If there's something strange in your neighborhood, you might want to call a Great Dane. These graceful giants were once valued for their ghost-busting abilities and were thought to be able to banish evil spirits. America's favorite ghost hunter, Scooby Doo, is a Great Dane afterall.
Their supernatural abilities aren't the only thing that set this pooch apart. Though Irish Wolfhounds are taller as a breed, the world's tallest dog is a Great Dane. Anyone who's spent time with one also knows that they're the world's biggest lapdogs — literally. These puppies are lounge-y and large, with paws as big as an adult's hands.
Despite their names, Great Danes are not from Denmark — the Germans bred Great Danes for hunting and guarding. Some also served in the military. But over the last century, breeders have diminished their prey drive and aggression. Today's Great Dane will take the couch over combat any time.
This large-sized and medium-energy breed can grow to between 110-180 pounds and lives an average of 7-10 years. The breed is recognized by the American Kennel Club and classified as a member of the Working group.
AKC Recognized: Y
Breed's Original Pastime: Hunting, Companion
Breed Group: Working
Average Lifespan: 7-10 years
Size: Extra Large
Bark Factor: Moderate
AKC RANKING 27
FAMILY livestock dog, mastiff
AREA OF ORIGIN Germany
DATE OF ORIGIN Middle Ages
ORIGINAL FUNCTION guardian, hunting large game
TODAY'S FUNCTION companion
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
BEHAVIOR & TRAINING
WHAT IS A GREAT DANE'S PERSONALITY LIKE?
The “great” in their names doesn't just refer to their size. These ginormous goofballs are just the best: loving, calm, and loyal. They make good family dogs and are gentle and playful with kids, though they're so big you'll want to keep an eye on your little ones around them. They're usually happy to meet strangers. With early, consistent socialization, they get along well with other dogs and pets.
WHAT IS GREAT DANE BEHAVIOR LIKE?
Great Danes are protective and active, athletic and powerful: Their closest canine relatives are mastiffs. Your furry friend requires daily exercise and needs time and space to run. They can be somewhat prone to barking.
HOW EASY IS IT TO TRAIN A GREAT DANE?
Great Danes are somewhat easy to train. This breed is a quick learner but can be stubborn and sensitive.
Because they get so big, it's important to start training early. Socialization with children while they're still young is important.
CARE & HEALTH
HOW MUCH DO GREAT DANES SHED AND WHAT ARE THEIR GROOMING NEEDS?
Great Danes' coats are shiny and short-haired. This dog is an easy keeper — just lather pup with the shower hose and wipe it down with a towel. They're moderate, seasonal shedders.
WHAT HEALTH PROBLEMS DO GREAT DANES HAVE?
Unfortunately, Great Danes are prone to a number of health problems. This breed has among the shortest life span of any dog.
They are the most likely breed to develop bloat and bloat is the most common cause of death in Great Danes. Bloat is a condition that requires immediate attention from your veterinarian. Familiarize yourself with the symptoms of gastric dilatation volvulus (GDV) and contact your vet at once if you suspect your dog might be suffering from this ailment. Your veterinarian may suggest a form of surgery to reduce your Great Dane's risk of bloat. These dogs should also rest for about an hour after eating.
Feeding your baby Great Dane a growth food for large-breed puppies will slow their rate of growth but not diminish their adult stature which may help prevent or reduce the impact of adult-onset hip dysplasia.
Breed history has moved while this section is under construction. Please check out the first tab for fun facts about this breed's history. You can also read on to learn about this breed's ideal family situation.
ARE GREAT DANES GOOD FOR PEOPLE WITH ALLERGIES?
The American Kennel Club doesn't list Great Danes among its breeds recommended for allergy sufferers.
You can reduce your furry friend's impact on your allergies with frequent baths and brushings to reduce loose hairs and allergy-aggravating proteins in your pet's dander. Use a damp cloth to wipe off your dog after playing outside. Smaller dogs have less surface area, so they produce comparatively less dander than larger breeds — definitely something to keep in mind with a dog as large as a Great Dane! Remember that no breed is 100% hypoallergenic, and any breed can aggravate allergies.
WHAT'S A GREAT DANE'S BEST DAY?
A Great Dane's best day involves a few short walks, some tasty treats, and a chance to curl up with you in the evening. You'll know you got it right if they lean their weight on you. This dog isn't heavy — he's your buddy.
SHOULD I ADOPT A GREAT DANE?
Their calm demeanor and reliable natures make these dogs pretty adaptable, but they do take up a lot of room. For this reason, they're not always great candidates for apartment living. They don't need as much exercise as, say, a retriever, but daily exercise will need to be part of your routine. If you have the space for them, though, you'll soon discover that with a Great Dane—big is beautiful.
Have you decided that a Great Dane is the perfect dog for you? Why not be your new best friend's hero and adopt a rescue! Be sure to check out our article on what to expect when you're adopting a dog or cat.