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Great Dane Basics: Temperament, Height, Color, Lifespan, & Price

Great Danes are one of the world’s most recognized dog breeds. However, because they rank out of the top ten most popular breeds your physical encounters with them may be limited or even non-existent. 

This guide was written just for you if you’re curious to learn more about Great Danes, or may even be considering getting one.

Of course, nothing can replace actually spending time with them, but this should give you an idea to get the ball rolling so to speak!


We may be biased, but at Great Dane Care believe that Great Danes have a perfect temperament!

They are sweet and affectionate towards humans and animals alike. They love to socialize and interact with everyone and everything that they encounter.

Their calm and confident demeanors are perfectly suited to soaking up all of that attention!

While Great Danes are not considered an aggressive breed, they may exhibit protective behavior in certain situations. This is typically seen around immediate family members with whom they have developed a close connection with.

For this reason and the others that we’ve already mentioned, they’re viewed as a very dependable breed.

Because of their desire to interact with others, they are not well suited to living in isolation. Furthermore, their ‘eager to please’ personalities make them good responders to training.


Even from a distance, it’s easy to recognize the outline of a Great Dane. While technically not the world’s tallest breed, their regal stature is unmistakable. As a result, they have accumulated well-placed nicknames such as “Apollo of Dogs” and “Gentle Giant”. 

The world’s tallest dog was Zeus the Great Dane. As measured from paw to shoulder, he topped in at a staggering height of 44 inches. Add in the length of his neck and he stood at eye level with quite a few adult humans!

According to the breed standard, a full grown male Great Dane should be a minimum of 30 inches tall, but it is preferable that he is 32 inches or more. Similarly, full grown female Great Danes should be a minimum of 28 inches, with a preference of 30 inches assuming correct proportions.

When viewed from the side, a Great Dane’s stature should appear as square under correct proportions. Meaning that their length and height are roughly equal.

While these are the breed standard minimums for confirmation, the average Great Dane heights are as follows:

  • Males: 32-36 inches
  • Females: 29-33 inches

While on the topic of height, we might as well cover weight as well! Males can run from 140-175 pounds, whereas females range from 110-140 pounds.

Keep in mind that it takes 2-3 years for Great Danes to reach their full size and is not a process that should be rushed. Doing so can lead to severe orthopedic issues later in life.


Like many dogs, Great Danes come in a variety of colors. While you may see a wide range of coat patterns and colors, there are currently only seven officially recognized breed colors.

Those seven official colors are fawn, brindle, blue, black, harlequin, mantle, and merle. Listed below are quick descriptions and photos for each official color.


Fawn is probably the most recognizable Great Dane color thanks to Scooby Doo and Marmaduke! It’s noted by a yellow gold base coat, with black masking of the face.


A Great Dane brindle coat resembles that of a subtle tiger striping. The base coat is yellow gold, with strong black cross stripes in a zigzag (chevron) pattern.


Blue is one of my personal favorites, and creates quite a striking look for a Dane in my opinion  It appears as a steely blue color, that can shimmer under light.

Some blue Great Danes may also have slight white markings on their chest or toes. Although, technically this is technically undesirable under the breed color standards it can be quite an endearing feature!


Similar to blue, a black coat should be seen as a solid shiny black coat. However, white markings may once again appear on the chest and toes (although undesirable). Black is a popular color amongst show Danes.


While doing it a disservice, the harlequin coat can be described as similar to that of a cow pattern. With a white base, the black torn patches should appear evenly distributed across the body. Those less experienced with the breed may mistake younger Harlequin Great Danes for Dalmatians.


As best described in the breed standard, a mantle pattern consists of “black and white with a black blanket extending over the body”. Because of their coat similarity to that of a Boston Terrier, this variation can also be referred to as “Boston”.


Merle Great Dane puppy.

While the Merle coat is similar to that of Harlequin, the key difference is that it utilizes a base color of gray rather than white. With white and black spotting common, the color of the gray base color may vary.

For more information and details on this topic, please take a look at our full article on Great Dane colors.


If there’s one downside to Great Danes, it’s their life expectancy. However, what they lack in lifespan, they do make up for in love  The average Great Dane is expected to live between 7-10 years.

Although not formally documented, the oldest Great Dane we were able to locate lived to the age of 15! While that may not seem like a lot compared to smaller breeds, consider that it’s twice as long as the low end of their average life expectancy.


Hopefully, this won’t negatively impact your opinion of Great Danes but they’re not the cheapest breed.

It should come as no surprise that they eat a lot of food – well actually, compared to their sheer giant size it’s actually not that much…

Regardless, it’s a lot of food compared to a small (or even average) breed.

Couple the cost of food with their potential medical bills and you’ve got to be ready for the possibility of some hefty bills. Good veterinary care is never cheap, nor should you seek out cheap ones, but the costs do add up.

Vaccinations, spay/neuter, check-ups, ear infections, gastroplexies, etc… The list can get quite long before you even encounter something considered abnormal.

Naturally, the other price consideration that we’ve skipped over is the cost of acquisition! A fantastic Great Dane can come from anywhere but in many cases, it can save you money to work with reputable breeders.

They work very diligently to breed only the best litters, therefore helping to avoid many of the health issues that have been known to affect the breed.

That being said, you can absolutely still find a fantastic Great Dane at a shelter. As we covered in the temperament section, they are the sweetest dogs and will love you all the more for giving them a good home.

We estimate that the total cost for the first two years of a healthy Great Dane will likely range between $3,000 – $10,000. Regional cost of living differences and the choice to adopt versus purchase from a breeder are the primary reasons for the large range.

For more details on how we arrived at this range, please refer to our full article on the cost of owning a Great Dane.


That concludes our introduction to the Great Dane breed. Keep in mind that these are just some basic factual details. Much like people, every dog has its own personality and differences. The best way to get to know Great Danes better will be to spend some time with them!

Trust me – you won’t regret it!

For fun, make sure that you also take a look at my article on the 21 Great Dane facts.

5 thoughts on “Great Dane Basics: Temperament, Height, Color, Lifespan, & Price”

  1. Hi Zach,

    I pick up my 8 week old Great Dane on March 28th. I’m curious if there is a specific brand of dog food you recommend. I feed my other three lab/boxer mixes Fromm. I’m not sure if it is suitable for a Dane puppy.

    Now that I have 4 dogs, I may consider making their food but doubt I’ll have time ????

    Thank you,
    Audrea Danskin

  2. Hi Zach, I have been reading your posts nonstop! I am picking up my first Great Dane puppy in May. We get to make our pick from the litter on Friday. We, however, cannot meet the puppy until the six week mark. The breeder will be sending intense videos of the pups. Do you have any recommendations on how to pick our pup? Also, I’m unsure on if we should pick a boy or a girl. We rescued a male kitten in October, I’m not sure if that should play a role in which gender we choose. We’re just looking for an easy going, goofy puppy.

    • Glad to hear that you’re enjoying the website and congrats on your upcoming addition! Personality matching is one of the most important things. Speak with your breeder about what you want in a dog and have them recommend pups exhibiting those traits.


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