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21 Things to Know About Great Danes

Delve into the essential things to know about Great Danes, from their towering size to their endearing temperament. This article offers vital information to help you understand and care for these noble canines.

Keep reading to learn 21 more things about Great Danes!

1. Great Danes are not Danish!

Although their names may indicate otherwise, Great Danes are not from Denmark.

The breed originated in Germany, leading us to the second fun fact 😉

2. They are the national dog of Germany

Great Danes were named the national dog of Germany in 1876.

Germany went as far as to ban all other names, and dictated that the sole name was “Deutsche dogge”!

3. They were originally used for boar hunting

The Great Dane breed was created by combining multiple existing breeds to create the perfect boar-hunting dog.

This included the Irish Wolfhounds for their height, Mastiffs for their muscle mass, and Greyhounds for their speed.

Once their boar hunting days were behind them they transitioned to companion pets.

4. Ear cropping is a holdover from their days as boar hunters

Great Dane’s ears were cropped to limit physical harm during boar hunts. Boar tusks were prone to cutting their ears when left uncropped, leading to loss of blood and sometimes death.

In today’s world, ear cropping is purely a cosmetic surgery and has no functional use. Although most show dogs continue to have their ears cropped due to the traditional look, many countries have actually banned ear cropping.

If you’re curious to learn more about this topic, here’s a link to an entire article on ear cropping.

5. Great Dane’s have massive paws

Massive paws are one of the most distinguishable features of Great Danes.

When fully splayed, a Great Dane paw can be the size of an average man’s hand.

6. There are 7 official Great Dane colors

The seven officially recognized breed colors are Fawn, Brindle, Blue, Black, Harlequin, Merle, and Mantle.

You can learn more about them here!

7. Their nicknames include “Apollo of dogs” and “Gentle Giant”

The world’s largest Great Dane “Zeus” measured 44 inches (1.118 m) from paw to shoulder.  

Although a Great Dane currently holds the record for the world’s tallest dog, they’re actually the second tallest breed overall. Irish Wolfhounds hold claim to the tallest dog breed.

8. Great Danes are very affectionate and loving dogs

In keeping with their nickname “Gentle Giant”, Great Danes crave attention and often think that they are lapdogs. Their kind nature makes them fantastic family pets.

9. They sleep 16 – 18 hours per day on average!

While most dogs sleep an average of 14 hours per day, Great Danes beat them by a couple of hours. This mastery of sleeping has earned them the designation as one of the laziest dog breeds.

For more information about how much you can expect a Great Dane puppy to sleep, make sure to take a look at my article here.

10. AKC classifies Great Danes as part of the Working Group

Although very lazy, their historical use as boar hunters and sturdy build led them to be classified as part of the working group. While most Great Danes these days are companion pets, some have stuck to their working roots acting as service animals.

Their large frames make them well-suited to physically assisting those with disabilities.

Tip: If you’d like to learn more about this topic, the Service Dog Project is dedicated to training and donating Great Danes to assist those with mobility limitations.

11. Great Danes weigh 1 – 2 pounds at birth.

While this may not seem like a lot at first glance, take into consideration the birth weight of other dogs. Small and medium size breeds at birth typically weigh between 0.15 pounds – 0.6 pounds.

As you’ll find out in #14, Great Dane’s birth weight is a far cry from what they will weigh as fully grown adults!

12. Puppies can eat 10+ cups of food per day!

Lucky for us, their daily food intake goes down once they are done growing. Adults often eat less than the fast-growing puppy versions.

Read more here for reference on how much to feed a Great Dane puppy.

13. Great Danes take 3 years to reach their full size

While many Great Danes are done “growing” at the age of two, it usually takes until the age of three for them to fill out their large frames.

By comparison, most small breeds are fully done growing around the one-year mark.

14. They’re bigger than they look!

While they may appear to be long and lean, they pack quite a bit of muscle onto their frames. The average adult female weighs between 110 – 145 pounds while the average adult male weighs between 135 – 170 pounds.

These of course are just averages, as you can also come across male Great Danes pushing the 200-pound mark. Zeus mentioned in #7, weighed in at a whopping 228 pounds!

Ask anyone who’s had a Great Dane lean on them and they’ll tell you that they’re much bigger than you realize!

15. Great Dane puppies should avoid hard exercise

Due to their extremely fast growth rate, Great Dane puppies should avoid hard exercise as it can lead to joint and bone damage that would impair them later in life.

For more information about appropriate forms of exercise for Great Danes, make sure to take a look at my full article.

16. The University of Iowa once had a Great Dane as their mascot

Before the selection of the Hawkeye as the official mascot, two Great Danes served as the school’s mascot from 1927 – 1935. 

17. Great Danes are the official state dog of Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania established Great Danes as their official state breed in 1965. They were the second state to make an official designation for the state breed.

Maryland holds the record as the first to declare a state dog in 1964. Not surprisingly, their choice was the Chesapeake Bay Retriever.

Although Pennsylvania has declared them the official state dog, the most popular state for Great Danes is actually West Virginia! More details on the popularity of Great Danes in the United States by state can be found here.

18. Great Danes only live 7 – 10 years on average

The greatest tragedy of owning a Great Dane is its comparatively short lifespan. What they lack in lifespan, they do make up for in love  Although not formally documented, the oldest Great Dane I was 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. For more information, make sure to take a look at our dedicated article on Great Dane life expectancy.

19. Bloat, or gastric dilatation-volvulus (GDV), is the number-one killer of Great Danes

This is a sad, yet a very serious topic for Great Danes. We have dedicated an entire article to covering it, learn more about bloat (GDV) by reading here.

Surprisingly, the ultimate cause of GDV is still not fully understood. As a result, there are no definitive cures or methods for prevention.

20. Scooby-Doo and Marmaduke are two of the best-known dogs on television.

Both of which are Great Danes!

  It’s rare that we take our Great Dane (Gus) out in public and don’t overhear a young child emphatically telling their parents “Hey, it’s Marmaduke!!!”

21. Great Dane’s have short smooth hair that requires very minimal grooming compared to longhaired breeds.

An occasional bath or brushing is all that is needed to maintain a Great Dane’s coat.

If you found this article helpful, make sure to take a look at some of my other related articles below!

6 thoughts on “21 Things to Know About Great Danes”

  1. DescriptionJust Nuisance was the only dog ever to be officially enlisted in the Royal Navy. He was a Great Dane who between 1939 and 1944 served at HMS Afrikander, a Royal Navy shore establishment in Simon’s Town, South Africa. He died in 1944 at the age of seven years and was buried with full military honours. Wikipedia

    • GREAT DANES must have an alpha person in the house. The best way is to start young. As puppies must continue to reinforce they are a dog and lowest in pack. Keep them off the furniture and beds. They should be on the dog bed on the floor or such. The dog should always eat last and at his eating station. The dog should go through the door at the tail end of the family. SO, think last, last, last.

      The alpha person is whom the dog looks to for direction and attitude.
      The alpha should start when dog puppy and roll over dog and stand over and growl every so often. The alpha should be able to take away the food and never give it back. The alpha should be able to decide who can take dogs food. All humans and dog will not growl. The alpha enforces it by punishing the dog with time outs consistently.

      Great Danes do not like to be sent to a distant area like a cage and left. They are very smart and easy to train. The danes are also very sensitive. Does not take much to correct them.

      Watch you tube, Its me or the dog for many good tips. The main thing to know is must be a pack leader and that leader enforces the pack order. The dog should be after all people. Need more than suggest seeing a dog trainer, which is also a people trainer.

      Must consistently assert your pack dominance. Great danes are a handful but very loving a loyal. Be a leader your dogs can be proud of and they will back you up all their days.

  2. Something should be included regarding the lethal double merle gene and to stay away from any breeders producing double merle puppies. The rule of thumb ryme with Dane Breeding goes “Solid to Solid is Solid”, “Solid to Spot is Hot”, Spot to Spot — I THINK NOT!!!” There is a lethal gene involving spot to spot or merle to merle, harlie to harlie breeding and anyone wishing to get a dane is well advised to stay far away from any breeder producing double merle litters.


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