A giant among dogs, the Great Dane is an instantly recognized breed no matter where he goes.  Standing at 32 inches at the shoulder he towers over most other dogs and when he stands on his hind legs he towers over most people.  Despite his size he is a noble and elegant dog that is very athletic balanced. This giant dog has a giant heart and is often referred to as the gentle giant.  He is an affectionate, family companion that loves children and loves to play.

Did You Know?

  • This might be the perfect breed; he is sweet, eager to please, loves people, and easy to housetrain.  He just happens to be one of the largest dogs there are.
  • His size makes him one of the most recognizable dogs around, it also makes him one expensive dog as well.  Large dogs eat more food, need bigger beds, and cost more for vet visits.  Even their medication costs more. 
  • These large dogs need a little extra care and attention when they are young growing puppies.  Their bones take longer to grow and solidify.  Do not let puppies jump form high places or run on hard ground such as concrete.  Wait until their bones are fully formed to prevent injury. 
  • Great Dane’s have a special diet that mus be followed very closely due to their immense size.  Following the dietary guidelines will help prevent orthopedic issues they are known to develop. 
  • Great Dane’s are big dogs, no surprise there.  They also like to be inside just as much as outside.  Their large size makes them able to reach just about anything they would want, counter and tables are easy to reach, their tails can make a clean sweep of anything on a coffee table.  Make sure you fully realize all the challenges his size might create. 
  • Unfortunately this gentle giant has s short life span.  Great Danes typically live between 6 to 8 years. 

Adaptability: 2/5

  • Adapts well to apartment living: 1/5
  • Good for first-time owners: 1/5
  • Sensitivity level: 5/5
  • Tolerates being alone: 1/5
  • Tolerates cold weather: 2/5
  • Tolerates hot weather: 3/5

All Around Friendliness: 5/5

  • Affectionate toward family: 5/5
  • Kid-friendly: 5/5
  • Dog-friendly: 5/5
  • Friendly toward strangers: 5/5

Health & Grooming: 4/5

  • Amount of shedding: 5/5
  • Drooling potential: 4/5
  • Easy to groom: 5/5
  • General health: 4/5
  • Potential for weight gain: 2/5
  • Size: 5/5

Trainability: 3/5

  • Easy to train: 5/5
  • Intelligence: 3/5
  • Potential for mouthiness: 2/5
  • Tendency to bark or howl: 4/5
  • Wanderlust potential: 3/5

Exercise Needs: 5/5

  • Energy level: 5/5
  • Intensity: 5/5
  • Exercise needs: 5/5
  • Potential for playfulness: 5/5


The exact beginnings of the Great Dane is not known.  Images of a dog looking very much like a Great Dane or Greyhound appear on murals and in writings of the ancient Egyptians dating back as far as 3000 B.C. Images of a similar looking dog have also been found on Babylonian artifacts of temples that were built around 2000 B.C.  Evidence of a large dog similar to the Great Dane has also been found in Tibet and China.  

It is believed that this dog was taken by the Assyrians and traded among numerous other civilizations such as the Romans and Greeks.  Credit for this dog being bred further with other breeds has been given to the Greeks and Romans, it is believed that it was during this time the English Mastiff got his roots along with the Irish Wolfhound and Grey Hound. 

With his modern gentle personality it might be hard to believe Great Danes were originally bred to hunt wild boar.  They cropped their ears to prevent them from being torn by the tusks of wild boar. They gained popularity throughout Europe for different reasons.  Some Noblemen of Germany would take their favorite and best looking dogs and give them living quarters inside and put gilded, velvet lined collars on them. 

The Great Dane received his name from a French Naturalist that traveled to Denmark and saw the Boar Hound and called him Grand Danois, this name eventually became Great Danish dog.  Denmark had nothing to do with the development of the breed but the name stuck, with larger dogs being known as Danish Mastiffs. 

The Great Dane as we know him today was most likely developed by German breeders.  The large, balanced dog we are familiar with today gained recognition first in Berlin in 1880.  Due to his distinctly different traits and structure it was decided that the Great Dane was indeed a separate breed from the English Mastiff.  The name they gave him at this time was Deutsche Dogge, some still refer to him as the German Mastiff.

During the 1800’s German breeders continued to refine the breed to achieve the desired temperament.  The original Great Dane was a ferocious hunting dog bred to hunt wild boar, breeders wanted a more gentle breed.  After a century of breeding, they succeeded with a large gentle giant that we now know as the Great Dane.


Great Danes are one of the largest dog breeds with males standing between 30 and 34 inches at the shoulders and weighing between 120 and 200 pounds.  Females stand between 28 to 32 inches and weigh between 100 and 130 pounds.


The Great Dane is a beautiful and elegant giant of a dog.  He has well formed powerful, yet smooth muscles under a short smooth coat. Their coats can be fawn, brindle, blue, black, harlequin, or mantle.  He has a very strong pronounced muzzle with dark, penetrating eyes and alert cropped ears.  They are not born with cropped ears, so that is a personal choice to have them cropped.  Great Danes are very muscular and proportionate dogs with strong parallel front quarters and muscular but angulated hind quarters. 



A well bred Great Dane is a people person, he loves his family, he loves children, and he even loves strangers.  They are affectionate playful dogs that will want to snuggle on your lap for much longer than they will actually fit on your lap.  He can also be protective of his family if they are in danger, but he is not innately an aggressive dog by any means. He is sensitive and needs to be part of the family. 

Children and Pets

Great Danes love children, especially if they are raised with them form the time they are a puppy.  The difficulty comes when a Great Dane doesn’t understand his size in comparison to a small child and easily knocks him over. Other than that Great Danes are fabulous family dogs if you have children.   Like with any dog it is best to supervise interactions between dogs and children and teach children how to properly play with him. 

Whether or not your Great Dane will love another dog or a cat is largely a case by case trait.  Some Danes love other pets and will snuggle right up with them, cats and dogs.  While other Great Danes could really care less if there is another pet in the house.  Occasionally Great Danes might see a pet as livestock and treat them accordingly, if that is the case another pet is not a good idea. 


Great Danes are generally a fairly healthy breed but, as with all breeds, there are some health conditions they are more prone to.  It is important to note that not all Great Danes will have any or all of these conditions, but it is good to be aware of possible health conditions they may have. If you have access to your dog’s parental health records that would be a great place to do some research and see what he may be prone to having.  You can obtain health clearances for both of the parents of your dog to make sure they’ve been tested and cleared from the following conditions. Health clearances can be confirmed by checking the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) website.

Development Complications: Problems due to growing can develop in puppies often due to not receiving the proper nutrition.  Many of these problems are linked to diets too high in protein, calcium, and/or other supplements.  Prevention is key, follow the veterinarian guidelines for what to feed your growing Great Dane puppy.

Hip Dysplasia: This is a genetic condition passed down from parents in which the femur does not fit snugly into the pelvic socket of the hip joint.  This condition can exist without clinical signs so it is important to have X-ray screenings done.  Dogs with this condition can be in pain and exhibit lameness in one or both rear legs. Ask the breeder for proof that the parents were tested and cleared for hip dysplasia. 

Gastric Tortion:  This condition occurs in larger deep-chested breeds such as Corsos and can be life-threatening. This can occur when a dog quickly eats one large meal during the day, drinks a lot of water then exercises vigorously. If the stomach becomes distended with gas or air and then twists, bloat happens. If the dog is unable to burp or vomit to release the air, blood flow to the heart can be impeded. The dog’s blood pressure will then drop causing the dog to go into shock. If medical attention is not sought quickly enough, the dog could die from this.

Bone Cancer: Just like humans, dogs can be susceptible to cancer. This particular type of cancer is also known as osteosarcoma, this is the most common bone tumor found in dogs.  It is a very aggressive cancer and treatment generally includes amputation of a limb and/or chemo therapy.  early signs of this condition are lameness of a limb, x-rays will confirm the diagnosis.  Most dogs that are treated for this condition can live 9 months to a few years following treatment.   Dogs are surprisingly very adaptable to life on 3 legs.

Heart Disease: Unfortunately heart diseases do affect Great Danes.  The treatment will depend largely on what type of disease it is.  They are susceptible to cardiomyopathy, mitral valve defects, tricuspid valve dysplasia, subaortic stenosis, patent ductus arteriosus, and persistent right aortic arch.  The vet will determine treatment depending on factors such as age and general health. 

Surgery: Great Danes are a bit different when any surgical procedure need to be performed.  It is best to take him to a veterinarian that specializes in large dog breeds such as the Great Dane as his surgical needs are a bit different than that of a smaller breed. It is also strongly advised to ask for a pre-surgery blood work to be done to determine blot clotting issues prior to surgery. 


Great Danes need a lot of physical exercise throughout their lives, but the intensity and kind of exercise will change as they grow from puppies to adults.  Great Dane puppies have a lot of energy and need to run and play but remember to not take them running or jogging on hard surfaces until their bones are more developed.  Puppies require at least 90 minutes of exercise every day.  Adult Great Danes also need at least 30 to 60 minutes of physical exercise each day to help maintain their health.  Despite their large size they are not an outdoor dog, they are happiest being inside as part of the family, and they will behave better too.  Puppies like to dig and chew, ti is important to train them at a young age to not develop obnoxious behaviors.  Adult Great Danes left alone outside for hours is likely to find his own amusement, and a dog of his size can be extremely destructive trying to amuse himself and pass time as your new landscaper. 

Though the Great Dane is generally a gentle and affectionate breed he should still be enrolled in puppy kindergarten at a young age and participate in some training and obedience courses.  A dog of his size will be your best friend if he is well behaved. 

Don’t think his large size keep him from getting cold during the winter months.  He actually can get cold quite easily and could use a giant doggie sweater to keep him warm when you take him out for his daily walk during the winter months. 

It is recommended that you crate train your Great Dane, get a big enough crate for him to begin with planning for him to grow quickly. He will have a safe place to sleep at night, just make sure to not use his crate as punishment or leave him in it all day.  It should be a safe place. 


As with any dog, purchase high quality, nutrient dense dog food.  Ask your veterinarian what food and blend would be best suited for your dog.  Factors such as age, size, and activity level will make a difference on what kind of food he needs and how much.  It is extremely important that your Great Dane gets the proper nutrition he needs for his age and size.  The following is the recommended amounts as per age:

  • 3 to 6 months: females, 3 to 6 cups; males, 4 to 8 cups
  • 8 to 12 months: females, 5 to 8 cups; males, 6 to 10 cups
  • Adolescents: females, 8 cups; males, 9 to 15 cups
  • Adults: females, 6 to 8 cups; males 8 to 10 cups

Up to the age of four or five months Great Danes should have their allotted food divided into three meals throughout the day.  After that they should have their food divided into two meals every day.  They should never be given all their food in one meal. 


That smooth, short, glossy coat of his sheds more than you might think.  Luckily it is easy to keep in great condition with regular brushing.  Use a firm bristle brush and shampoo or spray conditioner to keep the shedding down and he coat looking good.  This is also cut down on the amount of baths he will need.  Get him use to baths as a puppy, this can help when he is full grown and doesn’t want to take a bath, it happens.  Getting him used to being groomed weekly while he is a puppy will make it that much easier when he is bigger than you.

A Great Dane’s nails grow very fast and need to be trimmed at least twice a month.  There are blood vessels in his nails so if you trim them too short it can be painful for him and he will be less likely to cooperate next time you try to trim his nails. 

You will need to check his ears weekly as well and wipe them down with a cotton ball and a gentle ear cleaner from the vet to maintain healthy ears.  Don’t wipe into the canal, just the top part of the ear.  If you notice an odor coming from his ears take him to the vet to be checked.

Regular grooming is a great time to look at your dog and check for any cuts or odors that may need to be looked over by the vet. 

Common Questions

Is a Great Dane a good dog?  They are the gentle giants of the canine world.  They are affectionate, playful and love children.  They will protect their families if they need to.  If that is what you are looking for in a dog, then yes, yes they are good dogs.

What is the best food to feed my Great Dane?  This depends on the age of your Great Dane and other factors.  It is best to consult with your vet to identify what his particular nutritional needs are and buy the dog food that meets those needs. 

Is Scooby Doo a Great Dane?  Yes, Scooby Doo is a fictional Great Dane that speaks broken English as part of a cartoon.

Are Great Danes aggressive?  They are called the gentle giant for a reason, they are just that.  Great Danes are not innately aggressive but they will protect their family.  Their enormous size and resonating bark is enough to dissuade any unwelcome intruder into a home. 

Why do Great Danes die so young?  Current research supports the idea that it is largely because they age faster than other breeds.  They grow and age at a much faster rate than other dogs do.

How much does a Great Dane cost?  The cost can vary greatly depending on if you adopt or purchase form a breeder and it you are wanting a companion or a show dog.  To adopt a Great Dane the cost can vary between $300 to $600.  To purchase a Great Dane from a breeder it can cost between $600 to $3,000.   The cost of raising a Great Dane can be very expensive, he eats of lot of food!


Unfortunately, not everyone that purchases a Great Dane fully understands everything that goes into raising and training a well behaved Great Dane.  There are many Great Danes in need of a loving home whether that be through adoption or fostering.  Below is a list of Rescue agencies that have Great Danes.  If you do not see a local rescue below you can contact a local or nation Great Danes Breed Club and ask them.