The Great Dane originated in Germany as a cross between the English Mastiff, the Greyhound, and the Irish Wolfhound. The result was a tall, sleek dog that went on to become famous around the world. An imposing physique allowed the dog to become an expert boar hunter and later a guard for massive European estates. In 1876, the Great Dane became the national dog of Germany, and the Great Dane Club of America was created in 1889. Great Danes were officially recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC) in 1887, and the breed is currently ranked as the 14th most popular in the country. You may recognize the Great Dane as one of the most beloved cartoon characters: Scooby-Doo.
As one of the largest breeds in the world, the Great Dane can weigh between 100 and 200 pounds and be more than 30 inches tall. Great Danes have long, rectangular snouts and large ears that are sometimes cropped but otherwise fold forward. They are muscular and the fur is short and sleek, coming in a variety of patterns and colors. Tails are relatively long and come to a point. The legs are long and straight. Besides the size, Great Danes are well-known for having large jowls and droopy facial features. Like most massive, working dogs, Great Danes are prone to hip dysplasia and bloat. Bone cancer and heart disease are also common problems for Great Danes. Because of their size, Great Danes are among the breeds with the shortest life expectancy at only 10 years.
Great Danes are known as “gentle giants.” They are no longer interested in boar hunting and prefer long, leisurely walks and playing with the family. In fact, their favorite place is in your lap! These large lapdogs are sweet and mellow if trained properly and consistently from an early age. They are not prone to barking, but if they do, they carry one of the deepest and loudest barks in the canine community. While not overly energetic, they do require daily walks to maintain a healthy weight and stretch those long legs. As you might imagine, a full-grown Great Dane can be a force to reckon with. They can weigh as much (or more!) than their human owners and are taller when they stand on their hind legs. Their tails can knock over anything at tail height, including small children. If a person holds the leash, expect to go flying in whichever direction he or she desires. It is important to train a Great Dane with consistency and positive reinforcement. They are happy to please as long as they are treated with kindness and you make it easy to follow the rules. Inconsistent, poor training can lead to confusion and improper behavior in any breed. With early training, socialization, and long walks, a Great Dane can adapt to almost any living space and family formation.