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The Broholmer is a large to giant sized purebred from Denmark also called the Danish Mastiff, Danish Broholmer, Gammel Dansk Hund, Old Danish Dog and Dog of Frederick VII. It is a type of Molasser and while it has recognition from the Federation Cynologique Internationale and the Danish Kennel Club it is not recognized yet by the AKC, though it is a member of the Foundation Stock. It has mostly been a guard dog and watchdog over the years and while it is formidable looking it is actually calm and good tempered when raised well making it a good family dog or companion.

The Broholmer at a Glance
Name Broholmer
Other names Danish Mastiff, Danish Broholmer, Gammel Dansk Hund, Old Danish Dog, Dog of Frederick VII
Nicknames DM
Origin Denmark
Average size Large to giant
Average weight 80 to 180 pounds
Average height 22 to 30 inches
Life span 7 to 11 years
Coat type Short, smooth, harsh
Hypoallergenic No
Color Yellow, black, golden red, brown
Popularity Not yet a fully registered member of the AKC
Intelligence Above average
Tolerance to heat Very good – can handle hot weather
Tolerance to cold Good – manages cold weather fine but not extreme cold
Shedding Moderate but with seasonal heavy – at times will be a lot of hair in the home
Drooling Above average to high – wiping up slobber will be part of your ownership duties!
Obesity Above average – measure its food and make sure it is well exercised
Grooming/brushing Average – twice a week or every other day, brush daily during seasonal shedding
Barking Occasional – white it is not constant it is deep and loud
Exercise needs Moderate – certain level needed though just due to size
Trainability Moderately easy to train
Friendliness Very good to excellent
Good first dog Moderate – large dogs do better when people are prepared and experienced
Good family pet Very good with socialization
Good with children Very good to excellent with socialization
Good with other dogs Very good with socialization
Good with other pets Very good with socialization
Good with strangers Good – needs socialization can be wary
Good apartment dog Low – needs space and a yard
Handles alone time well Low – does not like being left alone
Health issues Mostly healthy but some issues can include bone problems, hip dysplasia, patellar luxation,
Medical expenses $485 a year for basic health care and pet insurance
Food expenses $470 a year for a good quality dry dog food and dog treats
Miscellaneous expenses $245 a year for toys, miscellaneous items, license and basic training
Average annual expenses $1200 as a starting figure
Cost to purchase $1,600
Rescue organizations Danish Broholmer Dog Rescue, Saved by dogs: Broholmer. Also look to your local rescues and shelters
Biting Statistics None reported

The Broholmer's Beginnings

The Broholmer is a Danish dog that has been around in some form or other since the Middle Ages where it was used for hunting. As its ancestors come from a time when records were not kept by breeders, the exact mix of the dog is not known. It was bred though to be strong and powerful for the hunt to handle large prey like boar,wolf and deer, and to have strong protective instincts making it a great guard dog. In its early days it was one of the most popular Danish dog breeds and it was called Gammel Dansk Hund which means Old Danish Dog.

Eventually the dog became closely linked with the royalty of Denmark, in the 1500s King Frederick II had a painting of his Broholmer all the way up to portraits that show the King Frederick VII and Countess Danner had some which explains one of its other names. It was a popular dog with the wealthy who also kept it as a guard dog and would exchange it as a gift with other European nobles. By the mid 1800s the dog has been bred to be calmer and less fierce but the expense of its upkeep meant numbers were dropping. A Danish nobleman Niels Frederick Sehested, a nobleman who bred many Broholmers at his castle Broholm and persuaded other breeders to get involved in saving the breed. That is where the Broholmer name comes from.

In 1886 the Dansk Kennel Club recognized the breed and the first standard was drawn up. However in the 19th century the Industrial Revolution had a great impact on the need for the Broholmer at the same time the nobility lost land. Less dogs were kept and numbers dropped. It was starting to have some recovery but then world war I broke out and the depression after meant large breeds like this were hard to keep. Then in world war II it was occupied by the Nazis and the breed became even more scarce either by the fighting or from abandonment. By the end of the war the breed really was facing extinction.


New Lease on Life

The Broholmer may have disappeared completely if not for the work of a group of people in the 1970s who called themselves 'The Society for Reconstruction of the Broholmer Breed', working with the Danish Kennel Club. The scoured Denmark looking for dogs to breed but found only one pedigree Broholmer and it was too old. So then they looked for dogs close to the standards of a purebred and found a small few. But it was enough to start working on a revival. In 1982 it was recognized by the FCI and currently it is estimated there are around 800 dogs, most of which are in Denmark though there are a small number in the UK and even less in the US. Work continues to be done on increasing its numbers and when there are enough numbers in the US the AKC will likely give it official recognition.

The Dog You See Today

The Broholmer is a large to giant dog weighing 80 to 180 pounds and standing 22 to 30 inches tall. It has a close resemblance to other Mastiff types but is not as bulky and is smaller than most of them. Its body is rectangular shaped and it has a deep and broad chest and a strong neck that has some loose skin. It is more athletic looking than most Mastiffs, it has thick legs and a low set long tail it usually holds low. Its coat is smooth, short and harsh and colors include yellow, light brown, black and some white markings. Some have a black mask.

The dog's head is large with a flat and broad skull, it does not have short muzzle in fact its muzzle is the same length as its skull and the top of it is parallel to the top of its head. It has pendulous lips but not too loose and the nose is black and large. Its ears drop down and hang close to the cheeks and are medium sized. Its eyes are round not overly large and colors can be dark to light amber.


The Inner Broholmer


The Broholmer needs confident and experienced owners who know how to correctly raise them. In the right home it can be calm, friendly, good natured, and loyal. This stoic dog does have protective instincts and is watchful and alert. This means it is a good watchdog that will bark to let you know there is an intruder, and it is likely to act to defend you and its home also. It gets on well with others so can fit in to a family home, but can also be a good companion for active single owners or couples. While wary initially with strangers it is not people aggressive unless there is a threat.

This is a confident and dominant dog so needs owners who are clear about being the pack leader, otherwise it will act like it is the boss, can be destructive, hard to live with and loud. Otherwise its barking should just be occasional but it is a loud and deep bark. It does form very close bonds with its family and will be devoted to you. It wants to be around you all the time and does not like being left alone. It can even suffer from separation anxiety if you leave it alone for long periods. It needs owners who are in more than out.

Living with a Broholmer

What will training look like?

Training the Broholmer takes a very firm, confident and consistent approach. Make it clear you are the pack leader and that rules you set are not be bent. Dogs are actually happier when those lines are clear. It is fairly intelligent and capable of learning just be patient and use positive techniques. Use treats to motivate for example, praise it and encourage it. Coming from a history if being used to making its own decisions and left alone to guard it can have an independent side to it. Make sure you start socialization and training early, the earlier the better in fact. Introduce it to different sounds, people, animals, places and situations so it learns how to adapt to them and what appropriate responses look like.


How active is the Broholmer?

This dog is really just moderately active perhaps a little more, but because it is so big that translates to a lot of activity still, and it needs owners happy to be active. It is more athletic than most Mastiffs and should get at least one long walk a day, some play, and some opportunity for exploration somewhere safe. As with any large breed take care when it is still growing not to overexercise or let it jump around on hard surfaces as its bones are more prone to damage and injury. It is not an apartment dog, it needs space and it needs a yard. Expect to offer it about 45 minutes a day of physical activity and also make sure it has mental stimulation.

Caring for the Broholmer

Grooming needs

While the coat of this dog is easy to brush and wipe down to clean it size means it is still a task that takes some time and commitment. It sheds a moderate amount but then does have heavy seasonal shedding so usually brush it once or twice a week, but then daily when its needed. Only bathe as needed, in between baths you can wipe it down with a damp cloth. Only use a dog shampoo when it is bath time to avoid damaging the oils in its skin. It will not need professional grooming unless you opt to use one just because bath time is tough with its size!


Other needs include cutting its nails using a dog nail clipper when they get too long. Cut carefully though so you do not cut into the lower section of the nail that has blood vessels and nerves, so will hurt and bleed. Check its ears once a week for infection signs like a bad odor and irritation and clean them. Just wipe the areas you can reach, do not put anything into the ear like a cotton bud, that could do real damage and cause a lot of pain. Also brush its teeth at least three times a week using a dog toothpaste and brush.

Feeding Time

The Broholmer will eat somewhere between 3¾ cups to 9 cups of a good quality dry dog food a day, split into at least two meals to avoid problems with bloat. How much exactly can vary depending on its size, health, age, level of activity and metabolism. Make sure it has access to water that is changed often.

How is the Broholmer with children and other animals?

These dogs with proper socialization and training are very good with children, being gentle, affectionate, protective and loving. However toddlers should be supervised as they can get knocked over accidentally. Make sure you also teach the children how to touch and play nicely and that the dog is not for riding! With other dogs it should also be fine with socialization though male dogs that have not be fixed can have territorial and dominance issues so they are best in homes where they are the only dog or at least the only male. Some Broholmers have more small animal prey instincts than others, but in general socialization and being raised with them means they can get along with other pets. If it is not socialized though it is likely to try to attack and chase them.

What Might Go Wrong?

Health Concerns

Broholmers live for about 7 to 11 years and are fairly healthy in general though a few issues can include bone problems, joint dysplasia, patellar luxation, eye problems, heart problems, back problems and arthritis.

Biting Statistics

Reports that cover dogs attacking people and doing bodily harm in the last 35 years in North American do not mention the Broholmer. It is not a people aggressive dog but is is large and protective so would respond to any genuine threat with force. Early socialization and training are essential to make sure dogs know appropriate responses. Also important are to make sure it gets enough stimulation and exercise, attention, a good diet and affection. While no dog is ever 100% safe, there is always a small risk with any type or size of dog, but these duties of a responsible owner can help minimize them.

Your Pup’s Price Tag

The Broholmer puppy will cost about $1600 from a decent breeder but can cost a lot more than that especially since there are very few breeders outside of Denmark! Chances of finding a dog like this in a local rescue or shelters are very slim, but if your new companion can be a mixed breed consider checking them out anyway. Adoption tends to be around $50 to $400 and some medical needs are taken care of for you. Avoid using backyard breeders or puppy mills or even pet stores.


When you have your puppy there will be some things you need to get for it, a collar and leash, crate, bowls, bedding and so on that will have an initial cost of about $200. There are also some medical concerns to be dealt with. While the breeder or shelter may have taken care of some you still need to take it to a vet as soon as you come home with it. You will pay about $290 for things like spaying or neutering, micro chipping, deworming, vaccinations, blood tests and a physical examination.

Annual costs are another factor, pets are our responsibility to look after and takes a certain financial commitment. Basic medical needs like shots, flea and tick prevention, check ups and pet insurance come to about $485 a year. A good quality dry dog food and dog treats will cost another $470 a year. Miscellaneous costs like license, training, miscellaneous items and toys come to about $245 a year. This gives a yearly cost of about $1200 as a starting figure.


Looking for a Broholmer Name? Let select one from our list!

The Broholmer is an athletic version of a Mastiff type dog, it is at the smaller end of their size range but is still a huge dog and people considering owning one need to be truly prepared for that. There is the usually bodily smells and sounds that come with big dogs, gas, snoring, slobber to wipe up, and it can have heavy shedding times of the year where the home will have hair everywhere. Socialization and training are important in having good control and owners need experience and to be in control. It can be a good family dog if it has those things in place.

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