8 Interesting Facts about Great Danes

As the owner of not one, but two Great Danes – they can be a handful. But I wouldn’t change them for anything. You’ll know a Great Dane as soon as you see one.

The breed are known for their large size, gentle nature, and loyalty. I could honestly write all day about owning a Great Dane – but here’s my top 8 interesting facts about the breed.

1. Great Danes were originally bred in Germany to be hunting dogs.

I know, they’re called Great Danes – but there’s nothing Danish about them. Bred in Germany around the 18th century (from breeds dating all the way back to middle ages) they were used for hunting boars and bears.

They’ve have a few name changes since then (German Dogge being one) until the name Great Dane was used from Buffon’s Le Grand Danois.

2. They are the tallest breed of dog in the world.

Yes – they’re big. With male Great Danes reaching up to 32 inches at the shoulder, and females reaching 30 inches – the size can seem a little intimidating. But trust me, you get used to it quickly and wonder what all the fuss is about when a stranger says “do you put a saddle on him” for the hundredth time.

At the time of writing this, Zeus holds the Guinness World Record for the tallest dog in the world. The Texan male stands an impressive 1.046 metres (3 ft 5.18 in) high.

Zeus’ owner even said “The comment that we hear most often is ‘Wow, that’s a horse!,’’’Can I ride him?’ or ‘Does he have a saddle?’…. The answer to all those questions is ‘no.’”.

See, I told you.

3. Great Danes can weigh up to 200 pounds.

However, the average weight for a Great Dane is between 120 and 140 pounds. For context, the average adult will eat between 6-10 cups of food a day (with a puppy eating 3-8 cups). I can vouch from experience, it’s a lot of food to store.

4. They are considered one of the most gentle giant breeds of dogs.

5. Great Danes have an average lifespan of 8-10 years.

Heartbreakingly this is quite a short time, especially when compared to some smaller breeds – but some live up to the age of 12.

6. They are prone to health problems such as hip dysplasia and heart disease.

As with many dog breeds, Danes are not without their own breed-specific problems. In addition to health problems such as hip dysplasia and heart disease, they can also suffer bloat (Gastric Dilatation-Volvulus) of the stomach, particularly when exercising too soon before or after exercising.

Sadly bloat can be fatal to Great Danes and 13% will die from the condition.

It’s important to consult with a veterinarian before getting a Great Dane to make sure they are a good fit for your family.

7. Great Danes need a lot of exercise and space to run around.

Don’t be fooled by the headline here. Unlike some breeds who are (seemingly) constantly active, Great Danes are happy with one long walk a day to keep them exercised, active and well. We usually walk them between 90 minutes and 2 hours a day – but this will depend on the age, health and temperament of your dog as well as the weather.

Large parks and fields with few people are great places, particularly if they have zoomies or aren’t the best with strangers or other dogs.

You may read that they are also ill suited to smaller houses or apartments, but from my experience – Dane’s are notoriously lazy when indoors – though don’t be surprised if they claim an entire sofa for their own.

8. They make great family pets and are good with children.

Bonus Facts

A few bonus facts about Great Danes while you’re here:

  • Cartoon character Scooby Doo is a Great Dane (I can confirm they do run on the spot when overly excited)
  • The seven main Great Dane colors are: Black, Fawn, Blue, Brindle, Harlequin, Mantle and Merle (though there are other non-official colors out there).
  • There are, sort of, miniature Great Danes. These are not official breeds, but there are examples of small versions – anything from runts to genetic variations.

That’s it for our quick-fire list, but if you have any other facts, anecdotes or stories you would like to tell us, add them to the comment section below.

Andrew Scott

Andrew Scott

Head Writer | Collar and Harness Magazine Not Danish, Dane is the other half of Collar & Harness. Having worked in the technology sector for many years - he now immerses himself in all things dogs. Writes about subjects ranging from dog food to canine psychology with a little bit of pup technology thrown in. Dane has been writing for nearly 15 years on the topics he loves. Lives in London.

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