Legend has it that Great Danes were originally bred to hunt wild boards, but in today’s modern age it begs the question as to whether or not Great Danes still make good hunting dogs. Clearly, their large size could have its advantages, but are there any drawbacks?
So, do Great Danes make good hunting dogs? No. While Great Danes were historically bred to hunt wild boars, this changed over time because their hunting instincts were gradually bred out. Today, Great Danes are better suited to lives as companion pets.
If you’ve been thinking of using a Great Dane as a hunting partner, you may be out of luck. However, as a companion, you can’t beat them! Read on to find out more about the fantastic Great Dane.
Why Great Danes Aren’t Suitable for Hunting
In the vast majority of cases, you shouldn’t use a Great Dane for hunting. However, if you have determined to do so, you will be best off starting them from a young age.
There are many challenges that you will face when trying to train a Great Dane to hunt, such as:
- Their short, single-layered coat provides little protection from the elements. Hunters often spend hours at a time in freezing cold conditions, making Great Danes ill-prepared for these types of situations.
- Their giant bodies make them susceptible to overheating. When such a large dog engages in constant running and handling of prey that is struggling to get away, it is very easy for them to overheat.
- While Great Danes are surprisingly athletic for their size, they are not well-known for having great stamina or endurance. For field hunts that could last anywhere from several hours to an entire day’s worth of activity, this is not a good fit for Great Danes.
- Many forms of hunting require hiding in small places or transit via smaller vehicles such as boats, ATVs, etc… Their large size can make it difficult for them to not only travel with you to the hunting area but also difficult to hide in blinds and other areas of camouflage.
- Great Danes are often sensitive to loud noises. Unless trained from a young age to be de-sensitized to it, the burst from shotguns and rifles firing near them could lead to emotional distress.
For all of these reasons, Great Danes do not make the best hunting dogs. Even if you do decide to train them when they are young for hunting, you can negatively affect their future health.
This isn’t to say that it’s impossible! Just that you’ll need to make plans for how to address these potential issues before they arise.
If you’re more interested in finding a dog better suited to going hunting with you, here a just a few of the qualities that you might want to look for.
- Endurance and stamina
- Good sense of smell or sight
- Double coats for insulation against cold temperatures and water
- High intelligence and trainability
One quick thing to point out is that there are different types of hunting. Each variation, therefore, will favor different qualities from the dog’s assisting in them.
For example, Labrador Retrievers are excellent for duck hunting while English Springer Spaniels are excellent at pheasant hunting. To get some ideas of dogs that excel in other forms of hunting, make sure to take a look at this article here from Outdoorlife.com.
A History of Great Danes
In the 14th century, Great Danes were bred to be some of the most ferocious hunters. Their energetic nature, coupled with their massive size, made them the ideal hunters of the wild boars that are native to Europe.
The Great Danes of old were, however, slightly shorter, heavier, stockier, and even more muscular than the ones that exist today. This added muscle would have also assisted in providing warmth through the additional insulation.
They were quite popular in Germany and England. Because of selective breeding over time, Great Danes changed both in appearance and temperament.
This process saw the rise of a taller dog that looks intimidating. However, the dog’s temperament changed in that it became more gentle and easy to befriend.
Everything You Should Know About Modern Great Danes
Physical Appearance and Lifespan
Great Danes are an elegant breed with a huge muscular body. They have a long, narrow head that is quite massive and intimidating. Their long graceful neck is quite a sight to behold on a figure with a body weight that averages between 100 to 200 pounds.
Great Danes have a long tail that they love to wag, which is adorable but also means they can knock down things on the table or low hanging counters as they pass by or play around with the kids inside the house. They have an estimated lifespan of 7 to 10 years.
Demeanor and Trainability
Although large, these dogs are quite affectionate and gentle. That is why they make excellent companions, even for small children. They are especially protective of their companions.
And don’t be fooled by their calm nature because they still retain their courageous instinct and will, therefore, stand up to just about any threat.
It is a good idea to train these pets at a tender age because as they grow larger, training becomes quite tricky. Great Danes are often eager to please and crave attention, which is why you should not be surprised if they jump on the couch or nudge you for some petting on the head.
Great Danes fall under the category of working dog breeds. That means they can be trained to perform a variety of tasks or entertain their companions.
Some of the tasks that can be performed by working dogs include guarding the home, guiding the owner, herding livestock, search and rescue, and detection.
Eating Habits and Care
Because of their massive size, many people hold the view that Great Danes eat much more food than smaller dogs. However, the truth is that they eat a moderate amount of food.
Additionally, they are quite energetic and require a decent amount of exercise to stay in shape.
While they can do well in small houses, they are best suited for large homes with plenty of room for them to move around. A sizable yard can be an added advantage for anyone that wants enough space to play with these dogs.
Great Danes usually have a short but thick coat, which makes it easy for owners to keep the dogs clean. All they require is an occasional bath, perhaps once a week, and routine grooming and brushing.
These dogs shed heavily during the spring and fall, so you may have to up your game when it comes to cleaning during those times.
A Great Dane makes a wonderful addition to any household, especially if you have ample space. There are many benefits to the breed, and you’re sure to turn heads wherever you go!
If you are looking for a hunting dog, some of the options you should go for include hounds, terriers, and dachshunds.
However, if you want a companion that will stick by your side through thick and thin, Great Danes are an excellent choice.