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The Great Dane, A Gentle Giant

Updated on October 30, 2011

History of the Great Dane

The Great Dane was bred in Germany and England around the fourteenth century. The French naturalist Comte de Buffon gave the dog the name Great Dane during his travels in Denmark in the nineteenth century. Even though the breed has no association with Denmark, the name gained popularity and has remained unchanged for over one hundred years.

The Great Dane was originally bred as a hunting dog. There was no dog suitable at the time for hunting Europe’s wild boar. The Great Dane was this answer to this problem, being large in size, yet agile and fast enough to hunt. It is believed they are a combination of Irish Wolfhound, English Mastiff, and Grey hound. The ears were cut short because they would often lose them in fights with the wild boar.

By the nineteenth century, Great Danes were gaining popularity with German nobleman. Taller dogs were highly prized and sought after. The breed was transitioning from a hunting dog to a companion dog. These dogs were called “chamber dogs” and often wore velvet lined collars. Today, Great Danes can still be found on German estates.


The Great Dane is truly impressive when it comes to size. They can reach a height of 40 inches at the shoulder and weigh up to 200 pounds. When standing on their hind legs they may be seven feet tall. The average female is 30-32 inches tall and weighs around 120 pounds. The average male is 32-34 inches tall and weighs 140 pounds or more.


Great Danes are often referred to as “gentle giants”. They are a great family dog that are loyal affectionate. They are patient and playful with children. Due to their size, they may not be suited for homes with small children. As with any large dog, they can injure small children accidentally by stepping on them or knocking them down.

They make good watch dogs. Their sheer size is intimidating and they are a very courageous breed. They do not bark very much but they can be aggressive when their family needs protection. It is important to train them so they know when to be aggressive and when to be friendly. They are moderately easy to train and possess average intelligence for a dog.


Great Danes do suffer from a few health problems. When they are puppies, their bones are not strong enough to support their weight when running for long distances so you should never take a Great Dane jogging until they are at least 12-18 months old They also are prone to hip dysplasia and heart disease. They have a life expectancy of around nine years, though some live for twelve years or more. Daily exercise along with a quality diet can help extend their life. Do not buy cheap dog food; buy a high quality brand of food. Your dog will be healthier and live longer.


Great Danes shed quite a bit of hair simply because they are so large and have so much hair. They do not require extensive grooming. Brushing their hair once or twice a week will prevent a lot of the shedding that occurs. The more hair you brush out, the less hair you will have on your furniture and floors.

The Great Dane is a good family dog that is playful, caring and protective. They do require some space and some exercise. As with all dogs, but especially large dogs, they do require training. Training your Great Dane will ensure they are happy and will make good companions for everyone in your family.


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    • poetvix profile image

      poetvix 5 years ago from Gone from Texas but still in the south. Surrounded by God's country.

      I found this to be informative and well organized with some great pictures. I personally love the breed. They are wonderful pets if you have the room.

    • Eiddwen profile image

      Eiddwen 5 years ago from Wales

      A beautiful dog and thanks for sharing.

      Take care


    • PADDYBOY60 profile image

      PADDYBOY60 5 years ago from Centreville Michigan

      I love these gentle giants, but on the other hand I love just about every breed! Grand hub. Thanks.

    • DonnaCosmato profile image

      Donna Cosmato 5 years ago from USA

      Excellent breed profile of this amazing dog! The only downside is the relatively short lifespans of these giant breeds :(

    • Ari Lamstein profile image

      Ari Lamstein 6 years ago from San Francisco, CA

      Great Hub. How do Great Danes compare with Bernese Mountain dogs?