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Great Dane Dog Breed Profile

Great Dane
The Great Dane has descended from the heavy medieval Molossian Dogs and is known as the “Apollo” of all dogs.

Other Names:
Deutsche Dogge, German Mastiff

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Origin: Despite the name this dog originated in Germany and not in Denmark.

Breed Purpose: To hunt wild boar, guard castles and pull carts.

Kennel Club Dog Group: Working

Height: Bitch 71-81cm., Dog 76-86cm.

Weight: Bitch 45-59kg., Dog 54-90kg.

Lifespan: 10-15 years

Exercise Needs: The Great Dane is relatively inactive indoors but outside they love to run and frolic about. This dog needs regular long daily walks. They do well in any of the canine sports which can be an excellent form of both physical and mental exercise. Care should be taken when exercising puppies and young dogs that they do not jump or run around too much to prevent bone and joint problems as an adult. Take care not to let the dog exercise or even play for up to thirty minutes before and an hour after eating.

Feeding Needs: The Great Dane puppy needs a special diet with protein, calcium and fat proportions being carefully balanced. Too much protein causes rapid growth rates and results in bone and joint problems later in life. Normal commercial puppy food should not be fed to the Great Dane puppy as they contain high percentages of protein. Puppies should also not be fed supplements as not only will this upset the balanced diet but may cause nutrition related diseases. Supplements containing calcium and minerals may contribute to conditions such as Wobblers Syndrome. An exception to this is the vitamins A and E which can help the skin and coat. Studies have shown that puppies fed on a low protein diet still achieve their full expected growth potential with fewer health issues. Seek guidance as to the feeding requirements from the breeder or a veterinarian. The adult Great Dane’s diet must also be well-balanced. Too much protein puts a strain on the kidneys and it is thought that high protein diets cause gas to build up which may lead to Gastric Torsion (bloat). Food and water bowls must be raised to help prevent bloat occurring. The adult Great Dane thrives on a natural home prepared diet as long as it is well balanced. They can have lean meat, fruit and vegetables, such as apples, grapes, berries, carrots and yoghurt but never feed onions or chocolate. Soy should not be included in the diet as this too causes a build up of gas. Avoid feeding any sugary foods or too many treats to avoid obesity. Again seek advice as to the correct quantities to be given. It is important to feed little and often rather than two big meals, again to avoid Bloat.

Common Ailments: The Great Dane carries the greatest risk of developing Gastric Dilatation Volvulus (bloat), more than any other dog. So great is the risk that many owners opt for surgery to tack the stomach to the abdominal walls to prevent it twisting and causing GDV. This is a major concern for Great Dane owners and can occur at any time or at any age from reaching adulthood. Great Danes also suffer from Hip dysplasia, Wobblers, Osteochondrosis dessicans and other bone and joint problems. They are also prone to Hypothyroidism which is a disorder of the immune system caused by the thyroid not producing enough hormones to maintain the metabolism. They can also suffer with cataracts. Many of the health issues affecting Great Danes can be avoided by only purchasing puppies from breeders whose stock has been tested for these problems.

Physical Description: The overall appearance of this dog is one of immense size and stunning beauty. The Great Dane combines strength with elegance in its muscular, robust frame. The head is elongated and well-chiselled with the length of the skull and muzzle approximately equal. The eyes are round and are deep set with a gentle expression. The ears are set high and fold forwards. In some countries the ears are still cropped. The neck is long and lean and is held proudly being visibly muscular and tight skinned. The body has a wide chest and well-sprung ribs. The loins are slightly arched and the belly is well drawn up. The shoulders are well angled and muscular and the legs are straight and well boned. The tail is of medium length and is set high but never carried over the back. The coat is short and dense and lies flat to the body. There are five recognised colours:

  1. Brindle - lightest buff colour to deepest orange with black transverse striations.
  2. Harlequin - pure white background with black/blue patches.
  3. Blue - light grey to slate grey, (nose and eyes sometimes blue)
  4. Black - solid black though small patch of white on the chest appears sometimes.
  5. Fawn -light buff to dark orange with black shadings on the head and ears.

All in all the Great Dane is a truly magnificent looking dog which despite its immense size moves with elegance and precision.

Great Dane K9 Obedience Dog Breed Summary:

Despite their size, muscles and strength, the Great Dane is not an aggressive dog and is more like a gentle giant.

They show exceptional attachment to their family from young puppies onwards and need to be at the heart of family life. They do not like to be left alone for long periods and are not suited to kennel life and cannot tolerate cold weather.

In fact they become stressed and restless if they are apart from their owner. This must be considered when thinking of choosing this breed. If the family like to travel or are away a lot of the time then the Great Dane is not the right choice.

The Great Dane needs to trust and respect its owner so training should start from an early age. Any owner of this dog needs to be able to impose his authority gently but firmly. A male Great Dane can weigh up to 90kg so the only way to control this dog is by the animal being extremely well-trained. On no account must this dog be allowed to take a dominant role in the household.

The Great Dane loves children and will tolerate other pets if they are introduced properly. They are excellent guard dogs especially if they feel that their family is being threatened. Anyone thinking of choosing this breed must be clear on what owning a dog such as this entails. At eight weeks old the Great Dane puppy has already added 14kg (30lbs) to its birth-weight and needs a lot of space!

The Great Dane is not an easy dog to care for due to its complicated feeding requirements, its huge size and its exercise needs.

In general the Great Dane needs an active family with a large house and garden and an even larger bank balance to care for, insure and feed this dog and in return they will have a wonderful family pet.

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