Great Dane dogs are best for experienced pup parents who will be home most of the day. They can do well in small homes or apartments as long as there's enough space to move around.
Great Dane Traits
What makes the Great Dane a Great Dane? Let's find out how they stack up.
Great Dane Temperament
Don’t be fooled by the breed’s large size and assume this dog has an intimidating personality to match. Great Danes are, in fact, loyal and kind with happy personalities and they desire to always be near their people. Great Danes prefer to keep you in their line of sight, and you can forget about eating alone or cooking a meal by yourself ever again!
Great Danes can sometimes come off as shy, aloof or reserved, but they aren’t naturally aggressive dogs. Socializing your Great Dane puppy at an early age will help them become more comfortable around new people and other dogs. They have a deep, powerful bark that can be intimidating to visitors, but this is a case where the bark is really worse than the bite.
The Great Dane was originally bred to be a hunting dog. Today, they mainly fill the role of “lovable family member.” And don’t be surprised if your Great Dane attempts to be a lap dog—the results can be hilarious.
How to Care for a Great Dane
Great Danes have minimal grooming needs, which will give you time to focus on training them to ensure they grow up to be happy and well-mannered dogs. These giant pups do have some common health issues and are somewhat more expensive to maintain simply because of their enormous size. (Everything’s more expensive when you weigh more than some adults!)
Great Dane Health
Great Danes have a lifespan of 7 to 10 years, and they are prone to a number of health issues. But that’s a lot of years to fill your life with the love of a Great Dane. Be sure to get a copy of the parent dogs’ health screenings from your breeder. If you’re adopting your dog, get a copy of the vet wellness check. It’s important to be aware of these issues—an informed pup parent can help their dog enjoy a full life.
- Heart Issues: The Great Dane breed is more susceptible to heart disease than some other breeds. To combat this, reputable breeders often perform echocardiograms on their breeding dogs to lower the chances of the problem being inherited by future puppies. These tests often occur at 2, 4 and 6 years of age.
- Bloat: More formally known as gastric dilatation volvulus, or GDV, this life-threatening stomach condition is more common in large breeds with deep chests, like the Great Dane. With GDV, the dog’s stomach rotates and becomes twisted in the
abdomen; signs include a distended belly, pacing with confusion, inability to get comfortable and foaming at the mouth since they
can’t vomit or defecate. To help avoid this condition, feed your dog smaller meals and use a slow feeder to keep them from woofing down their food. Keep their food bowls on the ground (don’t elevate them) and don’t exercise one hour before or after meals. Contact your vet immediately if you think your dog is suffering from GDV.
- Hip Dysplasia: Hip dysplasia is a genetic condition where the hip joint isn’t formed properly and causes lameness and pain. Fortunately, there are multiple therapies and treatment solutions available, including weight reduction, exercise restriction, physical therapy and medications.
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Great Dane History
Once upon a time, the powerful Great Dane was a working dog with an important job. The breed descends from ancient mastiff-type dogs, and even though you might assume the modern-day Great Dane came from Denmark, its origin is found in Germany. Nobody seems to know why the breed’s name refers to Denmark. It’s just one of the great canine mysteries of our time.
In the 1800s, the forebears of the Great Dane were used for hunting fierce and aggressive wild boars. They were also used as watchdogs, another occupation that requires important qualities like bravery and strength. The AKC recognized the Great Dane in 1887, and the Great Dane Club of America was established in 1889 and has operated under its current name since 1891.
In the course of its history, the Great Dane has earned nicknames (“the Gentle Giant,” the “Apollo of dogs”) and inspired fictional Great Danes (Scooby-Doo, Marmaduke and Astro, to name a few). Today, the Great Dane is extremely popular, currently ranking 15th out of the AKC-recognized breeds in the US.
So, where is the best place to find Great Dane puppies? You can find a list of reputable breeders on the American Kennel Club’s website. What’s the average Great Dane price? Depending on the breeder, expect to spend anywhere from $1,000 to $3,000 for a pup. But for that, you usually get a dog who’s been screened for health and temperament issues, and they might even come with pedigree papers. You can also reach out to Great Dane rescue organizations to adopt a Great Dane or keep an eye out for the breed at your local animal shelter.
Are Great Danes hypoallergenic?
Unfortunately no, Great Danes aren’t hypoallergenic; they shed year-round and allergy sufferers may react to the Great Dane’s hair and dander.
Are Great Danes aggressive or dangerous?
Even though they are large dogs with a lot of presence, Great Danes are not aggressive or dangerous. They can be wary of strangers, and proper socialization and training can help them be more comfortable around new people. (And hey! They are known as “gentle giants”!)
What were Great Danes bred for?
Great Danes were originally used as guard dogs and to hunt wild boar in Germany. These tasks required immense bravery and strength; breeders later focused on developing the dog’s good disposition and loyalty that are so intrinsic to the breed today.
Are Great Danes good with kids?
Great Danes are good with kids—especially older ones. Their sheer size means they need to be supervised around babies and toddlers. Great Danes love to “lean,” which is a sign of affection or a request for attention, but you can imagine the result when a Great Dane decides to affectionately lean into a small child. Also an issue: the Great Dane’s enthusiastic tail, which can be quite a force when the dog is excited or happy.
What are the most popular Great Dane names?
The most popular Great Dane names are often associated with the breed’s large size and strength: Hulk, Duke, Brutus, Goliath, Samson, King, Apollo, Moose and Zeus. Names for female Great Danes sometimes highlight the breed’s regal demeanor: Duchess, Baroness, Athena or Olympia. Many Great Danes have popular names that aren’t breed-specific, like Max, Luna or Stella. Fun names for Great Danes include Marmaduke, Scooby-Doo and Astro. Get more dog names here.
What are the most common Great Dane mixes?
The most common Great Dane mixes are:
- Great Dane-Pitbull mix (Great Danebull)
- Great Dane-Chihuahua mix (Chi Dane-Dane)
- Great Dane-Labrador Retriever mix (Labradane)
- Great Dane-Siberian Husky mix (Great Danesky)
- Great Dane-German Shepherd mix (Great Shepherd or Dane Shepherd)
- Great Dane-Doberman mix (Doberdane)
Admittedly, Great Danes require a bit of effort—early socialization, more expensive to maintain and the occasional knick-knack knocked off the table. But look at everything you gain in return: a loyal friend, a childhood companion, a bold-sounding watchdog, and a coat that is super-easy to groom. If you’d like to “go big or go home” with a giant dog, the Great Dane just might be the choice for you.
Expert input provided by veterinarian Dr. Neil O’Sullivan and certified dog trainer Steven Tallas, CDTK, of Venture Dog Training.