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The Great Dane, also known as Apollo Dog, Deutsch Dogge, or German Mastiff, is an imposingly large breed 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. He is bred to hunt wild boars, and today, he is categorised as one of the working breeds. Because of his physicality, the Great Dane is an intimidating figure that instantly offers protection as a deterrent for people with bad intentions.
The Great Dane's size belies his sweet demeanour underneath. This gentle giant is an excellent family companion dog that is good with children. He is also known to seek affection from his family.
The giant Great Dane has low exercise needs. About 30 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 Great Dane is also referred to as the Apollo of Dogs because of the elegance and grace he exudes. The Great Dane was primarily bred to be a hunting dog. His origins are shrouded in mystery as multiple records suggest that the dog breed is found in various parts of the world.
The Great Dane 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 coinage in Denmark from the fifth century A.D.
The Great Dane dog is even said to be companions of Assyrians. He was then traded to Greeks and Romans and bred with other dog breeds. Parent breeds of the dog are believed to be the Irish Greyhound, Irish Wolfhound, and ancestors of the English Mastiff.
Regardless of the Great Dane's origins, he is believed to have descended from the English Mastiff and the Irish Wolfhound.
This breed of dog was originally referred to as the boarhound, as he was developed to hunt boars. However, his name was changed to 'English Dogge' in the 16th century and then to 'Chamber Dog' in the late 1600s to protect sleeping princes from cut-throats.
The Great Dane dog breed was also bred in Germany, gracing the courts of the nobility in the 17th century. In the 19th century, an attempt was made to change his name to 'German Dogge' and 'German Mastiff', but due to tensions in Germany, the name did not come through.
The Great Dane was further developed by wealthy German breeders in the late 19th century. The breed is known as German Mastiff or Deutsch Dogge in Germany.
The breeders were focused on turning the Dane's aggressive temperament into a gentle one. That's because he was primarily bred as a hunting dog; thus he is often ferocious and intimidating. Thanks to these breeder's efforts, the Great Dane breed is now a sweet-natured and loving family companion.
In the end, it was Comte de Buffon who successfully named the breed to 'Great Dane' (as we know today) when he travelled to Denmark and saw dogs resembling the boarhound. 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 his name, but his long, albeit dubious, history suggests otherwise.
The first Great Dane appeared in the UK in 1877, whilst the first Great Dane club was established in the UK later in 1885. Today, the Great Dane is a popular choice as a family companion due to his loyal and friendly nature, apart from his stunning looks. He is Kennel Club-registered.
The Great Dane is a gentle, massive, elegant, and muscular dog. He stands 71–86 centimetres at the withers and weighs anywhere from 45–90 kilos. Although he is an enormous dog, he should appear square in proportion, matching in length and height.
The Great Dane's head is rectangular-shaped, muzzle broad, and face chiselled, whilst nostrils are wide and open, adding a blunt look to his nose.
The Great Dane has medium-sized ears that are high-set on the head and are often cropped or folded forward, reaching the cheeks. He has deep-set eyes that are medium-sized and dark in colour. His 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. His short coat may fool you into thinking he is low-maintenance on the grooming front, but he's not.
The Great Dane is a heavy shedder since he wears his coat thick, although smooth to touch. However, some will argue that he sheds moderately except during spring and autumn when he undergoes a shedding method called 'blowing out.'
Because of his heavy shedding, the Great Dane is non-hypoallergenic. If you are suffering from pet allergies, this dog is not the best choice for you.
When grooming the Great Dane, brushing his coat with a rubber hound mitt or a soft bristle brush should be done regularly. Bathe the Dane when necessary. Use a gentle dog shampoo that is vet-approved since harsh shampoos can harm his coat.
Brush his 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.
Keeping the Great Dane's face clean needs extra effort as he is prone to drooling. He often starts slobbering once he catches a scent or smells mouth-watering food.
Always carry a clean towel with you every time you're with the dog to wipe off his drool. Placing a washable towel under the Great Dane's food and water bowls is a good idea as well.
The Great Dane is a gentle giant with an instinct to protect when the situation calls for it. He is an affectionate breed and loves to be around people. The Great Dane is best suited for families where one person stays at home. This giant dog loves children and is good around them.
However, the Dane must learn how to be gentle and careful around him, especially toddlers, as one swipe of his tail can knock a toddler over. Strict supervision must be observed during playtime. The Dane is easy to house-train as he is a people-pleaser and a loving dog.
Although the Great Dane is such a massive breed, he should not be kept outside or in a kennel. He's a human-loving dog that needs frequent interaction and affection. Lack of it can lead to the development of destructive behaviour.
Moreover, if left alone to his own devices, this dog breed can cause all sorts of trouble to entertain himself.
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 he still has quite a high prey drive. He will happily chase smaller animals that he thinks to be fair game when given a chance.
The Great Dane has the tendency to be aggressive towards dogs of the same sex. Slowly introducing them to each other lessens the chances of them becoming territorial.
Spaying and neutering both dogs can help prevent dog fights. That said, supervision is a must whenever he interacts with other pets.
The Great Dane is one of the best apartment dogs. Most people mistake the giant Dane for an outdoor breed because of his massive size. However, the opposite is true. This dog breed is actually an indoor dog that loves nothing more than to laze around with his 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 himself. 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.
Male Dane puppies at a young age of 3–6 months old need 4–8 cups of dog food, whilst female puppies require 3–6 cups. Once male pups reach 8 months to 1 year old, they should have 6–10 cups, and female puppies require 5–8 cups.
The meals of Great Dane puppies that are 4 to 5 months old should be divided into 3 meals a day. This should be reduced to 2 meals per day after they reach 6 months and onwards.
An adult Great Dane needs to be fed 6–8 cups of premium dog food every day, spread over 2 meals—morning and afternoon. The food amount that you give to your Great Dane will depend on his age, gender, size, activity level, health, and metabolism.
Below is the typical calorie needs per day of an adult Great Dane weighing 68 kilos:
The giant-sized Dane should be given a well-balanced diet, opting for a 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 his meal, it is best to give him treats or snacks rather than another full meal.
The Great Dane has a lifespan of 7–10 years and can live this long if owners maintain his health. However, the Dane can also suffer from genetic health issues and other acquired diseases such as:
This is also known as dog bloat, a life-threatening condition that is very common in giant and large breeds like the Great Dane. It occurs once gas accumulates in the stomach, which causes the stomach to twist. This cuts off the blood circulation and may quickly become a fatal condition without immediate medical care.
Symptoms of bloat in Great Danes include a bloated stomach, shallow breathing, gas, whining, pacing, and difficulty in eliminating. Beware that if a dog has experienced bloat, he is more likely to suffer this health problem again. Make sure to consult the vet on how to prevent it from occurring again.
Dilated Cardiomyopathy (DCM)
The Great Dane is one of the breeds that are very prone to develop DCM. It is a cardiovascular disease that causes the heart to become dilated and thin-walled. DCM can lead to congestive heart failure that results in body fluid build-up.
Moreover, it can also induce dysrhythmia or abnormal heartbeat, which prevents regular blood circulation. Without proper vet treatment, this can cause sudden death. Danes suffering from this heart issue show signs of lethargy, breathing difficulties, weight loss, lack of appetite, weakness, and coughing.
Another common health problem plaguing large and giant dog breeds, including the Great Dane is hip dysplasia.
This condition occurs when the femur bones fail to fit properly into the hip socket. It triggers onset arthritis and joint problems, which are extremely painful for your dog. Lameness, loss of muscle tone on hind legs, and stiffness of limbs are the most common symptoms of hip dysplasia.
Make sure to buy a puppy from reputable Great Dane breeders that test their breeding stocks. This way, potential parent breeds that have more chances of developing hip dysplasia are not allowed to become breeding dogs.
The Great Dane may love nothing more than to stay indoors, 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. Since growing Dane puppies are prone to joint problems, do not expose them to excessive exercise until they are 18 months to 2 years old.
An adult Great Dane will require at least 30 minutes of daily exercise, but this will depend on his activity level. Avoid exercising during mealtimes to prevent dog bloat. This breed is not a jumper, but make sure that your fence is at least 6 feet tall to prevent him from escaping.
The Great Dane also loves following scents, so he should be kept on a lead whilst out on walks. The breed is known to excel in agility, obedience, fly ball, weight pulls, and tracking events.
If you are planning to welcome a Great Dane puppy home, be ready to pay anything from £1,000– £25,000 for a well-bred pedigree Great Dane puppy.
To ensure that the Great Dane stays healthy and well-fed, you will need to spend £50–£80 a month on high-quality dog food. You also need to factor in the initial cost for dog accessories and equipment. These include food bowls, lead, collar, and beds, crate which will cost approximately £200.
Vet care expenses for the Great Dane, which include vaccinations and annual boosters, can have a combined cost of £1300 annually for the first year and minus the cost of spaying and neutering and initial boosters for the years after.
You can offset some the Great Dane's medical bills if you get pet insurance. It can range from £65 for a time-limited cover and up to £115 for a lifetime one.
These prices vary depending on your Dane's health and age, the type of cover you'll choose, and whether he has pre-existing conditions. Roughly, you will be setting aside £100–£180 a month for recurring expenses, depending on the type of insurance coverage 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.Dog Breed Selector Quiz
Do you have enough space and the fortitude to care for a massive dog such as the Great Dane? If you're in doubt, you can also check out other dog breeds suitable for your needs using our Pet Finder.
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