Dogs resembling the Great Dane have been seen on Egyptian monuments dating back to 3,000 BC. According to Barbara Stein, "The breed originated in Germany, probably from a cross between the English mastiff and the Irish Wolfhound." In the early 1700's, a French naturalist, Compte de Buffon first saw these dogs while traveling in Denmark. He labelled this breed "le Grande Danois" or Great Dane. For some reason, the name stuck - although only in English. (The Germans continued to refer to this breed as the "Deutsche doggen".) So, although Denmark has absolutely no part to play in the story of the history of Great Danes, the dog is nevertheless tied to it albeit in name only. According to Jacob Nicolay Wilse the Danes called the dog "large hound," a terminology continued well in to the 20th century. As late as in the 1780 Germany the hound is referred to as "Grosser Dänischer
Jagdhund" (English: Large Danish Hunting Hound). At the first dog exhibition, held in Hamburg 14–20 July 1863, eight dogs were called "Dänische Dogge" and seven "Ulmer Doggen."Most fanciers today credit Germany with the well-balanced, elegant Great Dane as we know it. It is known that German nobility imported these English Boar Hounds until the 17th and 18th centuries, by which time they had developed their own breeding stock and no longer needed the imports. In 1880, a Dr. Bodinus held a meeting in Berlin where judges and breeders agreed that the breed as developed by the Germans was distinctly different from the stockier English Mastiffs and would henceforth be known solely as the Deutsche Dogge, or German Dog. The Deutsche Doggen Club of German was founded, and the name Deutsche Dogge took hold in parts of Europe. The Germans had a hard time convincing other countries to accept the breed name, however. The Italians to this day call the breed Alano, which means mastiff. In England, the United States and other English-speaking countries, the dogs are called Great Danes
The Great Dane is a giant, powerful dog. Square in body, but females may be slightly longer than tall. The long head is rectangular in shape. The muzzle is deep, with a pronounced stop. The nose is black, blue/black on blue Danes or black spotted on the harlequins. The dark, deep-set eyes are medium in size. The medium sized ears are set high and either cropped or left natural. If left in their natural state they are folded forward, hanging close to the cheek. When cropped they stand erect and are large in proportion to the rest of the head. Note: cropping ears is illegal in most parts of Europe. The well arched neck is set high, firm and muscular. The front legs are perfectly straight. The feet are round with dark toenails. The tail is set high, thicker at the base and tapering to a point. Dewclaws are sometimes removed. The coat is short and thick. Colors come in brindle, fawn, black, blue, mantle harlequin and sometimes merle. Although not a recognized color, chocolate does occur in a recessive gene. Merle is a common result of harlequin breeding, but it is not a recognized color.
Known as the "gentle giant" and the "king of dogs," the Great Dane was originally bred as a hunting dog but is now bred as an exceptionally large companion dog. And he makes a good one. He is a gentle, friendly, docile, peaceful, and a really, really big dog. He is exceptionally devoted to his owners, especially children. However, a six-month-old Great Dane puppy will outweigh a six-year-old child, so parents must be cautious that no one gets accidentally squashed. But the Great Dane is people-oriented and committed to pleasing them. They are playful, and will need to be walked daily, but their exercise needs are only moderate. They also love to nap with you, and will take over your couch. They might also go steal some food off the countertop before you wake up. They make good watchdogs, and are often reserved towards strangers, but in general, they don't bark much. They get along well with other animals. They are trainable and do well in the competition ring. They are also quick to housetrain. (I know, thank God, right?) So, if you are looking for a dog that honestly believes he is a part of the family ... if you are looking for a gentle giant to have in your home ... who will be able to sit and look you in the eye at the dinner table ... if you are looking for a peaceful, devoted companion who loves his family and home, then the Great Dane might be for you.
Height: Males 30 - 34 inches (76 - 86 cm) Females 28 - 32 inches (71 - 81 cm)
Weight: Males 120 - 200 pounds (54 - 90 kg) Females 100 - 130 pounds (45 - 59 kg)
Dogs of even larger size are more prized.
The Great Dane will do okay in an apartment if it is sufficiently exercised. It is relatively inactive indoors and does best with at least a large yard.
Like most dogs, Great Danes require daily walks to remain healthy. However it is important not to over exercise this breed, particularly when young. Great Dane puppies grow very large, very fast, which puts them at risk of joint and bone problems. Because of a puppy's natural energy, Dane owners often take steps to minimize activity while the dog is still growing.
Given their large size, Great Danes continue to grow (mostly gaining weight) longer than most dogs. Even at one year of age a Great Dane will continue to grow for several more months.
The average is under 10 years, however some can live to be 12-13 years old.
Combing and brushing the short coat of this breed regularly is acceptable for this giant breed. Rubber brushing also does well in removing any loose hair. Bathing a Great Dane can be difficult due to his size, but is a relatively clean dog.
This regal breed combines great size and power with elegance. It is square-proportioned and well-balanced. Its gait is strong and powerful with long, easy strides. These attributes are necessary in a dog required to overtake and then over-power relatively swift but formidable quarry. Its coat is short, thick and glossy. The Great Dane is most noteworthy for its majestic carriage and appearance — the "Apollo of Dogs."
The Great Dane is gentle, loving, easygoing and sensitive. It is generally good with children (although its friendly overtures may overwhelm a small child) and usually friendly toward other dogs and pets. It is powerful but sensitive and responsive to training. It makes a pleasant, well-mannered family companion.