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Great Dane Dog Breed Information

General Information:

Average Height: 28-34 in
Average Weight: 100-200 lbs
Average Life Span: 6-8 yrs
Coloring: Brindle, fawn, harlequin, blue, black, mantle
Area of Origin: Germany
Similar Breeds: Boxer, Mastiff, Doberman Pinscher, Rottweiler, Irish Wolfhound, Greyhound

History and Origin:

A very old breed, Great Dane-like dogs are depicted in hunting frescoes in Tiryns, Greece dating to the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries BC, and also on Greek coins from 36 BC. It is likely a descendent of the dogs carved into monuments of ancient Egypt from up to 3000 BC, and descriptions of a large, Mastiff-type breed are present in Chinese writings between 1100 BC and 400 AD. When the Alani people of Iran migrated into Germany and Italy during the fifth century, they brought their dogs with them. The dog of the Alani was a large, tenacious breed, recognized by the Germanic people for its fearless nature in its ability to track and take down wild boar, bear, and other dangerous prey. A Wolfhound/Mastiff-type breed, the early specimens of the Great Dane were bred to Greyhounds to increase the dogs’ speed, agility, and sight hound instincts. Used across Germany (and Europe as a whole) as a superior hunting, guard, and carting dog, the Great Dane was known as the “German Boarhound” until the mid-eighteenth century, when growing political tensions between Germany and the rest of Europe prompted the name change to “Great Dane”.

Personality and Temperament:

A true “gentle giant”, the modern Great Dane is a friendly breed, well-suited as a family companion. It is loyal, affectionate, and patient; while used in the past as a guard dog, the Great Dane rarely exhibits aggression. Although it is a gentle breed, the Dane’s size requires it to be socialized and trained from an early age to avoid behavioral problems as an adult. Ensuring the dog is well-adjusted is not a difficult task, as the Great Dane is an avid people-pleaser, and wants nothing more than to gain the affection of its family. While the pleasant nature of the Great Dane can make it a good companion for a nervous or first-time dog owner, it is essential to be diligent in the dog’s training from puppy-hood to adulthood to ensure that it becomes a polite, respectful member of the family.

Exercise & Training:

As a working dog, the Great Dane does require a decent amount of exercise. A daily walk combined with activities to challenge it mentally is ideal to keep the dog happy and healthy. While it can adjust to apartment living (despite its size!), the Great Dane is happiest with a large yard in which it can expend excess energy. It is a dog of average intelligence, and while it may not win obedience trials, the Great Dane’s inherent willingness to please makes it a fairly easy and rewarding breed to train.


An average shedder, the Great Dane should be brushed a few times a week to remove dead hair and to keep the skin healthy. As a large breed, it can be a challenge to bathe, and regular brushing should prevent the necessity for frequent bathing.

Similar Breeds:

The Great Dane is a descendent of the ancient molosser-type dog, and as such is related to breed such as the Boxer, Rottweiler, and the English Mastiff. The modern Great Dane has Wolfhound and Greyhound blood in it, and as such can exhibit traits of these two hound breeds.

Interesting Facts about the Great Dane:

1. The Great Dane loves its humans, and is considered to be the “world’s largest lapdog”.

2. The Hanna-Barbera cartoon character, Scooby-Doo, is based on the Great Dane.

3. The Great Danes were briefly known as “Reichshund” (“dogs of the empire”) in Germany when Otto von Bismark became chancellor of Prussia in the late nineteenth century.

4. The breed name was coined by French naturalist, Georges- Louis Lelclerc, who declared the boarhounds he found in Denmark to be “Great Danes”. While the Great Dane had been developed in Germany, mounting political strain across Europe caused the non-German name to stick.

5. Great Danes are famous for the “Great Dane Lean” where they will stand next to a human and “lean into” them, with a surprising amount of force.  This is thought to be an extension of their desire for physical touch, or as a security method, where they believe they are protecting their human from danger.

Organizations dedicated to the Great Dane:

Great Dane Club of America
Great Dane Rescue
National Directory of Great Dane Rescue and Adoption Organizations
Great Dane Rescue of MN and WI
Great Dane Breed Council (UK)

Breeds Similar to Great Dane Dogs:

Breed Information Great Dane

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