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Great Dane
Giant Breed with Gentle Soul

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Even when a puppy this dog can accidentally knock over small furniture and children! But while it may be accident prone due to its size this dog, originally bred to hunt wild boar is now a loving and gentle dog that gets along with everyone. It takes part in various events including tracking, carting and guarding.

Here is the Great Dane at a Glance
Name Great Dane
Other Names Deutsche Dogge, German Mastiff
Nicknames Dane, Gentle Giant
Origin Germany
Average size Giant
Average weight 110 to 190 pounds
Average height 28 to 34 inches
Life span 6 to 9 years
Coat type Short, dense, thick
Hypoallergenic No
Color Brindle, fawn, black, blue, mantle harlequin and merle
Popularity Very Popular – ranked 15th by the AKC
Intelligence Average
Tolerance to heat Good – can handle some heat but not extreme
Tolerance to cold Moderate – not very good in cold weather
Shedding Average – sheds a moderate amount year round and then two heavy sheds at seasonal times
Drooling Fairly high – it will drool and slobber fairly often
Obesity Moderate – not prone to obesity
Grooming/brushing Easy to groom – brush twice a week normally, daily when shedding more heavily, hard to bathe!
Barking Occasional but loud and deep
Exercise needs Slightly active – despite its size it does not need a lot of exercise
Trainability Easy to train – it obeys commands well
Friendliness Excellent – very social and friendly dog
Good first dog Low – its size means it needs an experienced owner to manage it successfully
Good family pet Excellent – it is a great and affectionate family dog
Good with children Excellent – gentle and loving though small children should be supervised as they can get knocked down by accident
Good with other dogs Excellent – with socialization
Good with other pets Excellent – with socialization, some can be shy around them in fact
Good with strangers Excellent – very approachable
Good apartment dog Low due to size – an adult Great Dane could live in a more spacious apartment being calm indoors but really more space for it is best
Handles alone time well Low – does not like being alone for long periods
Health issues Some – has a shorter life span than most dogs and prone to problems like Bloat, Hip Dysplasia, Cancer and Heart problems
Medical expenses $485 a year including pet insurance
Food expenses $275 a year for dry dog food and treats
Miscellaneous expenses $240 a year for toys, license, training and other miscellaneous costs
Average annual expense $1000 as a starting figure
Cost to purchase $1000
Biting Statistics Attacks: 39 Maimings: 21 Child Victims: 14 Deaths: 3

The Great Dane’s Beginnings

Despite the Dane part of the name this is not a dog from Denmark. Its origins are German and it is thought in the breeding is a mix of the Irish Wolfhound, the Grey hound and the Mastiff. It was bred to help hunt boar and was then a very ferocious and powerful dog known as a Boar Hound. It is a very old breed with its ancestors being found in Egyptian drawings and ancient Chinese literature.

In 407 A.D. when Gaul (Germany) was invaded by the Alans they came with mastiff like dogs who could bring down bear and boar. In the 1500s European nobility also imported a strong dog from England known as the Englische Docke. Over the years Greyhound was added to their mix. When it was less used in hunting it then became a very effective dog used to guard rich estates.

In the 1800s it was referred to in English speaking countries as the German boarhound and German breeders tried to have it become the German Mastiff. However because of problems other countries had with Germany it became the Great Dane, taken from the writings of Buffon's 1755 reference to the dog. In 1876 it became Germany's national dog and was recognized as a breed in 1887. It was also a popular dog elsewhere in Europe and then America.

New Lease on Life

In the late 1800s and into the 20th century breeders in Germany refined the breed turning the temperament from aggressive and ferocious to gentle and even tempered. In 1889 the Great Dan Club of America was formed and it was one of the first dogs recognized by the AKC.

Today it is still a very popular dog, now ranking 15th according to the AKC. It has talents in carting, tracking, watchdog and guarding and for families who have the room it is a wonderful family dog.

The Dog You See Today

The Great Dane is a giant dog weighing 110 to 190 pounds and stands 28 to 34 inches tall. It has a thick, short and silky coat that comes in colors including fawn, brindle, harlequin, black, mantle and blue. It has a squared and strong body, along head, deep muzzle and blue or black nose. Its eyes are set deep and dark and its tail is thick at the base and then comes to a point set high up.

A lot have Great Danes have cropped ears but there are many countries that now ban ear cropping. When they are are left natural they hang near the cheek and fold forwards. Cropping is seen still in America and Canada but is not allowed now in many European countries.

The Inner Great Dane


It is a protective dog but is also gentle and good natured. It is important though to teach it not to jump up in excitement or greeting as its size means this could cause injuries. Most are not barkers which is good since when they do bark it is deep and loud. It is affectionate and loves being around people but if it is not well exercised and trained it can act out and a dog of this size acting out can be a problem.

The Great Dane is a very loyal dog, it is dependable and brave and makes a good watchdog and guard dog. While it is large and seemingly imposing it no longer has the aggressive nature it once had. It loves to receive attention and loves to lean against you and try to cuddle with you despite its size. It is very sweet and relaxed and gets along with strangers well unless it feels they are a threat.


Living with a Great Dane

Training expectations

While it has a great nature with its size it is very important to train it and socialize it early on. The sooner you start the easier it goes. A headstrong and difficult to control Great Dane is going to be a nightmare to have around. It is eager to please and enjoys being with you so training should be fairly easy. It is something you can do yourself or you can take it to school or use a professional trainer.

When training yourself it is important to be consistent, stay firm but positive and offer praise, treats and rewards for its successes. Early socialization will ensure it interacts at its best with other pets, dogs and children and can deal with different situations. It needs to see you clearly as the pack leader.

How active is the Great Dane?

Despite its size this is not a dog that needs hours of exercise a day. It is just slightly active so a couple of 15 minute walks a day should be sufficient though if you notice it is acting out, digging, chewing, barking, acting restless for example this may be a sign your Great Dane needs a bit more, up to 60 minutes total a day. While this means its nature makes apartment living acceptable, as it is so big unless that apartment is very spacious it needs to be in a house that gives it room to move around. A yard is a place for it to sniff around and play but that yard needs a good six foot fence and should be done so that it cannot dig out.

When a Great Dane is still a puppy make sure you do not over exercise it and avoid hard surfaces as it is still growing and its bones and joints are more fragile. However it will need a bit more exercise at around 60 to 90 minutes a day. Take care with extreme temperatures. It will enjoy going to a dog park to play and socialize.

Caring for the Great Dane

Grooming needs

With its short coat the brushing is easy to do but as it does shed a moderate to high amount daily brushing is needed. Use a soft bristled brush or a rubber hound mitt. The high amount of shedding or blow outs are seasonal shedding times. As well as getting rid of loose hair it helps move the natural oils in its skin around its body giving the coat a lovely healthy shine. A bath is needed just when it is needed but as it is so big this can be tricky to do in some homes. You could use the sprinkler outside or you could take it to a professional groomers where they have bathing stations for all sizes.

As well as taking care of its coat it will need its nails to be clipped when they get too long. Dog nails are not like people's so take it to a professional groomer to have it done if you do not know where the blood vessels and nerves are. It will also need its ears checked for infection and wiped clean once a week and its teeth brushed at least two to three times a week.

Feeding time

As you can probably imagine having a big dog like this means having to feed it a lot of food! You can expect to be feeding it 4 1/2 to 8 cups of good quality dry dog food a day split into at least two meals. Make sure it is not allowed to gulp down its food too quickly in large amounts as that can lead to a serious problem called Bloat. The exact amount of food will depend on how active it is, its size, healthy and metabolism.

A Great Dane puppy should be eating food for large breeds not ones made for puppies as that can be too rich for them. Make sure you feed it a good quality food as it is better for it. Under four or five months it should be fed three meals a day not two.

Children and other animals

This is a great dog around children, it is very gentle and loves to interact with them. It is also protective of them. However it is a big dog and it is also true that smaller ones and even some bigger ones get knocked over sometimes by accident. Therefore some supervision is needed, even just the swipe of its tail can catch the toddlers! Make sure you teach the children how to touch and approach a dog properly.

It gets on well with pets usually but sometimes may not be happy around some livestock. Occasionally you get some Great Danes that make friends with cats and are happy to share their home with other pets and then you get some who do not. They certainly do not have a high prey drive.

What Might Go Wrong

Health Concerns

As a giant breed the life span of the Great Dane is shorter than many other dog breeds at 6 to 9 years. As with all breeds there are health issues that it can develop such as Bloat the top cause of death in Great Danes, heart problems, hip dysplasia, hypertrophic osteodystrophy, cancer (another top cause of death), eye problems, skeletal issues and flatulence. To have better odds at a healthy dog buy from good breeders and ask to see health clearances for both parents.

Biting Statistics

Looking at reports of dog attacks against people over the last 34 years the Great Dane has been involved in 39 attacks. 21 of those were maimings, meaning that the victims were either disfigured, scarred or lost a limb. Of those 39 attacks at least 14 were children and there were 3 deaths. This makes an average of a little more than 1 attack a year. Some of these attacks were accidents due to its size.


Any dog can become aggressive if not looked after, trained or socialized properly. From small to the very large any dog can snap. But it is also true that in general the Great Dane is gentle and is not a dog to be feared for its aggression.

Your Pup’s Price Tag

A Great Dane puppy can cost about $1000. This will be from a decent breeder rather than puppy mills or backyard breeders. They will charge less but there will be no guarantees on breed lines and health. You can pay more, up to around $3000 from top breeders and you can also pay less if you are happy to have a dog that is not a puppy. $50 to $200 from a rescue or shelter would get you one if you are happy to offer a dog a new beginning.

There are some items you will need once you have it, a crate, collar and leash, bowls and other essentials. It will also need to be spayed or neutered, micro chipped, vaccinated, dewormed, checked over by a vet and had blood tests done. These initial costs come to around $450.

Annual medical costs for updated vaccinations, flea prevention, check ups, pet insurance and heartworm prevention come to a starting figure of $485. Annual non-medical costs like training, license, toys and other miscellaneous items start at $245. Food is obviously a big cost with a dog this size coming to at least $275 a year.

Overall annual costs start at $1000. Additional costs could come up though such as use of a professional groomer, kenneling, hiring a dog walker and so on.


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  • This dog attracts people often because they are looking for a large dog. However sometimes the reality of looking after this kind of dog can overwhelm them. It is a dog who will be completely loyal, affectionate and protective but it is not an aggressive dog nor is it very athletic. It will need space, training, socialization and patience. Make sure you are able to give it what it needs and that you are prepared for its shorter life span. You may only have it in your life for 6 years.

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