Type: Working dog
Weight: Male dog – 54–91 kg
Female dog – 45–59 kg
Height: Male dog – 30–34 in / 76–86 cm
Female dog – 28–32 in / 71–81 cm
Appearance: The Great Dane is best known for its giant size, huge body and great height, its impressive looks show dignity, strength and elegance. The body is powerful, well-formed and smoothly muscled. Despite its huge size, the Great Dane doesn’t look clumsy. The ears are naturally floppy and triangular. The coat is very short, coloured in fawn and brindle, harlequin and black, mantle, black and white, or blue.
Temperament: Despite their impressive size, Great Danes are usually blessed with a friendly nature, they’re often referred to as “gentle giants”. The dog is very gentle and loving, absolutely attached to its owners, seeking physical affection with them all the time. In a home that’s large enough to accommodate them Great Danes are very suitable as family pets. Like most large-sized breeds, this huge dog needs daily walks and exercises. Puppies grow extremely fast and this puts them at risk of bone problems, so their activity while growing should be minimized.
Skills: With its strong body and long legs, the Great Dane is a breed of choice as a hunting dog in Europe. In the past they were used for hunting bear, boar and deer at princely courts.
Behaviour Toward Other Animals and Children: Great Danes shows amazing tolerance to other dogs, other noncanine pets, and children, especially when growing up together. It’s really only if the dog is not properly socialized that it could become aggressive to strangers.
Common Health Problems: Slow metabolism, gastric dilatation volvulus (GDV), hip dysplasia, Dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) and many congenital heart diseases, wobblers disease; the dog may carry the merle gene which can give rise to problems, including deafness and blindness particularly if two merle dogs are allowed to breed. .
Lifespan: Sadly, Great Danes are not a long-lived breed, the average lifespan is just 6 to 8 years, but they do sometimes reach 10 years of age or even more.
Reward / Clicker Training
Positive reinforcement and reward methods are suitable for well-behaved dogs and are preferred by most dog owners. A positive reinforcement method that will work excellent on your Great Dane is the clicker training. Using a clicker and some treats, training your Great Dane is going to be a pleasant experience for both of you. You can use anything that makes a clicking sound but it’s best you buy a clicker form a pet store.
The clicker makes a distinct clicking sound that your Great Dane will learn to associate with specific actions. The basics of dog clicker training are click, reward, praise. When you see your Dane displaying a behaviour you’d like to encourage, for example, if she sits or lies down not on cue, click, and then reward. The dog will soon associate the deed with the click and reward. When you get her to perform the action with a click, you can teach some commands. If you have been clicking when she sits, she will most likely sit when she hears the click. Add a command, say “down” but don’t click. You will probably get some confused looks, ignore them and after 30 seconds or so, try again. Repeat as many times as necessary and she will eventually sit or lie down. Give the click, and lavish with praise and treats. Use simple one-word command and ignore unwanted behaviour.
Obedience / Correction Training
The correction training method is similar to positive reinforcement methods but instead of praising behaviour, we correct disobedient or destructive behaviour with a lead and a collar. If a command is given and the dog doesn’t react, a correction is given by a swift jerk on the lead, causing the training collar to give immediate stimuli (the correction). When teaching commands to Great Danes, you can also use the popping technique – gentle corrections on the lead. Use simple words for commands and wait at least 10 seconds before repeating. Although this method generally works well with Great Danes, keep in mind that hey are sensitive animals and don’t overdo it.
Once she has grasped the command, one quick correction will usually put her in the desired position. The dog should remain in the position until you release her. Effective in general with strong large dogs, this method may not work well with all Danes. Whichever method you decide to use, research it first and if you’re a first-time dog owner, or uncertain about implementing a particular technique, consult a professional trainer.
Start your Great Dane puppy training the moment she arrives home. Early training is essential to puppies that will grow up to be large dogs. If you start at the age of about five weeks, by the time she is 7 or 8 weeks old, your Dane puppy will understand the basic commands come, sit, stay and down. Every pack of dogs has a leader; it is important that you communicate to your puppy that you are the leader. And as a leader, you should always go first.
Teach her to wait for you to enter a room first, before she is allowed to enter herself. You can use lead correction training to achieve that – put the puppy on a leash and when she tries to go ahead of you, gently yank her back. Put her in a sit or stay position and after you have walked through the door, beckon her to join you. Praise and reward when she obeys. In order to learn commands and tricks, you need to get her to focus on you. Teach the puppy eye contact by asking her to look at you when you’re giving her a treat and repeat until she can stay focused on your face and not be distracted by the treat or background movement. Establish yourself as a leader by establishing when she eats and when she plays. Schedule playtime with your pup and be the one to initiate it. Feed her the meals yourself and use treats in training to help her identify you as the source of her food.
Despite what their name suggests, Great Danes didn’t originate from Denmark, they come from Germany.
With monuments dating as far back as 3000 B.C, depicting dogs resembling Great Danes, it is safe to say that their origin can be traced to Egyptian times. Large boar-hounds resembling the Great Dane are illustrated on frescoes from Tiryns dating back to 14th–13th centuries BC. There are illustrations of large dogs on rune-stones in Scandinavia from the 5th century AD and there are at least seven skeletons of big hunting dogs, dating from the 5th Century BC going forward through to the year 1000 AD, at the The University of Copenhagen Zoological Museum. Some zoologists believe that all Dane-type dogs originated in the highlands of Tibet due to the great similarity between the Tibetan Mastiffs that lived at the base of the Himalayas and the Dane-like dogs of the Assyrians. The zoologists’ belief is supported by the earliest written report of dogs strongly similar in type to the Great Dane which appeared in Chinese literature in 1121 B.C.
In the middle of the 16th century, strong, long-legged dogs from England, which were descended from cross-breeds between the English Mastiff and the Irish Wolfhound were imported in many countries to be used for hunting boars, bears and deer. Some of them won their lords’ disposition and were allowed to stay at night in their bedchambers. The dogs were called Englische Docke or Englische Tocke, simply meaning “English dog”. Since the beginning of the 17th Century, these dogs were bred in the courts of German nobility, independently of England.
German breeders are credited for shaping the breed into the well-balanced, elegant dog we love today. At a meeting in 1880 in Berlin, breeders and judges agreed that since the dogs they were breeding were distinctly different from the English Mastiff, they would give them their own name – Deutsche Dogge (German Dog). Throughout the late 1800s, wealthy German breeders continued to refine the breed. They aimed to shape the dog’s temperament from an aggressive, ferocious boar hunters into more gentle animals.
The name Great Dane came about in the 1700s, when a French naturalist who travelled to Denmark and saw a slimmer, more Greyhound-like version of the Boar Hound, called it Grand Danois, which eventually became Great Danish Dog. The name stuck, even though Denmark did not develop the breed.
Despite selective breeding and developed veterinary practices, the Great Dane remains a relatively short-lived breed with a lifespan of 7 to 10 years. However, by providing proper nutrition and veterinary care, many Danes live much longer. Keeping a Great Dane at an appropriate weight is one of the easiest ways to extend her life. Obesity is one of the most common health problems, so monitor her diet to ensure she has a healthier longer life. Take your Dane to the vet for an annual booster and have her de-wormed twice a year. A puppy can develop health problems despite good breeding practices. Ask the breeder about the ages of the dogs in her lines and what they died of. Careful breeders screen their breeding dogs for genetic diseases and breed only the healthiest and best-looking specimens to reduce the risk of genetic disorders.
Great Dane puppies grow rapidly and should never eat regular puppy food because it’s too rich for them. Feed your Dane pup only puppy food, especially designed for large breeds and don’t feed any supplements, especially calcium. Until the age of four to five months, a Great Dane puppy should have three meals per day. After that, feed her twice a day; never leave out food or feed only one meal per day. Feed Great Danes premium dog food with protein levels no greater than 24%, and fat levels between 12% to 14%. Control portions and don’t walk your Great Dane at least two hours after or one hour before eating to prevent bloating, which is extremely dangerous for large dogs.
- Brush the coat regularly with a firm bristle brush to keep it healthy and clean.
- Brush teeth daily to prevent gum disease and bad breath.
- Check ears weekly for redness and bad odour. Use a cotton ball dampened with gentle, pH-balanced ear cleaner to wipe the outer ear — don’t insert anything into the ear canal — to help prevent infections.
- Trim nails once or twice a month. Toenails have blood vessels in them and if you’re not experienced, it is best you take the dog to a vet or a professional groomer.