Temperament: Friendly, Patient, Dependable
- Height: 30-32 inches (male), 28-30 inches (female)
- Weight: 140-175 pounds (male), 110-140 pounds (female)
- Life Expectancy: 7-10 years
- Group: Working Group
The easygoing Great Dane, the mighty “Apollo of Dogs,” is a total joy to live with—but owning a dog of such imposing size, weight, and strength is a commitment not to be entered into lightly. This breed is indeed great, but not a Dane.
The Great Dane combines, in its regal appearance, dignity, strength and elegance with great size and a powerful, well-formed, smoothly muscled body. It is one of the giant working breeds, but is unique in that its general conformation must be so well balanced that it never appears clumsy, and shall move with a long reach and powerful drive. It is always a unit — the Apollo of dogs. A Great Dane must be spirited, courageous, never timid; always friendly and dependable. This physical and mental combination is the characteristic which gives the Great Dane the majesty possessed by no other breed.
About the Great Dane
As tall as 32 inches at the shoulder, Danes tower over most other dogs—and when standing on their hind legs, they are taller than most people. These powerful giants are the picture of elegance and balance, with the smooth and easy stride of born noblemen. The coat comes in different colours and patterns, perhaps the best-known being the black-and-white patchwork pattern known as “harlequin.”
Despite their sweet nature, Danes are alert home guardians. Just the sight of these gentle giants is usually enough to make intruders think twice. But those foolish enough to mistake the breed’s friendliness for softness will meet a powerful foe of true courage and spirit. Patient with kids, Danes are people pleases who make friends easily.
NUTRITION Feed the Great Dane a high-quality dog food appropriate to the dog’s age (puppy, adult, or senior). Give table scraps sparingly, if at all, especially avoiding cooked bones and foods with high fat content. Learn about which human foods are safe for dogs, and which are not. Owners must be aware that the number-one killer of the breed is bloat, where the stomach distends and twists. The causes of bloat aren’t fully understood, but experts agree that multiple small meals per day and preventing vigorous exercise around mealtimes can help reduce the chances of it happening.
GROOMING For most of the year the Great Dane’s short, smooth coat doesn’t shed much, but given the size of the dog, this can still amount to a fair bit of hair. Weekly brushing with a medium-bristle brush, a rubber grooming mitt or tool, or a hound glove will help keep shedding to a minimum. During shedding season once or twice a year, however, hair loss will be more profuse, with a daily brushing ideal. Great Danes need a bath only occasionally, unless they get into something messy. As with all breeds, the Great Dane’s nails should be trimmed regularly, because overly long nails can cause the dog pain as well as problems walking and running.
EXERCISE Great Danes may seem sedate, but they require daily exercise appropriate to their age. A brisk walk two or three times a day can be enough. They can make good companions on jogs or hikes, but you must wait until the dog is 2 years old to avoid damage to growing joints. Because of the risk of bloat, avoid rigorous exercise around mealtimes. Danes tend to follow their nose wherever a scent takes them, so they should always be kept on a leash and only allowed loose in areas secured with a tall fence. Many Great Danes enjoy participating in agility, obedience, tracking events, weight pulls, and sports such as fly-ball.
TRAINING Early socialisation and puppy training classes are recommended. For a breed as large and powerful as the Great Dane, obedience training is a must. Socialisation—gently exposing the puppy to a wide variety of people, places, and situations—will help him develop into a well-adjusted adult. Great Danes are sociable, friendly, and eager to please, and they respond well to firm, consistent training methods. They need to have human contact, affection, and socialisation with other people and animals.
HEALTH Bloat, or gastric dilatation-volvulus (GDV), is the number-one killer of Danes. Owners should educate themselves to recognize the signs that bloat could be happening and what to do if so. Many breeders and owners consider a surgery called a prophylactic gastropexy (“preventative tack”) that can help prevent some of the more serious aspects of GDV. Other health issues that can affect the breed include eye and cardiac diseases, hypothyroidism and autoimmune thyroids, and hip dysplasia. A responsible breeder will screen-breeding stock for conditions that can affect the breed.
Recommended Health Tests from the National Breed Club:
- Hip Evaluation
- Ophthalmologist Evaluation
- Thyroid Evaluation
- Cardiac Exam