Great Dane

Type: Companion Dog

Height: Females: 28 - 30 inches; Males 30 - 32 inches.

Weight: Female: 100 lbs.; Males: 120 lbs.

Life Span: 7 - 10 years.

Litter Size: 5 - 12 puppies.

Country of Origin: Germany

Activity: Medium. They can be lounge lizards or playful and energetic.

Watch-dog: Very High. Excellent at alerting their owners to unusual things.

Guard-dog: Low. Great Danes are simply too friendly for guarding.


Description: The Great Dane is regal in appearance, having dignity, strength and elegance. They are lean, tall, with cropped or uncropped drop ears. They have tails that are sometimes prone to injury due to their wagging abilities. Great Danes are squarely built with a rectangular head and a short, smooth coat. They are of the tallest of dog breeds with their great size and well-formed, muscled body. Known as the friendly giant, they should show no unprovoked aggression. There are times they may have a stubborn streak, but early training will help alleviate this problem. The Great Dane makes a great family dog with their gentle, loyal and affectionate nature and patience with children. Owners beware, though, this breed requires quite a lot of food to eat. They also need their space, but need to be included in the family within the house. Despite their large size, they should not be kenneled, but rather kept indoors as a member of the family. Great Danes adapt well to urban living if given plenty of space and exercise. They would be sufficient as an apartment dog, surprisingly, if space were available. When bored, however, this breed can become destructive, and due to their large size, can destroy things within minutes. They are lovable and very affectionate, and are also very playful. Although probably not suitable for young children due to their size, they are very affable in personality and activity with children. Great Danes truly love the comforts of home and you may find them sleeping in your big easy chair.

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Other Names: Deutsche Dogge, German Mastiff, nicknamed

Colors: Brindle, fawn, blue, black or harlequin (white is preferable with all black or all blue patches that have the appearance of being torn). They can also have a mantle pattern, which is black with a white collar and chest, a white muzzle, and white on all or part of the legs.

Coat: Short, dense, sleek and smooth.

Temperament: Great Danes are alert, lively and happy. They love to play, are very good with children, and are very affectionate. They are content with lounging in the house with their family, and love to be part of the group, often making their bed on couches, chairs and beds. Great Danes are easygoing, intelligent and trainable. They are sensitive to training, however, and should be treated with positive actions. They get lonely and destructive if kept outside or bored. They should not be teased. They are friendly, spirited and should never be timid.

With Children: Excellent with children, but should be supervised due to the large size of the Great Dane. They also are very sensitive and need to be treated kindly.

With Pets: Supervision is recommended.

Special Skills: In the past, a hunting dog. Now a watch dog and family pet.

Care and Training: Great Danes require minimal grooming of their shorthaired coat. Comb, brush and dry shampoo when necessary. Keep nails trimmed. Great Danes need plenty of exercise, minimal is a long daily walk. They also need plenty of space to stretch their legs.

Learning Rate: High. Obedience - High. Trainability is easy as long as it is done with positive emphasis because they are sensitive. Problem Solving - High.

Special Needs: Fenced yard, exercise, training and socialization.

Living Environment: Despite their great size they are a house dog, not a kennel dog. Large backyard with at least a six foot fence is needed for Great Danes. The best owner for this breed would be a family living in a rural or suburban environment, but can adapt to a life in the city as well.

Health Issues: With being so large, Great Danes are prone to more problems than a smaller dog. Hip dysplasia, some genetic heart problems, osteosarcoma (bone tumors), Wobbler Syndrome and bloat (twisted stomach or gastric torsion) are all potential health concerns for this breed. Bloat is a health issue to most dogs, being the second largest killer of dogs other than cancer, but Great Danes can be particularly susceptible to it because of their very deep chests.

History: Possibly dating back to tomb carvings of Beni-Hassan in 2200 B.C., the Great Dane greatly resembled the Alaunt. They are said to be descendants of the ancient Molossus hounds of the Romans. There is evidence that suggests that there were similar dogs as the Great Dane (such as the Alaunt) in ancient Greek and Roman times. Great Danes are also thought to have been used as war dogs by the ancient Celtics and Germans. Originally developed to hunt boar and as a massive bull-baiter in the Middle Ages, some suggest they were crossed with the ancient Mastiff and Irish Wolfhound. To illustrate these boar hunts, there is a record of the Duke of Braunschweig taking 600 male Great Danes to a single hunt! The breed was highly favored among the Iron Chancellor of Bismarck, who owned them for guarding and always had them by his side. He further developed the breed by crossing the mastiffs of south Germany with the Great Danes of north Germany--which became very similar to the breed that exists today. Their first show was in 1863 in two different breed names: Ulmer Dogge and Danisch Dogge, although the breed is entirely German. In 1876 they were named the National Dog of Germany under the single name of Deutsche Dogge, and in 1877 they were shown in Britain under the name of Siberian or Ulm Dog, making jaws drop all around due to it's size. One Great Dane named Shamgret Danzas became famous due to his size, being the tallest Great Dane, or dog overall, ever recorded. He weighed a record-breaking 238 lbs. and was 41.5 inches tall--nearly 3 and a half feet tall! Soon a British fan club formed for the Great Dane (they kept the name of Great Dane rather than Deutsche Dogge) in 1882. In 1884 the breed entered the British Kennel Club. In 1888 the German Deutsche Doggen Klub was formed. But size was not all that interested spectators. When Great Danes were brought to America in the mid 1800s, a rumor spread that the breed was ferocious in attitude due to some of the original imports being trained as attack dogs in Germany. One famous admirer of the breed was William "Buffalo Bill" Cody. Soon the public made the realization that this breed was, in fact, very affectionate and playful rather than vicious. The Germans are given credit to have developed the breed as it is known today.

First Registered by the AKC: 1887

AKC Group: Working

Class: Working

Registries: AKC, ANKC, CKC, FCI (Group 2), KC (GB), UKC