Great Dane

Great Dane
The Great Dane truly deserves the nickname “gentle giant”. These dogs are indeed giant, muscular and strong, but they have a friendly expression and a genuine desire to please everyone around them, humans or pets. They can be easily recognised due to their large stature as well as their long, rectangular head. Their short, sleek coat comes in a range of colours.
  • Dog suitable for experienced owners
  • Extra training required
  • Enjoys active walks
  • Enjoys walking one to two hours a day
  • Giant dog
  • Minimum drool
  • Requires grooming once a week
  • Non Hypoallergenic breed
  • Chatty and vocal dog
  • Guard dog. Barks, alerts and it's physically protective
  • May require training to live with other pets
  • May require training to live with kids

Great Dane Key Facts

Life Span: 8-10 years

Weight: Ideal weight should be 54kg. Females should be 46kg.

Height: Over 18 months of age, the minimum height of dogs should ideally be 76cm. Females of the same age should be a minimum of 71cm.

Colours: fawn, black, blue, brindle and harlequin

Size: Giant

Kennel Club group: Working


Family-friendly: 5/5

Exercise needs: 5/5

Easy to train: 5/5

Tolerates being alone: 1/5

Likes other pets: 5/5

Energy level: 5/5

Grooming needs: 4/5

Shedding: 5/5

History and Origins

Country of Origin: Germany

Despite their name, the Great Dane is a German breed and has been known as the German Mastiff or the Deutsche Dogge. The ancestors of this breed have been known since ancient times but they were far heavier and more mastiff in appearance. In the Middle Ages they became popular as high-status hunting dogs of royalty often working in a pack to hunt wild boar. The Great Dane as we know it today however didn’t come into being until the 19th century when it had become both taller and more lightweight - possibly with the inclusion of Greyhound or other large hounds. While they have worked as guard dogs, the modern Great Dane was bred for docility and so his impressive bark is far worse than his bite!


The Great Dane is an affectionate dog, ideally suited to the active family. They can become very close and loyal to their family and even to frequent visitors. They are quick to alert the family of any strangers approaching their territory, as they are excellent guard dogs and can sometimes be territorial and not welcoming of canine intruders. Puppy socialisation and puppy training is of particular importance in such a canine giant.

Ideal Owner

The Great Dane would suit an owner who is at home a lot (as they are not easily portable), has lots of space and is able to cope with a friendly dog whose head is on the level of every worktop but thinks he is a lapdog!

Health and Common Issues

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).

Exercise Needs

A fit Great Dane adult will need in the region of a couple of hours of exercise daily. They enjoy walks and will happily go along will the family on their outdoor activities. But they are also keen on spending time in front of the fire, enjoying any creature comforts that are available. Dog exercise must be given in limited amounts during the growth period, as too much can cause serious bone, joint and muscle problems.

Space Requirements

The Great Dane is a dog who needs a lot of space - both in the house and in the garden - and is best suited to a large rural property.

Nutrition and Feeding

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.

Grooming Great Danes

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.

Training Great Danes

Such a giant breed needs training to make sure they are safe and social members of canine society. It is especially important that they learn to walk well on a lead and that they have a good recall - especially as their size can intimidate other dogs and people. Great Danes can enjoy reward-based training and some have been seen competing in obedience.

Dog socialisation activities should be prioritised and ongoing.

Did You Know?

The Great Dane holds the record for being the tallest dog breed in the world, and while in its present form it has only worked as a guard dog, the ancestors of this canine colossus have been war dogs, fighting dogs, and high-status hunting dogs. They are now gentle giants, bred for their docility. Their deep powerful bark being far worse than their pretty much non-existent bite.

Best Family Dog Breeds

Great Danes can make great family dogs but they are often just too big to live easily with smaller children.

While many dogs are traditionally thought of as being good with children, all dogs and children need to be taught to get on with and respect each other, and be safe together. Even so, dogs and young children should never be left alone together and adults should supervise all interactions between them.

Similar Breeds:

Irish Wolfhound


St. Bernard


Is this the right breed for you?

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What to consider next


It is incredibly fulfilling to adopt a dog from an animal shelter or rescue organization. It often means offering them a second chance in life. There are many dogs waiting for a loving family, a forever home. Reputable centers will be very careful about matching the right people with the right dogs. Staff learns all they can about the dogs they take in, and will spend time getting to know you, your family and your lifestyle, before they match you with any of their dogs. They’ll also be happy to give you advice and answer any questions you might have before and after the adoption. Click here for more information.

Finding a good breeder

If your heart is set on a pedigree puppy, then your best bet is to find a reputable breeder. Contact The Kennel Club or a breed-club secretary who may have a list of litters available, or should be able to put you in contact with breeders in your area. Try to choose a breeder who is part of the Kennel Club’s assured breeder scheme.Visit dog shows to meet breeders in person and inquire about availability of pups of your chosen breed. Click here for more information.

Welcoming your dog home

Whether you’re bringing home a tiny puppy or rehoming an adult dog, this is a hugely exciting time for everyone. While you’re waiting for the big day you might need to distract yourself, so luckily there are a few things you need to sort out before you welcome your new arrival. Click here for more information.