Is the Magnificent Great Dane the Right Dog for You?

Last Updated on April 26, 2023

The Great Dane, also known as the Deutsche Dogge, is an intelligent, loyal companion for any family.

While this German Mastiff is massive, they have a kind heart and are affectionate with just about everyone they meet.

a Great Dane standing on an autumn forest
A Great Dane standing on an autumn forest

Are you looking to add this Gentle Giant to your home? Keep reading to learn more about this purebred!

Where did the Great Dane originate?

Believe it or not, the Great Dane did not come from Denmark.

This dog breed is associated with Denmark because it got its name from a French naturalist in the 1700s.

He had traveled to Denmark, saw this pooch resembling a Greyhound, and dubbed it the Great Danish Dog, or Danish Mastiff.

Even though the Great Dane wasn’t developed in Denmark, the name stuck.

In fact, this beloved pooch was developed in Germany. Fun fact: the Great Dane is also known as the Apollo of Dogs because a dog resembling this breed appeared in Greece as early as 36 B.C. among Egypt and Chinese literature.

They were initially bred to hunt wild boars, being known as boar hounds. They were also meant to be guard dogs, despite their gentle nature.

This breed was developed from Mastiff-type dogs. It’s believed the Great Dane is from the English Mastiff and the Irish Wolfhound or the Irish Greyhound.

It’s unknown when the Great Dane officially came to the United States, but the Great Dane Club of America was formed in 1889.

The American Kennel Club (AKC) officially recognized the breed in 1887 as part of the Working Group. 

What does a Great Dane look like?

Great Dane standing in grassy field
A giant Great Dane standing on a grass field

This pooch is a giant breed. When they stand on their hind legs, they may tower over the average adult human standing tall.

According to their breed standard, this giant dog has a muscular body that is well-balanced and poised.

This large breed has a massive head that’s rectangular and long with medium-sized eyes.

The ears are also medium in size and set high. When first developed, this gentle giant used to have their ears cropped to protect them from boars’ tusks. Ear cropping is banned in other countries now but may still be seen in the US.

The Great Dane has a long, muscular neck that’s well-arched with a broad, deep chest.

Its tail is set high but not a continuation of the spine or level with its back. It falls straight when rested. Their tails should not be docked.

The forequarters and hindquarters are strong and muscular. The four paws are round with well-arched toes.

Size: how big does the average Great Dane get?

Male Great Danes are 30-32 inches (76 to 81 cm) tall and can weigh about 140-175 pounds (63 to 79 kg). Females are a bit smaller, growing as tall as 28-30 inches (71 to 76 cm) and weighing about 110-140 pounds (49 to 63 kg).

The great size of this pup is due to being bred from Mastiff dogs.

This large dog will be fully grown between the ages of 18 months and 24 months. They will most likely stop growing in height by the time they are 18 months old but can still gain weight and muscle until they’re about two years old.

This pooch is so massive that it’s a wonder if there are miniature Great Danes. While a mini Great Dane isn’t an official breed, it is possible to have a smaller-than-average German Mastiff.

If you want a purebred mini Great Dane, then you can let genetics do its job.

You can breed two smaller-than-average Great Danes together to get a smaller pup. You can also have the runt of the litter, or maybe your pup might have dwarfism.

Alternatively, you can breed a Great Dane with a smaller dog, provided it’s safe and healthy to do so for both pets.

On the other hand, did you know there’s a Great Dane that has broken the world record for being the tallest dog?

In 2011, Zeus the Great Dane was recognized by Guinness World Records as the tallest Great Dane. He weighed 155 pounds (70 kg) and was 44 inches (112 cm) tall.

Just take a look at this video about him!

Due to their massive size, Great Danes are not best suited for apartment living. Behavior and temperament-wise, they would be okay in an apartment. However, one swipe of their tail will cause some accidental destruction in a small living space.

Coat: what type of hair do Great Danes have?

This fido has a short and smooth coat. It’s thick as well, causing it to shed quite a bit.

The gentle giant has a few different coat colors. Some standard colors include:

  • Black
  • Black and White
  • Blue
  • Brindle
  • Fawn
  • Harlequin
  • Mantle
  • Merle
  • White

Some less common colors include:

  • Blue and White
  • Blue Brindle
  • Chocolate
  • Chocolate and White
  • Chocolate Brindle
  • Mantle Merle
  • Merlequin
  • Silver

In addition, the Great Dane can come in a few different markings such as black markings, black mask, and white markings.

There are some non-standard markings as well, such as:

  • Blue Markings
  • Blue Mask
  • Brindle Markings
  • Chocolate Markings
  • Chocolate Mask
  • Fawn Markings
  • Merle Markings
  • Piebald

Temperament: is a Great Dane a good family dog?

Absolutely! The gentle giant will make an excellent addition to your home. They are friendly, not too talkative, and highly affectionate.

In fact, despite their size, the Great Dane will often try to become a lap dog and cuddle with you. So, don’t expect to have your own space when sitting on the couch!

They are great with kids. However, like any dog breed, they should be introduced to children at a young age. The puppy and children should be appropriately socialized and supervised when playing together.

Another reason this pooch will make a great addition to your family is that they are extremely loyal. They love to be around their people and will protect their families.

This working dog will make a great watchdog.

a black Great Dane looking at a woman blowing dandelion
Source: @greatdanesofinstagram / IG

Are Great Danes dangerous?

This dog breed is affectionate and kind, but they can be aggressive if given enough reason. They will protect their family, and if they feel threatened, they will show aggression.

However, they will never attack an intruder. With proper training, you can nip aggression in the bud.

In fact, it’s said that female Great Danes are easier than males. They can still be aggressive, but females tend to be calmer.

Otherwise, Great Danes are friendly with just about anyone. They’ll be social with strangers as well as other dogs, cats, and other pets. Just remember to supervise them and train them well with proper socialization.

This German Mastiff is fairly calm but, like most dogs, have puppy energy. They will lose this energy when they’re about two years old.

Do Great Danes bark a lot?

This dog breed isn’t vocal. They have a loud, boisterous bark, but they don’t use it often.

Great Danes will mostly bark if they feel their family is threatened (which is usually enough to scare off an intruder, aside from their size!) or if this pooch feels lonely.

This fido will get separation anxiety if they are left alone for too long. They love to be around their people and join them in most activities.

They can be crate trained and should be, so they have a safe space to call their own within their house.

If left alone for too long, they may become destructive – which isn’t hard for them due to their size. They may also start barking a lot or have accidents in the house.

However, this pup is brilliant. They’re easy to train and easy to potty train.

Training should begin when you bring your Great Dane puppy home so their wits will carry over from puppyhood to adulthood, and they will know who their leader of the pack is.

Puppies have a good amount of energy, but with lots of repetition and positive reinforcement, training your Great Dane will be a breeze.

You’ll need to remain patient, be firm, and confident to show your pup you mean business and you’re in charge.

With their long legs, Great Danes can run up to 30 mph. Having a fenced-in yard with plenty of room for them to run around is ideal.

These pups aren’t jumpers, but they can jump up to five feet if they really want to. That’s why, to keep them in their own yard, you should have a sturdy fence that’s at least six feet tall.

While their legs are good for running and strong for high jumps, they’re not natural swimmers. On a hot day, your Great Dane might wade in a small kiddie pool, but you won’t see them jumping into a lake.

How to take care of your Great Dane

Your Great Dane will require specific care due to its massive size.

This pup won’t tolerate the cold weather very well with their short coat, but they will enjoy basking in the sun in warmer weather.

With that in mind, how can you properly take care of your Great Dane, so they live a happy, healthy life?

Exercising your Great Dane

a Black and White Great Dane playing fetch with a stick
a Great Dane exercising and playing fetch with a stick

The Grand Danois has a moderate energy level. They’re not lazy, but they won’t be bouncing off the walls, either.

As a puppy, your pup will need at least 90 minutes of exercise per day. As they get older, 60 minutes per day will suffice.

They’ll enjoy running in a fenced-in yard, playing a few rounds of fetch, going for walks, and even jogging once they’re old enough. However, they should only walk about ten miles per week so that they’re not too strained.

If you have a garden, be aware that this fido may mess up the landscape with their powerful legs.

Grooming: do Great Danes shed the hair?

One would think this pup wouldn’t shed with their short, smooth coat, but they actually shed quite a bit, so they are not considered to be hypoallergenic.

Luckily, they’re easy to groom.

To keep their shedding at bay, you should regularly brush their fur using this FURminator de-shedding tool or this combo brush by Hartz. Since their hair is so short, there will be no need to cut it.

You won’t need to bathe your pooch too often. Once every one to two months will suffice unless they get into something they shouldn’t have.

Great Danes do not smell, but they can be gassy. They also tend to drool.

You’ll also want to keep an eye on their nails and trim them as necessary. Using these nail clippers will ensure your pup’s nails don’t grow too long.

A quick tip to clipping your doggo’s nails is to play with their paws from a young age to get them used to the sensation.

Also, be sure to check your pup for infections or other sores regularly. Their teeth should be brushed regularly – daily is best – and their ears will need to be cleaned with a pet-safe solution.

Feeding: how much should a Great Dane eat in a day?

a gray Great Dane sitting and eating a strawberry
Source: @sokolowski_matt / IG

Every dog is different in terms of weight, height, and health. When choosing what to feed your German Mastiff, be sure to talk with your vet to figure out the best plan for your beloved doggo.

Great Danes need special food since they’re a giant breed. Aside from human food and table scraps, your pup should eat high-quality dog food that’s nutritious for such a large canine.

So, how much should they eat in a day?

Your Great Dane puppy should have about three meals per day, while your adult Great Dane should have about two meals per day.

What health problems do Great Danes have?

a black Great Dane in a clinic receiving an injection
A sick Great Dane receiving an injection from a Vet

Unfortunately, with a large size comes a few health issues.

These health concerns may include:

  • Eye problems
  • Ear problems
  • Joint problems
    • Hip Dysplasia
  • Gastric Torsion (also known as Bloat or Gastric Dilatation Volvulus or GDV)
  • Bone Cancer
    • Osteosarcoma
  • Heart Disease
    • Dilated Cardiomyopathy
    • Mitral Valve Defects
    • Tricuspid Valve Dysplasia
    • Subaortic Stenosis
    • Patent Ductus Arteriosus
    • Persistent Right Aortic Arch
  • Hypothyroidism

Some screenings to get regular to keep these issues in check may be:

  • Cardiac tests
  • Eye tests
  • Hip screenings
  • Blood tests
  • X-rays
  • Regular physical examinations

Unfortunately, the Great Dane doesn’t have longevity. Their life span is about 7-10 years old.

This span is mostly due to their large size. Females and smaller-than-average Great Danes might live a little longer. If they do, however, it won’t be for too much longer.

Fun fact: the oldest living Great Dane is named Pirate, and he will be 12 years old in February 2021. They believe his long life is due to this healthy diet, so this loveable pooch can live longer than expected.

With regular health screenings, vet check-ups, a healthy diet and nutrition, and the right exercise, your doggo will also live a long, happy, and healthy life.

How much does a Great Dane puppy cost?

an 8-week Great Dane puppy sitting and looking proud
Source: @kingsleyofatx / IG

Great Dane puppies can cost anywhere between $600 to $3,000. This depends on several factors such as their age, coat colors and markings, and whether they have show parents.

The older the dog, the less expensive it will be. The more popular the coat color or marking, the more expensive it will be.

The cost will also depend on where you buy the pup as well. For example, a reputable breed may be pricey, but it will be cheaper if you adopt from a shelter.

Owning a Great Dane isn’t cheap, either. Upon bringing your pooch home, expect to spend at least $1,500 for the first year and about $800 each year after that.

These monetary factors include everything your doggo will need, such as:

  • Accessories (collar, leash, harness, a crate, dog bed, etc.)
  • Toys
  • Grooming supplies (brush, ear cleaners, shampoo, and conditioner, etc.)
  • Grooming appointments
  • Training
  • Boarding
  • Food
  • Vet bills (regular check-ups as well as possible medical issues)

If your beloved pup gets sick or needs surgery, those medical bills may cost up to $5,000. Bloat is common in Great Danes, and that can be a pricey health issue to fix.

You can find a Great Dane in pet stores, though you should always check the store’s reviews and double-check where they get their puppies from.

Great Dane breeders

Of course, you can always find your furry friend through a reputable breeder. This will cost a little bit more, but you’ll know exactly what you’re getting, provided you found a good breeder.

Remember, a good breeder will always:

  • Be knowledgeable about the breed
  • Let you meet one of the pup’s parents
  • Be open about the puppy’s family tree and history
  • Socialize the puppies before giving them a right home
  • Want to know more about you and your home life
  • Keep the puppies until they are at least eight weeks old

If you’re ready to bring your Great Dane home, here are some breeders to look into:

  • Adorable Danes (Orlando, Florida)
  • Majestic Giants (Burlington, Kentucky)
  • Garner’s Great Danes (Sanford, North Carolina)

You can also look at the breeder directory on the Great Dane Club of America website and the AKC Marketplace.

Great Danes rescues

Of course, you can always check to see if there are any Great Danes that have been waiting for a forever home for a while through a rescue or animal shelter.

You can ask your local animal shelter if they have any Great Danes available or check out some of these rescues:

  • Harlequin Haven Great Dane Rescue (Bethel, Ohio)
  • Great Dane Rescue of North Texas (Carrollton, Texas)
  • Rocky Mountain Great Dane Rescue (Lakewood, Colorado)

Great Dane compared to other breeds

Irish Wolfhound vs. Great Dane

a portrait of an Irish Wolfhound standing showing side profile
An Irish Wolfhound stays on a green grass

The Irish Wolfhound is said to help develop the Great Dane. However, this breed is a large one, though not as big as a Great Dane.

The Irish Wolfhound grows to be about 30-32 inches (76 to 81 cm), weighing in at about 105 pounds (47 kg) for females and 120 pounds (54 kg) for males.

It’s part of the herding group, unlike the Great Dane.

They do, however, have similar lifespans. The Irish Wolfhound is only expected to live about 6- years.

Pitbull vs. Great Dane

a Pitbull sitting and looking to left
A Brindle Pitbull dog

These two breeds are similar in the sense that they were both bred for similar reasons. Pitbulls were bred for bull-baiting while Great Danes were boar hounds.

Luckily, this isn’t the case anymore, and both breeds are highly affectionate and loyal to their families. Both of these types of pups are kind and gentle.

They’re both great with kids, too!

Mastiff vs. Great Dane

The Mastiff, who helped create the Great Dane, is another giant breed. They will grow to be at least 27 inches (68 cm) for females and 30 inches (76 cm) for males and will continue to grow from there!

a portrait of a Mastiff laying with white background
A large Mastiff dog with an alert and attentive expression

They’re also part of the working group, same as the Great Dane, and were bred for dogfighting.

Now, the Mastiff is still courageous like their ancestors, but they’re good-natured and gentle.

Great Dane mixes

Who should get a Great Dane?

Great Dane with his pet owner outdoors
A giant Great Dane with his pet owner

As long as you don’t mind the shedding or drooling, Great Danes will make a wonderful pet for any family, even if you’re a first-time dog owner.

They’ll get along with everyone in the house, whether you have kids or other pets as well.

Is the Great Dane a right fit for your home? Let us know your thoughts on this pooch in the comments below!

Further reading: Learn more about Great Dane

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