With a big heart to match it’s majestic size, the Great Dane is a loyal, intelligent and trustworthy companion whose size alone is enough to scare off intruders. Nicknamed “the Apollo of Dogs” because of it’s incredible good looks and noble stature, the Great Dane originated in Germany where it is known as “Deutsche Dogge” (German Hound) or German Mastiff. It was originally used to hunt big game (wild boars), as a patrol dog and as a war dog. Great Danes stand 30 inches or more at the shoulder (females slightly less). The short, smooth coat comes in brindle, fawn, blue, black or patches of black with white (Harlequin), and is easily cared for with a good weekly brushing. Friendly and dependable, the Great Dane makes an exceptional family dog. These gentle giants love human attention and are well-suited to country or city living, provided that you have a large house with a yard. Great Danes adore children, but should be supervised in case they inadvertently knock over or step on a toddler. These dogs need special attention and nutrition as they mature to help them reach their full potential. They enjoy a good daily run, but should not be exercised immediately after they eat. Great Danes make exceptional watch dogs.
Great Danes are magnificent dogs, huge in size, elegant and powerful. Often called the �gentle giant� of dog breeds, Great Danes are characteristically friendly dogs, spirited and courageous, dependable, and devoted to their owners.
Great Dane History
This breed has ancient ancestry, and although they are called Great Danes in English, selective breeding began in Germany many centuries ago. Mastiff-like dogs were crossed with Irish wolfhounds to produce tall, lean, energetic dogs with the courage to hunt vicious wild boar. Great Danes were commonly guardians of the family home as well.
Great Dane Appearance
Great Dane Size and Color Variations
The average adult male stands 30 to 32 inches tall (but may be even taller) and weighs between 120 and 200 pounds. The males look quite masculine; the females are slightly smaller and have a more feminine appearance. Great Danes have a life expectancy of 10 years, although some a live a bit longer.
The body is smoothly muscled and rectangular, with a broad, deep chest. The neck is high-set, long and arched. The head is rectangular and finely chiseled, with a long, square jaw and deep muzzle. Ears are often cropped to a tall point, but when left natural they are medium in size and folded toward the cheek. The tail hangs to the hocks, and should not be docked.
The Great Dane�s coat is smooth, short, thick and glossy. Coat colors include fawn, blue, black, brindle, mantle and harlequin. Chocolate is a recessive trait, and merle commonly occurs, but neither is considered a recognized color for show. The coat sheds an average amount.
Great Dane Temperament
Characteristically sweet-natured dogs, and perhaps the most affectionate of all dog breeds, Great Danes are devoted to their families. They are fond of children and quite gentle with them. They get along well with other family cats and dogs, but may be wary of strange dogs of the same sex.
Some individuals may be bad-tempered, but this is usually the result of a lack of early socialization and training. Great Danes who are poorly socialized may become timid or overly aggressive. This huge breed needs an owner who is not intimidated by his size, and can act as pack leader to keep the dog under control. Puppies should be taught the basic sit/stay/down commands, and obedience training should begin at six months of age.
Great Dane Exercise Info
There is a common misconception that Great Danes don�t need much exercise. They do tend to be docile and well-behaved indoors, but still need an average amount of exercise. A home with a large yard is best, but they will do fine in a moderately-sized apartment if they are taken on one long, daily, brisk walk, or allowed to run at a dog park.
Great Dane Grooming Info
The short, smooth coat is easy to care for. Daily brushing with a firm-bristled brush will keep shedding to a minimum and keep the coat shiny. Dry shampoo can be used to reduce the frequency of bathing, which can be a chore with this big dog!
Great Dane Training Info
Great Danes grow very quickly and, for many, it can come as quite a shock to realize that they have a puppy that weighs 100 pounds bounding about the living room. Due to the fact that Great Danes grow so quickly and because of their sheer size and mass, it’s important to get them started in obedience training as young as possible. While he may not mean to cause mischief, puppies can’t help being clumsy and playful, and Great Dane pups are especially affectionate. Teaching them control and moderation, while they are still young, is very important.
Great Dane Health Info
Great Dane dogs can be prone to a number of hereditary health problems. That is why choosing a responsible breeder from which to purchase your Great Dane puppy is very important. Responsible Great Dane breeders will be well educated about the breed and carefully screen their breeding dogs for disorders that can affect these dogs.
Like many of the large dog breeds, Great Danes are prone to hip dysplasia. Great Danes used as breeding stock should be OFA certified to be free from this inheritable genetic condition.
Heart disease, tumors, eye conditions, hypothyroidism, bloat, and tail injuries are other commonly reported health conditions associated with this breed. Buy your Great Dane only from a reputable breeder, who will take care to produce dogs of sound health and temperament.
For further reading, here is a very informative web site dedicated to education about health concerns in the Great Dane dog breed:
Great Dane Right Breed Info
The Great Dane is a superb choice for families with older children who want a large, playful dog as family companion and protector. Families with very small children should probably not get a Great Dane. These gentle, yet massive, dogs may unintentionally knock toddlers down and hurt them.
This characteristically quiet dog will alert the family to visitors or intruders but seldom becomes physically aggressive unless the situation calls for it, qualities which make the Great Dane a superb family watch dog.