Breed Profile: Great Dane

If you have room for larger-than-life affection and companionship, the Great Dane might be your perfect dog. Read our breed profile.


Often seen as guardians because of their impressive size and stature, Great Danes are affectionate and loyal dogs in big packages.


Great Dane, aka Dane



Physical Description

Great Danes are among the world’s tallest breeds, standing around 28 to 36 inches tall, with males weighing from 140 to 175 pounds and females weighing 110 to 140 pounds. Their short, thick coats can be brindle, fawn, blue, black, harlequin (irregular black or merle patches) or mantle.


While some claim that Great Danes were drawn in Egyptian times as far back as 3000 B.C., written descriptions surfaced in Chinese writings around 1121 B.C. The breed we are familiar with today were hunting dogs used by the Germans to eradicate boar. They were developed in Europe in the 1800s and in 1876 were declared the national breed of Germany. Once their hunting purpose was no longer needed, Great Danes became companion pets.


Great Danes are great companions and quite intimidating guard dogs. They are not usually aggressive but have a natural tendency to be protective.


Great Danes can be intimidating with their large, confident stature, but this giant breed is gentle, affectionate and generally gets along with other animals and people. They do not have a high desire for chasing prey, and are very protective of their families but do not intentionally try to cause harm. Almost 80 percent of Danes given the American Temperament Test have passed.

Exercise Needs

Great Danes grow quickly and for longer periods of time than other breeds, and this puts them at risk for problems with joints and bones. Owners may limit the amount of exercise given to their puppies during their growth. Great Danes need regular walks, but excessive running can cause bloating that can be fatal. Consistent and equivalent daily exercise is best for these gentle giants.

Grooming Requirements

Ear cropping used to be done to protect the Great Dane’s ears from the boar they hunted. Today some people still crop the ears for cosmetic purposes, but the practice is banned in several countries.

Regular bathing is not required, and excessive bathing could strip the coat of essential oils. Shedding is comparable to other short-haired breeds, and a daily brushing will minimize the effects of excessive hair on carpets and furniture.

Common Health Problems

According to the Great Dane Club of America, the most common health problems associated with this dog breed are bloat, cancer, heart problems and various issues with their long periods of growth. Feeding the dogs at an elevated height and minimizing activity around feeding times can reduce the possibility of bloat. Spaying or neutering is usually recommended to alleviate the likelihood of prostate cancer in males and false pregnancies and uterine infections in females.

Is a Great Dane the Right Dog for You?

Great Danes are majestic dogs that command attention when in their presence, are generally loving and affectionate and live from seven to 10 years. They can grow to be very large, so expect to have large accommodations and a meal plan. Do you have young children? Expect to supervise them when with the dog because of size concerns; a large dog can easily knock over a small child unintentionally. Great Danes are fairly easy to housebreak and crave human companionship, and one could make a great new best friend for you and your family.

Photo: Laertes/Flickr

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