The Great Dane is an imposing working dog with no clear place of origin, as many records about the breed are found in various parts of the world. The Great Dane’s massive size makes him one of the tallest dog breeds.
Because of his hugeness, the Great Dane is an intimidating figure that instantly offers protection as a deterrent for people with evil intentions. The Great Dane’s size belies his sweet demeanour underneath. This gentle giant is an excellent family companion dog that is known to seek affection from his family.
The Great Dane has low exercise needs. About thirty minutes of exercise and mental stimulation is enough to tire him out. When grooming, the Great Dane’s coat requires extra attention since he is a moderate shedder. Keeping the Great Dane’s coat clean and healthy requires regular brushing.
The origins of the Great Dane are 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 fourteenth to thirteenth centuries B.C., in Chinese literature found in Tibet in 1121 B.C., on rune stones in Scandinavia, and on coinage in Denmark from the fifth century A.D.
Regardless of its origins, the Great Dane was bred to be a hunting dog possibly descended from the English mastiff and the Irish wolfhound. 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 dogge’ in the sixteenth century and then to ‘chamber dog’ in the late 1600s to protect sleeping princes from cut-throats.
This dog breed was also bred in Germany, gracing the courts of the nobility in the seventeenth century. In the nineteenth 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 are due to the Danish weather. Most people assume that 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, whilst 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. It is Kennel Club-registered.
Appearance and Grooming
The Great Dane is a massive, elegant, and muscular dog. It stands 71–81 centimetres at the withers and weighs anywhere from 100 to 200 pounds. Although it is an enormous dog, it should appear square in proportion, matching in length and height. Its head is rectangular-shaped, muzzle broad, and face chiselled, whilst nostrils are wide and open, adding a blunt look to its nose. Great Dane has a medium-size ears that are high-set on the head and are often cropped or folded forward, reaching the cheeks. It has deep-set eyes that are medium-sized and dark in colour. Its long tail should never be cropped and instead should taper to a point at the end.
The short-haired Dane comes in numerous colours, including brindle, black, fawn, blue, harlequin, or mantle. Its short coat may fool you into thinking it is low-maintenance in the grooming front, but it's not. The Great Dane is a heavy shedder since it wears its coat thick, although smooth to touch. However, some will argue that it sheds moderately except during spring and autumn when it undergoes a shedding method called ‘blowing out.’ Regardless, the Great Dane must be regularly brushed with a rubber hound mitt or a soft bristle brush to keep its coat and skin healthy.
Bathe the Dane when necessary. Use a gentle dog shampoo that is vet-approved since harsh shampoos can harm its coat. Brush its teeth at least twice a week, or preferably daily, to remove the build-up of tartar and prevent any gum disease caused by infection. Trim the Dane's nails once or twice a month, especially if you can hear clicking sounds on the floor. Long nails can cause cracking and splitting, which is painful when it is caught in things such as your carpet or upholstery. Ears should also be regularly checked and cleaned to prevent ear infections.
Temperament and Intelligence
The Great Dane is a gentle giant with a natural instinct to protect when the situation calls for it. It is an affectionate breed and loves to be around people. Most people mistake the Great Dane as an outdoor breed because of its massive size. However, the opposite is true. This dog breed is actually an indoor dog who loves nothing more than to laze around with its family and be involved in family activities. This does not mean that the Great Dane will not need enough space to roam, run, and engage in other activities to express itself. Being a large dog, the Dane is not ideal for families who live in small apartments or houses, unless there is a secure and spacious back garden.
The Dane is easy to house-train as it is a people-pleaser and a loving dog. However, if left alone to its own devices, this dog breed can cause all sorts of trouble to entertain itself. The Great Dane is best suited for families where one person stays at home. The Great Dane loves children and is good around them. However, the Dane must learn how to be gentle and careful around them, especially toddlers, as one swipe of its tail can knock a toddler over. Strict supervision must be observed during playtime.
When it comes to getting along with other pets, the giant Dane can be trained to get along with other household pets, especially those that were raised with them. However, do not forget that the Great Dane breed was once bred to be a hunting dog, so it still have quite a high prey drive. It will happily chase smaller animals that it thinks to be fair game when given a chance.
Nutrition and Feeding
A typical serving for an adult Great Dane is six to eight cups of premium dog food, spread over two meals—morning and afternoon. The amount to give your Great Dane will depend on its age, gender, size, activity level, health, and metabolism.
Below is the typical calorie needs per day of an adult Great Dane weighing 150 pounds:
- Senior and less active: up to 2,660 calories daily
- Typical adult: up to 2,990 calories daily
- Physically active/working dog: up to 3,320 calories daily
The Great Dane should be given a well-balanced diet, opting for quality dog food that is suitable for a fast-growing breed. This dog breed is prone to bloat and as such must not be free-fed. When you notice that your Dane is hungry not long after its meal, it is best to give it treats or snacks rather than another full meal.
Health and Exercise
The Great Dane has a life expectancy of eight to ten years and can live this long if owners maintain its health. However, the Dane can also suffer from genetic health issues and other acquired diseases. The following health issues must be brought to the attention of a veterinarian: dilated cardiomyopathy, bloat/gastric torsion, hip dysplasia, wobbler syndrome, Addison's disease, glaucoma, osteosarcoma, flea allergic dermatitis, splenic torsion/twisted spleen, and sensitivity to specific anaesthetics.
The Great Dane may love nothing more than to stay indoors, quiet and calm, but this dog also needs exercise. Take your Dane out for a long walk around the neighbourhood or a large secure yard to play in. An adult Great Dane will require at least thirty minutes of daily exercise, but this will depend on its activity level. Although this breed is not a jumper, make sure that the fence is at least six feet tall to prevent it from escaping.
Cost of Ownership
If you want to raise a Great Dane, be ready to pay anything from £600 to over £1000 for a well-bred pedigree puppy. To ensure that it stays healthy and well-fed, you will need to spend £50 to £60 a month on high-quality dog food. You also need to factor in the initial cost for dog accessories and equipment such as food bowls, leads, collars, and beds, which will likely be about £200 depending on the brand.
As to healthcare you need to be prepared in case your dog suddenly falls ill or gets into an accident. You can offset some medical bills if you get a pet insurance, which can range from £65 for a time-limited cover up to £115 for a lifetime one. These prices vary depending on your dog’s health and age, the type of cover you choose, and whether it has pre-existing conditions.
Other outgoings to consider are veterinary expenses that may not be included in a pet insurance coverage such as vaccinations, routine checks, neutering or spaying, and annual boosters, which can have a combined cost of £1300 annually. Roughly, you will be setting aside £100-£180 a month for recurring expenses, depending on the type of insurance cover you pay for.
Are you sure the Great Dane is the best breed for you? Take the Pet Breed Selector Quiz to find your perfect breed match.
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