Known for its impressive size, the Great Dane is an FCI-recognized dog breed with FCI standard number 235. It belongs to FCI Group 2: Pinschers and Schnauzers – Molossoids – Swiss Mountain Dogs and is found in this group in Section 2.1, molossoids – mastiff-like dogs. Molosser is the generic term under which massive and muscular dog types are classified.
The Great Dane is one of the largest and most popular dog breeds in the world. This is due in particular to their majestic appearance. Her overall appearance is imposing. The four-legged friends are very affectionate and build a strong bond with their master. They have a lovable and incredibly friendly, good-natured nature.
They are also particularly suitable as a family member for families with children. Keeping a Great Dane suits anyone who has plenty of space and loves to give.
Great Dane Dog Breed Information
Size: Males: 80-86 cm, females: 72-81 cm
Weight: Males: 54-90 kg, females: 45-59 kg
FCI Group: 2: Pinscher and Schnauzer – Molosser – Swiss Mountain Dogs and other breeds
Section: 2.1: Molossoid, mastiff-like dogs
Country of origin: Germany
Colors: fawn, brindle, black, blue, coat, harlequin, yellow, brindle, black and white spotted
Life expectancy: 6-10 years
Suitable as: Protection, guard, family, and companion dog
Personality: Gentle, Kind, Devoted, Confident, Loving
Leaving requirements: high
Drooling potential: rather high
The thickness of hair: high
Maintenance effort: low
Coat Structure: Very short, dense, smooth, lying, shiny
Child friendly: yes
Family dog: yes
The history of the Great Dane dates back to the 16th century. This breed is said to have originated in England. There it is said to have originated as a cross between mastiffs and Irish wolfhounds. In its day, Great Danes were kept as fearsome and formidable dogs. They should keep uninvited guests away and protect the property and its occupants. Owning such animals also represented prosperity.
The Deutsche Doggen Club was founded in Germany in 1888. This was the oldest breed club in Germany. He has made it his mission to perfect the animals. Against this background, the current name of the breed developed.
Origin and breed history
Before the Great Dane was given its current name, the breed was traded under many different names, all of which eventually subordinated to the title Great Dane in the 19th century.
Already in antiquity, there are traditional traces of large dogs similar to mastiffs, which, however, are probably not directly related to the modern breed. According to research, the Great Dane breed originated around the 16th century by crossing heavy Molossers with greyhounds and Irish wolfhounds. This leads to the main feature of the Great Dane, its impressive size. Despite their strong physique, the greyhounds crossed gave the large dogs elegance and speed.
Originally, mastiffs were popular and valuable hunting dogs, which, due to their size, could also hunt down powerful prey such as bears or wild boars. Due to their great popularity with humans, great importance was attached to good character early on in breeding. Obedience and a calm demeanor should make keeping them around the house, which is otherwise rather atypical for hunting dogs, easier. As the need for hunting dogs decreased with increased gun hunting, the graceful Great Dane established itself as a status symbol and companion dog.
In 1888, the “German Mastiff Club” was founded as the very first breed club. This also decided to combine the dogs, which had previously been known by many names, under the name German Mastiff. In English-speaking countries, the Great Dane is sometimes also known as the Great Dane. In general, there are still disagreements about where exactly the Great Dane actually comes from, and Denmark also claims – unsuccessfully to this day – the origin of the large dogs for itself.
Nature & Temperament of the Great Dane
The expression “gentle giant” is made for the Great Dane. Her imposing appearance may seem intimidating at first, but her character is extremely gentle and friendly. They are very attached to their humans and like to be around them. They like to forget their size and would prefer to be a small lap dog in order to be able to get the maximum physical contact with people.
Although many people fear big dogs, they are extremely peaceful and have a very high tolerance level. A lot has to happen before a Great Dane shows aggressive behavior.
The Great Dane is an FCI recognized breed that is assigned to group two. Visually, these animals are primarily noticeable because of their impressive body size. This can reach a considerable size of 80 to 90 cm on average. The striking head and the strong physique of the animals are also well-known characteristics of the popular four-legged friends.
Another typical feature are the high set ears. The loyal dark eyes are also considered a true trademark of dogs.
The coat of this popular breed of dog is smooth, very short and close-lying. A distinction is usually made between three different colors. The golden yellow tones and the black and white spotted coloring are very pronounced. The latter usually occurs with evenly distributed spotting. Black to dark blue/dark gray shades can also occur.
Another striking feature of this dog breed is their elegant, proud gait. This harmonises ideally with the appearance of the animal. She appears sublime and intimidating.
Great Danes have an enormously friendly and loving nature. They do not show any aggressive traits in their behavior. The animals often react shy and reserved to new, unknown situations. Distrust and uncertainty quickly spread. In addition, Great Danes are generally very sensitive and often seek the closeness of their owners.
Dog lovers often refer to these animals as “big lap dogs”. This is due to the enormous need for cuddles of the giants. Great Danes are generally very even-tempered animals. Complications when dealing with other dogs are therefore very rare.
Because of their impressive appearance, Great Danes are particularly well suited as guard dogs. Their demeanor earns them respect without appearing aggressive. The four-legged friends also develop a strong protective instinct. This is due to the close emotional bond with their owners.
The animals observe their surroundings closely and can quickly detect dangerous situations. However, they only do this if they are trying to protect their owner. With a Great Dane you are safe from attacks.
When is a Great Dane fully grown?
Physically, the big dogs are not fully grown until they are about two years old.
The Appearance of the Great Dane
Typically, the breed comes in the following coat colors:
The color variants of the yellow mastiff range from light golden yellow to golden yellow. They always wear black masks. White markings on the chest are permitted in black and blue mastiffs. So-called “tiger mastiffs” have white as their basic color and uneven black spots are distributed over their bodies.
As a counterpart, there are gray mastiffs, which have gray fur with black spots instead of white. This uneven patching of the coat underlies the merle factor, which is why black and white puppies are rare. The brindle dogs are yellow with evenly spaced black stripes. Pure white mastiffs have become extremely rare since mating two-spotted animals have been banned.
Training and husbandry of the Great Dane – this is important to note
The most difficult factor in owning a Great Dane is their size and the strength that comes with it that needs to be managed. Although dogs of this breed are extremely friendly, intelligent and sensitive and can therefore be trained well, the upbringing must be right so that the large dog cannot use its strength to the detriment of humans. With an animal weighing around 90 kilograms, even the strongest man can no longer hold the leash in an emergency.
Great Danes are also unsuitable for keeping in small apartments, as their body size is simply not made for them. They need ample room to thrive, as well as plenty of exercise. Long walks promote the health of Great Danes’ muscles and tendons, which is very important for a healthy life. Great Danes should not be expected to climb stairs excessively, as their bone structure is not made for this and can quickly become damaged.
A Great Dane is not necessarily suitable for beginners simply because of its strength. Keeping them requires a lot of experience and training requires a high degree of consistency.
How much does a Great Dane cost from a breeder?
A well-bred Great Dane can easily cost around $1200.
Diet of the Great Dane
In line with their size, Great Danes require very large amounts of food. Above all, attention should be paid to a sufficient and correct distribution of nutrients and minerals in order to ensure the optimal state of health of the Great Dane.
Proteins, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins and minerals all contribute to a dog’s health. Whether dry and wet food is given or fed according to biologically appropriate raw feeding, also known as the BARF method, is not as important as the quality and sufficient quantity of the food.
In order to determine the ideal feed composition and quantity for your Great Dane, it is always helpful to consult the treating veterinarian. Based on age, activity level and any illnesses present, they can determine very precisely which diet is most suitable for your dog.
Great Danes are genetically prone to an upset stomach, which is probably promoted by incorrect feeding, which is why correct feeding should be the top priority.
Many dog owners ask themselves: How do I feed my dog properly? You shouldn’t feed your dog a single complete feed for the rest of its life. By changing it regularly, you can ensure that the animal is fed a really balanced and, above all, varied diet. In addition, you prevent the risk that the animal gets used to a very special type of food and only wants to eat this one type. In addition, the pet owner can provide variety by adding rice, potatoes, vegetables (e.g. beets, boiled corn), and low-fat quark, depending on the pet’s preferences. If a dog also eats fruit, you can give him e.g. B. cut an apple into small pieces and mix with the food. A responsible pet owner must avoid spicy foods.
It is also possible to feed a dog alone with food that you have cooked and put together yourself. Although such feed is free of industrial additives, the preparation requires nutritional knowledge and time in order to produce a diet that is really balanced in terms of proteins, fats, carbohydrates, minerals, trace elements, and vitamins. If you decide to cook for your four-legged friend yourself, you should first read the relevant literature and then seek advice from your veterinarian. Experience shows that pet owners often use the same ingredients over and over again. One-sidedness can arise here and a deficiency or excess of essential nutrients can be associated with it. It is advisable to draw up a scientific ration plan.
The veterinarian should be consulted when choosing a suitable feed for sick animals, for high-yielding animals or for growing animals. He should help decide which feed is optimal for this individual at any given time.
Is a vegetarian diet possible?
If an adult dog does not, e.g. B. due to a certain illness, needs very special food, but eats more or less “everything”, you can put together a varied diet for him from milk and egg products, vegetables, rice and pasta. From scientific field studies it can be deduced that it is basically possible to feed a dog vegetarian.
However, to ensure that malnutrition does not occur in the long term, the composition of the feed must be balanced. This means that the energy and protein needs as well as the need for all minerals and vitamins must be covered and that the ingredients must be in a balanced relationship to each other.
Dog owners who want to feed their dogs vegetarian food are therefore asked to observe the following:
- Anyone who feeds their dog exclusively vegetarian food over a longer period of time may only do so on the basis of a scientifically prepared ration plan. Of particular importance is the individual composition of the ration and regular health checks for growing dogs. Veterinarians who specialize in animal nutrition, as well as nutritional counseling often offered at veterinary universities, can create customized ration plans.
- If an adult, healthy dog only gets vegetarian food once in a while instead of meat-based food, it can also be fed a commercially available complete feed without any problems. In this case, however, the vegetable protein in the feed ration should be upgraded with low-fat quark or boiled egg.
When choosing the food, however, we should not ignore the behavior of the dog and its lineage: the dog is a carni-omnivore (meat and omnivore). He likes to eat meat. We therefore recommend that dog owners do not completely forgo meat when feeding their four-legged friends. There is nothing wrong with giving the dog a vegetarian diet from time to time.
Where does the meat in the finished feed come from?
Meat production produces by-products that do not find their way over the counter. They are the starting materials for dog and cat food. The production of ready-made feed for animals is regulated by law in Germany. According to this, only animal by-products that are also edible for humans may be used for pet food. Internal organs such as the heart, liver, spleen or kidneys are mostly processed into animal feed. The amount produced is so large that there is enough meat for the production of pet food and no animal has to be slaughtered just for the production of dog food.
Organic dog food and organic cat food are currently only a very small market segment. In the future, if more meat, egg and dairy products from humanely raised animals are bought due to increased human demand, the market share of dog and cat food that uses animal by-products from animal welfare animals will also increase in the market share. Ultimately, people alone decide with their own consumer behavior how cattle, pigs, sheep, goats, rabbits, chickens and other types of poultry are kept.
Allergic to feed?
Dogs can be allergic to food. In most cases, the causes are not due to a change in feed, as many pet owners think, but rather reactions to food that the dog or cat has been eating for a long time.
An intolerance reaction or even a feed allergy can be triggered by any component of the feed. Common allergens are proteins, certain types of grain or feed additives.
The symptoms of such a disease are varied. They can affect the skin and/or the gastrointestinal tract:
- itching (especially in the ears and head area)
- edema around the eyes (thickening)
- Skin inflammation and other skin reactions
The diagnosis is usually very difficult and lengthy, since the same symptoms are also caused by many other diseases.
If the vet suspects a food allergy may be present, they will put together an elimination diet. This means that the animal owner feeds home-cooked feed according to a fixed ration plan for at least nine weeks. In this phase, the animal protein should only come from an animal species that, if possible, was not previously part of the finished feed. Additives can also cause allergies. This applies both to the use of ready-made feed and to additives that the animal owner mixes with feed that he has prepared himself.
As with all allergies, the best therapy is to avoid the triggering substance, which is often very difficult to identify. A veterinarian who specializes in small animals and their nutrition must be consulted to clarify whether it is a question of food intolerance at all or to identify the allergy-causing food component.
How much does a Great Dane eat per day?
Approx. 1 kilogram of dry food, with wet food up to 2 kilos per day may be necessary.
The right diet
In general, Great Danes should be fed a balanced and healthy diet. It is important that the animals can absorb all important nutrients and vitamins. Deficiency symptoms should be prevented in this way.
Of course, Great Danes are also allowed to have treats and chewing bones from time to time. However, it does not have to be exclusively dog biscuits or treats. Other additions are also suitable.
Basically, attention should be paid to the composition of the meals. Good, fresh food does not harm the animal. Vegetables, meat, and healthy grains are a good place to start. However, you should avoid all kinds of sugary foods. These are harmful to the dogs health and should be avoided at all costs.
The considerable physique of the animals must be taken into account when dosing the feed. The dosage of the respective meals depends on various factors. These include the size, weight, age of the animal and its daily need for exercise. All these points play a crucial role.
It is also important to note that Great Danes have a greatly slowed down metabolism. For this reason, the animals tend to be overweight more easily than other breeds. However, obesity should be avoided at all costs. Potential obesity can put additional pressure on the animals’ joints. This pressure carries the risk of possible illnesses and complaints.
The physique of the Great Danes also makes the animals prone to gastric torsion. This disease can be very uncomfortable for the faithful four-legged friends. It is associated with severe pain, often even life-threatening. In most cases, such a disease can only be eliminated surgically.
The correct dosing of the feed amounts is therefore extremely important. A veterinarian can also be consulted here. Together with him, a “nutrition plan” can then be drawn up for the animal. The amount of food that has been tailored to the dog should be adhered to. This can reduce complications and health problems.
Health – life expectancy & common diseases
The life expectancy of a healthy Great Dane is only between six and ten years. Unfortunately, this breed is very prone to various hereditary diseases, but there is no increased risk of common diseases.
Common hereditary diseases in Great Danes often affect the skeleton and musculoskeletal system. Hip dysplasia and diseases of the bones are often seen in young dogs. Furthermore, stomach torsion, heart disease and various types of cancer can occur.
Breeding special fur colors, such as shades of blue, which are unfortunately wrongly trendy, also causes genetic errors to creep in, which can lead to health problems. Dogs that have the merle or harlequin gene should be removed from breeding to prevent further spread of these diseases.
The weight of the Great Dane should always be kept in mind, as excess weight can significantly impair the already sensitive musculoskeletal system of the Great Dane. Due to their slowed metabolism, the large dogs, unfortunately, tend to be overweight.
How old do Great Danes get?
On average, Great Danes have a life expectancy of 6 to 10 years.
Grooming of the Great Dane
The short coat of the Great Dane is very easy to care for – a rubber brush is enough to regularly groom the dog. The short hair also makes parasites easily visible if an infestation should be present. In addition, ears, teeth, eyes and claws should be cleaned, cared for and examined regularly. It is often possible to identify emerging diseases in these parts and thus act early to prevent serious disease progression.
Despite their enormous size and the high weight of the animals, the Great Dane is a very easy-care dog breed. In particular, grooming the animals is simple. Due to the smooth, short fur, regular brushing or even trimming is completely unnecessary.
From time to time the animals should only be groomed with a soft brush. In addition, Great Danes shed comparatively little hair. This has the positive side effect that the house remains as clean as possible.
It is well known that dogs are very heavy. Their bones often struggle to carry this. It is therefore important to have a particularly soft and well-padded bed. This ensures that the bones are relieved during periods of rest.
It is also important that the animals get enough exercise and exercise. In general, Great Danes have a pronounced urge to move. This cannot be lived out particularly well in a house or apartment. It is therefore essential to take long walks every day.
It should also be noted that the dogs are not at all suitable for kennel keeping. Due to their size alone, the animals need enough space. This is necessary for free unfolding and development.
In order to be able to give your four-legged friend a suitable living space, you need space. Narrow rental apartments are not a solution for such an animal. Great Danes should also climb as few stairs as possible. A private garden or a large plot of land for free running would be particularly suitable.
It should also be noted that Great Danes have a lot of strength. Being able to lead such a dog in a controlled manner requires a lot of strength and assertiveness.
Great Danes are extremely inquisitive animals. It makes sense to give them a job to keep them busy. Not infrequently, these animals are used as protection or guard dogs. It is a good idea to let the animal run free on a fenced property for a few hours a day. The four-legged friends are given enough space to run around. At the same time, they are assigned a task of guarding the site.
Great Danes love to play. Dog toys of all kinds that are suitable for large dog breeds are suitable for this. Small parts and tiny toys should be kept away from the animals. Otherwise there is a risk of choking. The animals especially love ball and fetch games. Here they can run a lot and let off steam.
Great Danes react very sociable and friendly when dealing with other dogs. It is therefore helpful to regularly seek contact with other dogs. The animals can let off steam in a large meadow, for example. The dog owners can also exchange a little on this occasion.
However, it should be noted at such meetings that Great Danes should meet dogs that also belong to medium to large breeds. When romping around with small dog breeds, the risk of injury for the four-legged friends is high.
Great Dane Activities and Training
Dogs of this breed also require a relatively high level of exercise, consistent with their size. To keep Great Danes healthy for as long as possible, their muscles, tendons and ligaments should be well trained to support their size and weight.
Therefore, romping around without a leash should be integrated into everyday life as often as possible, as this allows the body to strengthen itself without restrictions. In addition to the physical, the mental workload is also very important for Great Danes. Thinking and search games can help here. A well-exercised dog is much easier to handle and happy in everyday dealings.
The friendly and good-natured nature of Great Danes also makes them excellent therapy dogs.
Good to know: Special features of the Great Dane
The Great Dane breed is incredibly popular in Germany, ranking 9th among popular dogs. Unfortunately, their life expectancy is extremely short, almost a quarter of all Great Danes do not reach the age of 6. A species-appropriate and healthy life is therefore particularly important in order to have your dog by your side for as long as possible.
Due to their impressive and elegant appearance, the Great Dane is also very popular with celebrities. One of the most famous owners of Great Danes was Otto von Bismarck, who kept these dogs for many decades and always had a very high opinion of them. Through him, the Great Danes also got their nickname “Reichshund”.
Stars like Lady Gaga like to have the big and friendly dogs as animal mascots in their music videos.
Disadvantages of the Great Dane
Probably the most significant disadvantage of the Great Dane is its imposing size, which must be taken into account when keeping it. This large animal is certainly not suitable for keeping in a small city apartment. It needs a lot of space to be able to spread out sufficiently, likewise the narrow and crowded streets of a city are not suitable for Great Danes. In addition, there is the very low life expectancy due to overbreeding, which a Great Dane owner should be aware of.
The beloved animal can therefore leave the common life early and even before that, due to the many known hereditary diseases, it can suffer from one. In the event of illness, the owner always has high veterinary costs, which must be covered in order to be able to ensure the best possible treatment for the animal.
Is the Great Dane right for me?
Although the Great Dane often thinks it is one, this huge breed is definitely not a lap dog. Their friendly nature cannot fully compensate for their enormous size and the special needs that come with it. The strength of the animals, which can weigh up to 90 kilograms, makes them unsuitable for keeping by seniors.
And even as a family dog, you should only get a Great Dane if you have enough living space and a large garden in which to let off steam. Your friendly and gentle nature and also the prudent handling of children is otherwise well suited for a family attitude.
Like any other dog, however, the Great Dane also needs a lot and regular exercise and activity so that it is optimally utilized and satisfied. The time factor that comes into play for a dog should therefore have top priority when planning the purchase. Ideally, your dog will live with you for many years and will need exercise, training, and cuddles from and with you every single day.
Your dog is dependent on you and cannot take care of itself if you do not have time for it. With the purchase of a dog, you take on this responsibility towards your animal for its lifetime.