Known as the "Apollo of dogs," Great Danes are an ancient breed. Although the Great Dane that exists today originated in Germany and England, references to similar-looking dogs date as far back as 3,000 B.C. Despite being called "Danes," the dogs have no roots in Denmark. Their size and appearance suggests that they originated from old English Mastiffs and Irish Wolfhound lines.
In Germany, Great Danes were originally bred to be fearless hunting dogs, but eventually breeders began to favor more docile traits. Today, the Great Dane is a popular companion dog throughout many countries in the Western World.
Great Danes are tall, averaging from 27-33 inches, and have a square, lean body. Their muzzle is long and eyes are deep-set. Their long legs are muscular, well-defined and they have a smooth, elegant gait.
Great Danes weigh over 100lbs when fully grown and a six month old Great Dane puppy can easily weigh 48lbs!
The Great Danes' thick, short coat should have a smooth appearance and comes in a variety of colors including brindle, black, fawn, blue and harlequin.
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Above all, Great Danes are loyal and friendly to their people. These "gentle giants" are affectionate and make great family pets, getting along well with children and usually other animals. They thrive on attention from their owners and will do whatever they can to please them.
Danes are companion dogs and prefer not to be left alone for long periods of time. Long periods of isolation can lead to the development of separation anxiety, especially in puppies.
Because of their size, Great Danes require more room than afforded by a small flat. They need room to stretch their legs and require a moderate amount of daily exercise. Additionally, they are prone to drooling and will displease an overly-neat owner. Otherwise, they are quite low-maintenance and require only weekly grooming.
Obedience training is an absolute necessity for Great Danes. If left untrained, they can become destructive and uncontrollable. Their large size allows them to be much more of a nuisance than a smaller untrained dog. Fortunately, these intelligent dogs respond well to training, although they can be sensitive to criticism. They learn best with positive reinforcement.
Unfortunately, Great Danes are prone to developing a number of health problems. Specifically, many Danes suffer from hip dysplasia, a condition that can lead to arthritis and lameness. As a result, they have short life expectancies that average around eight years.
Great Danes make excellent pets for families and people looking for an easy-going companion. They require lots of attention and are destructive when left alone. They are not good dogs for someone desiring a dog solely for protection, who is frequently away from home or who has small living quarters.