20 Cool Facts About The Great Dane

At first sight, a Great Dane can look like a menace, but in most cases, this couldn’t be further from the truth. They are actually the gentle giants of the dog world. As with any breed of dog, there are pros and cons to sharing a living space with them, but we believe that the positives far outweigh any negatives.

They have only been officially recognized as a breed for a short period of time, but Great Danes have risen in popularity to one of the most beloved canines on the planet.

Great Danes have a way of stealing your heart and making you glad that they’re around. If you’re fortunate enough to be a Great Dane owner, you’ll smile and nod your head to the facts we’re about to share. If you haven’t had the pleasure of sharing your home with this amazing breed, you may be inspired to do so in the near future.

Here are 20 cool facts you didn’t know about the Great Dane.

1. They were bred to be work dogs

Great Danes were originally bred to hunt large game and to guard the property of their owners. This is why the size was so important to the breeders. Although they are currently popular as friendly companion dogs, their first duties were to work for their masters to earn their keep.

In the early years after the breed was developed, their owners were not looking for a pet that would lie around the house and look pretty. They needed a functional dog that could help in putting food on the table, and protecting owners from criminals who would attempt to steal from them.

The Great Danes of today still have natural hunting and guarding instincts, which make them useful for letting you know when an intruder is at your door. They may bark and raise a fuss, but Great Danes aren’t known for being particularly aggressive, like their ancestors were.

They are far calmer and some are even docile in their demeanor. they are no longer the intense hunters and guard dogs that they once were. Their large size may serve as a powerful deterrent for would be thieves, but they’re not really that into attacking intruders so expect to be alerted but don’t rely on much more than this.

2. They’re known for their height, but are not the tallest breed

Great Danes are tall dogs who reach some staggering heights compared to most other dog breeds. Males are generally taller than the females. When they stand on their hind legs, these dogs can measure well over seven feet tall.

It’s hard to imagine that there are actually taller dog breeds in the world. Most Great Danes dwarf their owners when they try to stand up and give them a hug. Still, there is a breed that grows even taller than this.

Great Danes come in second in height only to Irish Wolfhounds. Great Danes actually have the genetics of the Irish Wolfhound in their makeup as this is one of the dog breeds that was crossed in developing them.

3. They prefer to be lap dogs

This may sound crazy, given their size, but Great Danes are big time into cuddling and they would love nothing more than being a lap dog. Granted, they’re not even that small when they’re puppies, but they’re so cute and adorable that it’s easy to let them sit on your lap for some enjoyable cuddle time.

As they begin to put on size and weight (and this happens rather quickly), it isn’t long before the dog is bigger than you and doesn’t fit into your favorite chair. When this happens, it’s better to have a full sized couch for cuddle time, or to just give in and get on the floor with your massive pup.

If this isn’t something that you’re physically up to doing, you should probably consider training your Great Dane from and early age, to stay off of the furniture in your home. It’s better to do this while they’re small rather that let them get used to it then deprive them of the pleasure.

4. They make amazing family dogs

Great Danes are appreciated for their gentleness and calm demeanor. Sure, they can be playful, but most of these dogs have a gentle, friendly and even temperament. They have earned a solid reputation for being loyal and dependable.

They’re easy to train and are usually great with kids. It’s recommended that you always supervise times when the children are around them though. Because of their massive size, it’s easy for them to accidentally knock kids down, even if the kids are big. Heck, they can unwittingly flatten out a full grown adult in play.

This is one of the reasons why it’s important to begin training and socialization of a Great Dane while he is a very young puppy, and smaller in size. These kind-hearted pooches wouldn’t willfully hurt you, but they’re simply not aware that they’re too big to roughhouse. It’s important to teach them early that they shouldn’t jump up on people.

Great Dane

5. They will eventually break your heart

Great Dane lovers know the advantages of welcoming these affectionate pooches into their lives. The biggest downside to the pet parent is that they are known for having a short lifespan. It is because of their massive size that their bodies only tend to hold up for an average of between 7.5 to 10 years at the maximum.

This gives you enough time to fall in love with your pet, only to have to say goodbye much too soon. Some Great Dane fans who are painfully aware of this fact, raise a litter of pups to keep the line of their precious pet going as a means of consoling themselves when the inevitable happens.

This is just one of the sad facts involved with owning larger dogs, but most owners agree that in the long run, it’s worth the sadness to have the experience of the unconditional love that these dogs are capable of showing. If this is something that you wouldn’t be able to deal with, then perhaps a Great Dane wouldn’t be the best choice for you.

6. Great Danes don’t come from Denmark

Many people assume that because they are called Great Danes, they must be of Danish origin. They actually come from Germany where the breed was developed. It’s been quite the mystery just how these non-Danish dogs come to have their names.

One explanation is that it comes from a French name Grand Danois, which means “Big Danish.” This is the story that the American Kennel Club is giving and they’re sticking to it. Those of us who can’t quite wrap our brains around the concept will forever wonder. One thing is for certain, and it’s that they certainly are a Great breed.

Great Dane

7. Great Danes are popular cartoon characters

Several popular cartoon dogs are Great Danes. Scooby Doo, the massively large sidekick of Shaggy is a Great Dane. He definitely reinforces the fact that these dogs enjoy being lap dogs. Just watch to see how often he gets a fright and then ends up in Shaggy’s arms looking for comfort.

Marmaduke, the doggy detective is a Great Dane and highlights the high intelligence level of the breed accurately. Finally, let’s not forget Astro, the Jetson family dog.

Many people don’t stop to think about the fact that some of our favorite cartoons featured a Great Dane as one of the main characters of the show. You may even discover that similar to Scooby Doo and Astro, your Great Dane can be entertaining. Even these big dogs like to put on a show for their loved ones now and then.

8. The tallest dog in history was a Great Dane

Even though statistically, Irish Wolfhounds tend to grow taller, the record holder for height is a Great Dane. Zeus measured a whopping 44 inches when he was standing on all four feet.

When he stood on his hind legs, he was seven feet and four inches in height. Zeus made easily made it into the Guinness World Records Book, but sadly, he only lives to the tender young age of 5. Prior to his death, he exhibited the symptoms of old age and his massive size is believed to be the factor that caused his body to age so quickly.

Great Dane

9. Great Danes are graceful animals

Although it seems unlikely because of their large size, Great Danes are among the most graceful dogs. They have strong profiles and square shaped heads which gives them an air of confidence and regal posturing.

When full grown, their limbs are proportionate to their smooth bodies, allowing them to move with a graceful gait that is much like art in motion. Many great figures throughout recent history have embraced the Great Dane as one of the most graceful and beautiful dogs on the planet.

10. They are sprawlers

You’d better have plenty of leg room for your Great Dane. They love to sprawl out when they’re playing or relaxing. To truly understand their need for sprawling space, all you need to do is take one look at their long legs and massively large paws.

They even have huge square shaped heads that they like to throw around. They do love to alternate being active with being lazy. Either way, they need plenty of space to live in. They do need to get daily exercise when they’re not chilling in the front room.

It’s not recommended to raise a Great Dane in an apartment or tiny house because they simply won’t have enough room to get the exercise that they need. Perhaps a larger apartment would work out okay, as long as there’s enough space for them go sprawl at will.

11. Great Danes need regular medical checkups

It’s important to make sure that your Great Dane sees the veterinarian for regularly scheduled appointments. In addition to making sure that he has all his shots and gets wormed, its particularly necessary to call his doctor if he shows signs of digestive issues.

Great Danes are extremely prone to developing a potential lethal stomach condition that is known as bloat. It’s the leading killer of Great Danes, according to the Chief Vet on Animal Planet.

They also tend to age far faster than other dog breeds. You may have a five year old dog that acts like he’s an elderly dog. Because of this tendency, Great Danes may need to eat a special nutritional diet as they begin to age. Arthritis and sore joints are other issues that can occur. In order to keep your Great Dane as healthy as possible, consult with the vet at the first signs of any discomfort or health problems.

12. Great Danes rank high in popularity

This breed may come across as big bruisers, but they are actually very popular throughout the world. According to the American Kennel Club, they are the fifteenth most popular dog breed in the world.

With the hundreds of different breeds on the register, this is a fairly high ranking. People who know about Great Danes understand that they have so many redeeming qualities, that they make the most wonderful family pets and companion dogs.

Their high intelligence makes them very easy to train. They aren’t as big into people pleasing as a labrador retriever is, but they are happy when you’re happy. A well trained Great Dane will follow your commands with obedience.

They don’t bark much, but they will warn you if there’s trouble. They like to lie around and mind their own business, so this is another plus. Great Danes are loyal and they are know for being dependable and trustworthy. With so many wonderful attributes it’s no wonder that they are such a popular breed of dog.

13. Great Danes are very adaptable pets

Whether you live in the city or in the country, a Great Dane can adapt to nearly any type of living environment. As long as he has sound nutrition, regular medical checkups, space to get some exercise and plenty of love from his family, a Great Dane will have all that he needs to thrive in his environment.

While it’s true that a tiny living space may not give him or you enough space, larger apartments are fine. Since Great Dane’s aren’t prone to barking, they’re good pets for people who have close neighbors. Great Danes really are the gentlemen of the canine world when they are properly socialized and trained.

14. They weren’t always called Great Danes

The first dogs in this breed came out of Germany in the nineteenth century. Since they were first bred to hunt boar in Germany, they were logically named the German Boarhound breed.

There was an early attempt by some breeders in Germany to change the name of the breed from boarhound to German Mastiff, but the name didn’t stick. It’s still unclear how they came to be known as Great Danes.

A few of the other names that were adopted yet failed were Englische Tocke and Englische Docke. Most of us prefer the sound of Great Dane because it rolls off the tongue so nicely in comparison to the others.

15. It took three breeds to develop the Great Dane

Great Danes are not a breed that evolved in nature. Man used certain breeding strategies to develop the breed. They are a combination of three different dogs. Irish Wolfhounds give the Great Dane its tallness, Greyhounds were used to make them fast runners and Mastiff genes were added for the development of muscle mass.

The combination of these three is what were used in the creation of this magnificent breed. Great Danes became recognized by the American Kennel Club as an official dog breed in the year 1887. Through the organization, they have 3 different approved sets of markings and 9 colors.

16. Great Danes are iconic dogs

Since they became a recognized dog breed, Great Danes have been showcased and loved by some very important people throughout history. If you visit the Governor’s office in Pennsylvania, you’ll see a portrait of the William Penn with his beloved Great Dane.

He was the founder of the state of Pennsylvania. In fact, Pennsylvania named the Great Dane as the official state dog in 1967. Penn openly boasted the attributes of this dog that made him so enamored of the breed.

He pointed out that they are magnificent in stature, strength, intelligence, beauty, stability, trustworthiness, courage, tolerance and faithfulness. It seems like Mr. Penn was totally sold on Great Danes as being the best dogs on the planet. Perhaps he was right!

We also must mention that the Great Dane became the national dog of Germany in 1876. It seems that Great Danes are highly regarded throughout the world as being noble and worthy creatures.

17. Similar breeds existed in antiquity

Although Great Danes were not officially bred and recognized until the 1800s, there is evidence to suggest that breeds of ancient dogs existed that strongly resemble the current breed. Ancient drawings were discovered on Egyptian monuments that look strikingly similar to present day Great Danes.

These monuments date back to 3000 B.C. In yet another part of the world, ancient writing describes canines that were also similar to the Great Dane breed. These were written in Chinese literature that dates back to 1121 BC. There are also two additional Egyptian works that bear similarities to the breed from 3500 BC and 5000 BC.

Is it possible that ancient peoples were experimenting with dog breeding thousands of years ago? It’s kind of interesting to think about just exactly what these ancient dog breeds that no longer exist, might have looked like.

18. You don’t really own Great Danes, They own you

As pet owners, we like to think that we’re the boss, but that’s not always the way it turns out. Sure, you may have trained your Great Dane well and he may be extremely obedient.

This doesn’t mean that you always get your way. Great Danes fall in love with their owners as much as you do with them. They also know how to get under your skin so they can get their own way.

They’re not really manipulative dogs, but they’re so personable and kind that it’s hard to deny them simple pleasures. They shower you with faithful service and kind affection. It’s hard to tell your Great Dane that he can’t sleep on your bed, or on your couch or in your chair. When this is the case, who really owns whom?

19. Their Looks Can Be Deceiving

People who have no experience with a Great Dane, or who know very little about them may be frightened by their massive appearance. It’s common for people to believe that they are vicious dogs that are to be feared and avoided.

While it’s true that they are exceptionally large, Great Danes are calm, and most of them are kind and gentle in spirit. They might look mean, but they aren’t at all. We’ll admit that every once in a while you’ll find an individual dog in this breed that might be mean or disagreeable, but in general, they’re real sweethearts that tend to mind their own business, and prefer chilling over raising a fuss.

20. You’ll never forget the friendship you’ve formed

Most Great Dane owners must agree on one thing. Their dogs become members of the family. The love that a Great Dane shares with his human family is the basis for forming special memories that will last far past the time that he has passed from this life.

The short lifespan of the breed may be one of the biggest downsides of ownership, but the special bonds and love that you share with him will make it worth the pain of losing him, just to have had him in your life.

Because Great Danes are loyal, faithful and dependable, you’ll come to rely on his companionship. When he’s not around, you’ll think about him and you’ll miss him. It takes a very special pet to make people feel this way about them. Great Danes are truly unforgettable creatures.

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