The Great Dane is sometimes called the gentle giant due to their calm and careful temperament. They love affection and will often try to sit on their master's lap like a lapdog. They love to please their family and are easy to train. However, you need to keep in mind that these dogs with their large size can easily reach any surface, like tables and kitchen counters. Their tails can also be an issue and can sometimes knock over something that is at their level, which is why they may do best in big homes. Unfortunately, like many large breeds, they have short lifespans.
The date of origin of these massive dogs is estimated to be around 3000 B.C. when drawings of similar looking dogs were discovered in the Babylonian Temples, which were built around 2000 B.C. Similar dogs may have existed in Tibet, which have written reports found in Chinese literature around 1121 B.C. It is thought that the Great Dane breed was spread around the world by Assyrians when they would trade their dogs to the Romans and Greeks, who would then breed them with other dogs of different breeds. The Great Dane is assumed to have ancestors of the Irish Wolfhound, English Mastiff and the Irish Greyhound. The first of the kind were originally called Boar Hounds, as they were bred to hunt them. They used to have their ears cropped in order to protect them from getting torn by boar tusks. Their name was changed to English Dogges in the 16th century. Later that century, however, it was common for German nobles to keep their large and handsome dogs in their homes, which led to their name being changed again to Kammerhunde, which translates to Chamber Dogs. In the 1700s, a French naturalist was travelling in Denmark, where he found a different version of the Boar hound that had a slimmer appearance and looked similar to the Greyhound. He named these dogs Grand Danois, which later on changed to Great Danish Dog. The bigger dogs of this breed were called Danish Mastiffs. Credit for refining these dogs is often given to the Germans breeders, and in 1880 there was a meeting with the breeders and judges that decided that the breed would be completely separate from the English Mastiff and would be called the Deutsche Dogge, or German Dog. The name then evolved into Great Dane, and it has stayed up until today, even though the breed did not come from Denmark. The Deutsche Doggen-Klub of Germany was founded, and many other countries kept the dog name. However, places that did not accept the name will call this breed by something different, like in most English-speaking countries, where they are known as the Great Dane. After all of this, the Great Danes were still different than the dogs that we all know and love today. Since they were originally bred as hunting dogs, they had a more violent and aggressive temperament. It was the wealthy German breeders who focused on changing the temperament to create a more docile and gentle dog. They succeeded, and these large dogs are now kept as loving family friendly pets. The Great Dane Club of America was founded in 1889.
These large canines are sleek and athletic, with muscular bodies and long, narrow heads that are massive in size. Their necks are also long, graceful and set high. Their bodies tend to be as long as tall, except for females, who may have bodies that are slightly longer than their height. They have deep muzzles with black, blue/black or black spotted noses and deep, dark, medium sized eyes. The ears are set high and medium in size, and can either be cropped and standing erect, or left natural where they will fold forward and hang near the cheek. The perfectly straight front legs will end in round feet with dark toenails. The thick tails, which will thin out to a point at the end, will also be carried high. They have short and thick coats that can be a variety of colors. This includes fawn, black, blue, brindle, merle, chocolate or harlequin.
These dogs surprisingly make very good house dogs, and should not be left outside all day, especially in the colder months as they can get cold fairly easily. In fact, they might appreciate a doggie jacket or sweater while out walking in the winter. They will not do very well in a small environment like an apartment, simply because they will knock everything over with their large bodies. Great Danes will be quiet and well behaved indoors and are not excessively energetic, but will need at least one long walk each day along with some playtime in a backyard space with a tall fence. As puppies and younger dogs, about 90 minutes of exercise per day will be required. As they grow into the adult stage, 30 minutes to an hour will be enough. Depending on the age and gender, your Great Dane will need a different amount of food that is specialized for large breeds. For puppies that are five months and under, three meals a day would be best. Once they pass this age, getting fed twice a day will do. These dogs do shed a lot, but it is easily manageable by grooming them regularly. A firm bristle brush is the best type to use on this dog’s coat, and brushing frequently will lower the need for baths. A good teeth brushing should be performed two or three times a week, but daily would be best. Nail trimming will be required one or two times in a month, unless they wear down naturally. Regular ear cleaning using a cotton ball that is dampened with an ear cleaning solution will also be beneficial.