Great Dane Dog Breed Facts

Harlequin Dane

The enormous size and ominous bark of the Great Dane belies its gentle nature. Come find out more about these wonderful, economy-size canine companions.

History of the Great Dane

This breed's name might lead you to believe it is a Danish breed, but it is not. Danes trace their origins back to Asia, although the breed as it stands today includes the influence of other breeds such as Mastiffs and Irish Greyhounds.

Images of the breed can be traced back as early as 36 B.C.

General Appearance

This is a noble-looking breed that should make a very dignified first impression; however, once you get to know them, Danes can also be great clowns.

Size is always the most striking feature of the breed. Males generally stand about thirty-four inches tall and weigh in around two-hundred pounds, while females are slightly smaller. Regardless of sex, the larger the animal, the more it is prized.

Great Dane Colors

  • Fawn with Black Mask
  • Black
  • Black Mantle
  • Blue
  • Brindle
  • Harlequin

The Dane's ears are a subject of some debate. Left in their natural state, the ears are moderately large and hang down. In the USA, the ears are typically trimmed and taped to encourage them to stand erect.


Danes make amazing companions if you have the room for them. These dogs are generally quite calm unless circumstances require otherwise, and the breed is well-known for being good with children.

These dogs are definitely people lovers and need human companionship rather than kennel life. You can expect a Dane to be very loyal and loving with all members of your household, but a bit more reserved with strangers until they become well acquainted. The Dane's exceptionally deep bark and grand size is usually quite sufficient to qualify individuals as watch dogs.

Surprisingly, these big dogs do not require a great deal of exercise to keep them physically and mentally fit. A good daily walk should be more than enough to serve their needs.

Essential Training

Due to their great size, Danes should receive obedience training early on before they achieve full growth. This is not a breed you want jumping on you or crawling in your lap! Danes should be taught to remain on the ground and to use great care when interacting with children who otherwise might be overwhelmed by their sheer size. This is a must for every Great Dane, no matter how well-meaning he/she may be.

Grooming Needs

As you might expect, bathing a Dane is a major event so daily grooming is important to extend your pet's shelf life between baths.

The coat is very short and smooth, so a quick daily brushing should remove most dirt and loose hair. Thankfully, Danes are light shedders.

Your Dane's nails will require bi-weekly trimming since this is not one of the more active breeds that will naturally wear down their own nails.

Life Expectancy

Great Danes may be one of the largest dog breeds, but they are certainly not one of the most long-lived. The extremely large size of these gentle giants can be very taxing on the heart muscle, and the average life expectancy is approximately seven years, although some individuals do live longer when given optimum care.

Danes as a breed face a number of health issues including the following:

  • Bone cancer
  • Canine Hip Dysplasia- A painful degenerative disease of the joint tissues
  • Cardiomyopathy- A form of heart disease
  • Cervical Vertebral Instability, commonly referred to as "Wobblers"- Wobbly, unstable movement caused by increasing pressure on the spinal column
  • Gastric torsion- Also known as "bloat", a painful twisting of the stomach that closes the organ off at both ends
  • Hypothyroidism- A low-thyroid condition in which the gland does not produce enough hormone to properly regulate the metabolism

Should You Adopt a Great Dane Puppy?

The beauty and disposition of Danes makes them very attractive pets, but they are definitely not a breed to buy on a whim.

Even if a particular pup is free from the various health conditions previously mentioned, most Danes go through some developmental problems during their rapid growth period that can cause temporary lameness, so don't make immediate plans to go jogging with your pet until it has gone through its full growth cycle. It takes a very dedicated owner to weather these ups and downs with their animals, and unless you have the required free time, this period can be very taxing.

Acquiring a Great Dane should be a very thoughtful decision. Take your time to research the breed and look for breeders who are aware of the health problems these dogs face and work to remove affected dogs from their breeding programs.

You will most likely make a very large investment in your Dane, so it's well worth doing your homework first to hopefully avoid heartbreak later.

Be sure to visit LTK's Great Dane Puppy slideshow.

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Great Dane Dog Breed Facts