The origins of the Great Dane is shrouded in mystery as multiple records suggest that the dog breed is found in various parts of the world. It was depicted in artefacts of both Egypt and Babylon, on frescoes in ancient Greece in the 14th to 13th centuries B.C., in Chinese literature found in Tibet in 1121 B.C., on runestones in Scandinavia, and on coinage in Denmark from the 5th century A.D.
Regardless of its origins, the Great Dane was bred to be a hunting dog possibly descended from English Mastiffs and Irish Wolfhounds. This dog breed was originally referred to as the Boar Hound, as it was developed to hunt boars. However, its name was changed to "English Dogges" in the 16th century, and then to "Chamber Dogs" in the late 1600s to protect sleeping princes from cutthroats.
These dogs were also bred in Germany, gracing the courts of the nobility in the 17th century, and in the 19th century, an attempt was made to change its name to "German Dogge" and "German Mastiff", but due to tensions in Germany the name did not come through.
In the end, it was Comte de Buffon who successfully named the breed to "Great Dane" (as we know it today) when he travelled to Denmark and saw dogs resembling the Boar Hound. The Comte came up with the name because he thought the changes in the dog's appearance is due to the Danish weather. Most people assume the Great Dane originated in Denmark because of its name, but its long, albeit dubious, history says otherwise.
The Great Dane first appeared in the UK in 1877 while the first breed club was established in the UK later in 1885. Today, the Great Dane is a popular choice as a family companion due to its loyal and friendly nature, apart from its stunning looks.