Great Dane

Great Dane

Great Dane

Great Dane
Place of Origin: 



livestock dog, mastiff

Original Function: 

guardian, hunting large game

Primary Current Function: 


Other name: 

Deutsche dogge, German mastiff

Date of Origin: 

Middle Ages


Likely the descendent of the old English mastiff and the Irish wolfhound, the Great Dane is a German breed and has been nicknamed the “Apollo of Dogs.” Considered to be fearless game hunters, the ancestors of the Great Dane were used in war and hunting.

Great Dane Breed Health

Avg Size of Female: 

Height: 28 - 30 inches, Weight: 100 – 120 pounds

Life span: 

6 – 8 years

Major concerns: 

gastric torsion, CHD, cardiomyopathy

Occasionally seen: 

glaucoma, VWD

Avg Size of Male: 

Height: 30 - 32 inches, Weight: 100 – 120 pounds

Minor concerns: 

CVI (wobbler’s syndrome), cataract, elbow dysplasia, osteosarcoma, OCD, HOD

Suggested tests: 

cardiac, elbow, hip, eye, blood

Great Dane Breed History

Because of its speed, strength, and stamina, this breed earned a reputation as skillful hunters of wild boar in Germany by the 14th century. The Great Dane also became popular with nobility because of its commanding but refined look. The English began calling the breed German boarhounds, but at some point, and for unknown reasons, the dog was called a Great Dane, even though it wasn’t Danish. In approximately 1880, the German authorities proclaimed that the Great Dane should only be called a Deutsche dogge, and this is the name it still goes by today in Germany. This breed came to the United States in the late 1800s, and it quickly gained recognition. To date, this large dog is still a popular breed in America, and its talents include tracking, carting, and serving as a watchdog.

Great Dane Breed Appearance

Considered to be a giant working breed, the Great Dane is regal in appearance and has a powerful, well-muscled body. It is one of the tallest dog breeds, and it has a square, well-proportioned appearance. The front legs are straight and muscular, while the hindquarters are strong, broad, and well-angulated. The feet are compact and round with well-arched toes. The tail is of medium length is set high and is broad at the base, tapering consistently to the end. The arched neck is long and muscular and flows smoothly into the back. Finely chiseled and rectangular in shape, the head is long and distinguished, featuring a deep muzzle and a full square jaw. The deep-set eyes are medium size and usually dark, with an intelligent and energetic expression. The medium size ears are set high on the head and fold forward toward the cheek. The ears are commonly cropped in the United States, but this practice is not typical in Europe. The nose of the Great Dane is usually black, and there is generally a large nasal canal. The strong teeth close in a scissor bite. The strong gait is powerful featuring long, easy strides. The coat is described as short and thick with a glossy, clean look. The six colors acceptable when showing the Great Dane are: black, blue, brindle, fawn, harlequin, and mantle.

Great Dane Breed Temperament

Despite its overwhelming size, the Great Dane is a gentle, loving dog that is dependable and friendly. This breed is usually good with children, though smaller children may be overpowered by the large dog’s affectionate approach. While the Great Dane is powerful, it is sensitive and quite responsive to training. Supervision is recommended around other dogs and pets, although this breed is generally friendly with both. Obedience training is suggested from an early age so this large dog will be more manageable when it’s fully grown. At times, the Great Dane may be aggressive with other dogs, especially those of the same sex. This breed should be considered as part of the family and kept indoors – keeping in mind that it requires space to be able to stretch out its long legs and large body. It should not be kenneled. It can be an enjoyable family companion and watchdog.

Great Dane Breed Maintenance

Minimal grooming is necessary with the short coat of the Great Dane. Simply brush, comb, and use dry shampoo when necessary. Bathing this dog is a huge chore because of its size. It’s easier to keep up with the grooming on a week-to-week basis. The Great Dane is considered to be an average shedder. Trim the nails regularly. Daily moderate exercise, such as a good walk or energetic play, is necessary for this breed. It should spend plenty of time outdoors, as it is typically inactive indoors, but it may get cold in the winter and should not be outside for long periods of time. A home with a fenced-in back yard is ideal. The fence should be at least six feet tall to prevent the dog from jumping over it. Inside, the dog should have soft bedding with plenty of room to stretch out and sleep. As with other large breeds, the Great Dane is a short-lived breed: generally having a life span of six to eight years. They also have health problems associated with large breeds such as bloat and hip dysplasia.

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