Dog Breeds

Great Dane Dog Breed at a Glance


The gentle giant, the Great Dane dog breed is easily recognizable due to its size. Friendly with kids and strangers, the majestic dog is often shy with other pets. Danes are the 15th most popular dog breed in America, according to the AKC. It makes a great watchdog, alerting owners of any intruders, and it will protect its family, although its size may be enough to frighten anyone away. Though kind towards kids and true people-pleasers, Danes are courageous and spirited. Consider your decision carefully, however, before committing to a dog of this size, as ample space is required. Danes are excellent with young children, but supervision is essential as they may accidentally knock over or even step on a toddler.

Breed Group: Working

Great Dane Puppies

HISTORY of the Great Dane Dog Breed

Developed for its hunting ability, this dog breed was also used as a war dog and to patrol estates. Nicknamed the “Apollo of dogs” for its aristocratic air, its believed the breed is a result of the ancient Molossus and the Greyhound.

Ancient Greek frescoes from the 14th century BCE and into the Hellensitic era depict large boarhounds that resemble the Great Dane. In English-speaking countries, the dog was called “German boarhound,” and later, its name was changed to the Great Dane.

Origin: Germany


Great Danes are calm and easygoing, but its size and spirit may prove difficult to control. Properly trained, it can make a trusting family companion. It is very gentle and friendly, loyal and quiet, yet responsive, social, and alert. The Great Dane is a sensitive dog, so it does not respond well to yelling. This is a cat-friendly dog and has a moderate hunting drive and impulse to wander, so keep it on a leash when out and about.

Biting statistics dating back to 1982 place the Great Dane in the top 20% of dog attacks on humans. Of the 39 recorded attacks linked to Danes, show 14 child victims and 9 adult victims that were caused bodily harm. There were a total of 21 maimings and 3 deaths.

Though it may seem that this breed is aggressive while examining the biting statistics, bear in mind that it’s very unlikely a Great Dane will cause death, and that overall, the average number of attacks is approximately 1 each year.

Physical Characteristics of the Great Dane

Naturally, Great Danes have floppy ears, triangular in shape. Their ears were cropped to avoid injuries to them during hunts. Today, Danes’ ears are sometimes cropped for cosmetic reasons in the United States, but the practice is no longer permitted in many European countries. Its coat is short, dense, and shiny.

The common colors of the Great Dane are black, fawn, black and white, blue, harlequin, brindle, merle, mantle, and white.

Danes weigh between 100 and 180 pounds, placing them in the heaviest dog category of all breeds, and they stand between 31 and 35 inches tall, depending on the gender.

Dog Breeds
A Harlequin Great Dane

Expect shedding with this breed, but regular brushing helps. Still, prepare to vacuum frequently! The Great Dane is not a hypoallergenic dog, and also has a high tendency to drool.

HEALTH and CARE of the Great Dane Dog Breed

Life Expectancy

Unfortunately, the Great Dane’s life expectancy is between 6 and 8 years, which is far shorter than the average for large dogs.

Common Health Concerns

Each dog breed is susceptible to certain health issues. In general, the Dane is a healthy dog but is at a high risk of developing:

  • Cardiomyopathy
  • Entropion
  • Gastric Dilatation Volvulus (Bloat)
  • Hypertrophic Osteodystrophy
  • Lick Granuloma
  • Osteochondrosis of the Shoulder

and is at a medium risk of developing the following:

  • Aortic Stenosis
  • Hip Dysplasia

and also at a low risk of developing:

  • Myotonia


This giant breed requires some daily exercise and thrives in a home with a large yard, although it can adapt to apartment living, with 2 or 3 walks each day. However, Great Danes are not tolerant of extreme temperatures, whether hot or cold, so exercise caution when taking them outside in harsh temperatures.

The majestic Dane is fast-growing, meaning it could suffer from many growing pains. Therefore, provide the highest-quality dog food available and give it the exercise it needs to ensure good overall health and longevity.

Great Dane dog breed
A Black Great Dane


Feed your dog a high-quality dog food to ensure health and longevity. With the average weight of Danes being 155 pounds, feed your dog 5 1/4 cups of dry dog food each day.


The grooming needs of the Great Dane are minimal, however, regular brushing helps reduce shedding. The occasional bath keeps its coat clean. No trimming or stripping is required. Check ears regularly for any wax buildup or debris to avoid an infection from developing. Danes have fast-growing nails that need trimming with a grinder or nail clipper.

The AKC officially recognized the Great Dane dog breed in 1887.