Great Dane Temperament & Personality
The Great Dane proudly holds the title as one of the most majestic and aristocratic dog breeds. Apart from just its massive size, this breed is called the Great Dane for a reason. It’s powerful limbs and form enable it to be hailed as a strong companion and dependable pet. This dog is perfect for anyone who wants a loving, standout pet!
History of the Great Dane
The Great Dane originated in Germany. During the 17th century, these dogs were primarily boar hunters. The bigger and more aggressive, the better suited they were for hunting. The earlier version of the breed was even called the “Boar Hound,” which accurately describes their savage occupation.
As industry evolved, Germans adopted a more luxurious and domestic lifestyle. Consequently, the Great Danes transformed into home-bred pets as the need for hunting and outdoor livelihood dwindled. Earning the name “Chamber Dogs,” their domestication continued, and they became the household friends we know today. Compared to the former Boar Hound, the modern Great Dane is slimmer and less ferocious.
With its regal physique and demeanor, the Great Dane is a household pet name. Other nicknames for this dog are the “Gentle Giant” and “Apollo of all Dogs”. The Gentle Giant is a perfect description of the dog's large size and affectionate soul. Apollo, on the other hand, is the God of the Sun, who stands tall and proud - just like the Great Dane! The stateliness of the Great Dane makes it appear like a mighty leader in its class.
In pop culture, Scooby-Doo is the most famous cartoon example of the Great Dane. Though Great Danes are not as goofy as Scooby-Doo, the cartoon character also exhibits the general traits of trustworthiness, strength, and leadership.
The Work-Loving Dog
The Great Dane is a working breed, similar to the Rottweiler, Boxer, Doberman Pinscher, Akita, Mastiff, and several others. Working dogs are primarily bred to assist human tasks like pulling sleds, watching livestock, hunting animals, or even performing police and rescue work. Great Danes are classified as working dogs because of their muscular build and protective nature.
Great Danes can also learn a specific task, such as guarding the elderly or detecting certain scents. Their strength and keen sense of smell give them an advantage in all work they perform.
Size and Weight
One stunning feature of the Great Dane is its towering size. The Great Dane is one of the tallest and biggest breeds in the world - when outstretched (or standing), the Great Dane spans as long as seven feet and even weighs close to an average adult.
The tallest Great Dane ever recorded was Zeus, who reached up to 44 inches in height—a true giant!
Males are typically heavier and taller than females. Males can grow up to 30 to 32 inches tall and weigh as much as 140-175 pounds. Females reach 28-30 inches tall and weigh approximately 110-140 pounds.
Despite its lording presence, the Great Dane is called a “Gentle Giant” for a big reason. The Great Dane is best described as friendly, affectionate, loyal, and mighty. It is poised and regal-looking, which matches its cool and patient temperament. The dog moves with a unique grace that complements its large size.
As a friendly pet, the Great Dane is comfortable with children. The breed creates a solid bond with its family. Once a Dane bonds with you, they provide heartfelt guardianship and protection. You can fully expect the Great Dane to protect you and your home.
Thanks to the breed’s affectionate qualities, walking the Great Dane or watching TV will be equally enjoyable moments for pet owners. It is comfortable around humans and craves attention. Don't be surprised when the Great Dane "stands" on its hind legs and hugs you. It's the dog's way of showing its love for you—so it’s best to hug it back!
What Does the Great Dane Look Like?
The Great Dane has long, lean legs and a regal but muscular figure. It has medium-sized eyes (primarily black) and large triangle floppy ears. The ears are shaped as such for protection during the old hunting days. The face has a friendly look coupled with a droopy mouth.
The coat of the Great Dane is commonly features six (6) different colors:
- Fawn - yellow gold or light brown with black accents
- Brindle - a combination of fawn and black. The pattern appears more like a chevron or stripes.
- Harlequin - white with irregular black patches. The sizes and shapes are not identical, and are neither too large nor minuscule. They are randomly scattered on the dog's body.
- Mantle - also white with black. However, in this case, the black appears like a mantle or a cape covering the backside of the dog. Think of as a Superman cape, covering a hefty area of the back. Both mantle and the head of the dog are colored black.
- Blue - gives off a grayish hue.
Staying Fit and Active
As a puppy, it's good to start with an easy exercise routine. The dog’s bones are just beginning to develop and strengthen, so you should not force them to engage in strenuous running or jumping. You want them to grow into their bone structure properly so they don’t suffer joint or bone issues later.
Once grown (at about 18 months), the Great Dane is an active breed. It is essential to allow time for the Great Dane to run around and move. Daily exercise is necessary to keep the dog fit and happy. All that excess energy needs to have an outlet.
Daily, brisk walking is one way to bond with the Great Dane. Other outdoor activities such as playing on the grass, catching balls, or even hiking are more excellent ways to ensure your pet’s wellness. The Great Dane is also the playful kind, so tagging along with the children for some playtime or field run would be fun for everyone.
It’s a good idea to bring a leash. Though the dog has a generally calm temperament, it also has a powerful nose and a very long stride. Any smell of food or sign of a threat may trigger a pounce or sudden jolt, taking along everyone in its path.
How to Take Care of Your Dog
The life expectancy of the Great Dane is about 6-8 years, which is shorter than smaller dogs. Perhaps the colossal size of the Great Dane makes it live life at a faster pace. It is best to keep your Dane in tip-top health even as a pup so it can enjoy a long, active life.
Every new puppy is sure to bring joy. No matter how energetic they appear as youngsters, it is vital to invest in their long-term health and maintenance. This means planning regular visits to the veterinarian and always being vigilant in spotting signs of physical changes or lack of activity.
Health and Vaccination
Vaccination is a must to ensure proper health care. Like any other puppy, a vaccine is necessary to ward off possible diseases that can spread or make your puppy sick.
The core vaccine package normally includes shots to prevent common diseases such as adenovirus, distemper, parvovirus, rabies, and parainfluenza. Other shots are available to cover other diseases, and you can consult your veterinarian if these are further recommended for your Great Dane. The vaccinations are not only for the protection of the dog but also for everyone around it. Like humans, getting protection from these common illnesses will be one less worry.
However, just because your dog has received its regular and scheduled vaccination does not guarantee it will be free from disease. Even with regular exercise and vitamins, there are still illnesses that can be contracted.
One widespread condition among Great Danes and larger dogs is bloat. Bloat occurs when gas builds up in the stomach, and it can be life-threatening for your dog. A twisted stomach is a possible complication of bloat that requires surgery. If untreated, this condition cuts off blood supply to your dog’s stomach.
While the cause of bloat is unknown, it can be avoided by serving two or three meals a day instead of one hefty meal. After every meal, we also recommended letting the dog rest for about an hour before engaging it in any activity.
Other common diseases that can be experienced by the Great Dane are:
- Cardiomyopathy - This is a cardiac disease that results in an enlarged heart. Symptoms may include fainting, excessive panting, and fatigue.
- Hip Dysplasia - Dysplasia is a degenerative joint disease that can be likened to arthritis. When the hip joints do not form properly, the structures grind together and cause pain. The discomfort leads to difficult movement. Calcium is not the solution to dysplasia. Instead, a glucosamine supplement might better aid the performance of the joints.
- Hypothyroidism - This hormonal condition occurs when the thyroid doesn’t produce enough hormone. If you notice hair loss, dry skin, and other behavioral changes, have the veterinarian check the thyroid levels.
- Obesity - Weight gain is also another condition to watch out for. While you may want to compensate for a Great Dane’s massive size with more food, the consequence of overfeeding may be heart problems and unsatisfactory weight gain that will not benefit the dog.
Many other diseases can put your dog at risk.If you notice any abnormal behavior, like excessive fatigue or lack of appetite, it is best to set an appointment with your veterinarian immediately. The best way to prevent health issues is to provide your dog with a healthy diet, rest, exercise, and affection.
Good Grooming and Canine Care
The Great Dane requires average effort to maintain grooming and cleanliness. Its coat is short and requires no fancy cutting, but it should be maintained to keep its glossy appearance. A weekly clean with a brush or mitt should be enough to collect loose hair and other debris. Given the dog's size and stature, expect a lot of hair to shed in each grooming episode, even more during the spring and fall.
Toenails should be kept neat and clean. You should trim them every three weeks to avoid clawing into household items. Brushing the dog's teeth is also essential for that priceless smile.
Like most dogs, bath time should not be a burdensome task. You are not required to maintain a frequent ritual, but bathe your dog when necessary with a gentle or organic dog shampoo.
While the Great Dane is not much of a barker, it will bark when threatened. If you have other dogs, you already know the drill that dogs drool, poop, pee, and fart. All these bodily functions are present, and you can expect more coming from a heavyweight canine. It is best to schedule baths and other grooming activities after your dog's bathroom breaks.
Training and Rewarding
Because walking a full-grown Great Dane may prove to be a challenging task, training it to walk on a leash when they're young is useful to start them on the obedience track. Leash training ensures that future walks are not tiring and uncontrollable and, instead, focused on fun and lively exercise. The dog will also be able to enjoy the surroundings and sights and will be more mentally focused.
Keep It Social
Another good thing about this training is that the dog will get used to socializing with other dogs. The Great Dane adores social activity, so balancing canine friendships and discipline is promising for more adventures. It will also appear less daunting to others, especially children when walking in public.
Always Recognize Good Behavior
Rewarding your Great Dane with treats is another way to inspire obedience. While you can't expect circus acts, performing simple commands and competing with other dogs is a terrific achievement. It's also your way to show your affection and acknowledgment of a good dog.
Feeding Tips and Tricks
As you wean the puppy off its mother's milk, you can start creating a feeding schedule for your dog. Since the Great Dane is expected to become a giant in its adult stage, its wee months will surely go by fast.
Rapid growth in size and weight occurs in the next one or two years. There may be a tendency to overfeed or increase food intake during these growing years in anticipation of the growth spurt or to indulge your hungry pet. However, it's best not to overfeed your dog because it may result in obesity or abnormal bone growth.
Tips for Growing Pups
The puppy should be given enough time to grow into its regular, lean body so that it will have a balanced skeletal and muscular structure. This will give it ample time to strengthen and develop its legs and body.
Even as young puppies, the 2-3 meals a day rule should be applied to properly monitor food intake.As tempting as it is to feed your puppy more, portion control is essential to a healthy diet. Quality and premium food is a sensible choice for feeding the Great Dane. Your dog may develop food preferences, so experimenting with an array of snacks won't hurt!
Tips for the Ever-Growing Dog
- Feed your dog with kibble. This is dry dog food derived from various meat and plant sources and presented in different colors and shapes.
- Check the label. While kibble could be the go-to food for your dog, you should do your research and check out the ingredients and nutritional content on the label. You don't need to read everything, but make sure that the first three ingredients that appear on the label are quality and premium food items. Anything that sounds artificial at the top of the list makes that dog food garbage. You should look for premium meat or nutritious greens topping the list.
- Keep them packed with vitamins. In terms of nutrition, protein should be a primary portion at about 25%, but not more than 30%. Glucosamine is a commonly added supplement to aid the dog's growing joints, while calcium should be kept at a minimum.
- Don’t overfeed. Feeding may be fun, but don't supersize the portion. Bloat is a common enemy of the Great Dane, and keeping 2-3 tight meals a day is a must. Calorie intake should match the dog's physical activities. A highly active dog can be fed up to 3,000-3,500 calories a day. To further prevent the risk of bloat, you can also test grain-free kibble varieties.
- Explore raw feeding. Another feeding option you can explore is raw feeding. This will eliminate all the potential artificial products often mixed with kibble. Instead, you can guarantee the fresh produce and meat that you can personally select for your dog.
Proponents of raw feeding believe dogs have thrived on this kind of diet in nature for centuries. While many may find this practice on the savage side, it also has its merits.
Raw meat possesses the nutrients and protein that a dog needs, sans the processed junk. Raw chicken including the bone, for example, should be easier to digest, thus putting less strain on the stomach. The bones of raw meat are also more nutritious and give the dog something to chew on (rather than your sofa leg).
- Don’t feed your Great Dane with food scraps from the table or cooked bones. Some ingredients in human food may not be healthy for the dog. In the same way that bones from cooked meat may cause choking or splintering into smaller pieces inside the dog's throat.
- Get good advice. Check out product reviews or join Great Dane online forums and communities so you can consult fellow owners on what’s best for your dog. What might work wonders for a Bulldog might not sit well with the Gentle Giant.
Home Sweet Home
Excited with your new puppy? Every home welcomes a new pet, and the Great Dane deserves to have a comfortable and homey space in its new abode.
The best home for a Great Dane is, of course, a large spacious backyard or garden that offers a wide area for playtime and walks. This will not limit the dog's movement with its gigantic size and steps. It will also create a sense of guardianship for the dog to safe keep the domain.
If your living space is small, you can be creative in taking care of your Great Dane. Create a small hub for your dog's resting needs, and always find the time to walk your dog in a nearby park or enroll it in a class with other dogs. What's important is to make it feel loved and secure at all times.
Got neighbors with pets? Socialize them with your Great Dane when your dog is young. The best way to get your Great Dane to feel comfortable around other dogs, children, and family members is to expose them right away. Start building that Gentle Giant's heart as early as possible, and reap the loving rewards in time.
The Great Dane is a wonderful, playful, and loving dog to have around. You should always cherish them with your attention and care, and what you'll get back is much more—a royal protector with a gigantic heart.