There aren’t many dogs as unique as the Great Dane. Given their imposing stature, those who are wary of dogs view Great Danes to be among the most terrifying of breeds. However, their personality couldn’t be any more dissimilar. This typical purebred’s sweet and good-natured demeanor completely contrasts their intimidating stature and has resulted in their souring popularity levels in recent years.
Do you think you’re ready for the challenge of owning a Great Dane? Alternatively, do you already have a gentle giant and simply stumbled upon our article in order to learn more about your canine companion? Whatever the reason, you’ve come to the right place. Our article is packed full of fun facts about this incredible dog concerning its history, temperament, and many more.
History of the Great Dane
The middle of the 16th century saw the European nobility struggling to find strong hunting dogs. Accordingly, they imported from Europe long-legged dogs initially bred from an English Mastiff and an Irish Wolfhound. The German nobility referred to them as “Englische Docke” and used them to hunt large animals like boars, bears, and deer. Members of the German nobility chose their favorites to stay in their bedchambers, so they were protected from any potential assassins.
Two centuries later, a committee came together in Berlin to change the name of the hound from “Englische Dogge” to “Deutsche Doggo”. Although many breeders aimed to keep the breed names “German Dogge” and “German Mastiff” when selling these dogs to England so the breed could continue to be viewed as a noble breed, a result of tensions between the country and England ended in the breed’s name being referred to as Great Danes.
Quick Facts About the Great Dane
The world’s tallest ever dog was a Great Dane: This dog was called Zeus – a fitting name for a dog of such stature! Zeus measured a total of 111.8 centimeters (44 inches) from his shoulder down to his paws. Although he unfortunately passed away in September 2014 at the young age of five, he lived a good life in Michigan as a certified therapy dog who visited people in hospital in a bid to make their days brighter.
However, Great Danes aren’t the largest dog breed: Contrary to popular belief, just because Zeus was the tallest dog ever recorded doesn’t mean that Great Danes are the largest dog breed. The average height of a Great Dane is approximately thirty to thirty-one inches tall – a commendable feat – but the average height of the Irish Wolfhound standing at thirty-two inches just beats them.
Members of this dog breed are referred to as the “Apollo of Dogs”: As the son of Greek Gods Zeus and Leto, Apollo was considered to be as bright and impressive as the sun itself. The Great Danes’ impressive stature was how they came to be referred to as the Apollo of all dogs, although we believe this description may also have something to do with their bright personality matching the brilliance of the sun.
Scooby-Doo was a member of the Great Dane family: Everyone has heard of the infamous television series Scooby Doo that consists of a hound travelling around in the Mystery Machine with four eccentric companions. Animation designer Iwao Takamoto admitted that he designed Scooby Doo’s character around sketches handed over to him by a Hanna-Barbera member of staff who bred Great Danes.
Not all Great Danes drool: Oh boy do some Great Danes drool. As a result of the combination between their square jaws and loose lips, many Great Danes really struggle to control excessive drooling. However, not every Great Dane slobbers to such an extent. A few lucky Great Danes’ faces have a tight enough facial structure to naturally contain their saliva.
Things You Should Know
Given their large number of quirks, there is a lot to know about the square-headed Great Dane. Whether you’re concerned about how much exercise a Great Dane requires or if these dogs are good fits for a family home including children, you’ll find all the answers you need below.
Unfortunately, the Great Dane breed aren’t renowned for their long lifespan. Like many larger dogs, Great Danes are only with us for 8-10 years, similar to their English Mastiff brothers and sisters who usually live between 6-12 years. Experts have many theories regarding this trend, the most viable being that large dogs simply age faster than smaller dogs. However, their short lifespan is also lamentably due to the array of inherited diseases and impairments they’re prone to. We’ve discussed several of them below so you will be prepared to identify them as they arise, hopefully prolonging your Dane’s lifespan.
Bone Cancer: Although osteosarcoma develops in all types of dogs, larger breeds like Great Danes tend to develop tumors younger in comparison to smaller dogs. The first symptom of this aggressive bone cancer is lameness in a leg. Although a dog’s limb is often amputated to stop the spread of the cancer, dogs can quickly bounce back from this operation and adapt well to life with three legs!
Dilated cardiomyopathy: This disease of the heart muscle is when the heart enlarges itself, thereby making it difficult for your heart to pump blood to the other areas of a Dane’s body. Unfortunately, this condition often leads to heart failure.
Osteoarthritis: Unfortunately, given their giant frames, Great Danes are prone to suffering from an array of joint and bone diseases. All dog owners know of hip dysplasia, but osteoarthritis is less well known. A problem predominantly found in senior and larger dogs, osteoarthritis is worsening inflammation of the joint intrinsically linked to the deterioration of cartilage. Regrettably, this disease is progressive, but your Dane can take joint supplements and other forms of pain relief prescribed by their vet.
Related Post: Dog Joint Supplements
Bloat: As a fatal condition, it’s imperative for dog owners of larger breed to learn about the symptoms of bloat. If bloat occurs, a dog’s stomach will twist and cut off its blood supply. Due to the severity of this condition, death can occur in a matter of hours. If your dog is unsuccessfully vomiting, pacing, or noticeably distressed pawing at their belly, take them to the vet immediately. In terms of preventative care, veterinarians recommend feeding your Dane smaller meals rather than one large meal per day and waiting for a couple of hours after a mealtime before taking your Great Dane out for exercise.
From puppyhood, Great Danes require optimal sustenance to survive. It’s important not to feed your Great Dane pup normal kibble said to be designed for puppies as, due to their rapid growth, they require kibble that promotes slow growth. This will allow time for bones and muscles to develop in a healthy manner, thereby decreasing the chances of them suffering from hip dysplasia or osteoarthritis. A Great Dane pup reaches full growth at around eighteen months and the feeding process largely depends on the speed of their development. Meals for your Great Dane pup should be spread out during the day into a routine, so your Great Dane won’t harass you when they start becoming hungry!
When your Great Dane reaches adulthood, the frequency of their meals should be reduced from three to two times per day. The food they’re eating should also be changed from puppy Great Dane food to adult food, although this kibble doesn’t have to be geared towards Great Danes.
For more guides on choosing the right dog food, you may wish to check out our reviews of the best dry dog food, organic dog food, grain free dog food, cheap dog food and senior dog food.
Given their colossal stature, many dog lovers believe they shouldn’t own a Great Dane due to the amount of walking they presumably require. In fact, an average Great Dane only requires between half an hour to an hour of walking per day. On no occasion should Great Dane puppies be over-exercised, as this is the critical point in their lives that their bones and joints are developing. Overexercising them may engender joint ailments such as hip dysplasia that large breeds are prone to.
When walking your gentle giant, you should also be mindful of the weather. In cold climates, a Great Dane may struggle to stay warm due to their short hair’s inability to operate as a furry coat. Buying them a dog sweater is by far the smartest and cutest solution to this problem. In order to point you in the right direction, we’ve also published a guide including the most comfortable and fashionable dog sweaters available to purchase in 2020.
And related to how much walking Great Danes require, the debate rages on concerning whether they’re suited to apartment living. On one hand, members of the breed are extremely laid back around the home. To this end, if they have a designated spot to longue about and a park or garden nearby to stretch their legs in, a Great Dane is well-suited to live in an apartment. On the other hand, a Great Dane’s quality of life in an apartment entirely depends on how much space is available for them. If they spend their time bashing into and knocking over furniture, a Great Dane will most likely become stressed.
A Great Dane’s rapid shedding comes as a shock to many owners, given their smooth, short coats. Regular brushing is a sure-fire way to collect any excess hair before it sheds all over your carpet and constitutes as a preventative method for skin problems. Finally, grooming your Great Dane every few days substantially cuts down the number of baths they need.
And we’ve wary about even discussing bath time. After all, how do you even begin to tackle the challenge of bathing a such humungous dog? The answer is, like all things, with time. If bathing your Great Dane becomes an experience filled with treats galore, your Great Dane may even start to even look forward to bathing time.
For more help on dog grooming, you may wish to read our guides on the best dog nail grinders, dog dryers, dog clippers, dog shedding brush and dog grooming gloves.
Endearingly referred to as “gentle giants”, Great Danes are an incredibly affectionate dog breed. A typical Great Dane is so laid-back that their practically horizontal, meaning that they’re a perfect family pet for homes with children. When they’re not lounging around the house, owners will often find their gentle giant joining in with your children’s games. It’s important to note that Great Danes don’t consider themselves to be that large, so both children and Dane should be continually taught to respect each other’s space when engaging in play.
Given the Great Dane breed’s history of hunting large boars and bears, it comes as a surprise to many that a quintessential Dane is such a peaceful being. Their sweet disposition certainly doesn’t mean that they’ve lost any of their hunting abilities over the years, however. On a similar note, members of Great Dane breed will defend their family home from intruders extremely well.
When a Great Dane isn’t napping, they’ll be searching for attention anywhere they can find it. It won’t matter to your Great Dane that you’re on an important conference call; you’ll find their lovable big noggin’ coming into view for their well-deserved afternoon pat. And a date night that doesn’t include your lovable Dane is off the cards, too. As jealous creatures, your Great Dane will see you and your significant other cuddling on the sofa and be overcome with envy to the point that they’ll drape themselves all over you!
To conclude, there aren’t many creatures on this earth as deserving of love as Great Danes. Their kind and caring personality makes them ideal for first-time dog owners and seasoned dog-lovers alike. Although their height can be intimidating for some individuals, these gentle giants can easily be trained to stay calm and collected around those that fear them. And although these gentle creatures only bless the world with their presence for a few short years, the impact a Great Dane’s kindness has on others is bound to stay with them forever.
- Great Dane – AKC