Great Dane – The Ultimate Guide

Written by: Bojana Radulovic
A Great Dane is truly a great dog breed - noble and large. This breed went a long way from hunting wild boar to only asking for affection nowadays. Learn what else makes this breed so unique and how gentle this breed actually is.
Dog Breed Group:
Working Dogs
26 to 34 inches tall at the shoulder
100 to 200 pounds
Life Span:
7 to 10 years

Breed Characteristics:

Apartment Friendly


How well will this breed adapt to apartment living? Is the apartment size the most important factor when it comes to proper living conditions? Is the breed suitable for apartment living?

Good For First-Time Owners


Some dogs aren't suitable for first-time dog owners. Is this breed a good match for someone with no dog experience? Can training help them be on their best behavior with owners with no dog experience? Are they suitable to be handled by someone who is just entering the canine world?

Overall Sensitivity


Some dogs are sensitive. Certain breeds are rough on the outside, while having the softest heart on the inside. In other words, some dogs are 'thick-skinned' while some are 'easygoing.' Is this breed prone to sensitivity?

Tolerates Being Alone


Separation anxiety in dogs is a serious condition that can affect a dog's life quality. Is this breed prone to this condition? Can you leave him alone for hours? How destructive this breed can become when bored, neglected, or not loved enough?

Affectionate With Family


How affectionate this breed will be around his humans? Will he welcome new family friends easily or he will choose to be shy? Some breeds can be clingy with owners, while others don't attach a lot. Will this breed act as the family's best friend?



Some dogs will tolerate children, while others will adore well-behaved ones. Dogs and children should always be supervised, no matter how well trained the dog might be. Will this breed act as a nanny dog or he will stay away from children?

Friendly Toward Other Dogs


Some dog breeds cannot wait to run to the dog park and run with others. Others prefer to be with their humans, and not to be a part of a multi-pet household. Is this breed dog lover or not? How friendly this breed will be toward other dogs?

Friendly Toward Strangers


Some dog breeds tend to be reserved toward strangers and highly suspicious. Others are fast to walk away with them easily. How welcoming this breed is toward strangers?

Drooling Level


If you love to clean all the time drooling level in dogs is a trait that you should mind. Is this breed less likely to drool, or you will always need a towel on hand?

Easy To Groom


Heavier shedding during the shedding season is something that every dog needs to go through. However, some dogs shed just a bit all year round. Is this breed one of them? How often should you groom this dog?

Overall Health


What can you expect from this breed in terms of health? Are there any genetic conditions to vary about? Is obesity a major issue in this breed? By knowing more about the dog's health, you are learning how to help him live a longer and healthier life.

Prone To Obesity


Treats are a great addition to training sessions. Dogs love sweet bites of dog treats but they should be served in moderation. Treats can lead to obesity, next to poor nutrition. Can this breed gain extra weight from treats? How prone to obesity this breed actually is?

Trainability Level


Training some dogs is easier than others. How easy this dog will be to train? What can you expect? Some dogs are huge people pleasers and they will master commands easily, while others will try to outsmart you.

Intelligence Level


Dogs are smart beings. We do our best to train them, but they do still end up training us to adapt to their needs. How intelligent is this breed? Will he try to outsmart you? Or he will need multiple training sessions to master basic commands?

Prey Drive


Dogs were bred for a specific purpose. Those who were bred to hunt have natural instincts to hunt, even today. This is why many dogs, like Terriers, will chase other animals. They will also have a hard time concentrating on your commands when there is something small moving. Is this breed prone to following his prey instincts?

Barking Level


How vocal this breed is? Can you expect neighbors to ring you often to calm your dog? Or you can sleep without worries of hearing your Fido bark? Some breeds are highly vocal, others have unusual sounds, and some are silent. Is this breed prone to barking?

Energy Level


Low-energy dogs are happy with regular walks and indoor chill times. High-energy dogs are always ready for action. Is this breed a couch potato, energetic dog, or somewhere in between?

Exercise Needs


Some dogs are more than happy with a slow stroll down the street. Others need hours of active time to stay happy and fit. Is this breed demanding in terms of exercise? How much exercise this breed needs to stay happy and healthy?

Playfulness Level


Some dogs never lose that puppy spirit, not even in their senior years. Others are more serious and prefer having a job to do. Is this breed demanding in terms of playfulness? Can you expect playfulness in their senior years as well?

A Great Dane is considered to be a giant dog breed with a soft soul. Therefore, this breed is also known as ‘gentle giants’. They are amazing with children and moderately playful.

Have we mentioned that they are really big? So, the owner must be willing to accommodate the dog’s great size regarding space and feeding. Overall, having this breed can be costly, but it’s worth it.

Read on and explore amazing traits about this dog breed and see if a Great Dane might be your next giant-and-furry friend.

Quick Facts

Real name: Deutsche Dogge, German Mastiff
Other names: Apollo of Dogs, Gentle Giant
Origin: Germany
Breed type: Working Dogs
Weight: Male minimum 110–180 lb (50–82 kg), Female minimum 110–180 lb (50–82 kg)
Height: Male minimum 30–31 in (76–79 cm), Female minimum 28–30 in (71–76 cm)
Lifespan: 6 years (some reach 8 and up)
Color: Brindle, Fawn, Black, Harlequin, Mantle, Blue
Coat: Short and flat
Grooming needs: Low

Great Dane: History

Although this breed is linked with Denmark, originally it’s from Germany, and no one is quite sure how or why this German breed is associated with Denmark.

In Germany, this breed is known as the Deutsche Dog, meaning ‘German dog’. However, one thing is known for sure: once upon a time, German nobles used Great Dane to hunt. Onwards, the Great Dane became famous for its outgoing nature and protective traits of their loved ones and their home.

Where Great Danes Are From?

Originally, Great Danes were bred in Germany and their original purpose was to help people hunt wild boar. That was back in the days. Nowadays Great Dane is centuries behind on this treat and he won’t be able to do that. Back to the past… Hunting wild boar is not an easy task, so hunters had a strong need for a large and wile animal that will help them with this task, and that is how Great Dane was developed.

The Great Dane was developed from Mastiff-type dogs, although he is more elegant and overall refined.

What Great Danes Were Bred For?

Interestingly, it seems that Great Dane is a far older breed that anyone ever believed. As far as we know, the Great Dane was bred in Germany to help hunters catch wild boar. But, drawings of dogs who look like Great Danes have been found on Egyptian artifacts dating back to 3000 B.C. and even in Babylonian temples that were built around 2000 B.C.

There are even some shreds of evidence that similar dogs originated in Tibet. Some claim that this breed even took various parts of the world by the Assyrians, who traded their dogs to the Romans and Greeks. But, Romans and Greeks bred Great Dane with other breeds.

Some often claim is that breed development included ancestors of English Mastiff, while others believe that Irish Greyhound and Irish Wolfhound also may have played a role.

Great Danes: The Name

Great Danes were originally called Boar Hounds because they were bred to hunt them. But in the 16th century, the name of the breed was changed to ‘English Dogges’ and that wasn’t the end.

In 1878, a Berlin-based committee changed the breeds name from the ‘Englische Dogge’ to ‘Deutsche Dogge’, this being the Great Dane. This move laid the foundations from which the breed was developed. Interestingly, during the 19th century, the dog was known as a ‘German boarhound’ in English-speaking countries.

After WWI and WWII, and all tension between German and other countries, the dog was named ‘Great Dane’ after the ‘grand danois’ meaning ‘great Danish’. That name remains even today.

Fun fact: Great Danes ears were cropped to prevent boar tusks from tearing them.

Great Dane: Physical Appearance

This is a breed that will leave you speechless every time you lay your eyes on him. His body and tall posture make it impossible to miss it. Overall, this breed combines strong posture, tall body, strength, dignity, and elegance with enormous size and a powerful, well-boned and well-muscled body.

The Great Dane is one of the giant working breeds, but it’s unique because this breed managed to completely switch from working dog to the giant couch potato. Amazingly, for a giant breed, Great Dane never looks clumsy because he is well-balanced. Moreover, he will always more with a powerful drive and a long reach. That’s why this breed is known as ‘the Apollo of dogs’.

Males are always bigger than females with heavier bones. Originally, ears are folded forward close to the cheek. If ears are cropped, the ear length is always in proportion to the size of the head and the ears are carried uniformly erect.

Their coat is always soft and short, while they can have patterns or markings or have only one color. The Great Dane must be courageous, spirited, neves aggressive or timid, and dependable.

The Great Dane can even be disqualified from dog shows if:

  • Dane is under minimum height
  • Shows docked tail
  • Has split nose
  • Is merlequin

Quick fact: Great Dane is mixed with Boxer to create a large-size dog that look like boxer – Boxane

How Are Great Dane Ears Cropped?

Ears in dogs come in different sizes and shapes, much like dog breeds themselves. In general, dogs keep their naturally shaped floppy ears intact, while in some breeds ear cropping is common. These breeds are:

But wait… Why are their ears cropped? Great Danes were bred to hunt wild boar and hunting them is a pretty serious and challenging task. The easiest way for wild boars to defend themselves was to aim for the Danes ears.

Hunters decided that something had to be done, so they decided that part of the ear should be removed to prevent the damage during boar hunting. Also, some people believed that ear cropping can prevent certain health problems, such as ear infections. So far this claim is not supported by any official studies.

Since Great Danes are no longer used for hunting, ear cropping is merely a personal preference. Some decide to crop to convey a more aggressive or more athletic appearance. Overall, ear cropping is a veterinary procedure involving the removal of part or all of the pinnae, on a dog.

During the surgery, the dog should feel no pain. Afterward, care involves pinning the ears for a period of few weeks to achieve a pointed appearance.

Great Dane: Temperament and Personality

This is one large dog with an even larger heart and the friendliest temper ever. They are all about being goofy and spontaneous. It’s in their nature to be friendly. Furthermore, they are known for seeking physical appearance from their family members and especially their owners. That’s why this breed is often referred to as a ‘gentle giant’.

In general, they don’t demonstrate extreme aggressiveness or high prey drive which makes them great for city living. All in, the Great Dane is a very sensitive and caring dog.

Great Dane: Children And Other Pets

For a large dog, a Great Dane is extremely kind to children. Moreover, he loves being around children and playing with them, especially if they are raised with them from their puppyhood.

Bear in mind that this dog has no idea how big he is, so he won’t know big he is compared with children, especially toddlers. That being said, they can knock out children easily, so never leave them alone and supervise them from day one.

As with any other dog breed, you should educate your child on how to behave around dogs and not to approach a dog while he is eating or playing in his crate. When it comes to other animals, a Great Dane will get along fine with other pets in the household, but he may show some level of aggressiveness when it comes to treating the livestock.

Even more, they just may not care for the other pets. It’s an individual preference: some will stay away from cats and ignore them for an eternity, while others will happily snooze with cats and other dogs.

Great Dane: Grooming

For a large breed, you won’t have a lot of work when it comes to grooming. First thing, they don’t shed much. Second thing, you will still have to groom him. The Great Dane won’t shed much, but given the size of the dog, he can leave a significant amount of hair behind him. So, weekly brushing with a medium-bristle brush, a hand glove, or a rubber grooming tool or mitt, should do the job.

He will strongly shed once to twice a year, during the shedding season. However, it won’t be any close to strong shedding in Husky, so you will need a good vacuum cleaner or a strong mp and you will manage to maintain your household spotlessly.

However, they will need a bath occasionally, unless they get into something messy (watch out: they love to play around and jumping into something messy won’t be too strange for them). As with all breeds, the Great Dane’s nails should be trimmed regularly, in addition to regular ears and gums check.

Great Dane: Training

Like with any other dog breed, early socialization and puppy training classes are mandatory. And for a breed as large and powerful as the Great Dane, obedience training is a must. Make sure that you expose your Great Dane puppy to different people, smells, sounds, and unknown environments. This way you will have a well-adjusted adult dog.

In general, Great Danes are friendly, sociable, and eager to please, and they respond well to consistent and firm consistent training methods. They are in constant need of human contact, affection and common socialization both with animals and other people.

Great Dane: Exercise

Great Danes may seem calm, but they need to spend time outside. Moreover, they love being outside. Make sure that you provide a required daily exercise that will be appropriate to their age.

A brisk walk two or three times a day should be enough. They can follow you on hike or jogging, but always bear in mind that if some injury occurs in you or your dog, would you be able to address it properly? Also, you should avoid expose him to any high-demanding physical exercises until he is a minimum 2-years-old. Why? You want to avoid any damage to growing joints.

Also, do to a risk of bloat, avoid rigorous exercise around mealtimes. In general, this breed love participating in agility, tracking events, obedience, and sports such as flyball. Because they love to go where their scent takes them, they should always be kept on a leash. You never know how people would react if they see the Great Dane running freely toward them. So, better safe than sorry.

Great Dane: Health

Great Danes are considered to be a healthy breed. However, just like in any other dog breed, they are prone to certain health problems. This doesn’t mean that your Dane will be diagnosed with this condition someday in the future. It’s important to know about possible diseases so you can be aware of them if you’re considering the breed.

Gastric dilatation-volvulus (GDV) or simply bloat, is the number-one killer of Danes. Therefore, it’s crucial for Danes owners, and dog owners, in general, to know to recognize the signs of bloat and what to do. Other health issues that can affect the breed include:

  • Eye diseases
  • Cardiac diseases
  • Hyp-dysplasia
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Autoimmune Thyroiditis

Recommended Health Tests from the National Breed Club:

  • Hip Evaluation
  • Ophthalmologist Evaluation
  • Thyroid Evaluation
  • Cardiac Exam

Great Dane- The Takeaway

Great Danes are truly gentle giants, who love spending their time with their family members or other pets. Moreover, they are true children lovers, although both should always be supervised. After all, this is a really large dog. A responsible dog owner will always accommodate the dogs due to his size in terms of space and feeding.

Having a dog calls for serious financial investment as well, and this dog will eat a lot. Make sure that you consider all parameters before you welcome this breed into your home.

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