Great Dane (Deutsche Dogge)

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fawn and brindle; harlequin and black; blue
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Pros Cons
  • great family companion
  • easy to groom
  • loves children
  • wonderful watchdog
  • stubborn
  • short lifespan
  • prone to obeisity if not exercised

The Great Dane is a giant, powerful and regal dog. This is an elegant, friendly, energetic, loving and very gentle breed that makes an excellent family companion. The Great Dane is one of the tallest and one of the best-known dogs in the world.

The Great Dane was developed in Germany at least hundreds, and maybe even thousands, years ago (probably between 300 and 800 A.D.). Similar dogs can be found on Egyptian artefacts of the 3000 B.C., in Babylonian temples build around 2000 B.C. and the Chinese literature of the 1121 B.C. The Great Dane was bred to hunt boar and wolves and was originally called the Boar Hound. In the XVI century the name was changed to "English Dogges".
Sometime between 800 and 1200 A.D. the German nobility decided to develop an ideal hunting Mastiff and crossed the Bullenbeiser with the Irish Wolfhound and probably other sighthounds. It is also possible that breed like the Chart Polski of Poland or the Magyar Agar of Hungary were used. The breed became very popular among German nobility that used it not only to hunt but as a personal and property protector.

In the beginning of the XVII century the French naturalist Comte de Buffon during his travel through Denmark encountered the breed there and named it the Grand Danois, or Great Dane, thinking the breed was a native of that country. By the end of the XVII century the breed could be found in France, England, Denmark, and several other European countries.

In 1863 the first Great Dane participated in the dog show in Germany. In 1965, the breed was selected as the state dog of Pennsylvania. In 1887 it was recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC), and in 1923 - by the United Kennel Club. Today the Great Dane is typically kept as a family companion and is also used as service and therapy dog.

The Great Dane is a very calm, affectionate, very loyal and gentle dog that will be a good protector even though it is not usually aggressive. This breed is known as a «gentle giant» and makes an excellent family companion that forms extremely strong bonds to its owners. This breed needs a constant company of its family, as it tends to suffer from severe separation anxiety.

The socialized dog will be very gentle and affectionate with children although for very young children this is not an ideal breed as your dog can accidently bowl over a child. Always supervise the dog around children because it doesn't always understands its large size.

If you socialize your Great Dane properly, it will be very polite and accepting of strangers. Some lines are extremely friendly while others are very reserved and even suspicious. In general, this breed is not aggressive towards people, but you still need to train you dog properly from a very young age. Most breed members will be great watchdogs, but very few will make good guard dogs. However, some dogs can be trained for personal protection.

The Great Dane needs socialisation with other dogs, as it tends to be aggressive towards them (especially males). If you are planning to keep your dog with other animals, introduce it to different animals from a very young age.
In general, the Great Dane gets along with other pets, but can be aggressive with livestock.

Health Problems

The most common health problems for the breed include:

• gastric torsion;
• canine hip dysplasia;
• elbow dysplasia;
• arthritis;
• skeletal growth abnormalities;
• heart problems;
• different eye problems;
• hypothyroidism;
• cancer
• Wobbler’s syndrome;
• panosteitis;
• Addison’s disease;
• deafness (primarily in White and Merle Great Danes);
• von Willebrand’s disease;
• skin problems.
The Great Dane is quite easy to groom. Brush your dog weekly using a rubber mitt or soft bristle brush. This breed is an average shedder but during spring and fall you will need to brush your dog more frequently.
The Great Dane can be bathed as you desire (even weekly), but always use a gentle dog shampoo. To prevent infections and irritations you will need to check and clean you dog's ears. Trim the nails and brush the teeth on a regular basis. Due to the dog's size all procedures you have to begin at a very young age.


The Great Dane is easy to train if you start it from a very young age. This breed is above average intelligence, and usually is willing to please, but it can be extremely stubborn. Obedience training and socialization from a young age is highly recommended.

Training must be consistent, calm and positive with lots of treats and rewards. Never use negative methods or harsh punishment, as the Great Dane is very sensitive. However, this breed needs a dominant and firm owner.

The Great Dane requires regular exercise but today most breed members are low-energy dogs. Your dog can lie on a couch or anywhere else at home for hours. To avoid obesity you need to provide your dog with regular and structured exercise during 30 – 45 minutes per day.

The Great Dane needs a long brisk walk and an adult dog (over 1 year) will be an excellent jogging companion. This breed will also enjoy playing with kids in a yard. The Great Dane matures very slowly and the first 3 years of life your dog will be extremely rambunctious.