Inside the breed: Great Danes

Great Danes are truly gentle giants. Though they are one of the biggest breeds of dog, it is amazing how gentle they are. They are a great family dog and their sheer size and loud bark make them great guard dogs as well.

Great Danes are originally from Germany and can be traced back more than 400 years. They are believed to be a mixture of ancient breeds including Tibetan Mastiff, Old English Mastiff and Greyhound. Initially, Danes were bred as savage boar hounds, but the breed today is a lovable gentle giant. Great Danes are very popular worldwide for their size, strong bodies, elegant appearance and affectionate personalities. Though Great Danes are very large, they can adapt well to living in an apartment with the right amount of exercise and training.

Their bodies are muscular and rather square when seen from the side. They have short, smooth, shiny coats that come in a variety of colors: fawn with a black mask, yellow-gold brindle, black, steel blue and harlequin. They have a long, strong tail that when the dog is excited can be like a whip. They have a big long, deep head with a clearly defined stop and soft floppy ears that tend to bend forward naturally. Way back when they were used for hunting boar the ears were cropped to protect that sensitive area, today many breeders and owners choose to leave those floppy ears uncropped.

Adult Great Danes usually weigh between 120 – 145lbs for males and between 100- 120lbs for females. It is recommended to feed your Great Dane at least 2 times a day to prevent bloat. These pups need a lot of food so take that into account when thinking about your dog’s budget. There are usually 5 to 10 puppies in a litter and coat colors can vary within the litter.

Even though Danes are massive, they love children and are usually very gentle and careful around them. Danes will need training early on to make sure they don’t pick up bad habits. Because they will be a very tall dog, certain behaviors like jumping up on people and counter surfing need to be addressed before they even happen. They also have a tendency towards shyness around strangers as adults so proper socialization in puppyhood is a must to have a well grounded Dane.

They need occasional baths and brushing to keep their coats shiny and clean. This dog does tend to shed almost year round but brushing with help keep it under control.

Great Danes need to be exercised daily to keep good muscle tone, avoid exercising for at least an hour after feeding to prevent bloat. Danes are puppies for a long time, about 18 months and during that time, they should be allowed to exercise at their pace. It is not recommended to take puppies under 10 months for runs as their bones are still forming, they should be allowed to romp around in an open space. Great Danes are happiest when they have a big yard to play in and a comfortable couch to lie in afterwards.

If you think a Great Dane is right for you, a rescue Dane from Great Dane Rescue of North Texas might be the perfect match. If you are thinking of going through a breeder here are some tips on finding a reputable one.

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