Breed characterisitcs of the great dane

The Great Dane's name is taken from the French name for this breed, grand Danois, meaning “big Danish”, even though there is no known reason for the connection to Denmark.



The Great Dane's name is taken from the French name for this breed, grand Danois, meaning “big Danish”, even though there is no known reason for the connection to Denmark since the Germans developed this gentle giant. Danes were also called "German Mastiff."

The Great Dane is known as the "Apollo of all dogs." The dogs were crossed with Irish Greyhounds, and the issue was the beautiful, large, thin, agile dog known today as the Great Dane. Despite the fact that they are called Danes in English, these dogs have nothing to do with Denmark. Some of the Great Dane's talents are tracking, watchdogging and carting. In addition to these talents, Great Danes are a friendly and loving breed of dogs.

How do you know if the Great Dane is right for you? Read on to see if YOU are the right owner for the Great Dane!

The Beauty of the Great Dane

The Great Dane is a giant dog that combines nobility with robustness and power with elegance. It has a long narrow head with an accentuated frontal stop and a rather large nasal canal. Its neck is long and muscular and its front legs are perfectly straight.  It has muscular thighs and round feet with short, dark nails.

The Great Dane's tail is medium-length, reaching to the point of the hock. Its ears are docked rather long, pointed, and carried erect. All Danes have short, thick, shiny, close-fitting hair. The Great Dane comes in colors of fawn, striped brindle, black, blue, merle and harlequin. Black Danes have glossy black coats and dark eyes, while blue Danes may have lighter eyes. Both colors have wonderfully soulful, spirited expressions in their eyes and face. 

The Character of Great Danes

The Great Dane is a gentle giant. Dignified, kind, sweet and affectionate, it is playful and patient with children. It loves everyone and needs to be around people. The Great Dane does not bark much and only becomes aggressive when the circumstances require it. A steady dog, responsible and dependable. Brave and loyal, it is a good watchdog. Because of his giant size, the Great Dane should be thoroughly obedience trained when young so it will be manageable when full grown. Teach this giant dog not to lean against people, especially children. Some individuals are dog-aggressive, especially with same sex dogs. It is good with other dogs if it is raised with them from puppyhood.

To be a good family member and citizen Danes MUST be trained in at least rudimentary obedience. Their great size and tendency to be bossy means that the owner must be master in his household, and the dog needs to understand this. Training in obedience for the dog, and in behavior modification (understanding how a dog thinks) for the owner are both helpful.

Great Danes are wonderfully happy and energetic dogs. This results in much tail wagging and leaping about. Both of these things can be either amusing or tragic! Great Danes are known for wagging so hard that they split their tails open and bleed everywhere. When they wag they slam their tails against any and all objects at tail height. Be prepared to put breakables out of their reach!

The Great Dane's Ideal Environment

The Great Dane will do okay in an apartment if it is sufficiently exercised, but does even better with at least a large yard to play and romp in.

Danes especially need to be kept indoors and treated like family members. They will be unhappy living a solitary life as an outdoor dog as they are gregarious and need to interact with people. Danes have short hair coats, which make for great discomfort in warm climates due to insect bites and sunburn, and cold intolerance in temperate and cooler regions. Indoor life keeps the Great Dane healthy and happy, while outdoor play keeps him exercised!

The Great Dane's Companions

They are lively, playful and devoted, but should be socialized well when they are young to avoid a tendency for timidity.

Dane puppies can be both funny and dangerous, with their energetic antics. Their size makes them a danger to small children and they are playful animals and do have energy that must be released by giving them regular exercise and playtime. This requires a fenced yard or a dedicated owner who will walk his dog twice daily no matter what the weather.

Grooming the Great Dane

The smooth short-haired coat of the Great Dane is easy to groom. They can be groomed with a comb and brush with a firm bristle brush and dry shampoo when necessary. (Bathing this giant is a major chore, so it pays to avoid the need by daily grooming!) The nails must be kept trimmed.

The Great Dane requires little in the way of brushing. A curry brush is the proper brush for this breed. However, bathing a Great Dane is something akin to washing your car. They do dislike cold water, since they have little in the way of cold protection, so washing them with your hose, unless attached to the indoor warm water, will make them uncomfortable, cold, and can be very bad for older Danes with joint problems.

The Great Dane's Health

Great Danes are large, but surprisingly fragile animals. Large breed dogs commonly have medical problems related to their great size. Prospective owners of large boned breeds must be prepared for the possibility that there may be substantial financial outlay in the way of veterinary bills and special care.

Danes should NOT eat high protein foods at ANY stage in their growth cycles, especially as puppies. Buying a Dane requires the new owners to educate themselves in dietary and growth needs of large boned breeds in order to help prevent the onset of diet related health problems. Great Danes are prone to bloat and torsion, both of which can also be related somewhat to diet and eating, and hopefully regulated somewhat by proper diet and care.

Great Danes are also prone to tumors, heart disease, and tail injuries. Because of their developmental peculiarities, do not jog with this dog until it is at least one year old.