Other names: Danish, Deutsche Dogge, German Mastiff
The Great Dane is the biggest dog in the world. It is difficult to go unnoticed by his side. His appearance is noble and his body is powerful. He is considered to be the Apollo of his species, as his presence and stature are remarkable. What’s more, his dedication to his family is proportional to his immense size. Very friendly among familiar faces, and especially with children, he remains suspicious of strangers. A very good watchdog, he is courageous and naturally dissuades with his mere presence.
Key facts about the Great Dane
Origins and history
The Great Dane is of German origin. Its ancestors were the ancient "Bullenbeisser" (Bull catchers), who came from the Saupacker (sow-catcher) breed in the middle-ages. They were all big game dogs hunting for deer, wild boar and bear. Their build was midway between the powerful English-type Great Dane and the Greyhound. However, until the First World War, this breed was called "Great Dane" because it was widespread in Denmark. In 1920, the name "German Mastiff" was adopted to remind that among the Great Dane’s ancestors were the massive fighting dogs of the Alains, an ancient nomadic people of Iranian descent, who came to Germany.
Physical characteristics of the Great Dane
Female : Between 28 and 33 in
Male : Between 31 and 35 in
Female : Between 99 and 154 lb
Male : Between 110 and 154 lb
There are five coat colours:
- Fawn: Light yellow gold to intense yellow gold. A black ‘mask’ is common.
- Brindle: yellow or bright gold fur covered with slight black stripes. The Black Mask is, again, to be regarded as standard.
- Harlequin: pure white with all black or blue patches spread all over the body. Grey mastiffs with black spots are not excluded from the ‘standard’ but not specifically desirable, either.
- Black: Black coat with the possible white marks on the chest and feet.
- Blue: pure steel blue coat with possible white marks on the chest and feet.
- Mantle (Black & White)
Type of coat
The hair is short.
The coat is dense, smooth and shiny; it should not be dull. This big dog has no undercoat.
The eyes must be as dark as possible. Clear, haggard or amber eyes are undesirable and not recognized by the standard of the breed.
However, clearer eyes are allowed in blue Mastiffs as well as in Harlequin mastiffs.
The Great Dane is a proud dog with a powerful and elegant look. Since it is the world's biggest dog, it has a sturdy and well-built body. His appearance is noble and his proportions are balanced. There is strong sexual dimorphism between males and females.
Good to know
The biggest dog in the world was a Great Dane called Zeus. Unfortunately, he died at the age of 5 in 2014. He measured nearly 44 inches, which is more than 110 cm at the tourniquet. When he stood on his hind legs, Zeus could reach the height of 7 feet and 4 inches, which is to say, more than 2,10m.
Very close to his social group, he can sometimes even be clingy. He is very affectionate towards his masters and would give his life to protect them. This dog adores it when his masters take care of him and his tenderness and demonstrations of affection are limitless.
Enthusiastic and alert, especially when he spends time with his masters, the Great Dane puppy is particularly playful. This trait will decline with age but this giant dog will always be ready for a game.
Certainly one of the most peaceful dogs there is. The Great Dane is patient, discreet, and a calm Olympian.
Its large size can scare potential adopters, but this dog knows how to go unnoticed despite its build.
This mastiff is very intelligent; and understands quickly as long as one takes the time to teach him properly. He has very precise observation skills and analysis capabilities. In terms of education, his desire is to please and delight his master encourages him to quickly execute the various indications he receives.
Initially, the Great Dane was used for hunting games. In the Middle Ages, he accompanied men to hunt boars, bulls, bears or deer. Therefore, he retains a certain predatory instinct - but it is not excessive or unmanageable. Nowadays, this dog is valued for his good personality and noble stature.
Fearful / wary of strangers
This giant dog may be very friendly with his regular entourage; however, he keeps a certain reserve when in the presence of strangers. He analyses with great objectivity the potential danger of the person he has in front of him. He will always place himself between what he considers a possible threat and his master.
The largest dog in the world is brave, but he is anything but independent since he relies heavily on his master. If he feels that he can trust his owner, he considers him to be his go-to and will avoid contradicting him.
Behaviour of the Great Dane
The Great Dane does not like solitude. He will not be able to remain alone for a whole day without feeling bad. This dog needs to be accompanied and he needs to feel a reassuring and familiar presence to feel well.
Easy to train / obedience
The Great Dane is a docile and obedient dog if the education he receives is both firm, gentle, and coherent. He will absolutely not accept physical or even psychological violence.
This dog will never be stubborn but can quickly capitulate if he feels any animosity on behalf of his master.
His education will need to be initiated from an early age to guarantee the safety of all once this giant dog has reached his adult size and weight.
Proper walking on a leash should be particularly prioritized and any type of elevation must be banned.
You should use positive reinforcement training, while maintaining a certain degree of firmness and consistency in the various learning processes in order to achieve the desired results.
The Great Dane has a strong bark but he uses it very little. Indeed, his mere presence and impressive build are enough to deter potential intruders.