Originally bred to hunt ferocious boar in Germany, this colossal canine evolved into an utterly sweet-tempered dog deserving of its ‘Gentle Giant’ nickname. Great Danes will charm just about anyone with their noble carriage and affectionate natures, even those at first intimidated by their size. They love taking walks and playing off-leash in open, fenced-in backyards. Great Danes are courageous and dependable, but they also have some lap dog traits, like a desire to be near you whenever you are home. Because of their sheer magnitude, they require a close eye to prevent accidents, such as knocking over home decorations or pint-sized family members.
Great Danes are also known as the Gentle Giant and the Apollo of Dogs.
Great Dane Mixes
Great Dane mixes are a commonly available mixed breed in shelters and rescues, possibly because their size turns out to be more than their original owner could handle. Great Dane mixes will have personality and physical traits of the other breeds in their family tree, but chances are good they’ll be big. Most shelters do not perform DNA testing on their rescues, so ancestry is generally determined by observed physical and personality traits, as well as information given at the dog’s surrender.
If you are sure you want a Great Dane or a Great Dane mix, locate a local shelter that does genetic testing on mixed breeds, and let them know you are interested in AKC-registered Great Dane surrenders.
Common Great Dane mixes include Labrador Retriever, Saint Bernard, Akita, Poodle, Mastiff, Doberman, Rottweiler, and American Staffordshire Terrier, also known as the Pit Bull.
Physical Description/Breed Standard
Coat - The Great Dane’s coat is short, thick, and shiny. The coat colors are brindle, fawn, blue, black, harlequin (white with black patches), and mantle (black and white, with a solid blanket of black).
Male: 120-200 pounds
Breed Standard and History
Great Danes are massive dogs with regal bearings—often referred to as the Apollo of dogs. Powerful and well-muscled, they are agile for their large size, with a graceful, loping gait. Their eyes are dark and intelligent, and they have friendly, spirited natures.
Great Danes originated in Germany where their ancestors were bred to have the size, strength, and courage to hunt fierce wild boars. These ancient ‘Boar Hounds’ date back to the 1300s. Today’s Great Dane is thought to have derived from a mix of ‘Boar Hounds,’ Irish Wolf Hounds, Old English Mastiffs, and Greyhounds.
AKC Breed Category
Great Danes are gregarious, spirited dogs. Because of their sheer size, however, consistent training with abundant praise and rewards is critical. It’s unsafe to have an unruly Great Dane jumping on visitors or dragging you around for your daily walks.
Are Great Danes Good with Kids?
(Note: Every dog has a unique personality and distinct life experiences that affect his disposition. As a rule, adults should always supervise playdates between kids and their four-legged friends.)
Are Great Danes Good with Other Pets?
Great Danes are not overly protective, but will become aggressive if they sense a threat to themselves, their families, or their territory.
Are Great Danes Good Guard Dogs?
Great Danes are energetic, but also have a laid-back quality. They’ll enjoy a rambunctious play session, as long as it’s followed by nap time.
Indoor Great Danes adapt very well to indoor living and can even adapt to a large apartment, so long as they have plenty of opportunity to get outside. If you let them, they’ll enjoy snuggles on your lap as much as any toy breed. They should learn early to save most of their boisterous play for outside so they don’t break your favorite trinkets or glassware with their wagging tails or jumping.
Outdoor These giants are a hearty breed, but their short, sleek coats don’t protect them well from the cold and rain. For the most part, your Great Dane will enjoy being outside with you, playing fetch, going for long walks, or visiting the dog park.
Exercise Great Danes require moderately long walks two to three times per day, and a play session or two in the yard or a room with plenty of space. It’s important not to over-exercise Great Danes, especially when they are puppies and their bones and joints are still developing.
Endurance These hunting dogs have plenty of stamina. They will keep up with you on your walks and still have energy left over for playtime indoors.
Activity distance rating
Food Great Danes require a specialty diet for giant breed dogs, based on their size and health issues. Talk to your veterinarian about the ideal meal plan for your dog.
Alone Time Great Danes are comfortable spending time alone, although they want it kept to a minimum. It’s important to ensure this giant breed gets outside for regular exercise and is kept mentally occupied through the day.
Health and Grooming
7 - 10 years
Brush the short coat of the Great Dane every few days to get rid of shedding hair and keep it shiny. Great Danes require only occasional baths, unless they get messy outside. Trim their nails every few weeks and gently clean their ears every week to prevent wax buildup, which can lead to infection.
Common Health Issues
As a large breed, the Great Dane may have a short life span and significant health concerns, such as:
You can minimize serious health concerns in a Great Dane by purchasing from a reputable breeder who engages in responsible breeding practices, and through screening for common diseases and conditions.
Great Danes are smart and eager to please, so they are easy to train as long as lessons are consistent and involve ample praise and dog treats.
Great Danes usually don't have the sustained energy or interest required for agility training. They are simply too laid back. They will, however, enjoy brief backyard agility games as long as you keep them basic and appropriate for their size.
Sporting Dog Training
Though they descend from hunting dogs, modern Great Danes are too easy going to be sporting dogs. They'd much prefer a stroll to the dog park.
Are Great Danes hypoallergenic?
Are Great Danes hyperactive?
Do Great Danes Like to Swim?
Do Great Danes make good service dogs?
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