Headshot of a great dane dog gazing out across the countryside.

14 Facts about The Great Dane Dog Breed

The Great Dane

My first dog memories are of a great dane. My parent’s neighbours had a beautiful great dane named Winnie. I recall standing below her and reaching up to touch her face as she gazed down at me.

I would only have been two or three at the time, so my memories are a little blurry, but I can see the image of Winnie looking down at me as if it were yesterday!

I’ve met and worked with many great danes over the years, and I love the breed. I thought I’d put together a few facts about this graceful breed. So here they are… 15 facts about the great dane.

1. Great Danes Have Their Origins in Ancient History!

The Great Dane, contrary to its name, has its origins in Germany, not Denmark. Historically, they were bred by German nobility to hunt wild boar, a dangerous and formidable prey.

An illustration of a great dane in 18th century Germany.

Their ancestors include a mix of English Mastiffs and Irish Wolfhounds, which explains their large size. The breed has evolved over centuries, from fierce hunters to the gentle dogs we know today.

2. They are Sometimes Named After a Greek God

The American Kennel Club (AKC) refers to Great Danes as the “Apollo of dogs,” a title that reflects their noble appearance and regal bearing.

This nickname is a nod to the Greek god Apollo, known for his physical beauty and versatility, much like the Great Dane’s commanding presence and adaptable nature.

An illustration of a great dane dog in a hall surrounded by pillars. A statue of Apollo the God overlooks.

3. Great Danes are Tall Record Breakers!

Great Danes hold records for their height. One of the tallest ever recorded was a dog named Zeus, who stood at 44 inches from paw to shoulder!

A great dane dog next to a ruler that reads 44 inches. A tiny dog is leaping up at the ruler.

To put this in perspective, that’s about the size of an average donkey! This immense height is a defining characteristic of the breed.

4. Great Danes are Gentle Giants

Despite their imposing size, Great Danes are known for their gentle and loving nature. They are often referred to as “gentle giants” and are known for being affectionate, friendly, and patient with children. This makes them excellent family pets, despite their daunting size.

You can find our Great Dane Gentle Giant T-shirt HERE.

5. Great Danes are Popular in Pop Culture

Great Danes have a notable presence in pop culture. The most famous fictional Great Dane is Scooby-Doo, the iconic character from the animated TV series. This portrayal has significantly increased the breed’s popularity and public recognition.

6. Great Danes Have a Short Lifespan

Unfortunately, like many large dog breeds, Great Danes have a relatively short lifespan. On average, they live about 8 to 10 years. Their large size contributes to health issues such as heart problems and bloat, which can affect their longevity.

Should you be struggling after the death of a dog, here is a helpful article on coping with the loss of a dog.

7. Great Danes Come in a Variety of Colours

Great Danes come in a variety of coat colours. The most common colours are fawn, brindle, black, blue, mantle, and harlequin. Each colour pattern has specific standards and is recognized differently by various kennel clubs.

8. Great Danes are Prone to Certain Health Issues

Great Danes are susceptible to specific health problems, including hip dysplasia, heart diseases, and bloat, which is a life-threatening condition that requires immediate veterinary attention. Regular health check-ups and awareness of these issues are crucial for owners.

9. Great Danes have Low Exercise Requirements

Despite their size, Great Danes have moderate exercise needs. They enjoy walks and playtime, but they do not require as much exercise as some other large breeds. This makes them surprisingly suitable for living in larger apartments or homes with small yards.

Photograph of a great dane running

10. Great Danes Have Low Grooming Needs

Great Danes have a short, sleek coat that requires minimal grooming. Regular brushing is usually enough to keep their coat healthy. They are also known for being relatively clean dogs with less odour compared to other breeds.

11. Great Danes Have Been Owned by Famous Historical People

Throughout history, Great Danes have been pets to famous people. Notable owners include German composer Richard Wagner and American actress Tallulah Bankhead. Their choice of the Great Dane showcases the breed’s long-standing appeal to a variety of people.

12. Great Danes Weren’t Always Known as Great Danes

Before being known as Great Danes, these dogs were referred to as “Boar Hounds” because of their use in hunting boars. Their strength, speed, and courage made them perfect for this challenging hunt.

13. Great Danes are a Very Friendly Dog Breed

Great Danes are known for their friendly and social temperament. They tend to get along well with other dogs, pets, and humans.

A great dane dog cuddling with his female owner.

However, due to their size, socialisation and training from a young age are important to ensure they are well-behaved.

14. A Great Dane Gave Birth to 19 Puppies!

A few great danes have given birth to 19 puppies, including Snowy, who gave birth to 19 puppies in 2014! Typically, Great Danes have an average of eight puppies per litter!

A great dane mother with lots of puppies. She has a comically shocked look on her face.

Thanks for reading! Please remember to visit our shop before you go. We donate 10% of profits to UK dog charities or shelters.

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