Breed Category: Non-Sporting
Country of Origin: Germany
Average Size: 72-85 cm (at the withers)
Average Weight: 45-60 kg
Average Life Span: 7-9 years
Grooming Requirements: Low
Exercise Requirements: Medium
The Great Dane is a giant breed of dog that is native to Germany. It is one of the largest known breeds and is thought to be influenced by other large dogs such as the Irish Wolfhound, the Greyhound and the English Mastiff.
The breed was established during the 1800s, though it is thought to have a much longer history. Evidence of a breed similar in appearance to the Great Dane can be traced to Egypt as early as 3,000 B.C. It was used as a guard dog and an assistant in hunting big game such as bears.
Though its size may suggest otherwise, the Great Dane is a mild-tempered breed that is affectionately referred to as the “Gentle Giant.” It is most often kept as a companion dog, though its size and deep bark also make it more than adequate as a guard dog.
The signature physical characteristic of the Great Dane is its remarkable size. The breed towers over most other dogs, along with small children. Even in comparison to adults, the Great Dane typically reaches the waist of most people. Females tend to be shorter but longer than males and the breed averages 72-85 cm in height and 45-60 kg in weight.
Along with its grand size, the Great Dane is lean and long-legged. It carries itself in an elegant manner, which suggests great coordination and power. It has a short and sleek coat that comes in a variety of colours. Occasional brushing and bathing will help to keep its coat healthy, though further grooming is not usually necessary.
Accepted colours according to the breed standard are:
Black: solid black; a white patch on the chest is common, though it is considered a fault in show dogs
Blue: any shade of gray; white patches are considered faults in show dogs
Brindle: striped with black and a lighter shade that ranges from tan to fawn
Fawn: a shade that ranges from buff to tan to orange; often has black markings on the nose and eyebrows
Harlequin: white base with multiple black or blue patches throughout the body, legs and head
Mantle: black and white; black blankets much of the body and a white blaze is often seen on the head
The ears of the Great Dane are naturally long and thin, falling along either side of the dog’s head. Cropping of the ears is common in this breed in countries where this practice is allowed. Cropped ears are large and stand erect. Historically, this helped minimise the risk of injury when the dog was used to hunt large animals.
The eyes of the Great Dane are wide-set and dark, though they may be lighter in colour in breeds with a light coat. Its nose is almost always black, though it may have blue colouring in a dog with a blue coat.
The Great Dane generally gets along well with children and other animals, particularly if introduced at youth. Proper supervision is recommended with small children not due to the breed’s aggression but because of its large size. The Great Dane is sensitive and eager to please; it responds well to proper training and does best with a confident and fair owner.
This type of dog is gentle in nature and does best in a setting where it is kept as a companion dog. It has a reputation of being good-natured and loyal to its family. It will bravely alert its family to those approaching the home or yard and has natural guarding instincts, though it is not prone to aggressive behaviour. Despite its ferocious bark, the Great Dane is pleasant and affectionate towards those its owner deems friendly.
A moderate amount of exercise will suit this breed. A daily walk is very important in maintaining proper health. Though the Great Dane enjoys human companionship, the breed also appreciates time spent outdoors and will be happy with an average-sized yard.
During its youth, the Great Dane grows at rapid speeds. For this reason, it is important to avoid overexertion and strenuous activity in Dane puppies. This will help to ensure its bones and muscles are kept in healthy condition.
Certain health conditions are more common in large dog breeds such as the Great Dane. It may experience hip dysplasia or heart conditions such as cardiomyopathy or congestive heart failure. It may also suffer from digestive disorders such as gastric dilatation-volvulus, a serious condition that can occur when the dog eats meals that are too large in size. For this reason, smaller, more frequent meals are recommended.
White-coloured Danes may exist, but the colouring is prone to genetic problems such as deafness, so it is not encouraged in breeding.
Due to its substantial size, the Great Dane is not a long-lived dog. The average Great Dane lives 7-9 years, though some have been known to exceed 10-12 years.
Great Dane Organisations in Australia
Great Dane Club of New South Wales
Great Dane Organisations in the UK
Great Dane Adoption Society – UK rescue and rehoming
Great Dane Organisations in the US
Great Dane Rescue
Great Dane Rescue Australia
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