From Scooby Doo to the Hound of the Baskervilles, the Great Dane has been an iconic symbol of television and pop culture for quite some time. Holding the record for the largest dog breed in the Guinness Book Of World Records, the Great Dane Zeus stands 112 centimeters from paw to shoulder.
The dog who formerly held this lofty position was another Great Dane named George, who stood 110 centimeters in height. It is no wonder why the Great Dane is often referred to as the king of dogs and a favorite family pet of many.
Physical CharacteristicsAs far as body types go, the Great Dane is considered among the giant dog breeds. The male of this breed should tend to look larger and more muscular than the female. He should have a larger relatively square frame. His bone structure should tend to weigh more also. The ideal height of a male is 32 inches or greater. Alternatively, the ideal height of the female is 30 inches or more. It should have a rectangular shaped head.
A Great Dane can come in a variety of different colors. These are black, blue, fawn, brindle, mantle, and harlequin. The Great Dane has a coat of short hair. This hair should be thick, glossy, and clean looking.
TemperamentGreat Danes, sometimes referred to as gentle giants, are often noted as being friendly family dogs. As with any breed, they should be supervised around young children and socialized from an early age. Early socialization can help to prevent a number of bad habits, such as unwanted barking and aggression. They often seek companionship from their human owners. They are sometimes thought of as the world's largest lap dogs.
Despite their often friendly disposition, Great Danes can be trained to be quite aggressive guard dogs if desired. The Great Dane has the ability to produce a deep guttural growl and very loud bark. It is recommended to begin training them not to bark at a relatively young age, if they are not to be used in this line of work.
Even if they are not trained for guard work, they will exhibit a tendency towards being naturally protective of their owner or family, if they sense danger. Usually, their sheer size is enough to deter an aggressor. And they can prove to be a formidable opponent if need be.
Though a Great Dane can be rather playful, they can be trained to be relatively docile and quiet for apartment living. However, they can easily clear a coffee table with their tail if they get too excited. At times their movements can be characterized as being a little like a bull in a china shop.
Care & GroomingThough the Great Dane has a tendency to be energetic at a young age, its physical activity must be limited so as not to cause damage to its hips or joints. It is often recommended to walk a Great Dane for 10 to 20 minutes per day as a normal part of its exercise regiment. Because of its large size, it is prone to many of the health problems of larger breeds. Health problems such as hip dysplasia, Osteosarcoma, bloat, wobbler's disease, and Arthritis, just to name a few. Many Great Danes are also prone to getting Epilepsy also, and seizures may be common.
Great Danes are considered easy to groom, having short, smooth hair. Weekly brushing, ear cleaning, and nail trim is all that is needed to keep the dog looking its best. Bathing should be done on an as-needed basis as over-bathing can dry out the skin and coat. Some people still practice cropping the ears on their Great Dane, but the practice has lost favor over the years, being that the dog receives no physical or health benefit from the procedure.
HistoryAlthough the Great Dane is said to find its origins in Germany, pictures of large dogs with the features of Great Danes can be observed in Egyptian drawings that date back as far as three thousand B. C. Chinese writings, from as early as 1121 B. C., have also provided historians with evidence of descriptions that portray a striking likeness to the Great Dane breed.
The German use for the Great Dane was for hunting wild boar. The Great Dane was efficient at this task, having been believed to have been bred from an Irish Wolfhound crossed with that of the English Mastiff. Thus making the Great Dane a type of Mastiff. Eventually, Great Danes were no longer used to hunt boar and their new occupation was oriented around being estate guard dogs instead.
Historically speaking, there has been some dispute and confusion over whether the Great Danes actually originated in Germany, in that some argue that they originated in Denmark instead, following the thinking of a man named Buffon. Buffon confused the Greyhounds of the region with the Boarshound. But the available evidence suggests that the Great Dane, as a breed, was never developed in Denmark, even though the name Great Dane comes from that region and is perhaps the only contribution of Denmark that can be attributed to the breed.