About Great Danes...
The Great Dane is a giant, powerful dog. Square in body, but females may be
slightly longer than tall. The long head is rectangular in shape. The muzzle is
deep, with a pronounced stop. The nose is black, blue/black on blue Danes or
black spotted on the harlequins. The dark, deep-set eyes are medium in size.
The medium sized ears are set high and either cropped or left natural. If left
in their natural state they are folded forward hanging close to the cheek. When
cropped they stand erect and are large in proportion to the rest of the head.
Note: cropping ears is illegal in most parts of Europe. The well arched neck is
set-high, firm and muscular. The front legs are perfectly straight. The feet
are round with dark toe nails. The tail is set high, thicker at the base and
tapering to a point. Dewclaws are sometimes removed. The coat is short and
thick. Colors come in brindle, fawn, black, blue, mantle harlequin and
sometimes merle. Although not a recognized color, chocolate does occur in a
recessive gene. Merle is a common result of harlequin breeding, but it is not a
Colors: Brindle, fawn, blue, black or harlequin (white is preferable with all black or all blue patches that have the appearance of being torn). They can also have a mantle
pattern, which is black with a white collar and chest, a white muzzle, and
white on all or part of the legs.
Coat: Short, dense, sleek and smooth.
Great Danes are alert, lively and happy. They love to play, are very good with
children, and are very affectionate. They are content with lounging in the
house with their family, and love to be part of the group, often making their
bed on couches, chairs and beds. Great Danes are easy going, intelligent and
trainable. They are sensitive to training, however, and should be treated with
positive actions. They get lonely and destructive if kept outside or bored.
They should not be teased. They are friendly, spirited and should never be
With Children: Excellent with children, but should
be supervised due to the large size of the Great Dane. They also are very
sensitive and need to be treated kindly.
Supervision is recommended.
The Great Dane has a good disposition, often called a "gentle giant".
Charming and affectionate, they are playful and patient with children. They
love everyone and need to be around people. The Great Dane does not bark much and only becomes aggressive when the circumstances require it. They are reliable, trustworthy and dependable. Courageous and loyal, they are good
watchdogs. The Great Dane does not stay little for long and consistent training
and rules should start right from puppyhood. This giant dog should be taught
not to jump or lean on people. The objective in training this dog is to achieve a pack leader status. It is a natural instinct for a dog to have an order in their pack. When we humans live with dogs, we become their pack. The entire pack cooperates under a single leader. Lines are clearly defined. You and all other humans MUST be higher up in the order than the dog. That is the only way your relationship can be a success. Dogs who know their place below humans in the pack order will be good with children. If you are not a firm, confident, consistent pack leader who knows how to correct the dog when he is showing signs of aggression, the dog can be dog-aggressive. Owners who know how to properly handle their dogs will not have this issue.
In the past, a hunting dog. Now a watch dog and family pet.
Very High. Excellent at alerting their owners to unusual things.
Low. Great Danes are simply too friendly for guarding.
Learning Rate: High.
Obedience: High. Trainability is easy as long as it is done with
positive emphasis because they are sensitive.
Problem Solving - High.
Activity: Medium. They can be lounge lizards or playful and energetic.
Special Needs: Fenced yard, exercise, training and socialization.
Despite their great size they are a house dog, not a kennel dog. Large backyard
with at least a six foot fence is needed for Great Danes. The best owner for
this breed would be a family living in a rural or suburban environment, but can
adapt to a life in the city as well.
With being so large, Great Danes are prone to more problems than a smaller dog. Hip dysplasia, some genetic heart problems, osteosarcoma (bone tumors), Wobbler Syndrome and bloat (twisted stomach or gastric torsion) are all potential health concerns for this breed. Bloat is a health issue to most
dogs, being the second largest killer of dogs other than cancer, but Great
Danes can be particularly susceptible to it because of their very deep
Height and Weight:
Height: Dogs 30-34 inches (76-86 cm.) Bitches 28-32 inches (71-81 cm.)
Weight: Dogs 120-200 pounds (54-90 kg.) Bitches 100-130 pounds (45-59
kg.)Dogs of even larger size are more prized.
Prone to hip dysplasia, bloat, heart disease, tumors and tail injuries. Jogging is
not recommended until the dog is at least one year old, but walking is
The Great Dane will do okay in an apartment if it is sufficiently exercised.
It is relatively inactive indoors and does best with at least a large yard.
Exercise The Great Dane needs plenty of exercise. They need to be taken on a
daily long walk.
The average is 8-10 years, however some can live to be 12-13 years
The smooth short-haired coat is easy to groom. Comb and brush with a firm
bristle brush and dry shampoo when necessary. Bathing this giant is a major
chore, so it pays to avoid the need by daily grooming. The nails must be kept
trimmed. This breed is an average shedder.
The Great Dane is a very old breed, known as the "Apollo of all dogs.". Dogs
resembling the Great Dane have appeared on Greek money dating back to 36 B.C.
There are also drawling's of these dogs on Egyptian monuments from roughly 3000
B.C. The earliest writings of dogs that sounded like Great Danes were in
Chinese literature dating back to 1121 B.C. In 407 A.D. German Gaul and part of
Italy and Spain were invaded by an Asiatic people (the Alans) who brought with
them powerful mastiff-like dogs. They were admired for their ability to bring
down bear and wild boar. The dogs were thought to have been Wolfhound mixed with the old English Mastiff. With selective breeding the Greyhound
was added in to create the Great Dane. Besides being used as a hunter, they
were also used as estate guard dogs. Despite the fact that they are called
Danes in English, they have nothing to do with Denmark. The Great Dane was
recognized in 1887. Some of the Great Dane's talents are tracking, watchdog and
The history of Great Dane is not a one version story. Some would argue the
breed evolved primarily in Britain over several hundred years, while others
would say the Germans did all of the work. So the history of Great Dane depends
on which version you listen to!
Great Dane dog history first appears
about 3000BC. We see Dane like dogs in carvings on Egyptian monuments built
around this time. Fast forward 3400 years to the 5th century, when present day
Europe was invaded by the Alanis, an Asiatic race, who brought giant mastiff
dogs with them. Over the next several hundred years, it is surmized that these
mastiff like dogs were cross bred with Irish Grey Hounds, producing a giant but
slimmer breed than pure mastiff. It is also possible that these large
mastiff dogs were brought to Europe by the Romans. Over several hundred years
the Celts cross bred these giants with either grey hound or Irish wolf hound
(or perhaps both). This effort led to the development of the "English Dogge",
which some would say is the ancestor to the Modern Great Dane. It is
probably true that both versions of Great Dane history are accurate and
contributed to the beautiful animals we now enjoy, but certainly, the Germans
deserve most of the credit for the development of the breed as we know it
today. By the 16th century, these giant dogs were fairly common as boar hounds
in both Britain and the Germanic states. The Germans did import a large number
of these "Englishe doggies" for cross breeding with their own version as they
worked to develop the perfect boar hunter for their own needs. But here
the history of the great dane takes another twist. Boar hounds were not cudly
stoic dogs. European wild boar were very dangerous and hunting them required a
fast, strong and aggressive dog. And that's what had been developed. But it was
also realized, that a dog of this size could be an excellent guard dog - although in order to fulfill this function something would have to be done to make it more people friendly. And so over the 18th and 19th centuries, German dog breeders concentrated on evolving their boar hound into a breed of good temperament and friendliness.
The Germans continued to document and develop the breed and in 1880 breeders and dog judges (dog shows and dogs were huge in Germany then as now) met and agreed that this German breed was now distinctly different from the English mastiffs
and formally declared the "Deutsche doggen".
In 1891, the Great Dane Club of Germany was formed (still called Deutsche doggen or German Dog club) and the modern day standard was adopted. Eight years later, the Great Dane club of America was founded in Chicago and the Dane was officially recognized in North America.
So why is a dog breed that has never had anything to
do with Denmark named a Great Dane?
Another little twist in Great
Dane history. In the early 1700's, a French naturalist, Compte de Buffon first
saw these dogs while traveling in Denmark. He labelled this breed "le Grande
Denois" or Great Dane. For some reason, the name stuck - although only in
English. (The Germans continued to refer to this breed as the "Deutsche
doggen".) So, although Denmark has absolutely no part to play in the story of
the history of Great Danes, the dog is nevertheless tied to it albeit in name
Great Danes War Service?
Given the size of the Great Dane, many people seem to think the Great Danes war service is a rich history in of itself, but this is simply not true. There were large blood hounds used by both sides in the American civil war (there is some evidence these animals were probably a cross between a cuban mastiff and the Great Dane), but the truth is, despite their intimidating size, Great Danes don't make good
soldiers. The army and the marines tried Great Danes during world war
two but none of them passed basic training! On one notable occassion, an army
drill sargent was moved to tears of frustration as he tried to train a Dane to
jump over an obstacle. Instead of jumping as he was supposed to, the Dane kept
running up to the obstacle, putting the entire thing in its mouth and proudly
bringing it back to the trainer! But there have been some famous Danes
associated with the military. One was even enrolled in the British Royal Navy!
During World War II, the British naval garrison in Cape Town South Africa
submitted all the necessary paperwork to enroll their mascot Great Dane into
the Royal Navy.
Listed as Christian name Bone and Surname Crusher, this Dane
made himself comfortable in several different naval establishments in the area.
He wasn't just good for local moral - he was also used extensively in the
production of postcards that were used to raise funds for the war effort! He
died in 1944 and received a quasi military funeral! And as a final note
about the history of the Great Dane, there have been several famous Danes or
Danes associated with famous people. The founder of modern day Germany, Otto
von Bismarck always had Danes beside him. General Cornwallis brought his
"english dogs" on campaign with him during the American war of Independance (he
lost!).Buffalo Bill Cody always had his black Dane "Turk" with him and Manfred
von Richtofen, the famous Red Baron,is said to have taken his Dane "Moritz" up
for a couple of flights! And of course, Franklin Delano Roosevelt was a Dane
lover and always had several nearby.
The entertainment industry has also made Great Danes famous. Brad Anderson's famous cartoon is centered around a Great Dane named Marmaduke - who hasn't seen that? Every baby boomer and beyond grew up watching Scooby-Doo solve mysteries during Saturday morning cartoon hour! And in animated movies, Oliver and Company (1988) is centered around a Dane, as is the classic All Dogs Go to Heaven (1989). It seems that Great Danes history is colorful, interesting and is still being made!
Feeding a Dane:
There is no product that is just dog food for great danes. And it’s a very
important issue. Danes are delicate – their stomachs upset fairly easily. Their
rate of growth makes them extremely vulnerable to bone disease brought on by
improper balance in diet. And as an adult, if your great dane doesn’t get the
kind of nutrition in its dog food a giant breed needs (not a large breed – a
giant breed), it will have a much higher chance of succumbing to liver
diseases, cancer and other medical conditions. Remember – our danes are
only with us for 8 to 10 years anyway – no one who has ever been owned by one
would want to shorten this time or take away quality of life
unnecessarily. Therefore, dog food for great danes needs to cater to the unique
requirements of the breed.
So, if there is no dog food specifically
designed for the great dane, how can we ensure we are feeding correctly? Good
question, well asked! Unfortunately,it is not so easy to come up with an answer
everyone agrees on.
Surprisingly perhaps, veterinarians don’t know. They don’t get trained in canine nutrition so they can’t claim any more specialized knowledge than you. Even more surprisingly, many breeders don’t agree on a common approach in great dane feeding. Some swear by a processed premium dog food (dry and/or wet), some will only feed raw dog food(BARF, or Biologically Appropriate Raw Food)
and some home cook their dane’s diet.
This series of articles will try and un complicate things a bit and look at all options in producing a good great dane dog food regime. Let’s start though, by declaring that once you do the research, it becomes evident that your dane will be able to thrive on
either processed, raw or home cooked diets. It’s a personal choice and dog
If you don’t take anything else from these articles, please
understand that if you feed processed dog food, it must be a quality product.
Danes will not stay healthy on crap and unfortunately, just about every brand
you can get in a supermarket is crap (more below). Be careful not to overfeed
your puppy – too much calcium and too much calorie will upset growth rate and
if your dane grows too quickly, bone deformities and other medical issues could
well be right around the corner.
Keep them lean looking and never feed a diet containing more than 23% protein. For adults, no more than 25% protein, between 10 and 14% fat content and of course, quality ingredients, whether dry, wet, raw or cooked.
IS PREMIUM DOG FOOD PREMIUM?
Processed dog food has been around for over half a century now (wonder what danes ate before we could buy dog food in a bag or can!?). Unfortunately, most brands – even the most prominent ones – do not measure up to anything that will support the health of your dane.
The traditional dog food industry is mostly about using every bit of an animal that is unfit for human consumption. That means hooves, beaks, feathers, heads and all other parts not usable anywhere else, all ground up (rendered) and transformed into chunks in a can or dry kibble. It also includes road kill, animals taken out of the food chain due to disease and euthanized pets. Even if the label says 25% protein, it is not the kind of protein that your dane can use. But, they aren’t all like that. There are excellent premium dog food products available that contain quality
ingredients and will provide your dane with healthy nutrients. The product that
best meets great dane requirements is the Eagle pack brand dog food. It is also
the only brand that has conducted food trials using great danes specifically.
Eaglepack, while considered the best by breeders who feed
premium dog food, is not the only acceptable option. Many breeders also
recommend some additional dog food products.
RAW DOG FOOD?
European breeders have always been more accepting of the idea
of basing great dane dog food on raw ingredients, but since its introduction in
North America in the early 1990’s, there has been intense debate between those
that swear by it, and those that swear against it.
BARF, (stands for
Bones and Raw Food or Biologically Appropriate Raw Food) is based on the
premise that dogs are genetically very similar to wolves and therefore a diet
as close as possible to what a wolf in the wild enjoys would be the healthiest
diet for any canine. BARF seeks to imitate those conditions as much as possible
for our domestic friends.
The major argument against raw, is the possibility of introducing bacteria (such as salmonella or e coli) or other organisms that might be harmful to your dane. Remember, our magnificent “dog of dogs” has a very delicate stomach! The other argument you will often hear is that there is no scientific evidence whatsoever that supports the premise a BARF diet is better than a nutritionally balanced premium dog food. And that is true.
But, now that BARF has been around for over ten years and continues to grow in popularity, it might be something to consider. Breeders report a host of improvements in their great danes in terms of health and longevity once on a raw diet. But again, this is a choice that must also depend on your lifestyle and your dane. Some thrive on BARF and others thrive on processed.
A word of caution though – raw dog food is more than throwing a raw meaty bone down and it takes some research to understand what is required. Do the research if this is the way you want to go. (Our raw dog food article provides more detailed advice for BARF feeding.)
A HOME COOKED MEAL FOR YOUR DANE?
The third option that some dane owners swear by, is cooked homemade dog food. The nutritional guidelines are very similar to raw food menu preparation, but the
meat is cooked. This kills any bacteria and so is safer for your dane in one
respect, but it also reduces the nutritional value of the food. Any cooking
destroys some nutrients. Dog Food Secrets is a good resource containing some really
solid dog nutritional information. (You have to get over a bit of hype on the
sales page, but the book is quite valuable.)
Of course, all dogs love bones and Great Danes are no exception. But it is extremely dangerous to give any dog, never mind the delicate dane, a cooked bone. Raw bones are safe because they aren’t brittle, but cooked bones can splinter. Any vet can provide numerous horror stories of damaged stomach and intestines (sometimes fatal damage) due to bone splintering.
So that was a brief overview of the main points to consider when selecting dog food for great danes. Check out our articles on premium dog foods and raw dog foods for more details and some recipes. Getting the right dog food for great danes is one of the most important aspects of Dane ownership. They love us and trust us completely. We owe them a healthy diet. And keep in mind, if you do feed them crap, you probably won’t be saving money in the long run because your vet bills will
start becoming very scary as you deal with all the health issues that would
have been avoided.
Training your Dane
Training Great Danes can be very frustrating. The Dane is a
stubborn breed and likes to get its way! There aren’t many Dane specific dog
training videos or dog training books, although that isn’t necessarily negative
– Great Dane dog training isn’t much different than training most other breeds.
In fact, the best dog training resource we've found and the one that we use and
have had great success with is written for all breeds: Daniel Steven's Secrets To Dog Training
In our experience, there are a few fundamentals that Dane owners need to understand and if these are respected, Great Dane training will go well.
The first principal to understand is positive reinforcement. We have to admit that we’ve never used choke collars or any other similar dog training aids that are essentially negative reinforcement when correcting something, so I guess we don’t have the experience to objectively assess that kind of dog training. But we have noticed that scolding doesn’t do much good and we’ve had more rapid and lasting results sticking with a positive reinforcement approach. Some trainers may disagree, but that is certainly our experience with Great Danes. Yes, they’re stubborn, but they’re also extremely sensitive and crave praise. When our beast does something
properly (or refrains from doing something he wants to do but knows he’s not
allowed) he gets it by the ton! As an example, in training our Great
Dane, we had a tough time with the recall command. When he sees something, he
likes to go for it and certainly didn’t feel he was obligated to come back or
stay, no matter how hard we yelled. And when he had finished investigating
whatever it was he bolted for (never hesitating to charge across a road
regardless of traffic) he knew he was in trouble. But yelling, or telling him
he was a bad dog didn’t stop him (for a while, he must have thought his name
was bad dog!). Anyway, with coaching from a professional trainer, we became
very careful not to act in a negative way and trained him so that when we
called, he was always in for something good. Correcting a Dane will sometimes
be necessary, but not by yelling. Danes really are more suited to positive
Secondly, dog behavior training must be consistent. This is probably one of the biggest reasons Great Dane obedience training can be so frustrating. While it is true that training your Great Dane is front end loaded to some extent (basic training should take place early in the Dane’s life and therefore set the foundation for a well
behaved dog later), it really never ends. Many Danes will develop bad habits if
they’re allowed to. By making a daily training exercise part of life, good
habits are constantly reinforced. And your Dane will love the
interaction. The other aspect of consistency, is doing the dog training
exercises properly and never letting an incorrect response go by. Your Great
Dane needs to learn that when he hears a command, there is only one response
that is acceptable. If you don’t insist on that response each and every time
(for example, to sit when the command “sit” is given) it is likely your Dane
will learn that he doesn’t really have to listen all the time. At first this
takes some patience –before the Dane understands what is wanted from her she’s
not likely to get it right. You need to get her to give you the response you
want and not let it go.
Owners also need training
The third fundamental to successfully training your Great Dane is you! Perhaps
experienced dog trainers don’t need help, but most of us do. Training exercises
are easy to get wrong. The timing has to be just right or the Dane will most
likely not understand what it is you want her to do. Basic dog obedience
training is just as much about getting the human to do the exercises properly
as it is the Dane! If you’ve never been to a dog training class before, you may
think the above statement is a bit silly. But probably not as silly as we felt
when we started obedience training and realized that simple exercises are not
so simple. The dog trainer had to spend some time correcting our technique! And
once we started doing things properly, Bismark started making real progress. Or
perhaps, we started making real progress…(nothing like being told your timing
is all wrong for a simple exercise, but if you can’t take a joke, you may as
well be one!)
There are many benefits to going to basic dog obedience training. The socialization for your Dane is invaluable. And it’s a great way to meet other dog people -most of whom will be as excited about their new family member as you are for yours. But the biggest advantage is that unless you’re an experienced trainer yourself, the chances are that you will need help to get your techniques down properly. It really is easy to screw these exercises up. You need someone watching you and helping you get it right until you’re comfortable. If you don’t do them right, your Dane isn’t going to know
what you want! Those are the three fundamentals we think best support
training your Great Dane. We've added some articles that cover specific
techniques we've found to work. Check out how to stop a Dane barking or perhaps you're looking for a way to stop a Dane digging. We’ll add future articles on some specific training techniques we have found to be very helpful, but all of them are based on this core approach.
There are some books and videos available in pet stores and online that provide a good overview of basic dog training programs. We've already mentioned the best book we've found: Secrets To Dog Training. There's another resource we're
very impressed with as well. That's a series of online videos a Hollywood dog
trainer by the name of Dove Cresswell has put out. She manages to convey some fundamental characteristics in dog training that you can't read about. She also provides access to one of her lessons before you buy so you can see the quality she
Educate yourself and start training. When your Dane is 170 pounds, you'll be glad you did!
Expectant sizes of Great Danes ,
OGreat Danes are born at roughly 2 pounds. By 12 months, they are 30 inches tall or more, bigger than most adult dogs. That super fast growth has lots of potential problems. (See the HOD, Dysplasia pages under this heading).
Typically, American bred Danes will grow up before filling out: they will be all legs and ribs, looking lanky and thin for a solid year. You want to be able to see the ribs when they stand and move around. They put on an average of 5 pounds and 1″ a week during growth spurts the first six months. Some more, some less depending on their genetics. They grow FAST!
Keeping Dane puppies on the lean side is much easier on their fragile, growing joints, so resist the urge to feed them until they’re round and soft! Your Dane pup will be a bony looking thing! That’s okay, they grow out of it. At 12-18 months old they will fill out in the muscle department if left unneutered.
If a male is neutered before sexual maturity, a male will not really fill out as much. A male neutered young will often grow very tall and weedy looking from the lack of testosterone. Sometimes it’s hard to tell a male from a female. I’m downright ideological about neutering and spaying, but I do wait until at least 12 months old to neuter, 18 months is better.
That means I have to correct my boys for trying to mark, hump, or other unwanted male behavior. But if a male is giving me ridiculous amounts of behavioral trouble, I will neuter him before a year. Sometimes you’ll bring home a really hard headed and dominant male, and neutering is a good option if you aren’t willing or prepared to deal with such stubbornness. Spaying young doesn’t seem to make any real difference in growth.
Whenever your spay or neuter is up to you, but please, please do it! Walk through the pound or look at the overwhelming numbers of rescued dogs, and realize that there are way too many puppies out there already. And most of them will be put to sleep. Don’t add to the problem! Your Great Dane growth chart is based on averages, many of you may have
a dog that is heavier, smaller, taller, or shorter. Final size is never a sure
thing and is affected by many variables, genetics and nutrition playing the
My danes are off these charts!!!!!!!