The Great Dane is one of the gentle giants of the canine world. This huge breed is typically around 100-200lbs and ten inches tall at the shoulder. This is a very big breed and it should only be considered by owners who are willing and happy to accommodate its unique needs. Despite being a little daunting in size, the Great Dane is loyal, affectionate, and friendly. With the right training, a Great Dane can be taught to control its size and show respect for a master. It is very important that owners take the time to train this dog, because it needs a leader and a guide. It must be taught not to jump up at people or throw its weight around a home, because it is simply too big for this.
The Great Dane is characterized by its square body and long, rectangular head. It has a deep muzzle, with a well-defined stop. Its nose is blue or black and it has dark, deep set eyes. When the ears are left uncropped, they fold forward and rest close to the cheek. Across most of Europe now, cropping is actually illegal.
The clearly defined neck is set high and is usually fairly muscular. The front legs are very straight and the feet are rounded. The tail of a Great Dane rests up high and is thick at the case. This species can be bred in a number of different colors; blue, mantle, harlequin, black, fawn, and merle. While chocolate and merle are not officially recognized colors, they are common among these dogs. The Great Dane is a breed that loves and needs company. You should not consider this dog if you are unwilling to spend a lot of time with it. While it does not need a huge amount of exercise (no more than medium sized dogs), it does require a lot of space in a home. It cannot be copped up in an apartment or small flat – the same rules apply for small gardens.
This breed is believed to have developed from supersized hunting dogs kept in ancient times. These huge boar hounds often appear in ancient Greek frescoes. They were probably mixed with the Molossian hound, the Suliot dog, and a number of other large species from the region.
By the 16th century, influential figures across Europe were importing similarly large dogs from England. These hybrid canines were usually a cross between the English Mastiff and the Irish Wolf Hound. The dogs were still used for hunting, but the most favored animals were kept close to their owners. They were often used as guard dogs, due to their fierce loyalty.
The Great Dane is a naturally friendly and playful dog. However, like most breeds, it does need strong guidance and a confident leader. If it does not have these things, it will likely become stubborn and may behave aggressively. This is why training is important; it teaches the dog how to fulfill its role within the household ‘pack.’ If well trained, the Great Dane will only ever behave aggressively if it feels like its family is under attack. This makes it a good guard dog and a great companion for children. In fact, it is remarkably patient around children and rarely barks or gets overexcited. It is courageous, loyal, and delights in company.
As the breed is so large, an owner needs to teach it not to jump up at people. Even with affectionate intentions, a dog this large can end up injuring people if it gets too boisterous. The species needs a commitment from an owner and a dedication to spending time with it, because the Great Dane is prone to separation anxiety if left alone too often.
Size and Exercise
This is one of the tallest dog breeds in existence. The largest Great Dane ever was a whopping 112cm tall, from paws to shoulder. So, these dogs do need a lot of space. They require daily walks to maintain good health. However, as they grow so fast, they can develop serious joint and bone problems. This means that exercise should be adequate, but moderate. If you over exercise this breed, you can end up contributing to ill health. Puppies, especially, should be walked carefully.
Health Issues and Living Conditions
The Great Dane is at risk of a number of health problems, due to its rapid rate of growth. It can develop hip dysplasia, bloat, heart disease, and tail dysfunctions. It is also at greater risk of mast cell tumors. Overall, this breed is not one that lives a long time; the average life expectancy is less than a decade. While the breed does require enough yard space to move around in, it is relatively inactive indoors. After maturing, the Great Dane is fairly relaxed and rarely behaves boisterously when not outside on walks. So, it can be kept in an apartment, but an owner must not leave it alone for too long or forget to walk it.
Like most giant breeds, this dog has a slow metabolism. It needs less food than you might expect. Do be aware that, although relaxed in the home, this species loves to sit close to its owner. This tendency has led to it being nicknamed ‘the biggest lapdog in the world.’ If you have one of these dogs, it will want to sit on your feet and lean against your legs.
As aforementioned, Great Danes have a typical life span of less than ten years. However, it is not unheard of for dogs to live for 10-12 years.
It is, unsurprisingly, the size of this breed that makes it tricky to groom. Fortunately, regular brushing and dry shampooing should eliminate the need for frequent baths. The Great Dane has a short coat, so it is easy to groom. It is an average shedder, but its nails need to be kept trimmed. Overall, grooming is straightforward and should not cause too many problems.
Caring for Great Dane Puppies
The puppies of this breed can be very energetic and cause a lot of destruction in a home if not properly trained. They need to be taught not to jump up at people, not to run around the house, and not to be suspicious of people that you invite into your home. The Great Dane is a naturally friendly species, but it was once a hunting and guard breed. This means that it is protective and will become aggressive if it believes that its family is under attack. With the right training, however, puppies can learn to tell the difference between good and bad guys. The younger dogs do not bark much, but they love to play. They require supervision or you may be left tidying up after their mess. As they grow, avoid exercising too much, because this can exacerbate the pressure on their joints.
Before Taking a Great Dane Home for the First Time
It is okay to keep a Great Dane in an apartment, as long as you can train and control its size. The breed is quite calm, so will restrict its energy to the outdoors if taught how. A daily walk of 10-20 minutes is usually enough for these gentle beasts. Too much exercise can lead to joint problems and illness.
Your Great Dane will eat a lot, but probably less than you might think. It will play well with children and other animals (generally). There are some dogs that are naturally more skittish and standoff around strangers, but it is rare for them to act aggressively. However, do make sure that nervous dogs are not unduly stressed by children.
While the breed is very friendly, if you do decide to adopt a very young animal, you must introduce other people and pets in a calm way, so as not to frighten him. Before you know it, your new companion will feel right at home.
Great Dane Mixes
American Dane – Great Dane x American Bulldog
American Foxy Dane – Great Dane x American Foxhound
Boxane – Great Dane x Boxer
Daniff – Mastiff x Great Dane
Doberdane – Great Dane x Doberman Pinscher
Great Bernard – Great Dane x Saint Bernard
Great Bullweiler – Great Dane x Rottweiler x Bullmastiff
Great Danebull – Pit Bull x Great Dane
Great Dasenji – Basenji x Great Dane
Great Labradane -Labrador Retriever x Great Dane
Great Pyredane -Great Dane x Great Pyrenees
Great Rottsky – Siberian Husky x Great Dane x Rottweiler
Great Shepherd – Great Dane x German Shepherd Dog
Great Weimar -Great Dane x Weimaraner
Great Wolfhound – Great Dane x Irish Wolfhound
Greater Swiss Mountain Dane -Great Dane x Greater Swiss Mountain Dog
Plush Danois – Great Dane x Anatolian Shepherd Dog
Weiler Dane -Great Dane x Rottweiler
ACA = American Canine Association Inc.
ACR = American Canine Registry
AKC = American Kennel Club
ANKC = Australian National Kennel Club
APRI = American Pet Registry, Inc.
CCR = Canadian Canine Registry
CKC = Canadian Kennel Club
CKC = Continental Kennel Club
DRA = Dog Registry of America, Inc.
FCI = Fédération Cynologique Internationale
KCGB = Kennel Club of Great Britain
NAPR = North American Purebred Registry, Inc.
NKC = National Kennel Club
NZKC = New Zealand Kennel Club
UKC = United Kennel Club