Dog Breeds 101: Great Dane

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The Great Dane is a breed easily recognized by its impressive height and enormous body. Considering its giant size, the Great Dane is considered to be the tallest breed of all dogs today. In Germany, the dog is known as the “Deutsche Dogge” or German Mastiff. They are also referred to as the “King of Dogs”.

The modern Great Dane first appeared in Germany 400 years ago. It is commonly believed that this breed is the product of an Irish Wolfhound and an English Mastiff. This dog was bred to hunt wild boar, aggressive and dangerous animals. The Great Dane was therefore developed to be large and strong while possessing no extra weight to slow them down. [1]

Great Danes are said to be the epitome of strength, elegance, dignity, and regal appearance. In order for a Great Dane to be accepted into a show as a true member of the breed, they must only be one of six colors: black, mantle, harlequin, blue, brindle, and fawn.

Often referred to as the “gentle giant”, Great Danes are known to be very friendly despite their huge size. They often seek love and attention from their owners. Also, they are said to be playful, affectionate, patient, and gentle with children. Furthermore, this breed is known to be loyal and courageous which makes them good watchdogs. They are also noted for being dependable, reliable, and trustworthy. However, this was not always the case. Bred for boar hunting, this dog was originally not naturally a loving pet. Rather, breeders had to find the kindest of the Great Danes and mate them over generations in order to produce the companions they are today. [2]

Great Danes are now known to get along with almost all other animals and humans. These dogs are particularly loving and gentle toward children if they were exposed to them at a young age. If Great Danes are not socialized, they may become aggressive or fearful, especially when they are exposed to things they are not used to, such as a new environment or strangers.

The short and thick coats of this breed are quite easy to groom. They are average shedders and brushing should be done as needed. However, bathing is considered to be a major chore. Although the Great Dane is a huge dog, they can do well in apartments given that they have the opportunity to get adequate daily exercise. Puppies will only be able to play in short spurts before running out of energy. Owners are therefore advised to provide plenty of time for these young dogs to rest. [3]

Great Danes grow extremely quickly and are for this reason susceptible to joint and bone complications. The average lifespan of a Great Dane is around 6 to 8 years.


[1] Charlotte Wilcox, The Great Dane (Capstone, 1997).

[2] Stephen Person, Great Dane: Gentle Giant (Bearport Publishing, 2011).

[3] Joe Stahlkuppe, Great Danes: Everything about Adoption, Feeding, Training, Grooming, Health Care, and More (Barron’s Educational Series, 2002).

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