The Great Dane, properly called the Deutsche Dogge or German Mastiff but commonly called the “Apollo of Dogs” by fanciers, is a sleek, tall and athletic dog. (Only the Irish Wolfhound generally stands taller.) The breed was originated from mastiff type dogs and originally bred to guard castles, pull carts, hunt wild boar, and take part in battle as well. The true geography of origin of the Great Dane is uncertain, but it is believed to have been developed in Germany. There are ancient paintings and writings of the Orient that portray dogs that are “Dane like,” but the breed is officially considered to be about 400 years old.
The Great Dane as previously mentioned is one of the tallest standing dogs. To be eligible for competition, males must stand at least 30 inches (preferably 32) at the shoulder. Females are allowed to be a bit shorter and should be more refined than the males. The Dane has a deep chest and a rectangular head. The ears can be cropped, or natural, with a tail that hits about hock level. All in all, the Dane is a well balanced dog. The acceptable colors for the Great Dane are: fawn, black, blue, black and gold brindle, mantle, and harlequin. The short coat requires minimal care, but they have a tendency to get cold.
The Great Dane is a somewhat active breed, but makes a good house dog if allowed regular exercise of some sort. Clumsiness can be an issue with Dane puppies because they are so large, but they become more surefooted as an adult and rarely will bump into things or clear your coffee table. Obedience training is of the utmost importance, especially with a dog that can be 130 lbs and taller than a young child. They can easily reach places most dogs cannot, and could probably rest their head on your kitchen counter. Therefore it is VERY important that this dog is taught some manners. Generally a gentle giant, however, some Danes can have dominance issues and be aggressive towards other dogs and animals; however, this is not the norm. Gentle but firm training will make this dog a pleasurable addition to your family. Owning a Great Dane can be quite an expense. Because of their size, everything needs to be bigger. Beds, food bowls, possibly even your vehicle! Not to mention the cost of dog food. It costs significantly more to feed a dog of Dane stature than a smaller dog.
Unfortunately, the Great Dane is not a stranger to several health issues that the breed tends to be predisposed to. Among these include: Bloat, Hip Dysplasia, Dilated Cardiomyopathy (DCM), and other congenital heart diseases. The average life span is 8-10 years, but with good health, care, and nutrition it’s not uncommon to have them live 12-14 years.
Melissa Welton, CVT
Vice President, Maybeck Animal Hospital
References: Dog Owner’s Guide Profile: The Great Dane
Wikipedia/Great Dane often get along in homes without owners even having to consider the touch decision to have a declaw procedure.
Roger L. Welton, DVM
Founder and Chief Editor, Web-DVM.net
President, Maybeck Animal Hospital
Article updated 8/18/2012