Great Dane – Everything You Need To Know

Great Dane, also referred to as a gentle giant or the “Apollo of dogs,” is a large, well-muscled, noble, easygoing, athletic, and majestic dog recognized for its courage, friendliness, and dependability. Danes are one of the tallest working breeds bred initially for boar hunting. These breeds are a total joy to live with, but owning a breed of such imposing size, weight, and strength is a commitment not to be entered into lightly. Their size may seem to require their own zip code, but Great Dane’s calm disposition makes them more suitable for apartment living than many a more anxious or energetic breed. In addition, their strength requires a firm, active trainer equipped to keep big dogs in line, and they need strict boundaries.

Great Dane Overview

Great Danes are well-proportioned, sleek, large-sized dogs with an impression of elegant robustness. Their grace and expression represent great character strength, making them a proud representative of the working breeds. Danes are more suited for professional dog owners. They will require a parent who can handle them with discipline. Also, they need an enclosed yard with a fence at least 6 feet high. Not excessively active, they require at least an hour of interactive playing or walking daily. In order to control damage to their developing bones, these breeds should not be taken for runs until they are at least two to three years of age. Danes enjoy running, agility, hiking, games of tug, and trick training. They usually prefer temperate weather because of their little coat cover.

Great Dane Pros and Cons

Obedient and devotedShorter lifespan
Energetic, active, and athleticCan be aggressive, fearful, or snappy if not socialized properly
Great with kidsProne to separation anxiety

Great Dane Basic Information

  • Name: Great Dane
  • Origin: Germany
  • Group: Working dogs
  • Size: Large
  • Height: 28 – 32 inches 
  • Weight: 110 – 175 pounds 
  • Coat: Short coat
  • Color: Fawn, black, blue, gray, white, harlequin
  • Energy: High
  • Activities: Walking, hiking, playing fetch, agility, companion dogs, conformation, obedience, and herding.
  • Barking Level: Medium
  • Shedding Level: Seasonal
  • Hypoallergenic: No
  • Litter Size: 1-8 puppies
  • Other Names: Dane, German Mastiff, German Boarhound, Grand Danois 
  • Original Pastime: Boar hunting
  • Life Span: 7 – 10 years

History of Great Dane

Initially, Great Danes were designed for hunting boars and used as guard dogs for estates and carriages. Today, Danes are more likely to serve as reliable companions rather than hunting in the field. In 1876, these breeds were named the national dog of Germany, and now they rank 17th among the breeds registered by the AKC, up from 28th in the 2000s. With their giant stature and gentle nature, it’s no wonder that people love this exciting, powerful breed.

Great Dane Highlights

  • Great Danes are adorable, eager-to-please, people-oriented dogs who respond well to training using positive reinforcement.
  • Even though they make excellent house dogs, Danes need a great deal of space to move around.
  • Orthopedic issues can develop if you fail to follow Dane’s special giant-breed dietary requirements.
  • It takes time for the joints and bones of large breeds like Great Danes to stop growing and become stable. Hence, never allow your dog to jump or jog until they are 18 months old.
  • Merle dogs (dogs born with the particular gene producing unique patchwork dapple-spotted coats and even impressive blue eyes) should not be bred to one another merle dog. The resultant “double merles” (homozygous merles) can have severe hearing and vision problems.

Great Dane Personality

Great Danes can seem threatening and intimidating at first glance, but you will witness a trace of affection in their eyes. These gentle giants have a surprisingly delicate side with love and tolerance, making them ideal human companions. However, Danes are territorial, making them ideal guard dogs. Danes are also recognizable by their long, rectangular head, deep-set eyes, and thoughtful expression.

Danes love kids but must learn how to be gentle around them. These big canines can also learn to get along with other pets, primarily when raised with them. Generally, Danes are not jumpers, so a six-foot fenced yard should be enough to keep them contained. In addition, Danes are courageous defenders of their human families, though their prey drive makes them poor partners for cats or small dogs

Friendliness Overview

Affection levelHigh

Adaptability Overview

Good for apartment livingLow
Good for new ownersLow
Sensitivity levelHigh
Tolerates being aloneLow 
Cold toleranceLow to medium
Heat toleranceMedium

Great Dane Physical Features

Head: Powerful and balanced rectangular head with prominent cheek muscles, medium-sized, dark, almond-shaped eyes, well-developed brows, cropped, erect or semi-erect ears, black nose, and strong, well-developed teeth.

Neck, Topline, Body: Strong, firm, long, well-arched, and muscular neck. Withers slopes smoothly into a short level back with a broad loin. The forechest is well-developed without a pronounced sternum. The body underlines are tightly muscled with a well-defined tuck-up. 

Tail: Well-set tail, seeming as a continuation of the spine. 

Forequarters: Strong and muscular forequarters. A line from the shoulder’s upper tip to the elbow joint’s back should be perpendicular. 

Feet: Round, compact, and well-arched toes with short nails.

Hindquarters: Strong, muscular, well-angulated hindquarters with well let down hocks.

Coat: Short, thick, clean coat with a smooth, glossy appearance.

Color: Brindle, fawn, blue, black, harlequin, mantle, merle.

Gait: The gait represents strength and power with long strides resulting in no tossing, rolling, or bouncing of the body. As speed increases, there is a natural inclination for the legs to connect toward the centerline of balance under the body. 

Disqualifications (AKC Standard)

  • Danes under minimum height. 
  • Docked Tail. 
  • Split nose. 
  • Any color other than the seven coat colors described.  

Great Dane Temperament

Great Danes are known for the following temperaments: 

  • Sociable, loving, and loyal 
  • Energetic and smart 
  • Affectionate and intelligent 
  • Calm and eager to please 
  • Caring and playful 
  • Confident and adaptable 

Great Danes are working hounds with all the humble sense of intention it delivers. They need intense mental and physical stimulation to be happy and engaged. This giant breed can be a guardian to their human family, including kids, and will protect them with all their power, especially when raised with them from puppyhood. Early socialization is crucial to ensure they are more welcoming to meet strangers. Generally speaking, Danes will get along with other pets in the household, but sometimes they can be aggressive with livestock or may not care for the other pets.

Danes are independent and intimidating watchdogs that need a skilled owner to handle their training needs, especially regarding socialization. Perfectly groomed, elegant, and athletic, Danes are winning hearts. Unfortunately, they are not suited to apartment living or being left alone for long periods.

Great Dane Training

Early socialization is essential for Great Danes, but it’s even more critical considering their powerful body and strong-willed temperament. Despite their intelligence, Danes may tend to be stubborn during training. Hence, they can be handled well only by a professional dog owner. However, patience, positive reinforcement, constant training, and treats will help your Dane learn things quickly. In addition, they don’t respond to mistreatment and violence.

Here are some training exercises for your Great Danes: 

Trainability Overview

Easy to trainHigh
IntelligenceMedium to high
Prey driveMedium
Mouthiness tendenciesLow to medium
Barking and Howling tendenciesMedium to high
Wanderlust tendenciesMedium 

Great Dane Exercise Needs

Depending on their age and energy levels, the Great Danes need around 30 – 60 minutes of daily exercise or interactive play sessions. Also, take them on short brisk walks twice a day to fight their tendency to become obese. They may become restless or destructive without proper exercise. You can meet your Dane’s daily exercise essentials by: 

  • Teaching new tricks 
  • Walking 
  • Fetching 
  • Chasing 
  • Playing with puzzle toys 
  • Frisbee 
  • Herding trials 
  • Agility training 
  • Hiking 
  • Dog park 

Exercise Needs Overview

Energy levelHigh
Exercise needsHigh

Great Dane Grooming

Great Danes are non-hypoallergenic, low-maintenance dogs with short, thick coats. Their basic grooming routine includes weekly brushing their coats. In addition, trim their nails every couple of weeks, brush their teeth at least a few times weekly, clean their floppy ears and eyes, and maintain dental hygiene in regular grooming. 

The seven standard coat colors of Great Danes are:

  • Black
  • Merle
  • Blue
  • Brindle (fawn and black intermixed in a tiger-stripe pattern)
  • Fawn (golden color with a black mask)
  • Mantle (black & white with a solid black blanket over the body)
  • Harlequin (white with black patches over the body)

Grooming Overview

Easy to groomHigh
Drooling tendenciesMedium to high
Amount of sheddingHigh

Great Dane Health

Great Dane is an active and healthy dog. However, it’s wise to be conscious of their health requirements. To maintain your dog’s health, take them for routine vet check-ups and keep them updated with their vaccines.

Health Overview

General HealthMedium to high
Weight gain tendenciesLow to medium

Bloat (Gastric Dilatation and Volvulus): When bloat occurs, your dog’s gut inflates with gas and twists, hindering its ability to belch or puke. The incapability to puke prevents the average return of blood to the heart, creating a drop in blood pressure and resulting in shock. 

Causes of Bloat 

  • They eat rapidly.  
  • When they are fed more than one large meal per day.  
  • Exercise vigorously after eating.  
  • Drink large volumes of water after eating.   


  • Depression  
  • Lethargy  
  • Retching without vomit  
  • Weakness 
  • Excessive salivation.  
  • A distended abdomen  
  • Restlessness  

Development Issues: Growing difficulties can develop in pups and young adults. These are occasionally associated with an improper diet, often a diet too high in calcium, protein, or supplements.

Bone Cancer: Also known as osteosarcoma, this is the most common bone tumor found in canines. It’s usually seen in middle-aged or elderly hounds, but larger breeds like the Great Dane tend to develop tumors at younger ages. Commonly affecting large and giant breeds, osteosarcoma is an aggressive bone cancer. The first symptom is lameness, but the dog will need X-rays to determine if the reason is cancer. This disorder is treated aggressively, usually with limb amputation and chemotherapy. 

Heart Disease: Heart conditions affect Great Danes, including mitral valve defects, tricuspid valve dysplasia, dilated cardiomyopathy, subaortic stenosis, patent ductus arteriosus, and persistent right aortic arch. Prognosis and therapy vary depending on the specific disorder, the dog’s age, and general health.

Dilated Cardiomyopathy: Degeneration of the heart muscle is known as cardiomyopathy. The muscle, mainly the thick muscular membrane of the left ventricle, becomes delicate. These membranes expand because of the blood pressure inside the heart, which directs to a much bigger heart. 

Hip dysplasia: A hereditary condition in which the thigh bone fails to fit into the hip joint. One or both legs of your dog may become lame or ache. X-ray is the best way to analyze the situation. It is not advisable to breed dogs with hip dysplasia.


  • Wrong exercises  
  • Excessive weight gain  
  • Injuries  


  • Reluctance to rise, jump, run or climb  
  • Enlarging shoulders  
  • Pain  
  • Stiffness  
  • Reduced activity and movements  
  • Reducing thigh muscle mass  
  • Grating in the joint during movement 
  • Lameness in the hind limbs  

Recommended Tests for Great Danes

  • Hip Evaluation
  • Thyroid Evaluation
  • Cardiac Exam
  • Ophthalmologist Evaluation

Great Dane Diet and Nutrition

It’s essential to start Great Dane pups on high-quality, large-breed puppy food to make sure they don’t grow too fast because this can lead to dysplasia and other health issues. Adult Danes require a lot of food, i.e., up to 10 cups daily. Yet, be cautious not to overfeed them. Ensure to consult your vet to choose an appropriate diet and portion schedule based on your dog’s age, size, weight, and activity level to avoid obesity.

Great Danes Living Conditions

Great Danes require the following living necessities to lead a happy and healthy life:

  • A routine exercise regime
  • A fenced yard and ample space to run around
  • If you live in an apartment, ensure enough time for physical and mental exertion

Did You Know?

  • In 1600, German nobles started calling these most enormous and handsome dogs Kammerhunde (Chamber Dogs). 
  • Danes are an ancient breed, cultivated as a distinct type for probably 400 years.
  • Great Danes were the Ghostbusters and Scooby-Doos of the medieval world, reportedly set loose on effects to scare off evil spirits. 
  • Danes started acting in the comic strip Marmaduke and the Disney film The Ugly Dachshund (1966). 
  • In 2011, a Great Dane in Otsego named Zeus earned the Guinness World Record for “Tallest Dog Ever (Male),” measuring 3.66 feet tall and weighing 155 pounds. 
  • The Great Dane’s name is the English translation of the breed’s name in French: Grand Danois, denoting “Big Danish.”

Great Dane Club Recognition


Adding a Great Dane to Your Family

A Great Dane’s costs range from $800 to $2000, not including miscellaneous costs.

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Rescue Groups

Great Dane Club of America Rescue

Great Dane Rescue, Inc.

Great Dane Rescue of Ohio

Great Dane Rescue of North Texas

Rocky Mountain Great Dane Rescue

Great Dane Rescue of South Carolina

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