GREAT DANE VS BULLMASTIFF
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History To truly understand the differences and similarities between the Great Dane and Bullmastiff we need to look at what they were each bred for. The Great Dane the modern version of the German Boarhound that the German, not Danish, nobility used to hunt big game like wild boar, bear, and deer in the 1800s. They obviously had to be ferocious and fearless to fill these roles and those same traits are still in the today, albeit much more subdued. Their temperament was mellowed in the late 1800s with the fall of German nobility. Similarly, the Bullmastiff had to be equally fearless in its role as an estate guardian. They were originally bred to assist the gamekeepers of large estates and their job was to run down and hold poachers until the gamekeeper caught up. They are still excellent in similar roles today, though they roam farms and backyards instead of massive estates. Over the years, the Bullmastiff has been a popular canine guardian breed because of its imposing stature and low reactivity. But we'll get more into that in a minute. APPEARANCE You've probably seen a Great Dane before, their size alone makes them hard to miss. But then there is the lean and sleek body set on top of their extraordinarily long legs. Their coat, which is short and thin, comes in many colors ranging from fawn to black, blue merle, and black and white. They can be clumsy when young like all dogs, but when they reach maturity they have a light but powerful forward movement. Danes have some mastiff characteristics as well and you can see this best when you look at their joules. As you can imagine, big joules on an equally big dog mean there is going to be a lot of drool. Otherwise, they are fairly low maintenance when it comes to grooming. Bullmastiffs do not have the sleek elegance of Great Danes and are smaller in stature but they are no less imposing. They have a short double coat that comes in a variety of colors but brindle variations are common among the breed. They can be graceful and light movers when they want to be but generally have a slow steady gait. Like Danes, they are very joule-y and you can expect plenty of drool around the house and on you. TEMPERAMENT loyal/loving/affection/strangers/aggression/stubborn/introvert v extrovert Let's take a look at the temperament differences between the two massive breeds. The Dane, despite their bloody history, are known as gentle giants and they are very docile today. Dane's are extremely loyal and affectionate with the whole family. One thing to keep in mind is that even though they are extremely friendly, they are still fully willing and capable to defend their family if threatened. Similar to the Dane, the Bullmastiff is deeply devoted to the entire family and is known for being incredibly gentle even with babies and young children. They are affectionate and prefer to be with their family but can be okay for short periods alone. They are low energy, bordering on lazy unless something is going on to excite them. Their low reactivity and guarding instincts make them ideal family dogs. TRAINABILITY/INTELLIGENCE The Great Dane is a smart breed that wants to please its human leaders but they are not a great fit for new or first-time owners. The breed has done well as a service dog but they are not overachievers when it comes to learning complex behaviors. They are goofy and playful throughout their life so training sessions need to be fun and engaging or they'll simply stop trying altogether. The Bullmastiff is also not for inexperienced or first time owners. They are quite intelligent but their low energy can easily turn into stubbornness when asking them to do more complex behaviors. They also need an experienced canine leader because of their guarding instincts. They do well with basic obedience and manners, but past that they prefer to laze around the house with a watchful eye. ENERGY joint issues/prone to obesity/temperature considerations/long v short walks Great Dane > -medium to low energy -a good couple walks a day -prefer to cuddle and structured short play As we just saw neither breed is particularly active, though they are certainly capable. Dane's don't need a lot of exercise but they do enjoy a good play each day to burn through what energy they do have. That and a moderate walk a few times a day should be enough to keep most Dane's happily dozing for the rest of the day. Bullmastiff's are similarly low energy and will be fine with a similar amount of exercise as the Dane. It is important to train both breeds during walks and playtime to keep their manners top notch and so they see you as their leader. Always be careful not to overdo exercise with either breed, especially when they are young since large breeds like these are prone to joint issues. OVERALL HEALTH Speaking of joint issues, larger breeds tend to have shorter lifespans and be prone to more health issues as well. The Great Dane has one of the shortest canine lifespans of 8-10 years. They are prone to bloat, several cancers, a condition commonly called cherry eye, and hip/elbow dysplasia. Bullmastiffs have a shorter lifespan typical of large breeds but slightly longer than a Dane at 10-11 years. In addition to the health conditions that affect Dane's, Bullmastiffs are also prone to heart defects and other cardiac issues. SOCIAL NEEDS For the time that you do have either a Great Dane or Bullmastiff, you'll find they are loving family companions. Dane's in particular are very friendly with most people and spread their drooling love across the whole family. Bullmastiffs are slightly more wary of new people which is a throwback to their original job of chasing down poachers. They do well with their family but need a lot of socialization early on with strangers and other animals so they can be confident later on. CHILD FRIENDLY When socialized properly, both breeds are naturally very good with children. Dane's are known as gentle giants for a reason and seem to take great care around both younger and older children and their friends. Don't let children ride the dogs though. Their joints are easily damaged and it could easily result in both dog and child getting hurt. The Bullmastiff is fantastic with children and takes on the role of being their protector very seriously without being overly reactive. They are a calm and watchful presence for the children in the family and need to be socialized thoroughly to help prevent any possessive behaviors. SMALL ANIMALS Similar to their gentleness with children, Dane's often extend the same treatment to small animals. Their prey drive might be higher when it comes to a deer in their yard though. The Bullmastiff has a moderate prey drive that is tempered by their low energy level. When socialized and raised with other small animals they do quite well, but strange animals are subject to be chased. OTHER DOGS The mild nature of Dane's means they are often very good with other dogs and treat them like other small animals. Because of their size, it's always a good idea to introduce them to as many other dogs as possible while they are maturing. Bullmastiffs are not overly aggressive with other dogs when they've been socialized well their entire life but their imposing nature could make another dog reactive. They can be territorial with other dogs of the same gender, like most canines, and I can stress enough how important it is to socialize all dogs frequently.