Great Danes, the most gentle of giant breeds, are also known as the “Apollo of Dogs” due to their great size and loving personalities. If you are interested in this dog breed, read on for an ultimate guide on Great Danes.
Great Danes are called “Deutsche Hund” in Germany, “Great Danois” in Denmark, and “Alano” in Italy. Whatever you choose to call them, Great Danes make great pets. Taking care of a Great Dane is a huge responsibility as they require daily exercise, regular grooming, and lots of love.
Due to their giant size, every aspect of owning a Great Dane can seem a big task. Bathing them is one of the tasks that may seem a large adventure in mechanics. These gentle giants need daily exercise, large living areas, and their own space coupled with large amounts of affection. The following post aims to provide all the information about one of the largest dog breeds on earth.
Great Dane: The Complete Guide
If you are fighting with the idea of adding a Great Dane to your family, then read on through, and get an idea of what you are letting yourself in for. Great Danes are a great responsibility and deserve and require certain characteristics and care from their owners.
Breed Origin And History Of Great Danes
The first description of Great Dane-like dogs, dated back to 3000 BC, was first found on relics of Egyptian origin. Babylonian temples also yielded accurate descriptions dating back to around 2000 B.C. Chinese literature of 1100 B.C. also features documented descriptions.
The Assyrians often exported dogs to the Romans and Greeks and are credited with spreading the breed worldwide. These canines were later crossed with various breeds by the Greeks and Romans.
Great Danes were originally known as Boar Hounds because they were trained to chase boars. The moniker of the breed was altered to “English Dogges” in the 16th century, as many European aristocrats bought these long-legged dogs from England derived from crossbreeds between English Mastiffs and Irish Wolfhounds.
Since the 17th century, the dogs have been bred in an original German way, independent of English methods. When judges and dog breeders gathered in Berlin in 1880, it was decided that it deserved to be called “Deutsche Dog” or “German Dog because the German version was distinct from the English Mastiff.
When the Frenchman Georges-Louis Leclerc came to Denmark in the 1700s, he encountered a lean variant of a Boar Hound that looked more like a Greyhound. He named the dog “Grand Danois,” which translated to “Great Danish Dog.” The larger specimens of the breed were known as Danish Mastiffs.
Most dog breed historians credit the Germans for developing the Great Dane into the well-loved canine of modern times. Unfortunately for the Germans, not all countries accepted the new name. Italians refer to Great Danes as “Alano,” which translates to Mastiff, and most English-speaking nations refer to it as Great Danes.
Nobody is quite sure when Great Danes were introduced to the dog public of the U.S. We know that the Great Dane Club of America originated in 1889.
Size, Appearance, And Life Expectancy Of A Great Dane
Great Danes are some of the biggest dog breeds in the world. Just how big can they be, you ask? Well, bigger than a Grey wolf! Great Danes have incredibly muscular bodies that rest on a big frame.
Great Dane Size Chart
Take this size chart with a grain of salt; every dog is different, and if your dog appears to be ahead of or behind this chart, you shouldn’t be concerned unless the variances are significant. If you are worried that your Dane is not growing as it should, take him to the vet for a check-up.
|1 to 2 lbs.
|One Week Old
|2 to 3 lbs.
|Two Weeks Old
|3 to 5 lbs.
|Three Weeks Old
|4 to 7 lbs.
|One Month Old
|5 to 8 lbs.
|Two Months Old
|15 to 30 lbs.
|13 to 18 inches
|Three Months Old
|25 to 45 lbs.
|17 to 23 inches
|Four Months Old
|45 to 65 lbs.
|20 to 25 inches
|Five Months Old
|60 to 85 lbs.
|24 to 30 inches
|Six Months Old
|65 to 100 lbs.
|26 to 33 inches
|Seven Months Old
|70 to 110 lbs.
|27 to 34 inches
|Eight Months Old
|80 to 120 lbs.
|28 to 34 inches
|Nine Months Old
|85 to 125 lbs.
|28 to 35 inches
|Twelve Months Old
|95 to 140 lbs.
|29 to 36 inches
|140 to 200 lbs.
|30 to 36 inches
|110 to 140 lbs.
|28 to 32 inches
Great Dane Coat
The coat of a Great Dane is short, very dense, and glossy. Great Danes shed lots of hair, but this issue can be circumvented with regular grooming techniques.
Colors Of A Great Dane
Great Danes that are bred for conformation showing by breeders will display the following prime colors:
Life Expectancy Of A Great Dane
Most big dog breeds struggle to make it past a decade when it comes to life expectancy. A Great Dane is expected to live to about five to seven years before “old” age, and health problems take their toll.
Many healthy Great Danes have reached the ancient age of eight to ten years. One of the oldest Great Danes in the world, named Pirate, lived for eleven and a half years before he went to doggy heaven.
Feeding A Great Dane
A fast-growing giant-breed puppy like a Great Dane needs more nutrition than most dog breeds. A Great Dane puppy should not consume conventional puppy food since it is too rich for them; instead, they should take puppy chow specifically intended for large dogs.
It’s recommended to avoid adding any supplements to their diets, especially calcium. Consult with a nutritionist or local vet for the dietary requirements of your Great Dane, specifically recommended for the gender and age of your dog.
Great Danes require a proper diet to help them reach their full potential. The finest dog diets for Great Danes have recipes that are specifically intended for these massive dogs, like the following:
- Holistic Select Giant Breed Puppy Dog Food – Best For Puppies
- Holistic Select Giant Breed Dog Food – Best For Adults
- Wellness Complete Health Large Breed Dog Food – Best Premium Choice
- Hill’s Science Diet Healthy Mobility Large Breed Dog Food – Best For Joint Health
- Natural Balance Limited Ingredient Large Breed Dog Food – Best For Allergies
- Nutro Natural Choice Healthy Weight Large Breed Dog Food – Best For Weight-Loss
- Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Senior Dog Food – Best For Seniors
How Much Should You Feed Your Great Dane?
Many Great Dane owners feed their Danes a large meal once a day. Please refrain from doing this, as a Great Dane can develop gastric torsion directly resulting from this feeding method.
Generally speaking, a Great Dane should be fed the following amount of food (cups) per day, according to their respective age:
|Number Of Cups
|Meals Per Day
|3 to 6 Months – Female
|3 to 6 Months – Male
|8 to 12 Months – Female
|8 to 12 Months – Male
|Adolescent – Female
|Adolescent – Male
|Adult – Female
|Adult – Male
Puppies need to eat regularly – but you should keep an eye on their weight. When you look down at them, you should not see the ribcage, but you should be able to feel it under the skin. The puppy should have a discernible waist. This observation is true for pups of any size, large or small.
Follow all the dog food bag instructions and adjust the amount based on your puppy’s appetite and bodily condition.
Grooming A Great Dane
Great Danes puppies should be used to grooming while they are still young. Whatever your grooming method, ensure that you make the process a positive one by handing out treats and giving them some vocal praise during the groom.
Bathing A Great Dane
These gentle giants shed a lot, but regularly brushing them keeps their coats in good shape. Bath time consists of shampooing as needed using a hard bristle brush. Brushing your Great Dane’s coat keeps it healthy and clean, decreasing the number of baths required.
Make sure to handle and inspect your Great Dane’s paws and mouth from a young age, as these actions will prepare them for any veterinary encounter in the future. Grooming gives you the perfect opportunity to check if your best friend is healthy.
Inspecting A Great Dane
Grooming aims to give you the chance to do a full inspection of your Great Dane. Look for sores and skin inflammation (redness) in the nose and mouth area. The eyes should be clear with no visible discharge or redness.
Cleaning A Great Dane’s Ears
Make it a set-in-stone habit to clean their ears weekly using ear cleansing finger wipes for dogs. Check for any redness or a bad smell, as this indicates an infection. Never insert something into the ear’s canal. Focus on cleaning the outer ear only.
Brushing A Great Dane’s Teeth
Many dog owners don’t brush their dog’s teeth. The tartar buildup and bacteria levels would be unhealthy for a dog’s teeth and gums and could lead to dental issues as they get older.
Ideally, you should brush your Great Dane’s teeth every day, but if you can do it 2 to three times a week, you’re in contention for dog-owner-of-the-year.
Trimming A Great Dane’s Nails
The rule of dog nails is if you can hear them clicking on the floor, they should have been cut yesterday. Be wary when you cut their nails as they contain blood vessels, and if you cut them too short, you will have some trouble convincing your Dane to cooperate in another blood bath.
A doggy parlor’s staff is well-trained in trimming Great Dane nails, making them your first option if you have no experience.
Physical Needs Of A Great Dane
Great Danes are high-energy dogs with loads of stamina, requiring daily exercise paired with mental stimulation. If you’re looking for a dog that’s a couch potato type, then a Great Dane isn’t the right dog for you.
A gentle nighttime stroll around the block is fine for some breeds. Others, like the Great Dane, particularly trained for physically demanding duties like herding or hunting, require regular, rigorous exercise.
These breeds may gain weight if they don’t get enough exercise and release their pent-up energy in undesirable ways, including barking, chewing, and digging.
Great Danes Require Regular Exercise
The joints and bones of giant dog breeds like the Great Dane will take a long time before they are fully grown. It’s recommended that you don’t jog with them until they reach the age of 18 months to 2 years of age, as you don’t want to put extra stress on these growing parts too soon.
While they are relatively peaceful indoors, they require one long walk every day. A large yard will help ensure that they get to exercise while you are not at home. Great Danes love to play.
Great Danes, according to their age and activity level, require the following amount of daily exercise:
- Great Dane Puppies: 90 minutes of exercise per day.
- Great Dane Adolescents: 90 minutes of exercise per day.
- Great Dane Adults: 30 to 60 minutes of exercise per day.
Here is a little landscaping tip for owners that love gardening: Great Danes are inquisitive dogs that enjoy destroying any well-thought-out and well-maintained garden. Plant your garden where the Great Dane won’t have access to it.
Usually, a fence of about 6-foot should keep a Great Dane in your yard, away from the neighbor’s garden, as they are not big jumpers.
Training A Great Dane
Yes, they are massive and scary to people who don’t own one (especially burglars), but what type of dog personality can you expect from a Great Dane. Are Great Danes easy to train, and what would an interaction with children and other pets look like?
Are Great Danes Trainable?
Great Danes are easy-to-train dogs who are adept at learning and responding to prompts. The most helpful advice to give to anyone who wants to get a Great Dane puppy in the near future is to enroll them in obedience training classes immediately.
They won’t stay small puppies forever, and as large adults, they can be very hard to control. Work in a treat as a form of reward in your training techniques, and you will be delighted to see how quickly these dogs catch on.
You want to do some crate training from a very young age, ensuring that your Great Dane doesn’t have accidents in the house. You will need a massive crate, and the sooner you train them to understand that the crate is their safe place to nap or retreat, the better.
Great Dane Personality And Temperament
Great Danes are fun. They love to be loved and give that love back to anyone around them. Their personalities are gentle, playful, sweet, and patient. They require tons of affection and do well in social settings with other people and pets.
Great Danes make an awesome family pet if the family has an energetic lifestyle full of life. They are super protective over the ones they love and a pretty good watchdog, scaring people by just the sheer size of their giant bodies.
Great Danes And Other Pets
In general, Great Danes will get along with the other pets in your house without a hitch. But as with any animal, you might get a Great Dane that will be less tolerant of other pets or one that may be a little aggressive towards larger livestock.
Don’t be surprised to find your massive Great Dane snuggling up with a cat or fellow canine in very comfortable settings. They are called ‘gentle giants” for a specific reason.
Great Danes And Children
Great Danes love people, and that includes children of any age. They are typically very gentle with them, especially if the child was raised with them from when they were a puppy.
Great Danes don’t know how big they are compared to a young child, so a few knockdowns are to be expected. A playful interaction can be expected as long as a child does not try to take food from a Great Dane.
Your job is to teach your small children how to approach a dog safely and touch them properly. A supervisory role is always recommended when children and dogs interact to prevent pulling of ears, tails, and biting from both parties.
Are Great Danes Healthy Dogs?
Generally speaking, the Great Dane breed is a healthy dog type, but they are susceptible to specific health conditions. Like with any dog breed, some diseases are known to affect Great Danes.
It’s not to say that all Great Danes will suffer from the following diseases, but it could affect some.
Heart Conditions That Affect Great Danes
Roughly 95% of heart disease cases in dogs are classified as “acquired” as they are caused by normal wear and tear. Accidents or infections can cause some heart disease, and middle-aged or older dogs are typically affected, like the following for example:
- Dilated cardiomyopathy
- Patent ductus arteriosus
- Valve defects (mitral)
- Heartworm disease
- Tricuspid valve
- Persistent aortic arch (right)
The prognosis and treatment for each condition differ based on the dog’s age and overall health.
Great Danes And Wobbler Disease
Wobbler illness, which affects the spinal column, can potentially impact the Great Danes. Because these dogs grow quickly, the bones in their vertebrae can push up against the spinal cord, causing leg ataxia. Wobbler disease can be addressed surgically, or it may heal on its own.
Gastric Dilatation Volvulus (Bloat): The Great Dane Killer
The condition that ends up killing the most Great Danes is called:
- Gastric Dilatation Volvulus
- Gastric Torsion
This life-threatening illness, often called bloat, can affect huge canines like Great Danes. The condition typically occurs if they are only fed one substantial meal each day, which they devour quickly, drink a lot of water afterward, and exercise intensely after this big meal.
Bloat typically affects elderly dogs more frequently, and it happens if the stomach twists after being dilated with air (torsion) or gas. Because the dog cannot vomit or belch to expel the surplus air in its stomach, the regular blood flow to the heart can be hampered.
The dog’s blood pressure falls alarmingly, and he can move into shock. The canine may die if medical help is not provided immediately. To decrease the chances of bloat happening to your beloved Great Dane, ensure that a rest period of 1 hour is adhered to before exercising after a meal.
Symptoms of bloat include:
- Uncomfortable Stance/Posture/Movement
- Firm Distention Of The Abdomen
- Difficulty Breathing
- Retching Without Vomiting
- Weight Loss
- Loss Of Appetite
- Extreme Discomfort (No Apparent Reason)
How Hip Dysplasia Can Affect Great Danes
Hip dysplasia is caused by a femur that doesn’t fit properly into the pelvic socket or underdeveloped pelvic muscles, possibly due to a hereditary defect. Dogs can present with pain and lameness on one or both rear legs, while others show no signs of distress.
Arthritis could occur in either case as the dog ages. The most effective method of determining if your Great Dane suffers from hip dysplasia is to take them for an X-ray screening.
When one hip can’t move as it should, the Dane will adapt its use of the spine; often leading to spinal, soft tissue, and knee joint damage.
Symptoms of hip dysplasia include:
- “Bunny Hopping”: To reduce pain, the Great Dane will try to reduce the movement of the affected hip. Moving both legs together, a sort of bunny hop is a sure sign that something is wrong.
- Stiffness: Great Danes suffering from dysplasia will lack dynamic movement when running or jumping. You will notice a general stiffness in how your dog moves, and it should be an indicator of distress.
Bone Cancer In Great Danes
The most frequent bone tumor detected in dogs is bone cancer, referred to as osteosarcoma. Older dogs are more susceptible to the condition, but bigger breeds like a Great Dane are more likely to develop these tumors at an earlier age.
Osteosarcoma is a severe bone cancer that affects large and giant breeds. Lameness can be the first indicator of bone cancer, but X-rays are required to determine whether the culprit is a malignant tumor.
Osteosarcoma is typically treated aggressively with chemotherapy and amputation. Dogs can, on average live an extra nine months to more than two years with treatment. Dogs, fortunately, can adjust to living life on only three legs, and so will a Great Dane should one of their big legs be amputated.
Great Names For Great Danes
If you’re convinced now that Great Dane is the dog for you, you might struggle to think of a name fitting for this elegantly poised giant of a dog. Spot, Pookie, or Mr. Fluffels will not do this majestic hound any justice.
Here are some popular male Great Dane names:
Here are some popular female Great Dane names:
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