Everything You Ever Wanted to Know about the Majestic Great Dane

Popularly referred to as a “gentle giant,” the Great Dane is a dog breed that’s nothing short of majestic. Tall, noble, muscular, and sleek, the Great Dane has a truly commanding presence that’d make you believe it’s an aggressive dog. However, once you get to know and interact with one, you’ll instantly change your perspective and realize that Great Danes generally have a heart as big as they are! They’re so sweet they’ll want to share the couch with you and help you watch your favorite Netflix movie.

Great Dane

In fact, they are unbelievably sociable, great with kids, loveable, and perhaps a perfect fit for just about any family. For these reasons and many more, I’m darn sure you’d love to know more about them before deciding whether to live with one.

If you’ve been looking to bring home a Great Dane, odds are you’ve always wanted to know everything about this dog breed. While a pet’s personality and temperament are some of the critical factors that you should consider as a dog owner, the best thing to do spend some time researching everything you need to know about the breed before bringing home your furry friend.

To save your time and cut you from the stress of researching here and there, I’ve compiled everything you ever wanted to know about the grandiose Great Dane.

Where do Great Danes come from?

Although this dog’s name may mislead you to think that they originated from Denmark, that’s far from the real story. Believed to be a crossbreed between the English Mastiff and the Irish wolfhound, the origins of the Great Dane can be traced back to the Ancient Egyptian times.

Many monuments dating back to 3,000 B.C. have shown drawings of dogs believed to exactly resemble Great Danes that were used for hunting and protection. There’s also evidence of a similar type of dog was present in ancient Tibet and was documented in Chinese Literature in 1121 B.C.

But the modern Great Dane can be traced in the 16th century when they became known as English Dogges. According to dogtime.com, this breed became so popular with German noblemen who bred them in great numbers and called them Kammerhunde, meaning Chamber Dog. At the time, they were considered the biggest and the most handsome dog breed in the world and could be owned only by royals and the very wealthy. According to Vet Street, the Great Dane was in fact named the national dog of Germany in 1876.

How big can Great Danes Get?

Don’t be misled by the appearance of a young Great Dane puppy because it can indeed become a giant within the next month! As colossal as they might become, a mature Great Dane can generally weigh 150 to 200 pounds, stand over 40 inches on all its legs, and measure 7 feet tall when standing on its hind legs!

Great Dane Size

According to the Guinness World Record, the record for the tallest dog ever is held by a Great Dane named Zeus. Owned by an American family, Zeus measured 44 inches tall and weighed 155 pounds!

Zeus, the tallest dog in the world with his owner Mrs. Doorlag.
Photo: Guinness World Records

What is the Full Grown Size for a Great Dane?

It may take your Great Dane up to three years to be considered fully grown. However, a Great Dane can attain his full weight and height after 18 months. By this time, your male Great Dane could be around 30 to 34 inches tall with a weight ranging between 120 to 200 pounds. On the other hand, a female Great Dane could measure 28 to 32 inches tall with a weight range of 100 to 130 pounds.

What Age is Great Danes Considered Fully Grown?

According to the American Kennel Club (AKC), your Great Dane will be considered fully grown by the age of 3 to 4 years. Generally, they grow quite fast and may achieve their height and weight at 18 months but will become physically mature after 36 months.

What is the Ideal Weight for a Great Dane?

Given their gigantic physical attributes, your Great Dane will eat quite a lot when growing up. If you however let him eat too much, he can grow too fast and may suffer from potentially serious growth disorders and may even suffer from canine bloat!

For this reason, it’s always important to monitor your Dane’s eating habits and weight. The ideal weight for your male Great Dane should therefore be somewhere between 140 to 170 pounds when fully grown. Similarly, the ideal weight for your female Great Dane should range between 110 and 140 pounds.

What is the Average Lifespan of a Great Dane?

Despite their larger-than-life aura, Great Danes have a relatively short lifespan, especially when compared with small dog breeds. According to PetHelpful.com, a Great Dane is likely to live for 6 to 8 years with only 17% of this breed likely to hit the decade mark. If your Dane is lucky enough, he might survive up to 12 years but this is very rare.

This may seem unfair given that small dog breeds can live almost twice as long. Such an interesting paradox may make you question how nature works. For instance, why do some of the largest animals in the world such as elephants and whales have some of the longest lifespans while some of the smallest animals such as rodents live only for a few years? Well, the same theory doesn’t apply to dogs and you should feel very lucky if your Great Dane surpasses the ten-year mark.

What Colors do Great Danes Come In?

According to AKC, The Great Dane is one of the few dog breeds which come in a variety of patterns and color coats. In most cases, these colors are as bold and gorgeous as the dogs themselves.

Great Dane colors

Available in different 9 color patterns, you can choose a Great Dane with color patterns such as: black glossy coat, fawn coat that must be golden-yellow in color, pure steel-blue color, Harlequin with a tone of white and black patches, brindle coat color with golden-yellow color and black markings across the body in a chevron pattern, mantle black color with a white neck and chest, merle coat with gray and black spots, fawn-colored Harlequin (a combination of white and brown patches), and white Great Danes, which are very rare.

What are Harlequin Great Danes?

Arguably one the most popular types of the Great Dane breed, Harlequin Great Dane is a treat on the eyes thanks to their distinctive pure white coat with a tone of black patches. While the black patches should appear irregularly and cover the entire body, many people prefer their neck to be pure white.

You shouldn’t confuse puppy Harlequin Great Dane with a Dalmatian. The lovely Harlequin Great Danes carry genes of other colors, which are mentioned above, and so breeding two Harlequins won’t necessarily produce a Harlequin puppy. You should therefore keep in mind that no two Harlequins Great Danes are alike as they’re distinctive in their own unique and individual ways.

Great Dane Temperament and Personality

There’s no doubt that all dogs exhibit unique characteristics and personalities. While some fit better in a given family than others, the same cannot be said about Great Danes. Ask any random Great Dane owner and he/she will tell you that there’s a reason why Great Danes are known as gentle giants.

Although their appearance gives them an assertive and formidable look, Great Danes generally have loving and calm personalities. They’re noble, loyal, gentle, and certainly one of the most even-tempered dog breeds. Their extremely playful nature means that you won’t have to worry about your Great Dane mauling your kid. In fact, your Great Dane and your kid will make a great pair as long as the kid is big enough to handle such a gigantic breed.

Great Dane temperament

Even with their enormous size, your Great Dane will still attempt to become a lap dog if you give him a chance. This shows just how affectionate they’re and will become just another member of your loving family. Some key behavioral features that your Great Dane is likely to display include: good-natured, territorial, protective, intelligent, laid-back and protective.

Are Great Danes Stubborn?

According to aboutgreatdanes.com, these dogs can sometimes become very stubborn. They will at times refuse to follow your orders or become obedient, but this depends hugely on how well they’re trained. While this can be very frustrating, you should be patient with him and ensure that he’s properly trained to follow your orders and be obedient.

Many dog experts say that Great Danes are so stubborn because they’re a smart and sensitive dog breed that seems to know what’s right for him/her. Again, they’re playful and may be just down to some humor and playful nature. You should simply find a way around this stubbornness.

Are Great Danes Aggressive?

Although the Great Dane is typically an easygoing gentle giant that’s mild-mannered and peaceful with other parts, their size gives them the potential to become dangerous on a snap. They can be dominant, pushy and very aggressive especially when threatened.

Your Great Dane won’t fail to announce the arrival of a visitor or an intruder but can be protective and standoffish if they feel threatened. Given its huge size, your Great Dane can be bossy if not trained properly. It’s therefore crucial to ensure that he’s trained to be obedient. Additionally, you should introduce your Great Dane to people, other dogs, situations, and the environment from a very young age so as to reduce his aggressive nature.

Do Great Danes Bite?

Given that the ancestors of the Great Dane were used in hunting, modern Great Danes can bite, but only when they feel threatened by strangers. As noted above, Great Danes are typically friendly and non-violent. This doesn’t however mean that they won’t bite if threatened or attacked.

Your Great Dane’s daunting size, weight, and power mean that having a biting behavior can make him significantly dangerous to those involved. For this reason, it’s always advisable not to put your Great Dane in a situation where he feels cornered, frightened or threatened since these are recipes to a devastating bite and attack from the Great Dane.

Are Great Danes Affectionate?

Your couch may not be big enough to accommodate a 150 to 200 pound Great Dane, but he’ll still find a way to cuddle and snuggle around you! That’s simply because he’s so affectionate and will always want to be around his master. In fact, your Great Dane will even let other pets perch on his gigantic back and have no problem with that as long as he’s raised with them.

Are Great Danes good with Kids and Families?

Their playful nature makes them a hit with kids and will be protective in the event of any danger. You should however make sure that your kids are old enough to handle the Great Dane’s imposing stature.

If well trained, you shouldn’t be worried about the Great Dane harming your kids or any member of the family as long as they do not become aggressive towards him. All you need to do is ensure that your kid and the Great Dane have an understanding and they’ll be best of friends and companions.

Do Great Danes Make Good Pets?

The straightforward answer to this question would be YES! A Great Dane will make an excellent pet given that they do well with children, other pets and all members of the family. His imposing physique may be intimidating, but he’s a gentle giant that’s smart, noble, well-mannered, cuddly, protective, playful, and very affectionate.

I actually do not see any reason why you might regret bringing a Great Dane into your home as a member of your household. In fact, it could turn out to be one of the best decisions you ever made.

Are Great Danes Easy to Train?

Although training a dog can be quite challenging, the Great Dane makes this challenge quite amusing and enjoyable as long as you begin the process at a young age. Great Danes are known to have an innate desire to please, which basically makes them absolutely easy to train.

Great Danes are easy to train

One of the main things to take into consideration when training your Great Dane is to ensure that he becomes very obedient. By being obedient, your Great Dane will trust you and listen to you when it matters most. Their intelligent nature means that they’ll master the training quite fast, become loyal and follow your commands.

Do Great Danes need a lot of Exercises?

As a general rule, Great Danes aren’t a breed that requires excessive exercise. You shouldn’t therefore over exercise him particularly when he’s still a growing puppy. That said, you should engage your growing puppy in minimal exercise to keep him healthy and in shape. Conversely, you shouldn’t overwork your young Great Dane during his rapid growth period since this can have devastating effects on his hip and joint development.

Great Danes are playful

Engaging your Great Dane in moderate exercises such as walking and little play is just fine. Again, daily walks are highly recommended as they offer your Great Dane the much required mental stimulation, fitness and the chance of socialization. Something between 30 minutes to one hour walk would just serve him right. Always keep in mind that excessive exercise could damage your Great Dane’s hips and joints.

Do Great Danes Shed a lot?

As a potential owner to the majestic Great Dane, you probably want to know whether this gentle dog sheds a lot. While all dogs tend to lose old or damages hair through shedding, Great Danes do not shed a lot of hair. According to the Vet Street, dog breeds that have double coat shed a lot and would require more grooming. Fortunately, this cannot be said of the Great Danes. They have a short, smooth single coat that’s basically easy to maintain.

Your Great Dane will shed moderately throughout the year but is likely to shed more during spring. Nonetheless, this is a normal process that shouldn’t get you worried unless it becomes excessive, which is again rare in Great Danes.

Are Great Danes Hypoallergenic?

Hypoallergenic dogs refer to those dog breeds that cause fewer allergic reactions than others. While no dog is 100% hypoallergenic, there are some pooches that have less dander that tend to cause allergies.

As far as the Great Dane is concerned, it’s not a hypoallergenic dog and may not prevent you from suffering from various allergies that may be caused by having dogs around you.

How often should You Bathe a Great Dane?

It’s important to bathe and groom your Great Dane on a regular basis. This is essential in minimizing shedding while also maintaining healthy skin and coat. You can consider bathing the Great Dane on a weekly basis , but this should depend on his lifestyle and activity level.

It’s often advisable to go over the dog’s entire body with a high-velocity dryer to remove any loose coat before bathing him. This is also essential in loosening dirt or any form of debris. If you can’t afford such a dryer, you can use a slicker brush to lightly card the coat and help accelerate shedding before bathing him.

Do Great Danes Bark a lot?

Great Danes aren’t known for nuisance barking given their calm and laidback nature. However, they can be among the loudest, deepest and biggest barkers if allowed to especially when they come across strangers. This also makes them good watch dogs and will alert you of any intruder or new arrival.

Do Great Danes have a lot of Health Problems?

If you’re planning to bring a Great Dane into your home, it’s appropriate to come to terms with the fact that there are some health problems that are common in Great Danes.

According to the Canine Journal, the most common health issue in Great Danes is Gastric Torsion, widely known as canine bloat. This can occur when your Great Dane overeats or eats too fast, and can be life-threatening. As food passes through his stomach, gas builds up and the stomach expands. This can then limit the dog’s blood circulation to the heart and to the stomach, which can cause extreme damage to the dog’s vital tissues.

Other health problems common in Great Danes include hip dysplasia (chronic condition), cardiomyopathy, tricuspid valve disease, and bone cancer.

Are Great Danes good for First-Time Owners?

Despite their gigantic size, Great Danes can be literally great for first-time owners since they have a low maintenance lifestyle. They eat quite little and require minimal grooming. While many people are quick to recommend smaller dog breeds to first-time owners, a Great Dane can be fine especially if small dogs don’t work for you.

Great Danes are a good choice for first-time owners

What Dog Food should Great Danes Eat?

At the growth stage, a Dane puppy can consume 10 to 12 cups of premium dog food on a daily basis. But once they become mature (after 3 years), they’ll eat substantially less.

It’s recommended that you give your Great Dane premium dog food made of 23% protein and 12% fat. You can therefore go for dog foods such as Eukanuba Large Breed, Royal Canin Dry Dog Food, and Hill Science Dry Dog Food.

How Many Times should you feed a Great Dane in a Day?

One important thing to keep in mind when it comes to feeding your Great Dane is that this is a dog breed that’s prone to canine bloat, and so shouldn’t be given large chunks of food all at once.

When it comes to feeding a Great Dane puppy, you can divide the meals into portions and feed him throughout the day. You should do this until your puppy is nine months old after which you can feed him three times a day. When he becomes an adult, you can feed him twice a day.

Keep in mind that giving your Great Dane one large meal per day isn’t appropriate for him or for any other dog for that matter. Again, make sure that you give him enough time to digest food before engaging him in any activity to minimize any possibility of digestive upsets or bloats. Two hours would be efficient.

What Human Foods can Great Danes Eat?

Although giving your dog human food is a highly contentious topic, there’s nothing wrong with giving your dog appropriate human food once in a while. You should keep in mind that every dog is unique and may be allergic or sensitive to certain foods.

Some of the human foods that you can consider giving your Great Dane include whole meat such as lamb, fish, whole chicken, and beef. You can also give them milk, honey, ham, eggs, corn, bread, coconut, cashews, and cheese. You should however NOT give your Great Dane foods such as almonds, chocolate, cinnamon, garlic, ice cream, and macadamia nuts.

How Many Puppies can Great Danes Have?

Generally, the average litter size in Great Danes is 8 puppies with 10 puppies not that uncommon. You should keep in mind that Great Danes are prone to birthing difficulties. For this reason, you can consider elective cesarean delivery to minimize any risk that might occur during birth.

Final Thoughts about Getting a Great Dane

To this end, there’s no doubt that the Great Dane is one of the biggest dog breeds that you can ever own. His colossal size may be a sight to behold and intimidating as well. However, the Great Dane is a gentle giant, affectionate, protective playful, mild-mannered, and truly great with kids. This is certainly a dog breed that can be absolutely great for just about any family. I can vouch for them and assure you that you’ll never regret getting one. It’s a marvelous journey worth trying. Let’s go Dane lovers!