A big dog with an even bigger heart – known as the “Apollo of all dogs,” the Great Dane resembles a man’s best friend. The gentle giant is known for its friendliness, grace, and calm temperament.
This giant breed sits from 26 – 34 inches tall at the shoulder and is one of the most giant dogs in the world apart from the English Mastiff. The Great Dane is suitable for any owner as they are easy-going and don’t mind relaxing with you on the couch or going on long hikes.
History of the Great Dane
While it’s believed that the Great Dane was first noticed in the 1600s, findings of drawings on Egyptian artifacts and Babylon temples date back to 2000 B.C. ‘Dane’ means originated from Denmark or descended from the danish origin.
However, despite its name, the Great Dane originated from Germany, where he was referred to as the “Deutsche Dogge.”
The Great Dane is a mixed breed from the English Mastiff and the Irish Wolfhound. Perhaps it gets its noble and loving temperament and large size from Dane’s descendants. Due to Dane’s characteristics, they were bred to take down wild boars but later became guard dogs for estates and carriages.
Today, the Great Dane makes the list of the top 20 most popular dog breeds.
Great Dane Breed Overview
In every film, you see various personalities of the Dane, but most commonly friendly, social, and gentle. Possibly one of the reasons the Dane is known as the ‘gentle giant.’
The Great Dane has appeared in many films, including the most popular Scooby-Doo, Little Rascals, Astro from the Jetsons, Marmaduke, and The Ugly Dachshund.
Great Danes are very social, territorial, and protective of their favorite person. They have no issues with other dogs, strangers, cats, and, more importantly, children and babies. Perhaps their attitude and overall calming nature are why they make such great pets.
The Dane adapts well to change and will remain relaxed with apartment living. Aside from their large size, the Great Dane is a relatively easy dog breed to care for.
Characteristics of the Great Dane
While each dog has their own mind and develops its own personality, you can expect the average Great Dane to resemble most of these characteristics:
- Friendliness: High
- Tendency to bark: Low
- Affectionate: Medium to high
- Energy Level: Medium
- Playful: Medium
- Sensitive to weather change: Medium / Fair
- Best for first-time pet parents: Low (some experience is needed)
- Grooming needs: Low
- Exercise needs: Medium
- Adaptable: Medium
- Trainability: Low to Medium
- Intelligence: Medium to high
- Territorial: Medium to high
- Stubborn: Low to medium
- Sensitive: High
- Prey drive: Medium
The Great Dane holds a rectangular shape, with shoulder width the same distance as foot width. The Dane has a long neck with a rectangular head and a long snout. They are long and narrow, ranging from 110 to 175 pounds, standing at up to 34 inches tall.
The Dane’s eyes are almond-shaped and tend to be brown or golden. When you think of a Great Dane, you may imagine they resemble the color of a fawn or a dark black color. But Great Danes come in many different colors, from light brown to white, blue, brindle, harlequin, and black.
Temperament and Personality
The name ‘gentle giant’ does not come from nothing. Danes are loving, amiable and social, empathetic, sensitive, and well-balanced breed. However, their friendly nature can quickly become aggressive if not appropriately trained due to their size.
Although the aggression doesn’t last long, these dogs become overly sensitive when they feel they have done wrong.
Most of the time, a Dane is pretty chill. They make great babysitters as they are always on guard (though it’s never a good idea to leave a child alone with any dog). When the Dane loves their owner and has created a special bond, they will show their goofy side, enough to make anyone fall in love.
Maintenance Level / Living Needs
Great Danes are not high maintenance. However, they’ll need high-quality dog food to stay healthy because of their tallness and weight.
Also, they’ll need a firm owner who has some experience in dog-walking. Without proper guidance and leash-training skills, your Dane can become easily distracted and decide you’re going left rather than right.
Puppy training and basic obedience are a must for the Great Dane. While they don’t need a big yard to run like other dogs, they wouldn’t mind having one. Apartment living is a breeze for this oversized dog, and they don’t necessarily care for long exhausting walks.
Overall, the Dane is a great low-maintenance companion.
Caring For A Great Dane
Living with a Great Dane brings many advantages and many pitfalls. While overall, the Great Dane is gentle and friendly, their large size needs a ton of space just to be able to move around efficiently. Otherwise, you’ll have their tail accidentally swipe everything off your coffee table.
Their goofy, social, and playful attitudes make it easy to bond and become close companions. However, they are short-lived due to their life expectancy lasting 6 to 10 years.
While the Dane is relatively easy to train and doesn’t have immense exercise needs, they tend to drool a lot, shed often, and need high-quality dog food to thrive.
The Dane is powerful and often doesn’t recognize their own strength, so it’s recommended to get them obedience training and early socialization. Boundaries are one of the main training tools you’ll need to enforce.
It’ll come in handy when you make a room specifically for your Dane or an area where they can relax that’s 100% theirs.
Training is relatively easy, considering the Dane is a breed eager to please and quick to upset. If training does not occur with the Dane, they’ll become quite tricky to manage during maturity.
When it comes to exercise, the Dane is most energetic when they are young. Ensure your Great Dane pup gets their energy out by taking them to wide-open spaces. They’ll need space to run, so their bones and joints grow strong and healthy – preventing later health problems.
As your Dane matures, they’ll need routined exercise where they enjoy a 20-minute daily walk. It’s essential to keep your Dane fit and muscular to maintain proper health.
Diet and Nutrition
For most dogs, you can get dog food that fits all stages of their life. However, for the Great Dane, it’s crucial you get specified food for their age (puppy, adult, and senior).
Regular puppy food essential for most breeds isn’t recommended, as it can be too rich for the Dane- so opt for large breed puppy food.
Great Danes are prone to bloat. To prevent bloat, provide small meals throughout the day and avoid exercise within 30 minutes after they eat. Table scraps are not recommended due to their genetic health dispositions, especially high in fat food.
If you are ever unsure about how much and what to feed your Dane, seek guidance from your local vet.
Although Danes shed often, it’s reasonably easy to keep under control as long as you aim to brush them every second or third day (three times a week). Danes rarely like baths, so if they need a bath, bring them to a groomer where a large dog tub is available.
Great Danes have large paws, making it easier to see and trim their nails, although you’ll need a large trimming tool for your Dane. Never push grooming and always make it a positive and fulfilling experience. It’s best to start young.
Common Health Issues
Great size comes with significant health problems, most common in large dog breeds. However, the Great Dane is more susceptible to Gastric Dilatation-Volvulus (GDV – bloat) and Hip and elbow dysplasia than other dog breeds.
Other health predispositions include:
- Dilated Cardiomyopathy (DCM)
- Wobbler Syndrom
- Heart disease
- Autoimmune thyroiditis
- Bone cancer
Many of these health problems are genetic for the large dog breed or hereditary from the parents. Always ensure you check the breeding history of your Great Dane before adopting from any breeder.
If you’re planning on adopting a Great Dane, here are a few common questions you should know.
What Two Breeds Make a Great Dane?
The English Mastiff and the Irish wolfhound are the two breeds responsible for creating the Great Dane. However, it is also believed that the greyhound dog and a Tibetan mastiff are also responsible breeds.
Are There Small Great Danes?
While there is no such thing as a great miniature Dane, there are mixed breeds coupled with Danes and smaller breeds. Small Dane breeds are classified as the Danes who have an underlying reason why they cannot grow their average size. For example, if you introduced the dwarfism gene.
What Is The Biggest Breed of Great Dane?
In the Guinness book of world records, the largest Dane there is stands 44 inches tall (3’8″), named Zeus. Although Zeus was a purebred Dane, other large Dane mixed breeds include:
– American Bull Dane – Bulldog mix
– Great Danesky – Husky mix
– DoberDane – Doberman Pinscher mix
– Daniff – Mastiff mix
– Great Hound – Bloodhound mix
– Many more
What Is The Life Expectancy of a Great Dane?
A Great Dane has a short life expectancy living only a maximum of ten years. Nevertheless, some Danes have only lived up to seven years. However, the oldest record for a Great Dane is sixteen years old – Maggie Mae.
The Apollo of all dogs, the gentle giant, the friendly companion – whatever nickname the Great Dane has represented- have held their loving, empathetic, and kind nature for over 400 years.
If you can get past the large size and the fact that the Dane weighs as much as your teenager, they make the perfect dog. Not only are they laid-back, willing to do whatever, but they are also eager to please, which makes training naturally easy.
Overall, the Great Dane makes for a well-balanced, well-mannered canine companion.
Recommended Great Dane Gear
- Best Dog Crates for Great Danes
- Best Great Dane Dog Bowls
- Best Great Dane Doggie Doors
- Best Great Dane Dog Houses
- Best Great Dane Collars
- Best Great Dane Harnesses
- Best Great Dane Winter Coats
- Best Toys for Great Danes