discouraged. He will be a good-mannered dog if he does it right the first time. Obedience training with a dog behavior therapist might be the solution to your problems.


Both of these dogs are healthy for their size. On average, both of these pups can live to the age of 10. This is a young, so it is worth considering.

Being large dogs, both are susceptible to Elbow or Hip Dysplasia. This is an abnormality of the joint formation that can eventually lead to severe arthritis. Bone Cancer, also known as Osteosarcoma, is common in both breeds too. This is most commonly seen in the form of lameness and lumps.

Both are also susceptible to Gastric Torsion. This is when their stomach twists after exercising. The symptoms include a swelling of the stomach, retching, but not vomiting, and other distress signs like panting or restlessness. These symptoms can be life-threatening and your pooch should see a vet immediately.

The Great Dane is also prone to Wobbler’s Syndrome, which is where the affected dog shakes from around the age of 1 1/2 year and he is one of the few breeds to get this. The symptoms include lethargy, coordination problems, and odd walking. Your Great Dane’s prognosis is better if he is more than a little clumsy.


We mentioned earlier that the English Mastiff almost died because his families couldn’t afford to feed him during World War I. They couldn’t feed him because the English Mastiff consumes about eight glasses per day, and everyone was on food stamps!

The Great Dane consumes half that amount at four cups per day. This is a significant difference in kibble and can also mean that you will need to spend a lot more money to feed an English Mastiff.

Due to their large size and rapid growth, both English Mastiffs require a top quality diet in order to get all the nutrition they need. The English Mastiff loves a treat and can quickly gain weight. You need to monitor the treats he gets otherwise he can become obese.


The grooming requirements of the English Mastiff and the Great Dane are very similar. They don’t need much more than your average dog. To keep their hair healthy and remove any dead hair, they would benefit from being brushed two to three times per week.

The English Mastiff produces more oil than the average dog, which can lead to an stronger odor. The average dog needs a bath about every four to six week, but this dog could benefit from a bath every four weeks.

The Great Dane’s hair is shorter so he can be bathed every six weeks. Don’t overdo the bathing, as this could cause skin problems and damage to their natural oils. If bathing does not resolve the Mastiff’s strong doggy smell, doggy sprays or perfumes can be purchased at your local shop.

Another grooming-related issue to be aware of, but one you can do absolutely nothing about is the drool. These two breeds are dribble monsters. If you don’t want to have a slobbery sidekick in the house, then steer clear of them (sadly, bibs won’t work here).

Puppy Price

Both the Great Dane and the English Mastiff are, on average, the same price at around $1,500 from a reputable breeder. A reputable breeder will be able to check the health of your pup and provide you with any questions. Additionally, you are getting a lot of dog for your buck, so don’t be tempted to buy him from a puppy mill as you will undoubtedly spend much, much more on vet bills in the long run.

If you’re tempted to get an English Mastiff, make sure you consider his monthly food costs. You won’t be able to afford to feed this boy without food rations. Remember that everything costs more with a Mastiff than a puppy! Mastiff-sized dog beds and bigger dog toys are just two of the things that you’ll be spending more money on!

Final Thoughts

Both of these breeds are gorgeous and have beautiful personalities. These two are the perfect snuggle buddy. They love to curl up on the couch with their master.

They are quite different in appearance. The Mastiff is taller and more muscular than the Great Dane. They share a similar love for their families, are social, and good with children. Although the Mastiff is a more vigilant guard dog, he can be just as protective of their pack against strangers.

So, no matter if you’re looking for a large or small giant, these gentle souls can give you a lot of love!

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