The Great Dane: A Gentle Giant

To get to know the Great Dane dog well, let's start with its essential characteristics:

Black Great Dane Dog

  • Height at the shoulders: Over 31 inches.
  • Weight: 99 – 220 pounds.
  • Life expectancy: 8 – 10 years.
  • Suitable lifestyle: Life with children, large homes, and exercise.

Origin of the Great Dane breed

The oldest known ancestors of the Great Dane are the now-extinct Bullenbeisser and other German hunting dogs. Crosses of these dogs gave rise to several varieties of bulldogs, ultimately resulting in the Great Dane we know today in the second half of the 19th century.

It is curious that the name of this breed refers to Denmark, despite its German origin. The breed was originally known as the "Deutsche Dogge," which means "German Mastiff" in German. The breed was later renamed the "Great Dane" in English-speaking countries.

The Great Dane is a popular breed worldwide, partly due to the cartoon character Scooby Doo.

Physical Characteristics of the Great Dane

It is a very large, powerful, and imposing-looking dog. Despite its size, it is well-proportioned and streamlined. In fact, they are quite lean, especially in the back half of their body.

The Great Dane's head is thin and elongated, but not pointed. The muzzle is somewhat rectangular and well-defined. The nose is usually black, except in harlequin or blue dogs, where it may be flesh-colored or have black markings. The eyes are medium-sized, almond-shaped, and lively. The Great Dane's ears are medium-sized, floppy, and traditionally suffered cruel and unjustified ear cropping. However, it is now in disuse.

The Great Dane's coat is short, shiny, and soft, lying close to the body. Recognized shades include brindle, black, harlequin, fawn, or blue.

Great Dane Breed Temperament

Despite its immense size, the Great Dane is a friendly and cheerful dog. They can be somewhat reserved with strangers, but not aggressive. Socializing the Great Dane from a young age is recommended to avoid problems. They get along well with children and other dogs.

Training the Great Dane requires positive reinforcement and reward-based methods, such as clicker training.

The Great Dane does not require a lot of exercise but can develop destructive behavior if left alone for too long. They do not adapt well to outdoor life and should be kept indoors with the family.

Great Dane breed care

Caring for a Great Dane's coat is easy, just brush occasionally to remove dirt and dead hair. Bathe only when necessary and preferably at a dog groomer because their size can make it challenging for inexperienced individuals.

Great Danes need moderate exercise, several walks a day, and stimulating play. They don't adapt well to outdoor life, so it's best to keep them indoors with the family and go outside for walks or exercise.

They have a soft and calm character and can adjust to apartment living, but ensure the space is large enough for their size to avoid accidents.

Before adopting a Great Dane or any giant breed, consider if you can afford their food expenses because they eat a lot. It's also advisable to buy specific feed for large breeds to ensure proper nutrition.

Related: 10 Questions To Ask a Dog Breeder Before Purchase

Great Dane Dog Health

Unfortunately, the Great Dane is prone to various canine pathologies. You may have noticed that they do not have a life expectancy as high as other dogs, which is only 8 - 10 years. However, it is important to mention that generally the longest-lived dogs are those of small size. A Yorkshire terrier, for example, can live up to 20 years, rarely less than 15.

Some of the typical diseases of the Great Dane breed are:


  • Hip and elbow dysplasias, frequent in many large breeds.
  • Gastric torsion
  • Cardiomyopathy
  • Cataracts and other eye problems
  • Wobbler syndrome
  • Osteosarcoma

Regular visits to the veterinarian are essential to evaluate their health, prevent diseases, and keep their vaccinations and deworming up to date. Contact a vet if your Great Dane shows signs of illness, discomfort, or unusual behavior.

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