AKC Dog Breeds: Great Dane

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Working  Group
Height: 28-32 inches   Weight: 100-200 pounds  Color: brindle, fawn, blue, black, harlequin,  mantle

A "gentle giant," the Great Dane is nothing short of majestic. Sometimes referred to as the "king of dogs," this extremely large dog breed is known for being strong yet elegant, with a friendly, energetic personality. Striking in the show ring, this breed is also popular as a family pet. Historians claim that there are drawings of dogs that resemble the Great Dane on Egyptian monuments from roughly 3000 B.C. The earliest written description of a dog resembling the breed can be found in Chinese literature of 1121 B.C. The origins of the Great Dane as we know it today can be traced to the Irish Wolfhound with mixture of old English Mastiff. The breed was originally developed by the Germans to hunt boar, a ferocious animal. When no longer used for hunting, the breed changed to one of a companion and estate guard dog. The Great Dane was registered with the AKC in 1887.

General Appearance
The Great Dane is a giant dog that combines nobility with robustness and power with elegance. It has a long narrow head with an accentuated frontal stop and a rather large nasal canal. Its neck is long and muscular and its front legs are perfectly straight. It has muscular thighs and round feet with short, dark nails. The Great Dane's tail is medium-length, reaching to the point of the hock. Its eyes are round and usually dark - with a lively intelligent expression. Its ears are either cropped rather long, pointed, and carried erect, or left natural. Its well developed white teeth must close in a scissors bite. All Danes have short, thick, shiny, close-fitting hair. The color of the coat indicates the variety, fawn, brindle, black, blue, mantle harlequin and sometimes merle. Although not a recognized color, chocolate does occur in a recessive gene.  Merle is a common result of harlequin breeding, but it is not a recognized color. Black coats and dark eyes, while blue Danes may have lighter eyes.


The Great Dane is a giant of a dog with a patient and gentle personality. These sweet natured dogs make great family pets, and are attentive and devoted to their owners. The Great Dane is best suited to those with some experience of dog ownership, as they can be stubborn and bossy. Early and extensive socialization is also important to promote a stable, confident manner. The Great Dane is a bold, spirited breed, and his size alone means that he makes an effective watchdog. These dogs do need plenty of attention and devotion from their owners, and are not suited to those with little time to commit to a pet. Training should be consistent and firm, yet positive. The house proud may want to think twice before considering this breed, as they can be very messy and do drool. Younger Great Danes can be very destructive and boisterous, and will need a good deal of supervision. These giant dogs do need a fair amount of exercise, and plenty of space will be needed because of their sheer size. When not on a leash the Great Dane will need a large, secured, safe area in which to exercise. The Great Dane is good with children when raised with them, but his size could cause a problem if you have very small children. When it comes to other pets, some Great Danes will be accepting but others may see themselves as the dominant one, and supervision may be required. Again, early socialization is important. The reaction of the Great Dane around strangers can also vary, and can depend upon the individual personality of the dog. These dogs are very sensitive, and some can come across as quite aloof. However, with consistent training and extensive, early socialization the Great Dane can make a very loyal and loving - if rather large - pet.


Combing and brushing the short coat of this breed regularly is acceptable for this giant breed. Rubber brushing also does well in removing any loose hair. Bathing a Great Dane can be difficult due to his size, but is a relatively clean dog.

Health Problems and Life Expectancy

The life expectancy of the Great Dane is around 6-8 years, which is far shorter than many other dog breeds. There are a number of problems associated with this breed, and this includes deafness, heart problems, bloat, HD, HOD, cataracts, and bone cancer. Care should also be taken in extreme temperatures, as the Great Dane is sensitive to extreme heat or cold.

Activity Level

The Great Dane loves to be with people and will happily go for runs and romps in the backyard with the kids. Without proper exercise the Great Dane will become rambunctious and somewhat independent, often choosing to ignore the owner's commands. The Great Dane does prefer several hours a day outside in moderate temperatures and climates but is very intolerant of long periods in cold or damp conditions. This breed proves to be a good jogging companion and does well running alongside a bike.


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