Great Dane Guide

Working Dog Breeds

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This regal breed combines great size and power with elegance. It is square-proportioned and well-balanced. Its gait is strong and powerful with long, easy strides. These attributes are necessary in a dog required to overtake and then over-power relatively swift but formidable quarry. Its coat is short, thick and glossy. The Great Dane is most noteworthy for its majestic carriage and appearance — the "Apollo of Dogs."

The Great Dane is gentle, loving, easygoing and sensitive. It is generally good with children (although its friendly overtures may overwhelm a small child) and usually friendly toward other dogs and pets. It is powerful but sensitive and responsive to training. It makes a pleasant, well-mannered family companion.


FAMILY livestock dog, mastiff



ORIGINAL FUNCTION guardian, hunting large game


AVERAGE SIZE OF MALE Height: 35-35 Weight: 130-180

AVERAGE SIZE OF FEMALE Height: 31-33 Weight: 100-150

OTHER NAME Deutsche dogge, German mastiff

Energy level Low energy

Exercise needs Low

Playfullness Not very playful

Affection level Very affectionate

Friendliness toward other dogs Shy

Friendliness toward other pets Shy

Friendliness toward strangers Very friendly

Ease of training Moderately easy to train

Watchdog ability High

Protection ability Moderately protective

Grooming needs Low maintenance

Cold tolerance Low tolerance

Heat tolerance Low tolerance

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The Great Dane needs daily moderate exercise. Its needs can be met with a good walk or romp. Despite its sturdy appearance, it is not well-suited to living outdoors and is best suited to dividing its time between indoors and out. Inside, it needs soft bedding and sufficient room to stretch out when sleeping. Some tend to drool. Coat care is minimal.
• Major concerns: gastric torsion, CHD, cardiomyopathy
• Minor concerns: CVI (wobbler's syndrome), cataract, elbow dysplasia, osteosarcoma, OCD, HOD
• Occasionally seen: glaucoma, vWD
• Suggested tests: cardiac, elbow, hip, eye, blood
• Life span: 6 – 8 years
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Dubbed the "Apollo of Dogs," the Great Dane is probably the product of two other magnificent breeds, the old English mastiff and the Irish wolfhound. Its ancestors were used as war dogs and hunting dogs; thus, its ability as a fearless big-game hunter seemed only natural. By the 14th century, these dogs were proving themselves as able hunters in Germany, combining speed, stamina, strength and courage in order to bring down the tough wild boar. The noble dogs became popular with the landed gentry not only because of their hunting ability but also because of their imposing yet graceful appearance. They made gracious additions to any estate. British people familiar with the breed first referred to Great Danes as German boarhounds. Exactly when and why the breed was later dubbed the Great Dane is a mystery because, although undeniably great, it is not Danish. It is a German breed, and in 1880 German authorities declared that the dog should only be referred to as the Deutsche dogge, the name by which it still goes in Germany. The English paid no heed, and the old name stuck for the English-speaking world. By the late 1800s, the Great Dane had come to America. It quickly attracted attention, as it does to this very day. The breed has since achieved great popularity in spite of some of the difficulties that owning a giant dog entails.
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