Dog Breeds Online

The Great Dane

Picture of a Great Dane

Great Dane


A large dog similar in type to the dog that we call the Great Dane was around at the time of the ancient Egyptians. Wall reliefs in Babylon depicted men walking dogs of a similar stance and build, 2000 years BC. As with any ancient dog such as the poodle its precise history has been lost. It does seem that like the Dalmatian, it bears the name of a geographical landmark, but is not attached to it; the Great Dane was bred in Germany, as was the French Poodle.

Some zoologists believe that the Great Dane is mentioned in Chinese literature in 1121BC, they think that it originated in the Tibetan Himalayas, as did the ancient breed of Tibetan terrier. It appears that the Tibetan mastiff looked very similar to the Dane like dog of ancient times, and the Assyrians sold the breed of dog to the ancient Romans. The Romans interbred the Assyrian dog with the English mastiff and thus the Tibetan mastiff and the English were the Great Dane's ancestors.

A famous French naturalist Count Buffon felt that the Irish wolfhound was also an antecedent as the Celts had taken some of the dogs crossed by the Romans to Ireland . The original dogs, which resembled the Great Dane both in stature and size, were called boarhounds, and they hunted prey, by the end of the Sixteenth Century they were generally known in Europe as the "English" dogs. Whist traveling in Denmark Buffon saw a slimmer version of the boarhound and he named them the "Grand Danois", or the Great Dane , at the same time the heavier dogs were known as the Danish Mastiff.

What is certain is that the Germans imported the English boarhounds in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. They admired the animal's capacity to overcome bears and boars and they began a serious program of selective breeding of Great Danes. They bred them with their own stocks and developed a more streamlined different dog, which is the dog we know today in English as the Great Dane. It would be differentiated, from the English mastiff by being known as the Deutsche dog or the German dog.

Despite the fact that this new slimmer dog did gain a hold in Europe and despite its popularity the name deutsche dog never did stick. The Italians called it the Alano, which translates as mastiff. It is only in a few English-speaking countries that it is referred to as the Great Dane.

However the Danes do claim the dog as their own! Frederick II of Denmark sent to England for some English mastiff puppies given to him by Queen Elizabeth I of England . The Danish Royal tapestry of 1585-6 on show at the National museum of Denmark depicts King Frederik II. with his new "English puppy. For many years the Great Dane dog was bred in Denmark as two distinct lines, eventually they were blended and form the forefathers of the dog we know as the Great dane.


Great Dane dogs have a magnificent stature that is both elegant and powerful and have a noble bearing.Its short smooth coat may be blue, brindle, fawn, black, harlequin, or mantle.

The ears may be cropped or they may grow naturally. If a Great Dane is for show the ears are normally cropped, but may countries have outlawed this unnecessary practice. In the old days there was justification for cropping the Great Dane's ears, naturally they are large, but then so is its head, and no doubt it was painful for the dog to have its ears ripped off by a bear. The justification seems to have waned in recent times.


The Great is a very gentle giant that does not bark and rarely shows signs of aggression. It is a giant of a dog in every respect; it is affectionate and loves children. It is a dependable solid dog that does not do things rashly. It is a brave and loyal companion that makes a better watchdog than guard dog, but it does have excellent tracking abilities. As adults some Great Danes are not good with dogs of the same sex, but they are better if they are raised together as puppies. It is a people dog and despite the space it takes up it likes to be in the house.

Many of the Great Dane puppies tend to be clumsy as they are never quite sure where there legs are, but the adults are remarkably sure footed and it is very rare that are maladroit or ungainly.


Their short coats need little maintenance.


They do like exercise and the very least they need to continue to be a healthy dog is a long daily walk.


The Great Dane's sheer size can make them unmanageable. It does have a tendency to lean against people and with a weight over 100 lbs behind it that can be a serious and uncomfortable impediment. Great Dane puppies should be taught from a very early age not to lean, especially against children.

The Great Dane comes in a uniform size, - massive, and as a result of its size it can pull on a leash so obedience classes are beneficial for the Great Dane puppies. It is imperative that you demonstrate to a Great Dane its place in the pack or it will take over everything not because it is aggressive but because of its sheer size, there simply is not room in a standard double bed for a Great Dane and a couple.

Special traits

Do not jog with a Great Dane as a young puppy; Great Danes need to be at least a year old to be able to jog. They can have inherent hip problems and this is why the young puppies should not run.

Like a lot of large dogs they suffer from stomach bloat and some Great Dane owners recommend three smaller meals a day rather than the more normal canine once a day feed.

Ideal weight: 90-120 pounds / 40-55 kg
Average height: 28-34 inches / 71-86 cm
Life expectancy: It is not a long living dog. Usually their life span is only 10 years and that is with a healthy dog.


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