The next breed we want to learn about in our Getting to Know Your Dog Breed is the Great Dane. Great Danes are one of the more easily recognizable dog breeds because of their ‘great’ size.
Life expectancy: The Great Dane’s life expectancy is quite short, only 7 – 10 years.
Size: Dane’s are tall with an average height (at the shoulder) of 28 – 36 inches. They also have a long neck and large head which makes them seems even taller.
Color: Their coat is short and smooth and ranges in colors from brindle, fawn, blue, black, harlequin (irregular black or merle patches) or mantle.
Origins: Contrary to their name, the Danes first appeared in Germany in the 1300’s and are thought to be a cross between a Greyhound and Molossus, an ancient Greco-Roman war dog. They were bred as guardians and to hunt wild boar.
Personality: While their size is intimidating, Danes are gentle giants. They are friendly with all and make great family companions and watchdogs. They can be a challenge to control due to their size but basic training is quite effective and most Danes fit easily into family life, even if they take more than their fair share of the sofa.
Health Issues: As with many oversize breeds, the Dane’s life span is quite short. They grow faster and for a longer period of time than other breeds and may develop orthopedic issues such as hip or elbow dysplasia. They are also susceptible to a cardiomyopathy and gastric torsion, or bloat. This condition is the number one cause of death in Danes and owners must educate themselves to its warning signs as early treatment is critical.
Fitness/energy level: Danes belong to the Working Group classification of the AKC. They were hunters and guardians, but do not appear to have a prey drive. They do need a fair amount of moderate exercise, 2-3 long walks a day or more. They make good jogging companions, but only after 2 years of age and for short jogs as as they are susceptible to orthopedic issues. Any vigorous exercise should be monitored and owners must be careful not to overdo it as that can lead directly to bloat. Danes also enjoy other physical challenges such as agility or flyball.
Native foods for the Great Dane: Native foods for Great Danes are foods found in Germany and would include wild boar, rabbit, salmon, trout, chestnut, walnuts, carrots and apples.
Good foods to feed your Great Dane: Based on the Great Dane’s origin, here are a few foods that contain some of the key ingredients that the original Danes would have likely eaten. This list is not meant to be exhaustive, but rather provide ‘food for thought’.
Fun facts about the Great Dane:
The Great Dane is sometimes called the Apollo of Dogs because of their size and regal bearing.
The Great Dane’s ears are naturally floppy but were typically cropped when they are puppies. Recently, many breeders have begun leaving their Dane’s ears in their natural state.
Great Danes regularly appear in popular culture and have been featured as Astro in the TV series, The Jetson’s and as the cartoon characters of Marmaduke and Scooby doo.