Great Dane Dog Breed – Gentle Giant With A Big Heart

Great Dane Dog Breed – Gentle Giant With A Big Heart

Great Dane huge body looks scary, but there is a reason why this noble and gentle giant is well known as the Apollo of dogs. This imposing creature is actually the best-natured breed you can find. It is a lovely, sweet, affectionate, and playful pet for the right owner and a highly gentle companion for children.

However, it is not the best choice for you if you prefer couch potatoes or lapdogs. This breed has a high energy level and physical needs, so it requires active owners that are dedicated companions in daily walks and exercises.

Everything You Need To Know About The Great Dane:

1. History

It may sound surprising to you, but famous Great Danes are not Danish but German in origin. Experts claim that this dog breed descends from mastiff-like dogs. German nobility bred it about 400 years ago to protect their estates and as a wild boar hunter.

Early Days

It is possible to find Egyptian drawings from 3000 BC that show dogs similar to the Great Danes. There are also traces of this breed in Babylonian temples from 2000 BC and Chinese written reports from 1121 BC showing these dogs bred in Tibet.

It seems that Assyrians took them into various world parts and introduced the new breed to the Greeks and Romans. They kept breeding them with other dog breeds, including English Mastiff, Irish Greyhound, and Irish Wolfhound.


Initially, the dog’s name was Boar Hounds, but it was changed in the 16th century to English Doggy. In the 1600s, German nobles took over the breed under the name Chamber Dogs (Kammerhunde).

You can find the first mention of the current name Great Dane in the 1700s when a naturalist from France saw this Boar Hound version in Denmark. He gave the dog the name Grand Danois, but you can often hear the term Danish Mastiff, as well.

Great Dane history

Facts about Great Danes show that German breeders refined this breed and made it elegant and well balanced. They also decided to separate the new breed from English Mastiff and declared it Germany’s National Dog in 1876.

After giving a dog the name German Dog (Deutsche Dogge) in 1880, they also established the Deutscher Doggen-Klub. A few Great Danes still hold the world record as the tallest dogs ever.

The World Fame

However, Italians call this dog Alano even today, while the name Great Dane is common in English-speaking countries. It is unknown when the first Great Dane came to the US, but the Great Dane Club of America appeared in 1889. It was the fourth breed club that joined the AKC.

2. Personality

A Great Dane guard dog is a gentle, lovely, and affectionate pet that enjoys playing with children and spending time with its owner and family members.

Thanks to its desire to please, it will get along with everyone, including strangers, unless it thinks they may endanger its pack. In such a case, the Great Dane cute pet transforms into a fierce protector. Keep in mind that your gentle giant is not aware of its size and may try to jump into your lap like any other laptop dog.

Great Dane personality

3. Temperament

Great Dane loves children and other pets, primarily when raised together. The only problem is that this gentle giant is not aware of its size, so it can unintentionally hurt someone while playing. In fact, the Great Dane tail can be as dangerous as a whip and cause painful injuries.

Great Dane temperament

It is crucial to teach your pet to be gentle, especially with toddlers and small animals. Rarely aggressive Great Dane may attack livestock, avoid other pets, or won’t tolerate cats, but it is strictly individual.

4. Size And Look

Great Dane weight chart shows that dogs reach their maximum of 200 pounds (91 kg) for males and 130 pounds (59 kg) for females once they are 18 months old. The average height is up to 34 inches (86 cm) at the shoulders, but it depends on the dog’s age and gender.

The only dog taller than Great Dane is Irish Wolfhound, while Mastiff is the only heavier breed.

Great Danes
Height30 to 34 inches (76 – 86 cm)28 to 32 inches (71 – 81 cm)
Weight120 to 200 pounds (54.5 – 91 kg)100 to 130 pounds (45 – 59 kg)

Even though you can find tan Great Dane, all-white Great Dane, and chocolate Great Dane, there is an official Great Dane color chart with only six established colors of its short coat.

Great Dane size and look

If you want to adopt a recognizable dog, you should look for:

  • Harlequin Great Dane that is actually white with black patches
  • Black and white or mantle Great Dane
  • Brindle Great Dane
  • All black Great Dane
  • Blue European Great Dane
  • Fawn Great Dane with a black mask

5. Grooming

Since Great Danes shed a lot and there is no hypoallergenic Great Dane, you need to take care of your pet’s dense coat regularly. Brush your buddy once a week or daily during the shedding season and bathe it when necessary, but not more than once in three months.

As you can imagine, bathing such a giant dog is not an easy task. You should be skillful and ask someone to help. Another option is to take it to a professional groomer.

Great Dane ears naturally look great, and there is no need to crop them, but some owners still prefer this cosmetic procedure. Fortunately, it is not a required characteristic in the show ring anymore.

If your dog spends most of the time indoors, you should trim its nails at least once or twice a month. Regularly check its ears and clean them with a pH-balanced ear cleaner and cotton ball to prevent painful ear infections.

6. Exercising

Great Dane requires moderate, at least one-hour-long exercise daily, including walking and jogging. However, you should avoid forcing a young Great Dane too much since its bones grow in the first 18 to 24 months.

Great Dane exercising

It is crucial to saving its joints and ligaments at an early age. Also, never rigorously exercise your dog right after a meal to prevent bloat.

Keep in mind that hyperactive puppies need more activity, including approximately 90 minutes of daily exercise. It will help if you have a spacious, well-fenced yard.

7. Training

Great Dane obedience training is not complicated since this breed is obedient and easy to train. Sometimes your buddy can be a stubborn learner, but it is a rare case.

Take advantage of your pet’s calm nature and socialize it on time. Great Danes barking loudly and profoundly is not something you should allow if you want to keep friends in your neighborhood.

8. Diet And Nutrition

Great Dane diet should include puppy food designed for large breeds in the beginning. Adults require six to ten cups of high-quality Great Dane dog food, but the exact amount will depend on your pet’s gender.

How much to feed a Great Dane puppy

9. Possible Health Problems

General Predisposition

Great Dane health problems are not significant since it is generally a healthy breed. However, your pet can suffer from:

Development issues – Great Danes’ growth problems usually occur in puppies. They are a result of the improper diet with high protein and calcium levels or excessive supplements use.

Gastric dilatation-volvulus (bloat) – It is a life-threatening condition that appears in older dogs when they:

  • Eat only once a day
  • Don’t chew food well because of rapid ingestion
  • Drink too much water immediately after a meal
  • Vigorously exercise right after a meal

This condition is the primary reason for the deaths of this breed.

Great Dane bloat issues

Bone cancer (osteosarcoma) – It is the most common bone tumor of many breeds, including middle-aged or elderly Great Dane.

Other common health issues include:

  • Heart disease
  • Eye problems like entropion and cataract

Genetic Predispositions

You should be aware that breeders always separately breed three Great Dane families based on their coat colors:

  • Black and blue
  • Harlequin and mantle
  • Fawn and brindle
Great Dane health

Since these families rarely interbred, they suffer from hereditary Great Dane health issues typical for each line. The most typical are:

Hip dysplasia – It an inherited condition that occurs when the thighbone and hip joint don’t fit correctly.

Autoimmune thyroiditisThis hereditary condition is the primary reason for Great Dane hypothyroidism. It occurs when its immune system produces antibodies against cells of its own thyroid gland. Once that 75% of cells are destroyed, the disease will develop.

Necessary Tests

Responsible breeders regularly screen their dogs and exclude the lines with problematic hereditary traits.

The National Breed Club recommends a few tests to ensure breeding only healthy offspring:

  • Thyroid evaluation
  • Hip evaluation
  • Ophthalmologist evaluation
  • Cardiac exam

The average life expectancy of a Great Dane is approximately 7 to 10 years.


You can read that many experts recommend various dog crates for Great Dane, even though it is usually friendly toward strangers.

Sometimes, this is a necessary solution when you have guests who are afraid of dogs, especially large ones. You as an owner should know your dog the best, and it is on you to decide if your furry friend is aggressive or friendly and trustworthy.