The Great Dane is known for being one of the largest dog breeds out there and was originally bred to hunt wild boar. However, nowadays, these dogs are one of the gentlest and loving pups out there! The Great Dane makes a wonderful family pet, demanding attention from anywhere they can get it from and providing a fantastic playmate to children.
It is no secret that the Great Dane needs a lot of space to live and won’t do well in a small apartment. But what else do you need to know about this special breed? If you’re interested in learning more about the Great Dane and seeing whether they might be the pet for you, keep reading below.
History Of The Great Dane
The Great Dane descended from Mastiff-like dogs, but they are more refined that other descendants of this breed. It is unknown when they first arrived in America, but the Great Dane Club of America was formed in 1889 and they were the fourth breed club allowed to join the American Kennel Club (AKC).
The Great Dane can be traced back through drawings as far as 3000 B.C. It is thought that they were moved to different parts of the world by the Assyrians, who traded their dogs to the Greeks and Romans, who then bred these dogs with other breeds. This is why it is thought the Great Dane descend from Mastiff-type dogs.
Originally called Boar Hounds, the first Great Danes were used to hunt wild boar. Their ears were even cropped short so they wouldn’t get torn on boar tusks. In the late 1600s, German nobles began keeping the largest versions of these working dogs in their homes, calling them Kammerhunde (Chamber Dogs), where they were pampered.
The name Great Dane came from a French naturalist who travelled to Germany and saw one of the Boar Hounds. He called the dog Great Danish Dog. However, Germans are still given the credit of creating these dogs. In 1880, breeders got together in Germany and decided to call the Great Dane the Deutsche Dogge (German Dog), because it differed so much from the English Mastiff.
However, English speaking countries didn’t accept this name and the name Great Dane stuck. Throughout the late 1800s, German breeders continue to refine the Great Dane through breeding, particularly focusing on their aggressive temperament that they still held from hunting wild boar. Fortunately, they managed to create a very loving and sweet-natured dog that we know as the Great Dane today.
Characteristics Of The Great Dane
These giant dogs are constantly growing in popularity, although due to their size they are certainly not the pup for everyone! Great Danes are, unsurprisingly, born in large litter sizes — between 10 and 15 puppies! A Great Dane puppy will cost anywhere between $600 and $1000 from a reputable breeder. Because these dogs are large and this can cause health issues, you will want to make sure you are buying from a reputable breeder.
While some Great Danes can be smaller or larger than average, they are known as a giant breed dog. Males usually stand between 30 to 34 inches tall and weigh between 120 and 200 lbs. Females are smaller, standing between 28 to 32 inches tall and weighing between 100 to 130 lbs.
Great Danes have an athletic, muscular body with a long and narrow head that is very large! Their neck is long too, and, while some owners choose to crop their ears, they are better left long. Their tail is also long and prone to knocking over things!
The Great Dane has a smooth, short coat. Unfortunately, they shed a lot and are therefore not the dog for those with allergies! However, their coat is easy to take care of and keep in good condition. We will go into more detail about grooming your Great Dane later on.
There are six coat colors that you will usually see on a Great Dane. These are black, fawn (a golden color with a black mask), brindle (fawn and black mixed in a tiger stripe), blue (which can look gray), harlequin (a black and white irregular pattern all over the body) and mantle (black and white with a solid black blanket over the body).
The Great Dane has one of the best temperaments a dog could have! Gentle, quiet, affectionate and easy-going, these dogs love to be around their people and just want to be where the family is! Despite the fact they are a giant dog, some of these dogs even think they’re lapdogs and will try to sit on you — they really just want to be as close as possible!
Great Danes get on very well with strangers and other animals, unless they think something or someone is a threat. They are very protective of their family and won’t be afraid to bark if they feel something is out of place. While they are not at all aggressive, their size and their bark can certainly scare off an intruder, so they can make a wonderful watchdog or guard dog!
Despite their gentle and peaceful nature that means they can get on with anyone, it is a good idea to train and socialize your Great Dane from a young age. Purely their size can make them a handful as an adult if you don’t put boundaries and rules in place from a young age.
Unfortunately, like many large breeds, the Great Dane has a short life expectancy. These dogs normally only live for around eight years.
Known Health Issues
Great Danes are usually a healthy breed, but thanks to their size they can be prone to some health problems. We have laid out these main concerns below.
– Hip Dysplasia — this is when the thighbone doesn’t fit snugly into the hip joint. Some dogs show pain and lameness on one or both rear legs, but you may not notice any signs of discomfort in a dog with hip dysplasia.
– Development Issues — growing issues can develop in puppies and young adults and is normally related to the dog’s diet. Make sure they are getting all the nutrients they need.
– Heart Disease — there are a few different heart diseases that can affect the Great Dane. These include dilated cardiomyopathy, mitral valve defects, tricuspid valve dysplasia, subaortic stenosis, patent ductus arteriosus, and persistent right aortic arch. Treatment can vary on many factors.
– Gastric Torsion (Bloat) — this is a potentially fatal condition in large breed dogs that results in them becoming bloated. You need to know the symptoms of it. Feeding your dog smaller more frequent meals instead of one big meal can help to reduce the risk.
– Bone Cancer — this is the most common bone tumor found in dogs. It can usually be treated with amputation, but a dog can go on to live a happy life.
Regular vet checkups and keeping an eye on your dog will ensure you can catch any of these issues before they become untreatable.
Remember — buy from a reputable breeder and the chances your dog will suffer any health conditions will be greatly reduced.
Despite their large size, the Great Dane dog does not actually have very high care needs. Of course, everything costs more when you have a big dog, but daily life with these pets it’s not too different from owning a smaller dog. Below we will cover their food and diet, their exercise needs and their grooming needs.
Food And Diet
Ensuring you feed your dog the right amount is more important for a breed of dog this size. Too much or too little of what they need can damage the way their body grows. A Great Dane puppy shouldn’t eat regular puppy food as it is usually too rich for them; instead, they should be eating a puppy food designed for larger breeds and there should be minimal calcium in the recipe.
As an adult, feed them food designed for large to giant dog breeds. You should always check the back of the food packet to see how much of a certain food you should be feeding them based on their size.
As a puppy they will need between three to eight cups of food, as an adolescent they will need between eight to fifteen cups of food and as an adult they will need between six to ten cups of food. You should be feeding your Great Dane puppy three times a day. It can be reduced to two times a day after the age of five months, but it should never be just once a day.
Take a look at a dog food we recommend for the Great Dane below.
Best Dog Food For The Great DaneBUY ON AMAZON
We recommend the Diamond Naturals dry dog food for the Great Dane. Formulated for large breeds, this food has real cage free chicken as it’s first ingredient. Along with chia seeds and quinoa, this food is therefore an excellent choice to ensure your pup is getting the right amount of protein they need to stay active and build lean muscles.
Other ingredients such as vitamins and minerals, superfoods, and fatty acids also play a role in ensuring your Great Dane stays in the best condition, supporting their immune system and promoting a shiny coat and healthy skin. Even better, there are no artificial colors, flavors or preservatives in this food that could harm your pup.
Unsurprisingly, the Great Dane needs a fair amount of exercise. However, they do not need as much exercise as you may think a dog of this size needs. You should be walking your Great Dane for at least 30 to 60 minutes a day, depending on their age and activity level. As a puppy they’ll need closer to 90 minutes of exercise.
Great Danes can make excellent exercise buddies and will happily accompany you while you’re out running or hiking. However, you should wait to take them jogging until they’re at least 18 months old. Before then, their bones are not developed enough and too much exercise can be detrimental to their health.
The Great Dane can get cold in the winter or in colder climates, so it is a good idea to get them a sweater or coat to keep them warm. Also think about keeping them on a leash until they have mastered recall training — some people may get scared if a giant dog is running towards them, even if they just want to say hello!
Thanks to their kind, loving and sweet nature, the Great Dane makes an excellent family pet. These dogs get on well with everyone and truly just want to be with their family and in the middle of the action.
They are extremely gentle with children and can make a wonderful playmate, especially if they are raised together. However, it is important to remember that these dogs don’t understand how big they are and may end up hurting very young children without meaning to!
Great Danes can also get on well with other animals, particularly other family pets, although they should still be socialized from a young age. They may be aloof and aggressive around livestock.
Even though they are a large dog, the Great Dane is happy being indoors. They don’t really like to be left alone and do still need exercise, however. The Great Dane will benefit from a yard to run around in, but you should certainly make sure you have a secure fence of at least six feet! They are also prone to destroying any landscaping you might be doing in the garden!
Of course, these dogs cannot live in a small apartment — they’re just too big! You should also be careful of items around the house, such as mugs on the coffee table! They will knock into things and knock things over without meaning to.
As long as the Great Dane has enough space to live and gets love, attention and time with their family, they will be a very happy dog.
The Great Dane is very eager to please and therefore has great trainability. They are naturally very gentle and so it is a good idea to teach them manners from a young age! Even more importantly, if you don’t get your Great Dane under control as a puppy, this giant breed is going to be even harder to control as an adult!
Like all dogs, the Great Dane responds best to positive reinforcement techniques and reward based training. This includes verbal praise and treats. You should never get angry or frustrated with your dog when training. They may not understand what is happening and this will cause them to not want to learn. You should ignore negative behavior and praise positive behavior so they learn which is more desirable.
Despite the fact that the Great Dane is a relatively social dog who gets on with most people, socialization is very important. This will ensure they learn how to react in different situations.
Introduce your Great Dane to new sights, sounds, places, smells, people and animals in a calm and controlled way from a young age. You can also take them to puppy classes, invite friends over and take them to the park to meet new people and other dogs. This will help them to grow up to be a well rounded dog!
The Great Dane’s coat is fairly easy to take care of. Because they shed a lot, you will need to be brushing them a few times a week. You should use a firm bristle brush. Regular brushing will help to minimize the amount that you need to bathe your Great Dane, which should be done as and when is needed. Bathing can be a challenge though, so brushing to keep their coat in top condition is very important!
You should trim your Great Dane’s nails once or twice a month, if your dog doesn’t wear them down naturally, to prevent painful tears and other problems. If you hear them clicking on the floor then they are too long. You can always ask a groomer to help with clipping their nails.
Try to brush your Great Dane’s teeth two to three times a week, or daily if you can manage it. This will help to prevent dental decay and disease.
Start grooming your Great Dane from a young age so they learn that it is a positive experience. This will also help them to be calmer at vet appointments and checkups later in life.
Great Dane FAQ’s
How big does a Great Dane get?
A Great Dane is a giant dog and therefore gets pretty big! As an adult, a male will weigh between 120 to 200 lbs and a female will weigh between 100 to 130 lbs. They stand between 28 to 34 inches tall.
You must make sure you have space for your Great Dane before buying one. These dogs can’t be cooped up in a small apartment — they need lots of space, even if this isn’t space outside. You should also be aware of the fact Great Danes can cause destruction inside a house without meaning to. Their tail can knock over anything, so make sure you are prepared!
How much does a Great Dane cost?
A Great Dane can set you back between $600 and $1000, although it will depend on the breeder that you are buying from. The litter sizes are normally large, so you shouldn’t have to go on a waiting list. However, you should always make sure you are buying from a reputable breeder who can show you health clearances for both parent dogs.
If this is out of your price range, you can always check your local shelter. Often, people buy these dogs without realizing just how big they become as an adult and then can’t look after them. There are also many Great Dane rescue organizations that you can find online.
A Great Dane is a giant dog with lots of love to give. Gentle, affectionate and easy going, these dogs make the perfect companion to both adults and children. A family dog, these pups just want to be around their owners at all times and joining in the fun. While they need a lot of space and can certainly cost a lot to own, the Great Dane has relatively low care needs and will be happy as long as they are getting attention and love. If you’ve got room for one of these gentle giants, why not think about adding one to your home?