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The origins of the Great Dane dates back to the 16th century and include influences from Tibetan Mastiffs, Molossers and other fighting and hunting dogs, but also from English high-legged driving hounds (crossbreeds from Mastiffs and Irish Wolfhounds). It took quite some time for the dogs to reach the colossal size the breed is known for today. When hunting big game (wild boar, deer and bear), the Great Dane was kept at the court of German princes. However, when the hunting habits changed and drive hunts stopped, the dog became more of a companion animal and guard dog. It was only in late 1800 that the breed was given the official named German Mastiff and a breed standard was established. Before this time these dogs were known as Ulmer dogs, Tiger dogs or more often as Danish dogs. Even today, the breed is still called the “Great Dane” in England.

Characteristics of the Great Dane

Once a dog, always a dog!

The Great Dane is a regal, impressive yet athletically built colossus with a gentle nature and a very loyal character. He has a strong family-attachment and will go to the ends of the Earth for them making him a true family dog.

The Great Dane: a playful family dog

The Great Dane is a dog that matures slowly and remains childlike and playful for quite some time. Brilliant! But remember that they do grow quickly. It is therefore advised to provide a proper, consistent education that begins as a puppy. Gentle and endearing antics or not, within six months a Great Dane puppy can easily weigh 45kg and stopping a giant of that size is no easy task!

Ensure you set clear boundaries and be consistent since, even though they sometimes only listen after the 3rd warning, these dogs are often more intelligent than they act. They know exactly what you meant the first time, but they’d rather take their time and consider your suggestion.

Great Danes can get along with children and other pets such as cats and horses perfectly if they are exposed to them early. So ensure your puppy is well-socialised right from the start!

Great Danes also enjoy being stroked by their owners and love hugs and massages. You’ll quickly develop a strong bond with your Great Dane, but don’t forget to also teach it to be independent and stand on its own feet. Only then will it be comfortable with your comings and goings from the house and won’t become lonely when you aren’t around. What is learnt in the cradle lasts till the tomb.

“Loyal protector of hearth and home”

The Great Dane is a loyal family dog, but also a true property and guard dog. If you are a stranger and have not been invited, you’d best stay outside. But if you are a friend of the family, you will always receive a warm welcome.

Though they may seem lazy by nature, Great Danes always appreciate a brisk walk and challenging games which keep them in top condition well into their later years!

What you can perhaps expect with a Great Dane in your home

  • A 70 kg dog who enjoys sitting on your lap
  • An 85 cm dog who thinks he fits easily under your garden table
  • Christmas baubles and streamers whizzing through the air when your dog wags its tail
  • Flying behind your dog when a Frisbee or ball is thrown while the dog is still on the lead
  • Ending up next to your chair on a crowded terrace after attaching your dog’s lead to your chair leg, and him seeming to have forgotten after five minutes
  • Your, quite moody and very wet, cat coming to complain that the dog seems to like him too much
  • Your dog repeatedly hitting his head against the same stone, literally
  • No stick is too large and no air-filled ball is safe, no matter how large…
  • When visiting the veterinary surgeon, your big dog suddenly seems a bit less tough
  • In the morning the washing up, which is still in the sink, appears to have already been done
  • One poo bag suddenly seems so small for such a big pile. Better take a shovel.
  • When your dog drinks from a bowl, all the others waiting in line refuse to drink from it.

Colours: fawn, brindle, harlequin, merle, mantle, black and blue

Characteristics according to FCI-Standard N 235 Great Dane (English)