As one of the tallest dogs in the world, Great Danes are powerful, graceful animals that are taller than some humans when standing on their hind legs. In fact, their graceful nature is the reason why they’re often called ‘Apollos of dogs’. For the most part, they have a sweet and patient nature but these dogs can make great home guardians. Their large size can be intimidating and they can be aggressive if it appears that their owners are being harmed.
Standing at 30-34 inches at the shoulder and weighing 100-200 pounds, Great Danes are big dogs with big needs. Their size sadly limits the average lifespan, as these dogs generally only live 7-10 years. Additionally, their big size means they come with big needs and they’re a big commitment. They might not need to run a marathon every day but daily walks would be great. Their bones and joints take some time to stop growing when they’re puppies, which means you shouldn’t take them jogging until they’re 18 months old (or so). But as adults, they thrive in competitive sports like agility, obedience, and tracking because of their working history.
Despite their name, Great Danes are actually from Germany, where they were often used to catch wild boars for hunters. By the late 17th century, German noblemen were breeding these dogs to keep as guard dogs. The ferociousness needed for that kind of hunting is no longer there in modern Great Danes, as they’re now quite peaceful dogs. Their origins do go all the way back to 3000 BCE, where drawings have been found in Egypt of very similar dogs.
Their size can cause some problems around the house, as they can accidentally knock things over with their tails and can easily get things off counters. But luckily, they’re not particularly rambunctious and energetic. Training and obedience classes are necessary for Great Danes but mostly because their size could make it difficult to control them when they’re adults. Plus, they like to follow their noses so training could help curb any potential leash pulling.
The good news is that Great Danes are gentle giants that are eager to please and people-oriented, making it easier to train them. But they are emotionally sensitive, so positive reinforcement training would go a long way. While they can be aggressive if they think their people are in danger, Great Danes are often gentle and loving; even with their large size, they’re great with kids, make great therapy dogs, and could live in an apartment (just not a super tiny space!).
As short-haired dogs, they don’t need constant brushing but could use it on occasion. Regular baths (every few months or as needed) would also be great and grooming like brushing their teeth, trimming their nails, and cleaning their ears can keep them healthy. They are prone to health issues like development issues, bloat, bone cancer, hip dysplasia, and heart disease. Regular vet check-ups, a good diet, and daily exercise can help keep your Great Dane as healthy as possible.
Great Danes, despite their large size, are sensitive and gentle dogs that love to be with their people. Their temperament around other animals depends on the individual dog, as some might need to be the only animal in your life while others do well with cats and other dogs. But Great Danes are generally great with people, to the point that some are even used as service or therapy dogs!