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The Daniff: A Gentle Giant With Heart

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Breeds By Kelsey Snyder 8 min read March 5, 2021 1 Comment

great dane mastiff mix

What do you get when you mix the world’s heaviest dog breed with one of the tallest? An enormous lump of handsome: the Daniff. 

A mashup of the English mastiff and the Great Dane, the Daniff is a super-sized gentle giant who’s sure to take up plenty of room in your home and heart. 

The Daniff is one of many mixed breed dogs, and today we’ll chat about this colossal canine, including what to expect from owning one and what families he’d fit in best with.

The Daniff (English Mastiff x Great Dane Mix): Key Takeaways

  • Daniffs are mixed-breed doggos created by breeding an English mastiff with a Great Dane. Some of these lovable loafs are the result of deliberate pairings, while others are produced by accidental or unintended matings.
  • Like most mixed-breed pups, Daniffs usually exhibit a combination of the traits their parent breeds exhibit. Nevertheless, some individual Daniffs will take after one parent or the other — some may even be mistaken for a purebred example of one of the parent breeds.
  • Daniffs can make wonderful pets, but they’re not a good fit for all situations. For example, those living in tiny apartments and families with very young children will probably find Daniffs to be a bit more dog than they can handle.

What Is a Daniff?

The Daniff is a mixed breed dog produced by pairing an English mastiff with a Great Dane. His name is also a combination of the two, though he’s also sometimes called a mastidane or Great Daniff.

Of course, listing his breeds out is acceptable too, if you dislike designer doggo names.

Understanding the Parent Breeds: The “Ingredients” of a Daniff 

The Daniff’s parents are heavy hitters in the dog world — literally.

Both of these extra large dog breeds can weigh over 200 pounds (English mastiffs may even exceed 300 pounds on occasion!), and they have their own sets of quirks that offspring may inherit.

So, it’s important to know them before considering a Daniff. We’ll help you do that below!

The English Mastiff: A Chill Charmer 

English Mastiff Dog

A massive molosser with jowls for days, the English mastiff is imposing in appearance but sweet in spirit.

Tipping the scales at up to 230 pounds or more and standing more than 30 inches at the shoulder, he’s no small fry. And your dog food bills will definitely reflect his gargantuan proportions!

Not only is he expensive to feed, but he can be pricey to groom professionally, though you can likely manage his short coat at home with bathing as needed. Just note that he is a heavy shedder, so invest in a good brush to tackle loose hair before it coats everything you own.

While he was prized in ancient times as a fierce guardian and war dog, and is often utilized today as a protection dog, the English mastiff is a lovable loaf with his family.

Due to his size and streaks of stubbornness, early socialization and obedience training is a must to keep him from becoming too much to handle.

He’s also sensitive, so make sure your training methods are positive and reinforce that he’s the bestest boy when he does a good job. 

As with all giant breeds, joint and bone issues are common in English mastiffs, with hip and elbow dysplasia at the top of the list of concerns. His droopy eyes are also prone to problems, with entropion, progressive retinal atrophy, and cherry eye just some conditions to watch for. 

The Great Dane: A Gentle Goofball

Great Danes are Part of a Daniff

Despite his name, this regal giant actually hails from Germany, where he got his start hunting wild boar before becoming a valued protector of the homestead.

The Great Dane can stand up to 32 inches at the shoulder and weigh close to 200 pounds, making early and ongoing training and socialization musts to avoid him walking all over you. He’s happy to follow directions when taught, but once in a while he may decide to do his own thing, too.

A dog his size is expensive to support, with food, grooming, and vet bills high, especially if he suffers from any ailments.

And unfortunately, Danes are at a high risk for bloat (a potentially fatal condition that occurs when air becomes trapped in a dog’s digestive tract), though stomach tacking surgery can help to a degree. Heart problems, hip and elbow dysplasia, and eye disease are also prevalent in the breed.

Most notable with the Dane is his goofy spirit, which, paired with his size, can lead to some epic laughs around the house. Just make sure anything breakable is out of reach for him or that whip of a tail.

The Dane is quite playful, and he loves being with his people more than anything. Daily exercise in the form of walks or backyard play is a must for him, despite what the sometimes-couch potato might say.

The Best Families and Situations for a Daniff 

Best families for Daniff

The Daniff can thrive in plenty of home settings.

With his jumbo size, he’s a natural around the farm or on acreage and will appreciate having loads of room to stretch his long legs and put his big ‘ol sniffer to use. Patrolling a large, safe area such as a yard or pasture also flexes his protective instincts and gives him a job beyond looking handsome.

He can also live in a suburban setting or a roomy apartment, as long as he has plenty of daily exercise, like a long, leisurely walk or romp in the dog park. That said, these pups are a whole lotta doggo, so be sure you don’t mind living in close quarters with a colossal canine.  

Family life is where it gets tricky, as the Daniff requires a family that treats him as a member. This means that he needs to be with his people, preferably lounging on the couch during game night or playing a round of fetch in the yard.

He is not a dog that can be left alone for long stretches, including stints outdoors, where his short coat does little to protect him against the elements. In other words, he can be a stage-five clinger of a canine.

The Daniff also needs pup parents who are dedicated, as he’s a gigantic dog that requires a lot of work. From early and ongoing training to scooping up pony-sized poops, there’s never a dull moment with a Daniff around.

Everything he does is done bigger, including puppy messes and mischief. It’s important to help guide him toward being the best doggo he can be through positive, consistent training.

On the flip side, there are some situations that are NOT ideal for Daniffs, including:

  • Families with small kiddos: As a large dog who’s often clumsy, he can accidentally send a toddler flying if you’re not careful. 
  • Training flakes: This is not a pup that can be left to rule the roost unchecked. He craves direction and needs to learn his manners from an early age, including walking on a leash, tolerating guests and other dogs, and following basic commands. He’s simply too large to let run amok.
  • Penny pinchers: It’s a sad fact, but giant breeds like the Daniff can be very hard on your bank account in terms of food and vet bills. Since the Daniff is a mix of two giant breeds, it’s important that he receives proper nutrition while growing, and as an adult, he can go through food at an astounding rate. Paired with the host of health conditions that go hand-in-hand with canines his size, Great Danes are some of the most expensive dogs and can set you back a lot of money.
  • Neat freaks: In addition to dropping Titanic-sized turds, the Daniff is a drooler. He’ll shower your couch and carpet in his mouth muck, and a drool towel will probably become your new best friend, particularly near his water bowl. Throw in his shedding and whip-like tail that’s attracted to everything on your coffee table, and you’ve got a doggo that redecorates your house with doggy accents.
  • Allergy sufferers: His short coat sheds, and while it may not be as often as other breeds, it’s a lot at once because of his size. This also means you’ll have to deal with a lot of dander around the house. Simply put, there are better breeds for allergy sufferers.

How Can You Find a Daniff?

As with any mixed breed, you may be able to find a Daniff in a shelter or rescue near you. This route will also mean you’ll most likely find a Daniff for far less money than you’d have to spend when seeking out a breeder. 

If you specifically want a Daniff puppy from a breeder, you can search online for one.

Ideally, you want a breeder who performs health tests on both parents before breeding to avoid severe health issues like the ones we mentioned above. It’s also important to look for breeders who raise dogs in the home and not in an outdoor setting where socialization is tricky.

great dane mastiff
Image from dogappy.
How to Pick a Good Dog Breeder

Need some more information about picking a compassionate and responsible dog breeder? We’ve got you covered!

Fourteen criteria to consider when choosing a dog breeder.

Similar Breeds and Breed Mixes to the Daniff

There are many hybrid breed dogs that are similar to the Daniff, including several mastiff mixes, like the American Bandogge and Mastador. You could also explore other Great Dane mixes, including the Boxdane, Great Bernard, and Great Wolfhound.

As for purebreds, the sky’s the limit, but among giant breeds most similar to the Daniff, there’s the boerboel, bullmastiff, cane corso, and Neapolitan mastiff. Like the Daniff, they’re big, jowly breeds and require an owner who’s ready to commit to a lifetime of positive training. 

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Have you ever met a Daniff? Do you have one at home? Let us know about them in the comments!

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Written by

Kelsey Snyder

Kelsey is a K9 of Mine contributor who has worked with dogs as a shift runner and office manager of a boarding kennel. When she’s not writing, she can be found throwing a ball or losing at tug of war. An animal lover to the max, she lives in South Jersey with her husband, her five dogs Boomer, Taj, Batman, Maya, and Moxie, some kitties, and two grumpy turtles.

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JR

Excellent article capturing all the essentials and facts of Daniffs.

We had a blue of 14 years we recently lost to cancer and are just devastated. He was a rescue after losing a beloved black Dane male we had for 9 years from puppyhood, also to cancer complications. We’re looking for another. We didn’t know at the time we inherited a Daniff. Just thought he was the biggest ever Dane of 6 going back to ’75. Only recently did we became aware of the Daniff concept.

Like to share what we developed over all those Dane years to keep food costs contained and worked equally well with our Daniff.

We treated him as an athlete, just like all our Danes. We ran most days 3-5 miles. He ate one scoop twice daily of dry dog food, so a 50lb bag at $18 easily lasted 6+ weeks. It wasn’t any kind of fancy, ‘designer’, high cost premium mix. After evaluating the assays of both high cost and low cost, we found them to be the same and focused on the greatest protein content available, typically 24-27%, and used it as a carrier vehicle in the following way. We made up the difference cooking up a 33qt soup pot of diced potatoes, carrots, tomatoes, corn, etc, and table scraps, rendered Costco rotisserie chicken carcass after we finished with it – end cartilage knuckles and all. We also found after long cooks, these and any other bones, added further flavor, nutrition, and became extremely crumbly, so we would fish them out for feeding treats during the day. Only problem was the inevitable bone crumbles drooled on the floor afterwords. Hard to sweep up since they would easily be crushed by the broom weight, so we went to a designated area for easy cleaning. Buying in bulk, as potatoes in 50Lb bags, worked out to less than 18cts/lb, that lasted at least 4-5 months at 1-2 large extra potatoes daily. Same with carrots and any other veggies we found wholesale or day-old. He looked marvelous, with a shiny coat up to his passing, was full of energy and more than able to make his daily runs without becoming exhausted. We once calculated our Daniff’s food bill to be about $4/week. What’s surprising is how much food a family of even 2 would otherwise throw out after consumption but can repurpose to successfully feed such a huge creature in this manner. Slow cooking in the pot of refrigerator food that went bad, as well as the wax cheese rinds for its fat and oil, all produced a healthy, flavorful soup the dry dog food nuggets absorbed to our Daniff’s delight. Mornings gave him left over boiled egg yolks. He looked forward to his “custom designed” meals with relish, it was fun making them, and watching him dine with gusto to make us all feel more connected. We ground up collected egg shells into a fine powder and sprinkled that on his final food prep, that included a splash of inexpensive Costco vegetable oil, for added calcium support of his big bones, as well as ionized salt, hedging against the Fukushima nuclear fall out living up in the Pacific NW. “Living green” at it’s best!

Hope this is helpful for those out there equally as enamored about Daniffs, but concerned about “being eaten out of house and home”.

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