According to the FCI (Fédération Cynologique Internationale, the French title of the World Canine Organization), there are 339 dog breeds in the world. In these 339 dog breeds, some are small (teacup or toy breeds), some are medium in size, and some are giant or large dogs like Great Danes.
Why are great Danes dogs are so big? The answer is their ‘genetic!’ Yes, Great Danes are so big because of genetics. The Great Dane dog breed has been purposely bred over the years to protect livestock against predators such as bears and wolves, so the larger the breed, the better. Most Great Danes will weigh 65-100 pounds and 26-33 inches tall by six months of age.
Great Danes: The Gentle Giants!
Bred to hunt wild boar, the Great Danes of the past were fast and ferocious, matching their speed with their prey and aggressively pursued. However, that was a thing of the past. If you try to test today’s Great Danes in their past jobs, they probably won’t be good at it like they used to. Now they have grown into friendly dogs that can get along with people and other animals.
Great Danes have an ancient route that leads to mastiffs; however, they are more elegant compared to their predecessors. They are athletic dogs equipped with muscular bodies and enormous size, but they have a narrow figure. But its size can pose problems. For example, many people can feel intimidated by a dog who can easily outgrow them.
Great Danes’ tails can also knock over things like lamps and other small decorations around the house. And if they are not trained, they may get in the habit of looking for food at the counters. Fortunately, this dog is not as mischievous as other breeds. But contrary to their size, Great Danes are quite friendly and sweet. They love to play and are cute dogs with children.
They are peaceful dogs, but they still have that glint of fire in them that helped their abilities to hunt prey in the past. Despite their loud and intimidating bark, they are quite tame and shy.
However, defending its owner, family, and home brings out the predator in the Great Dane, all for the sake of protecting your loved ones.
It is important that you train your Great Dane at an early age because it will be much more difficult for you when your Great Dane is an adult. They like to please people and they love to be around people. Due to their large heads, they tend to push their foreheads when they want to be petted, not just by their owners, but by anyone the Great Dane deems friendly.
The funny thing about Great Danes is that they often think they are lap dogs and that they want to sit on your lap despite their size.
It might surprise you, but the Great Dane doesn’t need as much food, despite its size. Their exercise needs are even an addition, as you’d expect they’ll need a large yard to play with, but the Great Dane doesn’t need as much.
Like many large dog breeds, they have a short lifespan ranging from 7 to 10 years. Due to their gentle nature and graceful appearance, Great Danes currently take the place of being the 24th most popular breed of dog in American Kennel Club records.
Great Dane As A House Dog
Great Danes are known for their sociable and sweet natures. They are easy to train and respond to training even better if positive reinforcement is used. But while they are friendly, their hulking figure and powerful bark can scare away any suspicious strangers that may invade your home.
If you plan to raise your own Great Dane, you should know that these dogs need a lot of space. Their large bodies need a lot of space so that they don’t knock things or tripping over those that are thrown around the house.
Their height is also something to consider, as they love reaching for tables and counters to eat. Since Great Danes are big dogs, also expect it to spend a bit more compared to raising smaller dogs. For example, your Great Dane will need larger collars, more attention to its veterinary care, food, stronger leashes, etc.
Due to their large size, Great Danes are also prone to orthopedic problems. Take care that your dog does not injure himself when he is young because his bones fully develop at 18 months of age, that’s more than a year to wait!
They also need a special diet to keep their bones and joints healthy. However, the nice thing about this is that you won’t need to build a very tall fence. A strong and secure 6-foot fence around your yard will contain them properly.
Behavior Of Great Danes
Great Danes that come from a trusted and reputable breeders often make good-natured dogs as long as they are given the proper training. The Great Dane is known to be a kind and affectionate canine that loves to play with his owners and family and even becomes more relaxed and careful when he plays with children.
They love to please people, which is why they are quite easy to train compared to other dog breeds. Since they are people-oriented dogs, the Great Dane loves to be with its family. They are quite friendly dogs, they even greet visitors with wagging tails, and they even welcome strangers and children.
However, that does not mean that the Great Dane is a naive dog. When your Great Dane feels like his owner, his family or his home needs to be defended, he will not hesitate to let out his thunderous bark and bared his teeth as he pounced on his enemies with his athletic and muscular bodies.
But still, that doesn’t change the fact that Great Danes are friendly dogs. In fact, they can often think of themselves as lap dogs, hopping onto your lap and resting there, although their size doesn’t make them the perfect lap dogs. But this is the character of the Great Dane: a kind, gentle and kindred soul that dwells on the love and affection of its family.
Do Great Danes Have Behavioral Problems?
While Great Danes are kind by nature, they are not the “perfect” dogs. In fact, there is no such thing. At times, they can show problems in their behavior that can frustrate you. These are the two most common behavior problems that you may observe in your Great Dane.
While not really a behavior problem, it is more of a habit, jumping or leaping can become a problem when your Great Dane reaches adolescence and adulthood. Since they love the company of people, especially their owners, they will not hesitate to rush towards you with enthusiasm every time you go home. You need to train them at a young age to cut down on this habit so you won’t get tackled by your Great Dane a few years later.
Even though Great Danes are gentle and kind by nature, they can get a bit aggressive when they are not properly trained. They can become aggressive towards people and can become aggressive towards other dogs, especially when they perceive them as potential threats or if they become overprotective towards their owners.
Socialization at an early age is a key factor in controlling aggression in dogs. With proper training, you can be sure that you will see your Great Dane as a gentle soul that dwells in your love and affection.
Common Health Issues In Great Danes
The health of your dogs is a fundamental aspect of their lives. Keeping your Great Dane healthy can be challenging because its special needs, such as its diet, must be taken care of. However, there may come a time when your Great Dane will experience illness throughout its life.
It will be your responsibility to see that your dog regain health. These are just a few of the more common health problems your Great Dane may experience.
Gastric torsion or bloating
Gastric torsion is a serious problem among canines. This life-threatening condition primarily affects larger dog breeds with large and deep chests, such as the Great Dane.
This can occur when they are fed a large meal a day, eat too fast, drink too much water immediately after eating, and become excessively active immediately after eating. What happens is that the stomach is distended by gas or air and then twists, causing a blockage in the digestive system.
This makes the dog unable to expel air from its stomach and normal blood circulation is disrupted. Then the blood pressure drops until the dog goes into shock. Without emergency treatment, the dog can die.
If you see your dog with a distended abdomen, retching, or salivating excessively, suspect that your Great Dane is bloated.
Other signs may include lethargy or restlessness, weakness, and an abnormal heart rate. If you suspect that your dog has gastric torsion, take him to the vet immediately.
Great Danes are prone to developing heart conditions such as mitral valve defects, patent ductus arteriosus, persistent right aortic arch, and dilated cardiomyopathy. Getting your dog checked out by a vet and regular appointments will let you know if these conditions exist in your dog.
Medical management can be started immediately, reducing the risk on your dog’s part, compared to when he simply leaves the condition as is.
A relatively common condition among dogs, especially larger breeds, hip dysplasia is a genetic condition in which the kneecap of the thigh does not fit properly into the hip or pelvic joint. This results in the lameness of one or both rear legs; however, there are also dogs that do not show signs of discomfort. X-ray is a definitive way to diagnose hip dysplasia.
Arthritis can also develop as the dog ages. These dogs should not be bred as they can transmit the disease to their young. While there are many dogs with hip dysplasia that can lead relatively normal lives, severe cases may require surgical intervention.
More commonly known as bone cancer, osteosarcoma is the formation of a bone tumor found in dogs. Middle-aged and elderly dogs are often victims of this condition, but Great Danes are prone to developing the tumors even during their youngest years because larger dog breeds are at higher risk of developing this condition.
Lameness may be an apparent sign, but X-rays will be the most definitive way of knowing if it is really cancer. Treatment should be started immediately.
Amputation of the affected limb and chemotherapy are key treatment options. Fortunately, even if the dog had one of its legs amputated, it can easily adapt.
While not really a health concern, surgery can pose a degree of difficulty due to the Great Dane’s size. When your dog needs surgery, you need to find a vet who is experienced in performing surgery on larger breeds because surgery is different on smaller dog breeds.
Labs should also be performed as blood tests, as well as procuring the blood needed for transfusions when needed.
More About Great Danes (Breed History)
Believe it or not, Great Danes have been around for a long time. It was as early as 3000 BC. when the breed was found in the drawings and paintings of the various artifacts from Egypt.
In 2000 BC, these dogs were also found in the temples that were built by the Babylonians. Even in Tibet, Great Danes seem to appear, as there have been reports that these dogs appeared in the annals of Chinese literature dating back to 1121 BC.
There has been many mentions of the Great Dane throughout history. The Assyrians were thought to have given birth to the breed, exchanging their canines with Greek and Roman merchants. It was then that the breed developed further in Greece and Rome.
The dogs that have produced the English Mastiffs were thought to have participated in the development of Great Danes. There is also speculation that Irish wolfhounds or like-figured Irish greyhounds also played a role in the flourishing of Great Danes.
These dogs were once called “boar hounds”, due to the fact that they were used to hunt wild boar, hence the namesake. The ears of the Great Danes were cut off as a precaution so that the sharp tusks of the wild boars do not pierce them and cause injury.
At the arrival of the 16th century, the name of the breed was changed to English Dogges. But at the end of the 17th century, many Germans of the noble class began to have their largest dogs and gave them the name Kammerhunde.
These dogs were treated with such class that they even wore gold velvet collars and were pampered like royalty. But it was only in the 1700s that the name, Great Dane, was finally introduced. It was thanks to the efforts of a French naturalist that he made his way to Denmark. During his time there, he was able to see a Boar Hound variety that was slimmer and had more Greyhound characteristics than his relatives.
This dog was named Grand Danois and later became the Great Danish Dog. Larger versions of the Great Dane dog were later named the Danish Mastiffs, a name that stuck around but was also a bit ironic because Denmark didn’t even develop the breed.
Even historians of the breed give more credit to German breeders because they were the ones who allowed Great Danes to develop into the dogs we all know and love today. It was then in 1880 that a board made up of breeders and judges held a meeting in Berlin.
The board then came to an agreement that since the dogs they were raising had many differences from English Mastiffs, these dogs should be named after their own names. Therefore, these dogs were given the name Deutsch Dogge, which means German dog.
Eventually, the Deutscher Doggen-Klub of Germany was established and other European countries adopted that name for the breed as well. However, not all countries welcomed the name, as Italy and English-speaking countries did not recognize it.
Even now, Italy still uses the name Alano (meaning “Mastiff”) for the breed, while the English-speaking nations use the name of the Great Danes. In the late 19th century, wealthy German breeders continued their efforts to promote the development of the breed.
This time they focused more on the temperament of the breed because Great Danes were previously known as aggressive and ferocious dogs because they were used to hunt wild boar. Their efforts were not without reward as we now see Great Danes today being kind and caring, far from the fierce hunters they were in the past. It is not yet clear how the Great Danes got to the United States.
Even its exact origins are unknown. But that didn’t stop the formation of the Great Dane Club of America in 1889, placing the breed as the fourth to join the American Kennel Club’s records.