Country of Origin: Germany
  • Activity Level: moderate
  • Grooming Level: moderate
  • Trainability: high
  • Adaptability: high
  • Kid/Pet Friendly: often
  • Average Size: Giant
  • Average Lifespan: 8-10 years
  • Prey Drive: low
  • Watchdog: very alert
  • Registered?: aca, akc

Great Dane Breed Profile

  • Overview
  • Temperament
  • Adaptability
  • Health
  • Owner Experience
  • Grooming
  • Activity Level
  • Size
  • Life Span
  • Did You Know?

The Great Dane has a long and noble history. The origins of the Great Dane go nearly as far back as any other dog breed. Three-thousand-year-old illustrations of canines resembling the Great Dane have been found, indicating that these behemoths were revered in ancient times. They were once called “Boar Hounds” for the prey they hunted and their ears were cropped to prevent injury from angry boars. Several European countries claimed the breed throughout the 1600s. Their name was changed to the “Great Danish” dog in the 1700s, even though it is likely that it was German breeders who developed the regal breed we know today. The Great Dane appears to be making a comeback as a desired companion, currently ranking at about 24th on the American Kennel Club’s popularity list.

The term “gentle giant” is often used when referring to the Great Dane. They are known to be sweet, gentle, and great with children. Interestingly, Great Danes are also known as the world’s biggest laps dogs because they attempt to snuggle with their owners of the same weight. Their good nature also helps facilitate good training. The Great Dane is a highly teachable dog. Like many other affable dog breeds, there is another side to their temperament when it comes to defending their family. If your Great Dane feels a threat, they will be aggressive, but not overly so. Early socialization is essential to foster their innate good nature.

When talking about the Great Dane, the issue of adaptability is interesting. Somewhat surprisingly, these enormous hounds are relatively comfortable indoors and make very good house pets. However, like most dogs – especially the larger breeds – they need exercise at least once or twice per day. About an hour a day is sufficient exercise to keep your Great Dane healthy and happy.

Their short fur makes cold weather difficult for them, though they are adaptable if the cold temperatures are not extreme. Small home environments are not recommended simply because it can be dangerous to force a dog the size of a small pony to navigate his way around a small environment. In short, the Great Dane is quite adaptable, but his flexible nature should not be pressed to the limits. Common sense dictates that more space is needed for “more dog.”

Great Danes do a lot of growing and so it is important to ensure that your dog is properly nourished as a puppy and into adulthood to avoid developmental disorders. They are healthy dogs, but they have special needs, mostly due to their size. They have a slow metabolism and should be fed and exercised carefully to avoid problems associated with “bloat.” Great Danes are particularly susceptible to hip dysplasia (where the thigh bone doesn’t fit properly into the hip joint), gastric torsion (stomach distention with gas or air), bone cancer, and heart disease.

The Great Dane’s great size inspires mixed reviews. Although folks who love the breed wouldn’t trade their experience with their Great Danes, there is a fundamental reality associated with this particular breed – everything is super-sized. The space required, the food needed, and the poop scooped are all going to be big. As long as the owner understands what’s involved with having and caring for a Great Dane, the owner experience is as wonderful as it is with any other lovable dog breed. Other than that, they are eager to please their owners and are relatively easy to train.

Aside from general, common sense canine care, the Great Dane is not necessarily a high maintenance pet. They are frequent shedders, but this can be managed with regular brushing. Their massive paws house long nails, which should be trimmed regularly to avoid injury to themselves and their families. Their ears should be checked regularly for infections and their teeth should be brushed. You should also be aware of the fact that they are messy eaters and drinkers and can slobber a bit. As for bathing, this is, of course, a real challenge. Training your Great Dane to cooperate with bathtime will save you both a lot of grief!

When comparing the Great Dane to most other dog breeds, it can be said that their activity level ranges between low and moderate. They’re not high-energy animals, but enjoy a frisbee throw, walks with their owners, and playing with other dogs. The key is finding the amount of activity that suits your pet, keeping in mind that they love to be active, but that overdoing it can be bad for them.

The weight of the Great Dane is somewhat comparable to human weight. Males weigh between 120 and 200 pounds, while females weight between 100 and 130 pounds. There is usually about a two-inch difference between males and females, where the range in height is from 30 to 34 inches. The Great Dane’s height and length should make a square.

Great Danes have one of the shortest life spans among dog breeds. Because they are a giant dog breed, they live a fraction as long as their smaller dog counterparts. A healthy one is usually expected to live for about 8 to 10 years, with some departing as young as 6 or 7.

The famous cartoon pooch detective and professional scaredy-dog, Scooby-Doo, was a Great Dane.