The Great Dane is one of the largest dog breeds, classified as “giant”. They are known for not only their huge size but also their gentle, friendly nature. They are often referred to as “gentle giants”.
Great Danes are square-shaped in the body and head and have floppy, triangular ears. They have a short, thick coat which comes in a variety of colours including fawn, brindle, black, harlequin, mantle and blue.
They are average shedders and do not require much grooming. A brush and bath whenever necessary should be sufficient, though bathing a Great Dane can be a challenge. Be sure to keep the dog’s nails trimmed to a reasonable length.
Male Great Danes stand between 76 and 86 cm tall and weigh between 54 and 91 kg, while females stand around 71-81 cm tall and weigh in at 45-59 kg. For Great Dane enthusiasts, the motto is “the bigger the better”. The lifespan of a Great Dane is usually under 10 years.
Despite their size, Great Danes only need moderate exercise. Especially Great Dane puppies should not be over exercised as their soft growing bones, joints, and ligaments become over-stressed and damaged. If kept in an apartment, it is essential that your Great Dane gets a walk every day, but generally Danes do best with a large yard to run around and play in.
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Don’t let its enormous size fool you – the Great Dane is a gentle giant. Danes are incredibly affectionate, sweet and patient dogs who are great with children. They don’t bark unless they feel the need to alert their family, and are rarely aggressive.
You may be tempted to let a little Great Dane puppy jump on you and sit on your lap, but it is important to establish rules early because before long, the puppy will be almost as big as you!
The Great Dane is an intelligent dog who is eager to please. If given lots of early training and socialisation, the Great Dane can be a good companion for other dogs, though it should not live in the same household as smaller pets such as rabbits and mice.
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Great Danes are considered to be one of the oldest breeds of dogs – their ancestors have been depicted on 5,000-year-old Egyptian monuments, ancient Greek frescoes and more.
It is probable that the Great Dane we see today descended from crossbreeding the English Mastiff and Irish Wolfhound in Europe. Focused breeding of Great Danes arose in early 17th century Germany, where they were known as “Kammerhunde” (chamber dogs) and “Englischer Hund” (referring to its ancestors’ English roots).
The name was changed in the 19th century from “German boarhound” to “Great Dane” after the “grand danois” in Histoire naturelle, générale et particulière by Buffon in 1755.
The Great Dane was officially recognised by the AKC in the late 19th century and as of 2013 is the 16th most popular breed in the US.