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Great Dane

Great-Dane

A True Gentle Giant

Friendly, dependable, well-mannered

Great Danes are fearless, companionate, and courageous giant dogs. Nicknamed the “Gentle Giant,” Danes are great with children, and friendly with other dogs and pets. However, like all big dogs, they should be supervised while with children and other animals. They are natural watchdogs and can be aggressive toward strangers who they perceive as a threat. They enjoy dividing their time between the indoors and outdoors, but are best suited as indoor dogs. Ideal human companions for Danes are singles, active individuals, strong individuals, and families with older children. These strong dogs require daily, yet moderate, exercise such as a long walk at a relaxed pace.

Understanding their unique needs will help keep them healthy and create a strong bond between the two of you. Explore this page to learn more about the breed’s history, health concerns, characteristics, and care needs.

Breed Details

Height:28-35 in. Weight:110-180 lb Lifespan:7-9 years

Size
5

1=small 5=large

Grooming requirements
1

1 = little grooming - 5 = much grooming

Energy level
2

1 = low energy - 5 = high energy

Ease of training
3

1 = difficult - 5 = easy

Affection toward owners
4

1 = independent - 5 = very affectionate

Friendliness toward strangers
4

1 = shy - 5 = very friendly

Routine Care: The Great Dane is a large smart dog with lots of energy, so keep their mind and body active, or they'll get bored. That's when the naughty stuff starts. They can have a high prey drive, so they need to be leash walked and a sturdy fence is a must. It is recommended that you provide them with soft bedding to help prevent joint problems and calluses. 

Grooming: They have low grooming needs. Brush their coat as needed, at least weekly. 

Dental: Great Danes generally have good teeth, and you can keep them perfect by brushing them at least twice a week! 

Ear Care: Clean their ears weekly, even as a puppy. Don’t worry—your veterinarian can show you how! 

The Great Dane is courageous, loyal, and sometimes reserved, but with proper socialization and training, they are a true gentle giant. 

Positive Traits:

  • Lovable, playful companion 

  • Good with children 

  • Confident, steady, and fearless 

  • Good watchdog with a loud bark 

  • Mild-mannered and easy to get along with 

  • Energetic, active, and athletic 

Negative Traits:

  • Takes up a lot of room due to their massive size 

  • Can be rambunctious and rowdy, especially as a younger dog 

  • Prone to separation anxiety and associated chewing behaviors 

  • Can be gassy and drool a lot 

  • Can be aggressive, fearful, or snappy if not socialized properly 

  • Can be independent and strong-willed 


Whether you are considering adding a new Great Dane to your family or you already have one as a companion, it is important for you to know about the genetically linked diseases known to occur more often in this breed. Of course not every Great Dane will have these problems, but research shows your pal is more at risk than other breeds.

By exploring the health concerns specific to the Great Dane you will become a knowledgeable and confident pet parent. Be sure to speak with your veterinarian about breed risks every time you visit and educate yourself on the most important signs to watch for at home. They are counting on you to be their health expert.

Some health issues a Great Dane could encounter:

The Great Dane originated in Germany over 400 years ago. Initially bred to hunt deer or wild boar and to serve as estate guards, the Great Dane’s modern purpose is companionship. The Great Dane was developed from a cross between the Irish Wolfhound and Old English Mastiff, and is also known as the German Mastiff. The Great Dane is an easygoing and social breed; they are known to be patient with children and highly devoted to their family. Great Danes are a large breed that mature slowly and have moderate exercise needs, so do not over-exercise them during their early years. The Great Dane is friendly and charming, a wonderful family companion. The Great Dane is a generally healthy breed with an average lifespan of seven to nine years.

Consult with a veterinarian if your Great Dane shows signs of the following:

  • Dry heaving or a large, tight, painful abdomen 

  • Fainting, collapse, breathing issues, cough 

  • Any new or changing lumps or bumps 

  • Lameness with or without swelling 

  • Swollen lymph nodes or glands, unexplained weight loss 

  • Pale gums, labored breathing, weakness, or sudden collapse 

  • General reluctance to run or play 

  • Blinking, redness, pain or itchiness around the eyes 

  • General listlessness, droopy facial expression, vomiting, diarrhea 

  • Gums that are a color other than bright pink 

  • Dull coat, hair loss, sluggish, weight gain 

  • Excessive licking or chewing, pawing at face and/or ears, head shaking, face rubbing 

  • Dry, scaly, sometimes itchy hairless patches on face or paws 

  • Misplaced or missing teeth, bad breath, hair and food stuck between teeth


  • Care

    Routine Care: The Great Dane is a large smart dog with lots of energy, so keep their mind and body active, or they'll get bored. That's when the naughty stuff starts. They can have a high prey drive, so they need to be leash walked and a sturdy fence is a must. It is recommended that you provide them with soft bedding to help prevent joint problems and calluses. 

    Grooming: They have low grooming needs. Brush their coat as needed, at least weekly. 

    Dental: Great Danes generally have good teeth, and you can keep them perfect by brushing them at least twice a week! 

    Ear Care: Clean their ears weekly, even as a puppy. Don’t worry—your veterinarian can show you how! 

  • Characteristics

    The Great Dane is courageous, loyal, and sometimes reserved, but with proper socialization and training, they are a true gentle giant. 

    Positive Traits:

    • Lovable, playful companion 

    • Good with children 

    • Confident, steady, and fearless 

    • Good watchdog with a loud bark 

    • Mild-mannered and easy to get along with 

    • Energetic, active, and athletic 

    Negative Traits:

    • Takes up a lot of room due to their massive size 

    • Can be rambunctious and rowdy, especially as a younger dog 

    • Prone to separation anxiety and associated chewing behaviors 

    • Can be gassy and drool a lot 

    • Can be aggressive, fearful, or snappy if not socialized properly 

    • Can be independent and strong-willed 


  • Health Concerns

    Whether you are considering adding a new Great Dane to your family or you already have one as a companion, it is important for you to know about the genetically linked diseases known to occur more often in this breed. Of course not every Great Dane will have these problems, but research shows your pal is more at risk than other breeds.

    By exploring the health concerns specific to the Great Dane you will become a knowledgeable and confident pet parent. Be sure to speak with your veterinarian about breed risks every time you visit and educate yourself on the most important signs to watch for at home. They are counting on you to be their health expert.

    Some health issues a Great Dane could encounter:

  • History

    The Great Dane originated in Germany over 400 years ago. Initially bred to hunt deer or wild boar and to serve as estate guards, the Great Dane’s modern purpose is companionship. The Great Dane was developed from a cross between the Irish Wolfhound and Old English Mastiff, and is also known as the German Mastiff. The Great Dane is an easygoing and social breed; they are known to be patient with children and highly devoted to their family. Great Danes are a large breed that mature slowly and have moderate exercise needs, so do not over-exercise them during their early years. The Great Dane is friendly and charming, a wonderful family companion. The Great Dane is a generally healthy breed with an average lifespan of seven to nine years.

  • Watch Out For

    Consult with a veterinarian if your Great Dane shows signs of the following:

    • Dry heaving or a large, tight, painful abdomen 

    • Fainting, collapse, breathing issues, cough 

    • Any new or changing lumps or bumps 

    • Lameness with or without swelling 

    • Swollen lymph nodes or glands, unexplained weight loss 

    • Pale gums, labored breathing, weakness, or sudden collapse 

    • General reluctance to run or play 

    • Blinking, redness, pain or itchiness around the eyes 

    • General listlessness, droopy facial expression, vomiting, diarrhea 

    • Gums that are a color other than bright pink 

    • Dull coat, hair loss, sluggish, weight gain 

    • Excessive licking or chewing, pawing at face and/or ears, head shaking, face rubbing 

    • Dry, scaly, sometimes itchy hairless patches on face or paws 

    • Misplaced or missing teeth, bad breath, hair and food stuck between teeth


Great Dane Discussions

Share your thoughts and experiences, ask questions, or just show your love for the Great Dane breed here!

Select Another Breed

To view the sources for the information listed on this page, see our Dog Breed Guide Reference page.

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