Great Dane dog breed characteristics, origin and care

Great Dane breed characteristics

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  • Size: Giant
  • Traits: Mild. Gentle. Affectionate.
  • Maintenance: Medium maintenance, brush coat 1-3 times a week
  • Best Suited To: Large family homes with a big yard.

Big. Bigger. Biggest. Great Danes are the gentle giants of the dog world and the tallest dog breed around. Their imposing size says nothing of their nature, which is kind, congenial and regal. Great Danes fit perfectly into a large home with room to roam and an extra large couch to snuggle on.

If you want people to stop and stare at your majestic pooch and crave a super-sized, family-friendly dog, a Great Dane might be the right dog for you.

Where I'm From

Great Danes are one of the world's older dog breeds. Similar dogs have been found in Egyptian tomb drawings, Babylonian temples and Chinese texts dating back thousands of years. Making their way to Europe, the Great Dane's forerunners were renown first as bull-baiters then as talented boar hunters as the breed was developed.

17th Century German nobility also kept the breed as chamber dogs, pampering their pets with gilded velvet-lined collars. The Germans are thought to have crossed the dogs with European breeds such as the English Mastiff and Greyhound predecessors to develop the Great Dane into the dignified dog we see today.

What I Look Like

Great Danes are huge and can stand up to an imposing 85 centimetres, almost one meter high! They have large heads with soft, flat ears and low-lying jowls. Great Danes have a very muscular body with a sleek, shorthaired coat that comes in fawn, brindle, black, blue (dark grey), harlequin, merle and mantle.

How I Act

Great Danes are gentle genial giants. Affectionate and smart, Great Danes are very loyal to their adoptive families, patient with children and welcoming to other dogs and pets if introduced gradually. Though Great Danes do not realise their size and need to learn how to play with kids.

Great Danes are highly trainable and pick up commands easily. Socialisation with a variety of people and places is important for your Great Dane to become a well-balanced pet. Great Dane training needs to begin at a young age as Great Danes grow very quickly and will need to be managed effectively before they reach full adult size.

Though Great Danes are an extra large dog breed they only need a moderate amount of exercise of 30-60 minutes per day to stay fit and healthy. They can also be quite chilled out and rather enjoy cuddling on the couch with you just like a giant lapdog, so you may need a fairly large sofa.

Looking After Me

Great Danes suffer from few health ailments, which can include hip dysplasia, eye problems, heart issues and bloat.

It is advisable to check the temperament and medical history of a puppy's parents and view veterinarian clearance certificates to ensure you get a healthy dog. Be very wary of uncertified backyard breeders.

Great Dane may also suffer from joint and bone problems due to their hefty size as well as pressure sores. They require comfortable sleeping quarters to prevent any discomfort.

Great Dane puppies may suffer from developmental issues if not fed or cared for correctly. They need to be managed carefully for their first years of life on advice from your vet.

Due to the Great Danes' immense size their lifespan is only 8-10 years.

The Great Dane's size means they require a big feed twice a day, three times a day when young. Great care must be taken in their first year of life to make sure the rapidly growing pups are getting adequate nutrition.

They have short hair and do not shed a lot; weekly brushing is enough to keep their coat in tiptop shape.

More of an inside dog, Great Danes don't do well in colder weather and may need a warm winter jacket to stay warm.

Great Danes naturally have soft ears that lie close to the face. As hunting dogs their ears were clipped to prevent infections. Though some people still clip Great Danes' ears for cosmetic reasons, especially in the United States, this practice is banned in New Zealand and most parts of Australia.

Am I the pet for you?

Great Danes are best for active families with some room for their pup to grow and a laid-back attitude that won't mind some clumsy dog damage. Great Danes are not suited for small apartments.


  • Great Danes love people and children, and consider themselves part of the family. Like all dogs, Great Danes should be supervised when around children.
  • Great Danes do not shed or bark too much.
  • Great Danes can make excellent guard dogs and will alert the household when a visitor arrives. They are also likely to scare off potential intruders with just one look.


  • Great Danes giant frame includes an extra large stomach that needs to be fed a lot of food. Therefore it can be quite expensive to maintain your dog's diet.
  • Great Danes can be clumsy and tend to knock into furniture and can easily take out a small child or even an adult!
  • Great Danes can be sloppy droolers. On furniture, floors and people. Some wiping up after them may be required.
  • Though Great Danes have a lovely and friendly nature their imposing size can scare those unfamiliar with the breed.
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