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You are here: myPetSmart.com > Breeds > Great Dane

Great Dane

Origin: Germany

AKC Group: Working

Height: Males: at least 30 inches; Females: at least 28 inches (Male)

Weight: 120 to 150 pounds (Male)

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Male height: 
Males: at least 30 inches; Females: at least 28 inches
Male weight: 
120 to 150 pounds
Hard and short. Brush occasionally. Tail hangs down; ears may be cropped or left to hang down.
Solid fawn with black muzzle, solid black, solid steel blue, brindle or harlequin (irregular white and black patches). Eyes are dark but somewhat lighter in black or blue Danes. Nose is black; nose is sometimes spotted in harlequins.
Special considerations: 
Great Danes live about 10 years.

This magnificent breed is descended from a truly ancient canine, the Alaunt, who was depicted in drawings in the tombs of the Beni-Hassan dating to 2200 B.C.E. The Italian word for Alaunt is "Alano," which means Mastiff, and today's Great Dane is certainly the tallest - if not the heaviest - of this type. For hundreds of years, the Dane served as a boar hunter, bullbaiter, and war dog for both the Germans and the Celts. In 1592, the Duke of Braunschweig brought a pack of 600 male Danes to a boar hunt. So loved did they become in Germany that they were declared the national dog of that country in 1876. Imports to the United States started in the mid-1800s, and an early admirer was William "Buffalo Bill" Cody. Because of his guardian background, the Dane had an undeserved reputation for ferocity, which breeders set about tempering. Today's Great Dane is a lover, not a fighter - although he retains a strong protective instinct toward his family.

At home: 
Great Danes are quiet and clean, and they thrive on spending time with their owners. While some can do well in apartments, their sheer size makes them more suitable to a home with more room. A wagging tail will take its toll on small items around the house, so the home will need to be "Dane-proofed" and valuables placed out of reach. Calm and relaxed, Great Danes are happy to stretch out and take a nap when nothing interesting is going on in the house. A fenced yard is necessary to let them out to stretch their legs.
Oddly enough, for as large as he is, the Great Dane does not need a tremendous amount of exercise. He needs to stretch his legs of course, and a few brisk walks a day are a necessity and a pleasure. But he is calm and content indoors and is also happy simply following his family members around as they go about their daily lives.
Great Danes are big eaters and need ample high-quality, nourishing food to remain in good health.
The Great Dane can be a challenge to train. He's not exactly nimble, but he is very intelligent and obliging. He was bred to be an independent thinker, and holding his attention requires a creative repertoire of training tricks that include desirable rewards. Because of his protective instincts and large size, socializing the Dane as much as possible must start in puppyhood.
The Great Dane adores the company of children, although his desire to be close to people can lead to him leaning too closely against or sitting on a small child. He is generally well disposed to other dogs and other household pets, including cats.
The average life span of the Great Dane is 6 to 8 years. Health problems of the breed include bloat; cancer; cardiomyopathy; cataracts; hip dysplasia; hypertrophic osteodystrophy (HOD); hypothyroidism; panosteitis; and wobbler disease.
Fun fact: 

The only Danish part of the Great Dane is his name, and he's only called that in English-speaking countries. He is called "Deutsche Dogge" in Germany.

Grooming blurb: 
The short, thick coat of the Great Dane is easy to care for - although there's a lot of it! He's an average shedder and needs regular brushing or a going-over with a hound glove to loosen dead hair and stimulate the skin.
This document has been published with the intent to provide accurate and authoritative information in regard to the subject matter within. While every reasonable precaution has been taken in preparation of this document, the author and publisher expressly disclaim responsibility for any errors, omissions, or adverse effects arising from the use or application of the information contained herein. The techniques and suggestions are used at the reader's discretion.