Country of Origin: The Great Dane (also known as the ‘German Mastiff’ or ‘Granddanois’, affectionately called the ‘Gentle Giant’ or just ‘Dane’) is among the world’s tallest breeds. Germany lays claim to this breed’s origin. Originally bred to chase wild boar, Great Danes became popular estate dogs due to their speed, strength, fearlessness, and graceful appearance, eventually rising to worldwide prominence. The world’s tallest dog is the 42-inch tall Great Dane named ‘Gibson’—unless fictional Great Danes are included, in which case comic strip character ‘Marmaduke’ and his hilarious size-related antics take the cake. The Jetsons' dog ‘Astro’ is also a Great Dane.
Size: The Great Dane has a shoulder height of 72-80 cm (28-31 in) and weighs at least 50 kg (110 lbs), as much as a dozen Toy Poodles! Some weigh up to 90 kg [200 lbs]. The Great Dane is a giant, powerful dog, but with great elegance and nobility. It has a long head with a deep muzzle, pronounced stop (point at which the muzzle meets the forehead), round eyes, and a scissors bite. The Great Dane has a long, powerful neck, straight muscular forelegs, flat back and high-set, low carried tail.
Coat: The Great Dane has a short, smooth coat. Recognized show colors are fawn (gold with a black mask, possible black ears and tail tip), brindle (gold with a black stripe pattern), steel blue, glossy black, ‘Harlequin’ (white with black patches), and ‘Mantle’ or ‘Boston’ (black with white muzzle, chest, and tail tip). White and blue merle Great Danes occur but are not accepted by most standards.
Character: Great Danes are affectionate, calm, loyal, and intelligent. They do not bark much, but make great watchdogs. The Great Dane’s ‘gentle giant’ nickname is well earned by its loving, quiet persona. Some Great Danes may drool.
Temperament: The Great Dane gets along well with children, other dogs, and any household pets. Some Great Danes are dominant with other dogs of the same sex or have a high prey instinct with small cats. Great Danes should be socialized when young. The Great Dane is usually wary around strangers, but will welcome friends of the family.
Care: The Great Dane should be brushed with a rubber brush when shedding to remove dead hairs. Great Danes need a sizable soft place to lie down indoors. Proper nutrition and avoidance of excessive exercise is required when this breed is young. Great Danes are prone to hip dysplasia and bloat, the latter of which can be prevented by placing the food dish on an elevated platform, spacing meals throughout the day, and avoiding exercise immediately after meals. The Great Dane has a lifespan of 8-12 years.
Training: The Great Dane requires a dominant but not overly harsh trainer. It must be trained early not to pull on the leash, because it grows to a very large size. Obedience training when young is highly recommended for the Great Dane.
Activity: The Great Dane needs a moderate amount of exercise when fully grown; do not over exercise when young. It should be taken on a daily walk or allowed to play in a large yard. Apartment life may not be practical for the Great Dane due to its large size.
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