The Great in the Great Dane’s name is a clue that this is a very large dog breed. It is not the tallest breed on average, that is the Irish Wolfhound, but a Great Dane named Zeus (dog) was recorded in the 2013 Guinness Book of World Records as the tallest dog in the world. Unfortunately, large dogs usually have short lifespans, and Zeus died in 2014 when he was just under 6 years old.

Zeus was also a heavy dog weighing 155 pounds. But that is only about half the weight of Zorba (dog) who was an English Mastiff that once weighed in at an astonishing 330 pounds.

Even though they are not the tallest or heaviest dogs in the world, Great Danes are still very large animals. Before sharing your bed with such a large dog, you will want to upgrade to a least a California King size mattress. You also need to have some extra money in your budget for dog food. The Great Danes may eat about 6 cups of food each day which is 12 times more than a small dog such as a Yorkshire Terrier.

Where Do Great Danes Come From?

Danes come from Denmark but Great Danes come from Germany. No one knows for sure why or how these dogs came to be called Great Danes. However, the name may have evolved because of political tensions between Germany and other European countries in the late 1800s.

The ancestry of the modern Great Dane is uncertain but it may have descended for hunting dogs that were known for a very long time, perhaps over 500 years. Dogs from England that were crossbreeds of the English Mastiff and the Irish Wolfhound were imported into Germany during the 16th century and bred with the local dogs. These large hunting dogs were used to hunt wild boar, deer, and bear.

The Great Dane was recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC) in 1887. It was the 34th dog breed to be recognized by the AKC.

How Big Is A Great Dane?

Depending on its sex, the Great Dane stands 28 to 32 inches tall and weighs from 110 to 175 pounds. When standing on their long hind legs, they are taller than most humans. Zeus, mentioned above, was 7 ft 5 in tall which is 3 inches taller than the great NBA (and UCLA) basketball player, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

Their long legs also help make the Great Dane a fast runner. Their top speed is close to 30 miles per hour. The Weimaraner may have more endurance, but the Great Dane will probably run faster and further than most human joggers. If you need a running buddy, a Great Dane will do nicely.

Are Great Danes Aggressive?

The phrase may be cliche, but the Great Dane is a “gentle giant.” They make friends easily and want to please people. However, they are protective of their family. If their size does not scare off a foolish intruder, the dog will do whatever is necessary to guard its loved ones.

Great Danes usually get along well with other dogs, animals, and kids. Of course, like all dogs, they need to be properly socialized. All dogs should meet and interact with other dogs, animals, and humans before they are 12 weeks old if possible.

They are great with children, especially if they are raised with them. They are such big dogs, however, that they could accidentally knock over small children.

Are Great Danes Good Guard Dogs?

As well as being bred for hunting, Great Danes were used as guard dogs by German nobility. Apparently, being assassinated while sleeping was a problem for German nobles. Nothing slows down a would-be assassin faster than the sight of a giant dog staring them eyeball to eyeball. When necessary, the Great Dane’s loud, deep bark will carry further than most other dogs and is likely to deter most bad guys.

What Color Are Great Danes?

The most popular coat color for the Great Dane is fawn, a light tan. Other acceptable colors (for show dogs) include brindle, blue, black, harlequin, mantle, and merle. In addition to the primary coat color, some dogs will also have markings of black or white. The coat should be short, thick, and rather glossy.

Fawn Color Female Great Dane (uncropped ears)

Should A Great Dane Have Cropped Ears?

When the Great Dane was used to hunt wild boar, many dogs would suffer torn and damaged ears because wild boar do not go quietly into that good night. They fight back. Consequently, the dogs ears were cropped (cut short) to reduce ear damage.

There may not be any wild boar in your neighborhood, but you might still have your dog’s ears cropped just because of how it looks. It is only done for cosmetic reasons and has become a controversial practice in some countries while others have banned cropping altogether.

If you want to have your dog’s ears cropped, you should have it done early in the dog’s life between 7 to 10 weeks of age. It is a surgical procedure that is performed by a veterinarian under a general anesthetic. It will take 6 weeks or longer for a dog’s ears to heal.

Black Great Dane with Cropped Ears.

Are Great Danes Healthy?

Most large dog breeds, unfortunately, have relatively short lifespans. The average Great Dane will only live for 8 to 10 years with some only making it to 6 to 8 years. Very rarely will a Great Dane survive to 12 years. Why big dogs do not live longer is not fully understood.

The Great Dane does have health issues that could shorten their lives. One rather common issue is gastric dilatation volvulus, more commonly known as bloat. This is a life-threatening event and requires immediate medical treatment. Dogs with deep, narrow chests such as the Great Dane are 5 to 8 times more likely to have an attack of bloat than dogs with wider chests. You can reduce the risk of bloat by making sure your dog does not engage in strenuous exercise for an hour or so after eating.

Great Danes are also known to be at risk for cardiomyopathy (heart disease), joint and bone disease, and thyroid problems.

You can reduce the risk of your Great Dane having medical problems by making sure you get one from a reputable breeder and feeding your dog a healthy, well-balanced diet.

Where Should I Get A Great Dane?

If possible, try to get a dog from a Great Dane Rescue organization. If you want to buy a Great Dane, make sure you visit a reputable breeder. If you need help, you can find a breeder here. For more information on the Great Dane, visit the website of the Great Dane Club of America.

Other Dog Breeds To Consider

Black Doberman Pinscher
Black Doberman Pinscher
Hunting dog lying on a grass and looking at camera