The Great Dane is a very large dog that is muscular and strong. The head is rectangular and long in appearance. The short, sleek coat can be fawn, black, blue, brindle and harlequin in colour. Over 18 months of age, the minimum height of dogs should ideally be 76cm and the weight 54kg. Females of the same age should be a minimum of 71cm and weigh 46kg.
Dogs resembling the Great Dane have been seen in drawings in Egyptian tombs dating back to 2200BC. They were shorter of leg and resembled Mastiffs in body type. These types of dogs made their way via traders to many other countries. It was in Germany that the breed was further developed into the dog that we recognise today. It is thought that the original Mastiff type was crossed with a Greyhound to give the agile, slender dog that is known as a Great Dane. They were first used as bull baiters and in 1592 they were being used by the nobility for hunting wild boar. By the 1800s it was used by estate owners for large game hunting.
The Great Dane is an affectionate dog. They can become very close and loyal to their family and close family friends that are frequent visitors, and are ideally suited to the active family. They are quick to alert the family of any strangers approaching their territory, as they are excellent guard dogs. Puppy socialisation and training is of particular importance in such a canine giant.
The Great Dane is predisposed to a number of problems that are common in large breeds of dog, including a specific stomach condition (gastric dilation volvulus), heart disease, a variety of bone disorders, and a particular type of aggressive bone tumour (osteosarcoma).
A fit adult will need in the region of a couple of hours' exercise daily. They enjoy walks and will happily go along will the family on their outdoor activities, but they also enjoy spending time in front of the fire, enjoying any creature comforts that are available. Exercise must be given in limited amounts during the growth period, as too much can cause serious bone, joint and muscle problems.
Giant-breed dogs, as well as having giant appetites, benefit from a different balance of minerals and vitamins, supporting different joint and cartilage needs. Great Danes are prone to bloating and stomach problems; try feeding smaller, more frequent meals to help minimise the risk.
The short, sleek and dense coat of the Great Dane is low-maintenance and needs grooming about every week to 10 days. They can be groomed using a rubber-grooming mitt, which will remove the loose and dead hairs.