Meet the Breed: The Great Dane

So far, I know I’ve been a bit biased in featuring smaller dogs on this weekly feature highlighting a particular breed. I think this may be based in the fact that I’m a smaller person living in a smaller home, and therefore smaller dogs would seem to suit my family.

I do have a secret fondness for this particular large breed, however. And, as my daughter would say, “Go big or go home!” The Great Danes I have known have been big teddy bears that have made me feel safe and protected with their mellow presence. As a single mom, this would be a pleasant feeling to promote! Though the thought of feeding and cleaning up after such a large creature does cause me to consider this carefully.

10-week-old blue Great Dane puppy with natural ears. Photo courtesy of Jonathan Willier.

Overview:

  • Height: Minimum of 30 inches at the withers (Male), Minimum of 28 inches at the withers(Female)
  • Weight: 120-200 pounds (Male), 100-130(Female)
  • Historical function: Boar hunter, estate guard dog

Modern Function: Companion, guarding

Harlequin Great Dane photo courtesy of Carl and Tracy Gossett.

AKC classification: Working

Physical Characteristics: The Great Dane is an enormous, muscular, stately dog. In spite of Scooby Doo’s portrayal of the breed, a Great Dane should be bred to be spirited, athletic, and courageous… never timid. The head is rectangular with dark, deep-set expressive eyes. The high-set ears can be cropped or be natural. The coat is short, thick, and glossy. Coat color varieties include Brindle, Fawn, Steel Blue, Black, Harlequin, and Mantle.

History of Breed: The modern Great Dane actually originated in Germany about 400 years ago. They were bred to hunt large prey and guard estates. But similar dogs have been documented throughout ancient history from China, Egypt, and Greece.

Temperament: Though traditionally utilized as an estate guard dog, the true nature of the modern Great Dane is friendly and dependable.

  • Best suited for: Families in homes with a good amount of space.
  • Preferred living conditions: Can adjust to a large apartment as long as adequate walks are provided due to mellow personality, but would do best in a home with a yard and plenty of space.

Care and Health:

  • Grooming requirements: Easy to groom with brushing, occasional bathing outside with a hose.
  • Exercise needs: Daily walk. Care must be taken not to overwork growing dogs to prevent injury.
  • Life expectancy: The shortest lived breed with the average being less than ten years, though a few will live 12-13 years.
  • Health concerns: Prone to hip dysplasia, bloat (this life-threatening problem affects this breed more than any other), tail injuries, and cancer.

Breed Club Links: Great Dane Club of America

BaxterBoo Perfect Pairings: Pet Naturals Hip & Joint Support for Dogs, Master Grooming Tools Ergonomic Slicker Brush

Featured photo by o5com.

*Zeus of Otsego, Mich., is currently documented as the world’s Tallest Dog standing at 44 inches at the shoulder, according to the Guinness World Records 2013 book.

Have any Great Dane stories?

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