Great Dane

German Dog
Other names: dog

The Great Dane is a real aristocrat of the dog world. He wins the hearts of majestic beauty, intelligence, affectionate attitude to the household and excellent protective qualities.

Brief information

  • Breed name: Great Dane
  • Country of Origin: Germany
  • The time of the birth of the breed: 1878
  • Weight: 50-80 kg
  • Height (height at the withers): males 80-90 cm, females 72-84 cm
  • Lifespan: 8 – 10 years


  • In popular culture, Great danes are best known for the images of the animated Scooby Doo and the comic book hero Marmaduke, but real dogs are not at all like cowardly, stupid animals that are a constant source of trouble for owners.
  • They are ideal protectors and bodyguards, devoted to their family members with all their heart.
  • Adult dogs are calm, intelligent and under normal conditions seem surprisingly inconspicuous for their size.
  • A dog named Zeus is listed in the Guinness Book of Records as the tallest dog in the world, his height at the withers was 111.8 cm. However, another Great Dane from America, Giant George, surpassed him in overall dimensions – with a height of 109.2 cm, the giant weighed 111 kg.
  • Among the famous fans of Great Danes were the Reich Chancellor of the German Empire Otto von Bismarck and the Russian Emperor Alexander II, and their ancestors were kept by the Macedonian tsar Alexander the Great.
  • For the life of such a pet, a spacious house is needed, because it is difficult to fit in the apartment, and constant presence in the yard is impossible because of the short coat.
  • The average life expectancy of Great Danes is only 5-7 years, they are considered a breed with poor health.

Great Dane at first acquaintance, it seems to be a formidable and even dangerous dog, thanks to its outstanding physical data. However, behind the appearance of a harsh giant, in fact, there is a calm and incredibly loyal kind man. He is not inclined to aggression, unless the actions of an outsider provoke the dog to protect the life of the owners or his own.

Breed characteristics

Aggressiveness ?
Low ( Rating 2/5)
Activity ?
Average ( Rating 3/5)
Training ?
Average ( Rating 3/5)
Molt ?
Moderate ( Rating 3/5)
Need for care ?
Low ( Rating 2/5)
Friendliness ?
Friendly ( Rating 4/5)
Health ?
Below Average ( Rating 2/5)
Cost of maintenance ?
Expensive ( Rating 5/5)
Attitude to Loneliness ?
Moderate time ( Rating 3/5)
Intelligence ?
Standard ( Rating 3/5)
Noise ?
Average ( Rating 3/5)
Security qualities ?
Excellent ( Rating 5/5)
*Characteristics of the Great Dane breed are based on expert assessment and reviews of dog owners.

History of the Great Dane breed

Great Dane

Today, scientists identify a whole group of large breeds, united by the name "dog-like dogs". In addition to the Great Dane proper, it includes mastiffs, bulldogs, St. bernards , Dalmatians , rottweilers , newfoundlands , leonbergers . It is assumed that they all descended from one ancestor – the Tibetan Great Dane. This breed is considered one of the oldest official, the first documentary evidence of its existence dates back to the XII century BC. Huge strong dogs have been used for centuries to guard mountain monasteries, hunt large predators and protect nomad herds. Over time, the breed spread throughout the region. Tibetan dogs were very popular in India, Persia and other Asian countries. There they began to be used as combat "weapons" on the battlefields, which significantly increased the value of animals. According to Persian laws, killing such a dog was a crime even more serious than causing death to a person, which was reflected in the amount of the fine imposed on the culprit.

Archaeological finds indicate that Tibetan Great Danes took part in numerous campaigns of King Xerxes, including the suppression of uprisings in Egypt and Babylon and the protracted Greek campaign. It is possible that the winners received not only weapons and gold, but also warlike dogs as trophies. Images of Great danes are found on coins of Ancient Greece, and in Corinth they even had a monument erected for their services in the battles with the Peloponnese. Aristotle in his writings paid tribute to the incredible power and natural strength of war dogs.

It is not surprising that his pupil and one of the greatest generals of world history – Alexander the Great – became an ardent admirer of the Molossians (the so-called shaggy natives of Tibet in Europe). The Romans also liked the mighty dogs. In peacetime, the Great Danes were "kept in shape", forcing them to fight in the ring on a par with the most dangerous wild animals, during the campaigns they invariably accompanied the troops. Together with legionnaires and traders, the animals landed on the British Isles, found themselves on the territory of modern Germany, France and Scandinavia.

Images of huge dogs are found on runic stones that have survived to this day, mention of them is found in the Old Norse epic, The Elder Edda, and the collection of the Natural History Museum of Denmark boasts seven skeletons of giant hunting dogs found during excavations that lived between the 5th century BC and the 10th century AD .

In a word, the Great Danes had their own Great Migration. And by the XIX century, in different regions of the Old World, several populations of different physiques and colors, but invariably strong and large Molossians, were bred.

The time of large-scale ancient campaigns has passed, different tactics and strategies were used in military conflicts, and with the improvement of weapons, the effectiveness of dogs in battle has come to naught. This could have caused the disappearance of the breed, but in the Middle Ages other qualities of Great Dane came to the fore.

Great Dane Puppy

To participate in big game hunting, they needed the endurance and abilities of runners. The greatest success here was achieved by English breeders who crossed "aliens" with traditional British "boar dogs". Thanks to the genes of the English mastiff and the Irish wolfhound, representatives of the breed received a more elegant constitution and long legs. Boars, deer and wild boars simply had no chance against a pack of such athletes. At the same time, the owners of kennels realized that these giants have a powerful guard instinct, so European nobles and nobles began to actively use Great Danes as personal bodyguards and incorruptible guards.

For a long time there was a real confusion in the names. The French Dogue Allemand, the German Englische Docke, the English German boarhound, German Dogge, German Mastiff, as well as Ulmer Dogge, Danische Dogge, Hatzrude, Saupacker, Kammerhunde and other variants of names, in fact, meant the same type of dog, although due to the difference in phenotype, it was not possible to talk about a single breed then I had to. The Danes were the first to decide to monitor the purity of the blood of their giants, in 1866 the Great Dane standard was approved. Looking ahead, let's say that interest in the undertaking quickly faded, and today this breed is only reminded of the English–language version of the name The Great Dane - the big Dane.

It was only at the end of the XIX century that German dog breeders united for a common goal: to create one breed based on a motley dog-like breed that would incorporate the best external features and working qualities of animals from different regions. The initiative group first officially met in 1878 in Berlin, and two years later the standard appeared. On January 12, 1888, the National Dog Club of Germany began its work, and soon the first volume of the breed's breeding book was published. The kennels of Mark Hartenstein, Messter, and Carl Farber had the strongest influence on the formation of breeding lines.

In the photo, a Great Dane named Zeus, who is listed in the Guinness Book of Records as the largest dog. Its height at the withers is 111.8 cm .

To preserve the purity of the color, offspring were allowed to receive only in strict combinations, otherwise recessive genes could lead to lightening of tone or the appearance of unwanted spots. But that was in the first decades of the twentieth century. The Second World War significantly reduced the number of dogs and kennels, so in peacetime the number of individuals and productive lines had to be restored by the whole world.

Today the breed is recognized by leading cynological organizations: the International Cynological Federation (FCI), the American Kennel Club (ACC), the Canadian Kennel Club (SCC), the National Cynological Council of Australia (ANKC), national associations of European states.

The first Great Danes came to Russia before the revolution. Two pets were brought from an exhibition in Hamburg by Emperor Alexander II, but the breed did not gain instant popularity. Only in the 70s of the last century in the USSR seriously engaged in its breeding. To do this, they bought dogs in the countries of the socialist camp – the GDR, Poland, Czechoslovakia. Now nurseries can be found in many large cities.

Video: Great Dane

Appearance of the Great Dane

The Great Dane belongs to giant breeds. Sexual dimorphism is pronounced. The height of a male at the withers should not be below 80 cm, bitches – 72 cm. The normal weight of an adult (older than 18 months) starts from 54 and 45 kg, respectively. Males look more massive due to the size of the skeleton and more "heavy" bones.

The dog gives the impression of a powerful, but proportionally built and even elegant animal. Males have a pronounced square format, bitches can be slightly more elongated.


Great Dane with cropped ears

Long, narrow, with pronounced but not protruding brow arches. The foot stands out well and is located approximately in the middle between the tip of the nose and the occipital part. The upper line of the muzzle and skull are parallel.


Well developed, rather wide than round. The nostrils are large. The color of the lobe is black (partial pigmentation is allowed only with marble color).


Wide, well developed.


Strong, healthy. The bite is scissor-shaped, full.


With well defined angles, dark. Incomplete pigmentation is allowed in marble Great Danes.


Rounded shape, medium size, with tightly fitting eyelids. As dark as possible, although lighter ones are acceptable in blue and marble dogs.


The ears of the Great Dane are set high, triangular. In their natural state, they are hanging, the front part is adjacent to the cheeks. Cupping was necessary when used on hunting, today it is not mandatory and is cosmetic in nature.


Long, muscular. Vertical with a slight forward slope. Provides a smooth transition from the top point of the body to the head.

The muzzle of a Great Dane


Great Dane of marble color

The Great Dane's body is powerful. The chest is broad, with a well-developed chest and movable ribs. The stomach is tightened. The back is short and elastic. The loin is wide, slightly curved. The croup is broad and muscular, has a slight slope from the sacrum to the base of the tail.


The Great Dane's tail is planted high. Gradually tapers from the wide base to the tip. At rest, it hangs down freely. In an excited state, it should not rise significantly above the level of the back.


Strong, muscular. When viewed from the front, they are completely straight, the rear ones are parallel to the front ones. The front ones with a long sloping shoulder blade form shoulders with well-developed musculature. The hind legs are strong, with good angles.


Rounded, arched. The nails are short and as dark as possible.


Very short and dense, shiny and smooth.


The Great Danes are recognized as fawn (from pale gold to deep gold with a black mask), brindle (fawn background with black stripes parallel to the ribs), marble (white with uneven torn black spots), black and blue colors.

Photos of the Great Dane

The character of the Great Dane

From any owner of a Great Dane, you will hear a lot of compliments to the breed. These giants are naturally very intelligent and friendly. Of course, the puppy loves active games and is prone to mischief, which with its size can be destructive. But they are not malicious and do not do nasty things for fun, and if you find yourself on the ground while fighting for a stick, you should not consider such an act as a manifestation of hostility – often the "kid" during the period of active growth simply does not realize his size and, as a result, does not measure the force he applies to win in single combat.

Great Dane with mistress

With age, this passes, an adult dog becomes a staid and reliable companion. The keenly expressed instinct of a defender and guardian of weak members of the "pack" turns the Great Dane not just into a guard – with such a nanny, your child will be completely safe, the dog will never let him offend.

Let not be misled by the external calmness and the indifferent look with which the Great Dane looks around. He constantly "monitors" the situation and controls the situation in order, if necessary, to show the one who encroaches on the life or property of the household, who is in charge here. At the same time, he usually does not show unmotivated aggression towards random passers-by and neighbors, with the exception of animals with unstable psyche, disturbed as a result of abuse or improper upbringing.

Sociable and cheerful pet loves spending time with his family most of all. Long absences of the owners psychologically tolerates not too well, therefore, if your work is associated with frequent business trips, we advise you to think about a puppy of another breed.

Great Dane with a seal
Great Dane with children

Education and training

The key to the calm and peaceful nature of the Great Dane is proper and timely education

The Great Dane has high intelligence and a good memory, so an experienced owner will have no problems with training. It is important to start training as early as possible – from the first days of the puppy's stay in your house. The same applies to socialization. If this moment was not missed, even the owners of the dog will be able to avoid problems with fights on the dog playground.

It is better to master the teams gradually, necessarily in an easy, playful way. Do not overload the classes, because a tired and distracted puppy is unlikely to make serious progress. Do not forget about encouragement, including goodies, for a properly completed task. The key to success is patience and kindness. The assertion of authority should take place confidently and firmly, but without shouting or even more physical punishments. Relationships built on submission out of fear lead to regular attempts to "overthrow" the cruel "leader", and may even cause a broken psyche.

Care and maintenance

Neighborhood watch

Despite the assurances of some breeders that the Great Dane feels good in a city apartment, thanks to his calm nature and moderate need for physical activity, most experts still recommend getting such a dog only to those who live in a private house with a fenced plot. The fact is that it is better to share a living space with such a large-sized "neighbor" where there are enough square meters for all family members.

In addition, people living on the floor below are unlikely to be happy with the sounds of heavy footsteps overhead. But the dog will not bother the residents of the adjacent courtyards especially, because Great danes are not among the tiresome "pustobrekhs" and bark extremely rarely. At the same time, aviary maintenance is impossible, the dog does not tolerate too high or low temperatures, and constant human society guarantees her psychological comfort.

The hair of the representatives of this breed is very short, and the molt is expressed moderately, so to care for it, it is enough to comb out the dead hairs once a week with a special massage glove or brush with a soft pile, and in spring and autumn to do this procedure two to three times more often. For bathing, use veterinary shampoo and do not overdo it – washing after each walk is not just an extra measure, it will have a bad effect on the pet's immunity due to the destruction of the natural protective barrier in the form of a fat film.

Sleepy Kingdom
I'm even so comfortable

From puppy age, teach the Great Dane to hygienic procedures. Taking into account the size of the animal, it is almost impossible to keep it in place by force when cutting the claws, and if the process becomes habitual, no difficulties are felt. Regular brushing of teeth with a specialized paste prevents the appearance of bad breath, the formation of tartar and, in the global perspective, the need for dental treatment. Inspection and cleaning of the auricles will help to avoid local infections or notice their appearance in time. In case of plaque, increased sulfur release, foreign odor from the auditory canal, immediately contact a doctor who will diagnose and prescribe adequate treatment. The same goes for the eyes.

What do we have for lunch today

For the normal formation of the body during the period of growth and maintaining health in adulthood, proper nutrition is necessary, which is easiest to provide with the help of high-quality feeds from proven manufacturers and vitamin and mineral supplements. Natural nutrition should include lean meat (chicken, beef, rabbit) at the rate of 600-800 g per day per adult dog, cereals and vegetables. Sweets, muffins, pork, smoked meats and any leftovers from the human table are categorically contraindicated. Saving can cost you the life of a pet, so before purchasing a puppy, correlate the costs with your financial capabilities.

We must not forget that great danes have a slow metabolism, so physical exertion immediately after feeding can lead to a turn of the intestines. At least 30 minutes should pass between eating and walking.

Health and diseases of the Great Dane

Black Great Dane at the dog show

Unfortunately, perfectly built dog Apollons can boast neither good health nor a high life expectancy. At 8-9 years old, Great Danes are already old men, there are very few animals older than this age.

According to statistics, the main cause of mortality of representatives of the breed is the above–mentioned inversion of the intestines, which can develop very quickly even in a young and generally healthy animal. Without emergency surgical intervention, a fatal outcome is almost inevitable. Sudden bloating, heavy breathing, vomiting foam should be a signal for immediate treatment in the clinic!

The giant growth of the Great Dane provokes problems with the musculoskeletal system. The most common diseases are hip and elbow dysplasia, arthritis, wobbler syndrome, osteomyelitis, osteochondrosis, bone cancer. There are also frequent problems with the heart (cardiomyopathy, aortic stenosis), kidneys (Addison's disease), thyroid gland (hypothyroidism), skin (demodecosis, cutaneous histiocytoma, granuloma, interdigital dermatitis). The senses also suffer: deafness, cataracts and entropy of the eyelids are possible.

In order to ensure a good quality of life for a pet, it is important to monitor its nutrition and physical activity, regularly undergo examinations by a veterinarian.

Proper maintenance and care is the key to the health of the Great Dane

How to choose a puppy

Tips on choosing a Great Dane do not differ from general recommendations for purebred dogs: only responsible breeders, eminent kennels and a full set of medical documents that indicate the normal state of health of the baby and his parents. During a personal visit, observe the behavior of the puppy, establish contact with him. Pay attention to the conditions of keeping animals.

Photos of Great Dane puppies

How much is a Great Dane

Strict exhibition standards of Great Danes make many puppies from the litter a "breeding marriage". This does not affect the life of a dog in a loving family in any way, because we are talking about the nuances of color, the setting of ears and tail, the arch of the paw and similar details. The cost of such pets on average is $ 300. If the price is significantly lower, there is a high probability that we are not talking about a purebred animal.

Promising Great Danes that can make a career and be used in breeding are much more expensive. If you have ambitious plans associated with the purchase of a dog, get ready to pay from $ 1,000 for a puppy.

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