Great Dane: The Gentle Giant

The regal look, dignified disposition, and imposing appearance make Great Dane an unparalleled breed among dogs. However, there is more to these dogs than their tall and graceful figure. Learn about the breed, its historical presence, interesting facts, and exciting traits that belie many expectations.

History of Great Dane Dogs

The Great Dane is not from Denmark, but of a German origin. The “Apollo of dogs” is known as Deutsche Dogge in its native country, meaning German Mastiff.  However, the grand history dates back to centuries. Ancient Greece frescos belonging to 14th century BC have several images of boarhounds resembling this giant breed. Most plausibly, Great Danes owe their lineage to those large boarhounds.

However, Great Danes owe their modern ancestry to super boarhounds bred by the German nobility around the 16th century. The aristocracy imported long-legged, muscular English dogs and bred it with the best local varieties to create a powerful dog capable of hunting wild boars. They needed a courageous dog with great speed and swift attack capabilities. As a result, the Great Dane breed was born.

It inherits the physique of Greyhound, heftiness of Mastiff, and height of Irish Wolfhound. The dogs are also fast, agile, strong, and super tough. Finding their unique features, the German nobility eagerly patronized the breed. It became the national dog of Germany in 1876.

French naturalist Comte de Buffon named the dog Great Dane in 1755 drawing inspiration from similar large-sized dogs depicted on several 5th-century archeological symbols found in Denmark. Germans, eager to sell these pets to other markets, found the name a better option.

The American Kennel Society recognized the breed in 1887.

The Great Dane Physique

The smooth muscled body and giant size make a Great Dane recognizable.  Among the tallest dogs on earth, the breed has a long reach and powerful drive. The minimum height is 30 inches for males and 28 inches for females. The biggest ever Great Dane reported was Zeus with a height of 44 inches. The dog died in 2014. The usual weight varies from 110 lb to 180 lb. Males look heavier than females.

The Great Dane is strong and well-formed. The breed has floppy, triangular ears unless cropped. Their short, thick, and smooth coat does not need much grooming. You may see Great Dane in a variety of hues, such as black, blue, white with black spots, yellow gold, light gray with yellowish patches, and black cover with white underneath the body and over the neck.

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The Great Dane Temperament

The Great Dane is a gentle giant. The American Kennel Society describes it as friendly, patient, and dependable. A Great Dane’s temperament is very friendly and soft hearted contrary to its powerful and colossal appearance.

Elegant, strong, and dignified, Great Dane is fearless and spirited. It characteristic physical and mental combination is rare among dogs. The dog loves physical affection of its owner and remains very loyal and obedient. It has a tendency to sit on the lap of owners unmindful of their gigantic size and strength.

Great Danes are both kid friendly and pet friendly. Though originated as fierce fighters and hunters, they are not aggressive and well known for their affectionate and loving nature. However, Great Dane does not hesitate to be protective of its owner and his property with all its strength when he senses anything wrong.

An adult Great Dane is generally laid back. Unless put to the test, it never uses its immense strength. The dog is a good choice to keep indoors despite the large size, thanks to its placid temperament. The dog learns fast and is easy to socialize.

Health Risks Impacting Great Dane

The Great Dane has a lifespan of 6 and 10 years. It is prone to various health problems. The dog often lacks energy despite eating an adequate amount of food because of a slower rate of metabolism. You may find this gentle giant vulnerable to bloat and gastrointestinal problems unless he rests for an hour after having his meal. Gastric torsion leads to fatalities among these dogs. Older ones are at an increased risk of it.

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Hip dysplasia is another breed-specific issue. Faster growth makes the dog prone to joint and bone problems and weakness in the legs that aggravate when over exercised.

The breed may also have congenital heart muscle and other cardiovascular problems. The merle gene responsible for harlequin shades in many Great Danes often causes eye problems in them.

Like all big dogs, cancer is a threat to your Great Dane. The dog is also at the risk of skeletal and neurological issues.

The giant dog breed is exotic and it requires owners to take astute care of it. Great Dane does not need too much grooming. However, the usual maintenance cost is on the higher side and often vet bills turn bigger. Be careful of genetic disorders while selecting a puppy of this breed. With proper care and guidance, you can enjoy the companion of this gentle giant.

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