Great Dane

Great Dane At-a-Glance

Contrary to their name, Great Danes are not Danish. They originated in Germany, where they were bred to protect the estates of nobles and hunt wild boar.

“Gentle Giants” is the term most used for Great Danes. Despite their great size, they are gentle and good-natured, as well as pretty smart. Their goofy personalities have endeared them to people over many centuries.

Weight (pounds)
Male: 140-175
Female: 110-140
Height (inches)
Male: 30-32
Female: 28-30
Lifespan (years)

Dog Breed Group

Characteristics Ratings

We rate 19 characteristics for each breed, divided into three categories:
Highest Rated – Characteristics for which this breed is rated 4 or 5 stars (on a 5 star scale).
Neutral Rated – Characteristics that rated 3 stars.
Lowest Rated – Characteristics that rated only 1 or 2 stars.

Highest Rated

  • Good Family Dog
  • Kid Friendly
  • Good With Other Dogs
  • Friendly to Strangers
  • Likes to Play
  • Protective Nature
  • Handles Change Easily
  • High Energy Level
  • Good General Health

Neutral Rated

  • Low Shedding
  • Easy to Train
  • Low Amount of Barking
  • Tolerates Hot Climate
  • High Intelligence

Lowest Rated

  • Low Drooling
  • Suitable for Small Yards/Apartments
  • Good for Novice Owners
  • Tolerates Being Left Alone
  • Tolerates Cold Climate

General Overview

The giant yet gentle Great Dane makes an outstanding family dog. They love family members, are perfect companion dogs, and are exceptionally fond and tolerant of children.

That said, they should be supervised with small children to avoid accidental injuries simply due to their great size.

Danes also get along well with dogs and other animals. They will happily become friends with the family cat or any other household pet, although smaller pets may be intimidated at first by their size.

Although Danes have gentle and loving natures and are not aggressive, they are naturally protective. While most intruders are scared away by the size and bark, those stupid enough to try to invade will be stopped dead in their tracks by the powerful and fearless Dane. 

Think of them as a 175-pound canine bouncer for your house!

From a maintenance standpoint, there are pros and cons.

Danes do drool a lot. Perhaps not as much as, say, a Saint Bernard or Newfoundland, but enough that you will be wiping up pretty often.

On the plus side, their short-haired coat is very low maintenance. Weekly brushing is all that’s needed.

Danes love their families and have a high need for companionship. This means they do not do well if left alone frequently for long periods. And you don’t want a 175-pound dog becoming depressed when left alone and taking it out on your furniture!

Danes like to play, though their gangly looks may lead you to believe they are clumsy – they aren’t. Their balance is excellent and they move with a graceful and athletic style.

They are moderately active and make good hiking companions. They need at least an hour of exercise daily, such as walks or playing in the yard, to prevent them from developing destructive behaviors, such as chewing your furniture into small pieces!

One item we should mention with exercising your Great Dane is that you should avoid long hikes until they are at least two years old. This will prevent damage to their growing joints, something particularly important for Great Danes.

With a dog this size, early training, and socialization are needed to prevent them from becoming shy or, at the other extreme, territorial.

Fortunately, the intelligent, calm, and gentle Dane is an easy breed to train, so long as it’s done by an experienced owner. This is not the breed for a first-time owner.

Overall, Danes are a healthy breed. Like most large breeds, they are prone to joint issues. Allergies, bone cancer, and heart disease are other things to watch for.

Danes don’t do well in cold climates but greatly enjoy a hot climate. So much so that they must sometimes be brought inside to cool down.

The biggest downside to owning a Great Dane is its short lifespan of only 7 to 10 years. This is fairly typical of the giant breeds.

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