Great Dane Dog Breed Information & Characteristics

By Alberto Roy

Updated on:

The Great Dane is a great breed of dog. Large and noble, it is often called the “Apollo” of dogs. Apollo, the Greek god of the Sun, is the brightest fixture in all of nature.

Great Danes are a well-known breed. Artifacts that depict Danes on them date back thousands of year. This is a pure breed dog. However, they may be available in rescues or shelters. If you are certain that this is the right dog for you, don’t buy.

Great Dane

Great Danes are gentle, large dogs who love to spend time with their families, whether they’re out on walks or just relaxing at their elbows. This gentle, elegant dog breed is right for you.

The Great Danes are a powerful breed in the dog world. However, they can look intimidating but they are one of the most gentle dogs you will ever meet. Great Danes, despite their large size, are affectionate and sweet pets. They are playful and gentle with children.

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Although a Great Dane may grow to the size of a small horse or pony, don’t let his rectangular head and lean muscles fool you. He is a gentle giant, loving, loyal and a wonderful addition to any family. He can cohabitate well with smaller animals and children, provided he is properly supervised. .

Due to the Great Dane’s large size, vet bills and food can quickly add up. This often surprises owners, Jami-Lyn Derse DVM founder of Veterinary Housecall Care Libertyville, Ill.

Below are all facts and characteristics about Great Danes.

Learn More About Great Dane Breed

  • Although the Great Dane was initially bred to hunt wild boar in their native habitat, they are unlikely to be as good today.
  • The Great Dane was eventually bred to have the ferociousness and wiliness necessary for hunting such a large, wily beast. They are a gentle, sociable dog who gets along with all dogs, animals, humans.

Their size and power bark will make any burglar nervous. One of these dogs is sure to make you realize that although they are large, it takes some time to adjust to them.

Although the Great Dane is a Mastiff-type dog, they are more sophisticated than other descendants of this old breed. The Great Dane is elegant and sleek. Their muscular, athletic bodies are impressive.

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Their large head, which is indeed massive, is long and narrow. Their neck is long and graceful. Although some owners may crop their ears, it’s better to leave them natural.

Cropped ears are quite common in the US. However, in many other countries, ear-cropping has been banned.

They can be a problem due to their size. Some people are nervous about eyeballing dogs that weigh as much as they do. Their tail can tip over many things, especially in small spaces. They are a formidable counter surfer if given the chance. They are not impulsive or rambunctious.

A Great Dane, regardless of its size, is an affectionate, sweet companion. They are playful and gentle with children.

Although they are peaceful, they still have the same courage that helped them hunt wild boar. Despite their powerful bark, they don’t speak loudly but would not hesitate to defend their family.

Even though they are gentle and easy to train, it is a good idea to teach them manners and take obedience classes as soon as possible. They can be difficult to control due to their size. And, as with all dogs, you never know what they might find that they have to chase.

Appearance of Great Dane

Great Dane Puppies

This breed’s most distinctive feature is its extra-large size. Great Danes can reach 28-32 inches tall at the shoulder and weigh between 110-175 pounds.

You can also recognize the “Apollo” of dogs by their long, rectangular, rectangular heads, deep-set eyes and thoughtful expression. Derse states, “They’re very majestic.” “They are strong and powerful and have a great temperament.”

They are very people-oriented and eager to please. When they are happy to be petted, they tend to push people around with their big heads. Sometimes, you might meet a lapdog who is able to jump onto your sofa and wrap themselves around you.

Surprisingly, the Great Dane doesn’t usually eat as much as you might think. They don’t require a lot of exercise.

A Great Dane’s coat is more versatile than you might think. The standard Great Dane colors are black, white and brindle, blue, fawn and white.

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A black-and-white Great Dane may have several names depending on the coat pattern. The harlequin Great Dane’s coat is white with black patches.

The merle Great Dane’s coat has gray patches and dark spots. The mantle Great Dane, on the other hand, has black blanketing over his body with white patches.

Comparing with European Great Danes American Great Danes tend to have smaller heads and shorter statures, but they are similar otherwise.

Temperament of Great Dane

Great Danes can be social, loving, and friendly. They make great family dogs, and despite their large stature, they are gentle with children and smaller pets. You should supervise your children around Danes – he is so large that he may accidentally step on them.

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People are becoming more familiar with the Great Dane because of their gentle nature and beauty. Their eight year lifespan is a short one due to their size. They take up a lot of space in your heart, but they only live for a short time.

  • Highlights
    • The Great Dane is sweet and eager to please. He is also people-oriented and easy to housetrain.
    • Great Danes, like many giant dogs are short-lived.
    • Great Danes need a lot of space. They are great house dogs but they still need plenty of space to move about. They can reach almost everything, including kitchen counters and dinner tables. Their tails can also sweep up coffee tables.
    • A big dog means more costs for everything: food, collars, vet care, prevention, heartworm treatment, and food. You will also need a crate as well as a vehicle large enough to carry your Great Danes without making them into pretzels. You’ll also be able to scoop up quite a bit of poop.
    • Large dogs like Great Danes take a while to become stable and stop growing. Your Great Dane puppy shouldn’t jump and you shouldn’t let them run until they are at least 18 months. This will help reduce stress on their growing bones and joints.
    • Orthopedic issues can arise if the Dane does not follow his giant-breed diet.
    • Because of their size, Great Danes don’t like small apartments. A six-foot fence will be sufficient to contain them.
    • Do not buy a puppy from an unreliable breeder, puppy mill, pet shop, or puppy mill. If you are certain this is the breed you want, you should look for rescues and shelters in your area.

Great Dane History

On Egyptian artifacts that date back to 3000 B.C., drawings of dogs that look like Great Danes were found. Babylonian temples, which were built around 2000 B.C.

Evidence suggests that similar dogs may have originated in Tibet. In 1121 B.C., Chinese literature contained written reports about such dogs.

It is believed that the Assyrians brought the breed to different parts of the globe. They then traded the dogs to the Greeks or Romans. These dogs were then crossed with other breeds by the Romans and Greeks.

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The breed’s development was likely influenced by the English Mastiff’s ancestors. Some believe the Irish Wolfhound and Irish Greyhound may also have played a part.

Boar Hounds was the original name for Great Danes. This is because they were originally bred to hunt boars. To prevent the boar tusks tearing their ears, their ears were trimmed. The breed’s name was changed to English Dogges in the 16th century.

In the late 1600s, however many German nobles started keeping their most handsome and large-sized dogs in their homes. They were called Kammerhunde (Chamber Dogs). These dogs were treated well and wore velvet-lined collars. Talk about a happy life.

In the 1700s, the Great Dane was born when a French naturalist visited Denmark to see a smaller version of the Boar Hound that looked more like a Greyhound. This dog was called Grand Danois and eventually became Great Danish Dog.

The larger breeds of Danish Mastiffs were also named Great Danish Dog. Despite the fact that this breed was not developed in Denmark, the name stuck.

Many breed historians credit German breeders with making the breed the elegant, well-balanced dog we love today.

Breeders and judges met in Berlin in 1880 and decided that the German Mastiffs they were breeding would be a distinct breed. They gave the dog its own name, Deutsche Dogge.

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The Deutscher Doggen-Klub in Germany was founded by them. Many other European countries also adopted the name. However, the name was not accepted by English-speaking and Italian-speaking countries.

The Italians still call the breed Alano (meaning Mastiff) today. In English-speaking countries they are called Great Danes.

In the late 1800s, German breeders became wealthy and continued to improve the breed. Because Great Danes were originally bred to hunt wild Boar, which is a particularly dangerous beast, they had an aggressive and ferocious temperament.

They tried to breed gentler animals and, fortunately for us, they succeeded.

Although we don’t know the exact date or origin of the first Great Danes brought to America, the Great Dane Club of America was founded in 1889. It was the fourth breed club to be allowed to join The American Kennel Club.

Size of Great Dane

Great Danes males can reach 30 to 34 inches in height and weigh between 120 and 200 pounds.

Females can be 28-32 inches tall and 100-130 pounds. Some dogs may be smaller than others.

Great Dane Personality

A well-bred Dane can be one of the most gentle and loving dogs. They are gentle, sweet, and affectionate pets that love to play with children. They are eager to please which makes them easy to train.

The Great Dane is a family dog. They are very friendly with people, even strangers, and will happily welcome anyone who comes to visit, unless they feel you need to be protected. They can become fiercely protective if they feel the need.

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Some Danes want to be lapdogs or believe they are, and they will keep trying even if your lap and you mysteriously move on.

Great Danes are as good-natured and friendly as they can be. They need early Socialization – exposure to different people, sights sounds, experiences, and people–whenever they’re still young. Socialization is important to ensure your Great Dane puppy is well-rounded.

It’s a good idea to enroll them in a puppy kindergarten. You can help your dog improve their social skills by inviting visitors to visit regularly.

Health of Great Dane 

Although Great Danes are healthy in general, they can be susceptible to some health issues. Although not all Danes will be affected by these diseases, it is important to be aware of the potential dangers for this breed.

These are some conditions to be aware of:

    • Development issues : Young adults and puppies can suffer from growing problems. These problems can be caused by a poor diet, which is often high in protein, calcium, and other supplements.
    • Hip Dysplasia : This is an inheritable condition where the thighbone does not fit into the hip joint. While some dogs may experience pain or lameness in one or both of their rear legs, others do not show any obvious signs. The best way to diagnose the problem is with X-rays. As the dog gets older, arthritis may develop. Hip dysplasia is not something to breed in dogs.
    • Gastric Torsion : Bloat is also known as a life-threatening condition and can affect large dogs with deep chests such as Great Danes. Bloat is more common in dogs who eat one large meal per day, consume large amounts of water, exercise after eating and eat quickly.
    • Bloat is more common in older dogs. Bloat occurs when the stomach becomes full of gas or air, and then twists (orsion). To get rid of excess stomach air, the dog cannot vomit or belch and it impedes the normal flow of blood to the heart. The dog will go into shock if their blood pressure drops.
    • Dogs can quickly die if they don’t get immediate medical attention. Bloat is a condition where your dog’s abdomen is distended and they are retching and not throwing up.
    • You may also notice a fast heart beat, restlessness, depression, lethargy, or weakness. If you notice any of these symptoms, it is important to take your dog to the veterinarian immediately.
    • Bone cancer : This bone tumor is sometimes called osteosarcoma. This is most common in elderly or middle-aged dogs. However, larger breeds like the Great Danes tend to get tumors earlier.
    • Osteosarcoma, which is a form of bone cancer that affects large and massive breeds, is most common. Lameness is the first sign, but dogs will require X-rays in order to determine the cause Cancer.
    • Osteosarcoma can be aggressively treated, with chemotherapy and amputations of the limbs. Dogs can live from nine months to two years with treatment. Dogs can adapt easily to living on three legs.
    • Heart Disease : Great Danes can be affected by heart diseases, including dilated cardiomyopathy and mitral valve defects. The specific disorder, age of the dog and their general health will determine the treatment and prognosis.

Great Danes are more susceptible to surgical issues than smaller dogs. Find a surgeon who has experience with giant-breed animals for any necessary surgery. Request a pre-surgical blood test. Ask them to include a profile of clotting (this is not typically part of presurgical blood work).

How To Take Care of Great Dane

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A Great Dane, despite its enormous size, is gentle enough to make a great house dog. However, they are not suitable for small apartments because they can knock into everything.

They can become cold in winter so they should not be left outside in colder weather. But then again, no dog should. They would love a fleece or sweater coat to keep them warm while out on a winter walk.

Exercise for Great Dane

Although they are relatively calm indoors, they require a walk at least once per day or a large yard to play. A Great Dane adult needs to exercise 30-60 minutes per day, depending on age and level of activity. Adolescents and puppies need approximately 90 minutes of exercise per day.

A six-foot fence is required if you intend to keep them in your yard on a regular basis. They are not jumpers. If you are a gardener, they will enjoy the destruction of landscaping. This is just a safety tip to help prevent heart attacks.

Although you might want to run with your Great Dane, it’s best to wait until they are at least 18 months of age before taking them jogging.

Their bones are still developing, so they may not be able to do the job. Your dog might not be ready for jogging before they are two years old.

Crate Training for Great Dane

Crate training is beneficial for all dogs and is a way to make sure your Great Dane does not have accidents in their home or do things that aren’t supposed to be done. A large crate is a safe place for dogs to take a break and relax.

If your Dane ever needs to be boarded, or admitted to hospital, crate training will make it easier for them to accept confinement.

However, you should not leave your Dane in the crate for more than a few hours. They shouldn’t spend more time in the crate than necessary, and it’s not a place where they can be locked up. Great Danes can be people dogs and are not meant to live in a crate.

Dental Care of Great Dane

Brush your Danes’ teeth at minimum twice or three times per week to get rid of tartar and bacteria. If you want to prevent bad breath and gum disease, daily brushing is even more important.

Cut their nails at least once a month if they don’t get worn down naturally. This will prevent any painful tears or other issues. They may be too long if they are clicking on the ground.

You can cause bleeding by cutting too far on dog toenails. Your dog might not cooperate when you get the nail clippers out. Ask a groomer or vet for help if you aren’t an expert at trimming dog nails.

Ear Care and Noise Check-up of Great Dane

You should check their ears for any redness or bad smells. This could indicate an infection. To prevent infection, use a gentle, pH-balanced, cotton ball to clean your dog’s ears. Do not insert anything in the ear canal. Instead, clean the outer ear.

You should inspect your skin for any sores, rashes or signs of infection, such as redness, tenderness or inflammation, on the nose, mouth and feet, as well. Clear, dry eyes should not show any redness or discharge. A weekly eye exam can help you identify potential health issues early.

They aren’t gentle giants for nothing. Derse claims that a well-trained Great Dane will be able to handle any ear- or tail-pulling young children may put him to. She says, “I always think about the Scooby-Doo personality; their’re like that.”

Great Danes As Guard Dogs

Great Danes are calm and docile, but they were originally bred as guard dogs. Sometimes that instinct can be harnessed. Great Danes can be cautious around strangers, due to their dedication and love for their family.

Like all dogs, socialize your Great Dane as soon as possible to make him comfortable and trustable with strangers and new situations.

Living Needs of Great Dane

Great Danes are social dogs and prefer to be around people and animals. They will be able to stretch their legs and get as much exercise in a large, fenced yard.

A large yard doesn’t have to be a problem as long as they get enough exercise (we mean two or three walks per day). Derse states that although they are large, they will need to exercise. However, they don’t have unlimited energy like small dogs. I see them on the couch a lot.”

It is possible for Great Danes to do too much exercise. According to the Great Dane Lovers Association of Western Australia (GDLA), dogs grow quickly and owners should wait until their dog is 18 months to start taking them hiking or running to help preserve his joints.

They’re large, so they need to run. But they are not dogs with boundless energy. They are often found on the couch.

Taking Care of Great Dane Puppy

Great Danes can be large. Because of this, it can be expensive to care for them. They consume more food than small dogs, and require higher doses of medication if they are on medication.

They may also require more anesthesia if they have to undergo surgery. This can increase the cost. Derse states that the cost of getting one of these dogs is something you should consider. They are definitely more costly.

Although their short, smooth coat is easy to maintain, Great Danes shed occasionally throughout the year due to their large size. The most shedgin occurs in spring when the weather is warmer.

Brushing your dog weekly throughout each year is a good way to control shedding. Baths should be taken from time to time, and nails must be trimmed regularly. Fastidious home-owners should be aware that Great Danes do drool. There are many.

It is important to socialize these dogs as young dogs (and when they are older than you). Great Danes love being around other animals and people, and they respond well to constant positive reinforcement.

Health Issues of Great Dane Puppies

The Great Dane, like many large breeds of dog, can have a variety of health problems. Derse states that he always stresses to Great Dane puppies how quickly they will grow and what diseases they can get, even though they are young or middle-aged.

Great Dane puppies are quick to grow in the first two years of their lives. To protect your puppy’s developing bones, you should not start exercising him until he is at least 18 months.

The Great Dane’s lifespan is 7-10 years. “These larger breeds tend not to live as long than some of the smaller breeds. Great Danes are one such example where people say, “Oh, I want this dog. It’s going to live 12 to 14 years!” Derse agrees. “And that’s just the Great Dane lifetime at all.”

Derse states that the most dangerous condition they are at risk is gastric dilatation–volvulus (GDV), also known as bloat.

This is a life-threatening condition in which the dog’s stomach expands and twists or turns, pressing on other organs. Derse says that the Great Dane’s stomach is large and has plenty of room. “When they run or play, their stomachs can flip on themselves.”

A procedure called gastropexy can prevent bloat. This involves attaching the stomach wall to their stomach so that it doesn’t flip. Derse advises Great Dane owners to get the procedure done as soon as possible.

She says, “Because once your stomach flips, which there’s a good chance it will, that’s an emergency.”

Great Danes love to stretch their legs outdoors, but they are equally happy to snuggle (or squish) you on the couch.

This breed is also more susceptible to eye and heart conditions, autoimmune thyroiditis and hypothyroidism, as well as hip dysplasia and hypothyroidism.

Great Dane owners need to consult their veterinarian regarding the best ways to lower their dog’s risk and improve their dog’s health.

Great Dane Puppies’ Histories

Although the “Dane” part can be confusing, the breed is German and not Danish. He is known as the Deutschen in his native country.

Although they were originally bred as guard dogs and boar hounds for estates and carriages in the 1600s, German noblemen began to breed them as pets . They are more likely to be loyal companions than hunters in the field.

In 1887, the AKC designated the Great Dane a breed. It’s still one the 20 most loved breeds in the U.S.

Great Danes are beloved by cartoonists. Marmaduke, Astro from “The Jetsons”, and Scooby-Doo are all fictional representations of the breed.

Fun Facts About Great Dane Puppies 

  • Zeus, a Great Dane from Otsego in Michigan, was awarded the Guinness World Record in 2011. He measured in at 3.66 feet tall with a weight of 155 pounds and stood on his rear legs to measure 7 feet, 4 inches. Zeus was said to have eaten 30 pounds of dog food each week. Zeus, who was five years old, died in 2014.
  • Great Danes are beloved by cartoonists. Marmaduke, Astro from “The Jetsons”, and Scooby-Doo are all fictional representations of the breed.
  • Celebrities, athletes, politicians, and other celebrities are all big fans. Some of the most famous owners include Jim Carrey and Bruce Lee, Fabio Langzoni, Fabio Lougainis, Mario Andretti and Chubby Checker.
  • There are many Great Dane hybrid breeds, including the Labradane, which is a cross between a Labrador retriever and a Great Dane), a Boxane which is boxer meets Dane, and a Great Poodane which is Dane meets poodle.

Feeding Schedule of Great Dane Puppies

A Great Dane puppy, a giant-breed puppy, needs to eat a healthy diet. This is more important than any other breed. Great Dane puppies shouldn’t be fed regular puppy food as it is often too rich.

They need puppy food that’s designed for large breeds. Supplementing with any food, especially calcium, is not a good idea.

Your Great Dane will need to be fed high-quality food. This is because their age and gender affect the amount of food you give them.

For dietary recommendations that are specific to your dog, consult your veterinarian or nutritionist. The following are the recommended daily amounts:

    • Three to six months: Females have three to six cups, males four to eight cups
    • Eight months to one calendar year: Females have five to eight cups, males six to ten cups
    • Adolescents: Females have eight cups, males nine to fifteen cups
    • Adults: Females six to eight cups, males eight to ten cups

A Great Dane puppy should eat three meals per day until the age of four-five months. For the rest of their lives, they should be fed two meals per day. They shouldn’t eat only one meal per day.

You can find more information about feeding your Great Dane by reading our guide on buying the right food, feeding your puppy and feeding your adult dog.

Grooming and Coat Color of Great Dane Puppies

These are the six most common colors of Great Danes’ short, smooth coats:

    • Fawn is a golden color that has a black mask.
    • Brindle is fawn-black intermixed all across the body in a Tiger-stripe design.
    • Blue (steelblue, which is actually a type of gray)
    • Black
    • Harlequin (white, with black irregular patches across the entire body).
    • Mantle (black, white and with a solid blanket of black over the body)

Their coats shed a lot but they are easy to maintain with regular brushing. Brush your Great Dane’s coat with a stiff bristle brush.

Shampoo as necessary. Regular brushing will keep your Great Dane’s coat clean and healthy. It also reduces the amount of baths they require.

Bathing a Great Dane can be a difficult task, especially if they don’t want to do it. It’s hard to imagine them hiding under the table trying to escape a bath. But it happens.

When your Dane is a puppy, get them used to having their fur brushed and checked. You should also be sure to check their mouths and paws as dogs can be very sensitive about their feet.

Make grooming fun with praises and rewards. This will help you prepare for their eventual veterinary exam.

Great Dane Puppy with Children and Other Pets

Great Danes love children and are gentle with them, especially when they have been raised together since puppyhood. They don’t know how large they are in comparison to small children, so they can easily knock over small children.

You should teach your children how to touch and approach dogs. Also, supervise interactions between dogs with children. This will prevent any biting, ear pulling, or head-shaking. Your child should not approach any dog that is sleeping, eating, or trying to steal their food.

A Great Dane is generally good with other pets, although they can sometimes be aggressive towards livestock or may not like other pets. Some dogs won’t tolerate other animals in the home, others may prefer to sleep with the cats or other dogs.

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