- Group – Working
- Height – 28-32 inches at the shoulder
- Weight – 45-55 KG
- Life Span – 6-8 years
The Great Dane is a huge dog with a sweet and gentle nature. He needs a lot of space for exercise, though he can be very calm and well-behaved indoors.
The exact age of the Great Dane breed is not known, but it is likely that close ancestors of the breed have existed for thousands of years. There are drawings of dogs resembling the Great Dane on Egyptian monuments dating to 3000 B.C. Early written descriptions of similar dogs were found in Chinese literature of 1121 B.C. These ancestral Danes were less refined than those seen today – heavier in build and bred for ferocity and fearlessness rather than appearance. The Great Dane as we know it has been selectively bred as a distinct type for at least 400 years, and perhaps longer. It is widely believed that Great Danes descend from crosses between the English Mastiff and the Irish Wolfhound.
The Great Dane originally was bred in Germany for the purpose of hunting the European wild boar, which at the time was the most savage of all game on the Continent. This took a powerful, intelligent, tenacious dog, and the Dane’s personality and breed characteristics suited him perfectly to the task. German nobility were so impressed with these dogs that they began to take the best specimens as guard dogs, and ultimately companions, for their large estates. It is reported that in 1592, the Duke of Braunschweig brought a pack of 600 Great Danes to a boar hunt – supposedly, all of them males. In the 1800s, the breed in Germany began approaching the dog we know today. The Great Dane was declared the National Dog of Germany in 1876. Shortly thereafter, German fanciers declared that the breed be called the Deutsche dogge, and that all other names be abolished. Italy still calls the breed Alano, which means “mastiff.” In 1891, the Deutsche Dogge Club of Germany was formed and adopted an official standard describing the breed.
Great Danes came to the United States starting in the mid-1800s. William “Buffalo Bill” Cody apparently was an early admirer of the breed. The American Kennel Club recognized the Great Dane in 1887. The German Mastiff Club of America was founded in 1889, and two years later the parent club was renamed the Great Dane Club of America.
Great Danes are rarely used as boarhounds today, but instead have been selectively bred for docility, conformation and temperament. They easily transitioned to affectionate companions. Balance in disposition and physical characteristics remains essential in correct representatives of the breed. According to the AKC official standard, a Great Dane “must be spirited, courageous, never timid; always friendly and dependable. This physical and mental combination is the characteristic which gives the Great Dane the majesty possessed by no other breed.”
Personality and Temperament
Great Danes are affectionate, calm, loyal, and intelligent. Although they do not bark very much, they make great watch dogs.
This breed gets along well with children, other dogs, and most household pets. They are usually wary around strangers, but are good with welcomed visitors.
Hair, Care and Grooming
Hair is short and smooth. The Great Dane should be grooming with a rubber brush during periods of shedding.
The breed is prone to hip dysplasia, bloat, tumors, heart disease, and tail injuries.
Training and Activity
This breed grows quite large, so for an early lesson he should be trained not to pull on the leash. He’s quite eager to please, so a proper approach should provide great results.
The Great Dane needs a lot of exercise, including being able to run freely off the leash in open countryside.
Although Great Danes can appear quite large, they often don’t weigh as much as other big breeds because of their general elongation and tall stature. Great Danes should usually weigh in excess of 100 pounds, especially the males, but like any large dog, there is always a danger of overfeeding simply because Great Danes appear to require a more human-like diet. A generally lower metabolism means that you will not have to feed your Great Dane as much as you always think you should. People who are looking to raise Great Danes for competition will want to ensure proper nutrition and healthy amounts of feeding so that it never comes in underweight or grows too short. Great Danes are often judged on having a proper height because it is one of the distinguishing characteristics of their breed – a short Great Dane is often not a great competing Great Dane.