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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.

  • Dogs suitable for experienced owners
  • Extra training required
  • Need to be aware of potential health issues
  • Enjoys active walks
  • Enjoys one to two hours of walking a day
  • Giant dog
  • Some drool
  • Requires grooming once a week
  • Quiet dog
  • Barks, alerts and may be physically protective/suspicious of visitors
  • Could have issues with unknown dogs but gets along with known dogs
  • May need additional training to live with other pets
  • May need additional supervision to live with children
  • Needs a large garden
  • Can live in semi-rural areas
  • Can be left occasionally with training

Key Facts

Lifespan: 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
Grey Great Dane lying on the grass


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.

Great Dane standing on the grass

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!

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.

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.

did you know?

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.

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