Great Dane

Great Dane combines in its distinguished appearance dignity, strength, and elegance with great size and a powerful, well-formed, smoothly muscled body. He is one of the giant breeds but is unique in that his general conformation must be so well balanced that he never appears clumsy and is always a unit – the Apollo of dogs.

What was the Great Dane bred for? Which breeds were used to develop the Great Dane dog breed?

Great Danes were bred for hunting wild boars. Great Danes were originally known as Boar Hounds. Ancestors of the English Mastiff were probably involved in the Great Dane dog breed development, and some Great Dane breeders believe that the Irish Wolfhound may have played a role.


Do Great Danes slobber/drool a lot?

Yes, Great Danes are known for their excessive drooling. The Dane’s jaw structure, with its loose, floppy lips and square jaw, makes it difficult for drool to be contained in the mouth.

Great Dane drools

Great Dane Temperament

The Great Dane dog must be spirited and courageous – never timid. This breed is friendly and dependable. This physical and mental combination is the characteristic which gives the Dane a majesty possessed by no other dog breed.

Is Great Dane breed a good choice as a family dog?

Great Danes are gentle giants. They are moderately playful, affectionate and good with children. Great Danes generally get along with other animals, particularly if raised with them, but some individuals in the breed can be aggressive with dogs they do not know.


Is Great Dane breed a good choice as a guard dog?

The Great Dane can be an ideal choice as a guard dog in situations where violence or dog attacks are to be avoided in all circumstances. The breed’s intimidating size and looks may be enough to guard. However, the Great dane will not atack a stranger or a thief even if the situation demands it. Having a Great Dane along with a smaller watch dog may be a good choice.

How much food will a Great Dane eat daily?

At the height of the growth period, an average Dane puppy might eat 10-12 cups of a premium dog food daily (about 600 grams). They should be fed about 200 grams 3 times a day. Once they are mature, they will eat substantially less (about 400 grams) and should be fed 200 grams 2 times a day. Puppies of large breed dogs should never be fed protein and calcium suppliments in excess to accelerate their growth as this may lead to a weak bone structure.

Are Great Danes good apartment dogs?

These gentle giants are content to just hang out all day on couches, rugs, and beds. However, they may never reach their full potential in a small apartment. Also, the Great Dane is a large dog which will eat a lot, shed a lot and make big pyramids of poop all over the place. We do not recommend keeping Great Danes in apartments. Many Great Danes end up in shelters each year simply because they are too much to keep in apartments.

Great Dane Size

The male should not be less than 30 inches (76 cm) at the shoulders, but it is preferable that he be 32 inches (81 cm) or more, providing he is well proportioned to his height. The female should not be less than 28 inches (71 cm) at the shoulders, but it is preferable that she be 30 inches (76 cm) or more, providing she is well proportioned to her height. The substance is that sufficiency of bone and muscle which rounds out a balance with the frame.

Faults in size: Light, whippet-like Great Danes; coarse, ungainly proportioned Danes; there should be balance always.

Male and Female Great Danes: It is particularly true of the Great Dane breed that there is an impression of great masculinity in dogs as compared to an impression of femininity in bitches. The male should appear more massive throughout than the bitch, with a larger frame and heavier bone structure. In the ratio between length and height, the Great Dane should appear as square as possible. In bitches, a somewhat longer body is permissible.

Faults: Lack of unity; timidity; bitchy dogs; poor musculature; poor bone development; out of condition; rickets; doggy bitches.

Great Dane Coat: The coat should be very short and thick, smooth and glossy.

Faults: Excessively long hair (stand-off coat); dull hair (indicating malnutrition, worms, and negligent care).

Great Dane Colors


Brindle coloured Great Dane

Brindle coloured Great Danes: Base colour ranging from light golden yellow to golden yellow always brindled with strong black cross stripes. The more intensive the base colour and the more intensive the brindling, the more attractive will be the colour. Small white marks at the chest and toes are not desirable. Faults: Brindle with too dark a base colour; silver-blue and greyish-blue base colour; dull (faded) brindling; white tail tip.


Fawn coloured Great Danes

Fawn coloured Great Danes: Golden yellow up to deep golden yellow colour with a deep black mask. The golden deep-yellow colour must always be given the preference. Small white spots at the chest and toes are not desirable. Faults: Yellowish-grey, bluish-yellow, greyish-blue, dirty-yellow colour (drab colour), lack of black mask.

Blue Great Dane

Blue Great Dane

Blue coloured Great Danes: The color must be pure steel blue as far as possible without any tinge of yellow, black, or mouse grey. Faults: Any deviation from a pure steel-blue colouration.

Black Great Dane

Black Great Dane

Black Great Danes: Glossy black. Faults: Yellow-black, brown-black or blue-black. White markings, such as stripes on the chest, speckled chest and markings on the paws are permitted but not desirable.

Harlequin Great Dane

Harlequin Great Dane

Harlequin Great Danes: Base colour: pure white with black torn patches irregularly and well distributed over the entire body; pure white neck preferred. The black patches should never be large enough to give the appearance of a blanket or so small as to give a strippled or dappled effect. (Eligible but less desirable are a few small grey spots, also pointings where instead of a pure white base with black spots, there is a white base with single black hairs showing through which tend to give a salt and pepper or dirty effect.) Faults: White base colour with a few large spots; bluish-grey pointed background.

Black Mantle Great Dane

Black Mantle Great Dane

Black-Mantled Great Danes: A black and white dog with a black mantle extending over the body; white blaze or muzzle or both; white chest; white on part or whole of forelegs and hind legs; part or whole white collar; white tipped tail; dark eyes; dark nose. Acceptable but less desirable–lack of collar. Faults Any variation detracting from the general appearance.

Great Dane puppies

Choosing a show quality Great Dane puppy

Definition of ‘the best Great Dane puppy‘ depends on your requirements. Your expectations from an adult Great Dane can be broadly categorized as follows: Confirmation for show or breeding; Obedience; Guard dog; Homely Pet.

Although it is tempting to look for all these quality in the one puppy you are planning to buy, it is almost never possible to find all qualities in a single pup.

If you want your Great Dane puppy to grow up to be a champion, you should look for confirmation to breed standards. Physical construction, head, proportions, bite, etc are all a priority over temperament. Look for the following characteristics while choosing a puppy.

The Great Dane’s Head: Long, narrow, distinguished, expressive, finely chiselled, especially the part below the eyes (which means that the skull plane under and to the inner point of the eye must slope without any bony protuberance in a pleasing line to the full square jaw), with strongly pronounced stop. The masculinity of the male is very pronounced in the expression and structure of head (this subtle difference should be evident in the dog’s head through massive skull and depth of muzzle); the bitch’s head may be more delicately formed. Seen from the side, the forehead must be sharply set off from the bridge of the nose. The forehead and the bridge of the nose should be straight and parallel to one another. Seen from the front, the head should appear narrow, the bridge of the nose should be as broad as possible. The cheek muscles must show slightly but under no circumstances should they be too pronounced (cheeky). The muzzle part must have full flews and must be as blunt vertically as possible in front; the angles of the lip must be quite pronounced. The front part of the head, from the tip of the nose up to the centre of the stop should be as long as the rear part of the head from the centre of the stop to the only slightly developed occiput. The head should be angular from all sides and should have definite flat planes and its dimensions should be absolutely in proportion to the general appearance of the Dane.

Faults: Any deviation from the parallel planes of skull and foreface; too small a stop; a poorly defined stop or none at all; too narrow a nose bridge; the rear of the head spreading laterally in a wedge-like manner (wedge head); an excessively round upper head (apple head); excessively pronounced cheek musculature; pointed muzzle; loose lips hanging over the lower jaw (fluttering lips) which create an illusion of a full deep muzzle. The head should be rather shorter and distinguished than long and expressionless. The nose must be large and in the case of brindled and “single-coloured” Danes, it must always be black. In harlequins, the nose should be black; a black spotted nose is permitted; a pink-coloured nose is not desirable.

Great Dane’s Teeth and bite: strong, well developed and clean. The incisors of the lower jaw must touch very lightly the bottoms of the inner surface of the upper incisors (scissors bite). If the front teeth of both jaws bite on top of each other, they wear down too rapidly.

Faults in the teeth: Even bite; undershot and overshot; incisors out of line; black or brown teeth; missing teeth.

Eyes: of a medium size, as dark as possible, with lively intelligent expression; almond-shaped eyelids, well-developed eyebrows.

Faults in eyes: Light-coloured, piercing, amber-coloured, light blue to a watery blue, red or bleary eyes; eyes of different colours; eyes too far apart; Mongolian eyes; eyes with pronounced haws; eyes with excessively drooping lower eyelids. In blue and black Danes, lighter eyes are permitted but are not desirable. In harlequins, the eyes should be dark. Light-coloured eyes, two eyes of different colour and walleyes are permitted but not desirable.

Ears: The Great Dane’s ears should be high, set not too far apart, medium in size, of moderate thickness, drooping forward close to the cheek. Top line of folded ear should be about level with the skull. Cropped ears; high set; not set too far apart, well pointed but always in proportion to the shape of the head and carried uniformly erect.

Faulty ears: Hanging on the side, as on a Foxhound.

Neck: The neck should be firm and clean, high set, well arched, long, muscular and sinewy. From the chest to the head, it should be slightly tapering, beautifully formed, with well-developed nape. Faults Short, heavy neck, pendulous throat folds (dewlaps).

Forequarters: The shoulder blade must be strong and sloping and seen from the side, must form as nearly as possible a right angle in its articulation with the humerus (upper arm) to give a long stride. A line from the upper tip of the shoulder to the back of the elbow joint should be as nearly perpendicular as possible. Since all dogs lack a clavicle (collar bone) the ligaments and muscles holding the shoulder blades to the rib cage must be well developed, firm and secure to prevent loose shoulders. The upper arm should be strong and muscular. Seen from the side or front the strong lower arms run absolutely straight to the pastern joints. Seen from the front, the forelegs and the pastern roots should form perpendicular lines to the ground. Seen from the side, the pastern root should slope only very slightly forward. Paws round and turned neither toward the inside nor toward the outside. Toes short, highly arched and well closed. Nails short, strong and as dark as possible.

Faults to look out for: Steep shoulders, which occur if the shoulder blade does not slope sufficiently; over-angulation; loose shoulders which occur if the Dane is flabbily muscled, or if the elbow is turned towards the outside; loaded shoulders. Elbows turned towards the inside or towards the outside, the former position caused mostly by too narrow or too shallow a chest, bringing the front legs too closely together and at the same time turning the entire lower part of the leg outward; the latter position causes the front legs to spread too far apart, with the pastern roots and paws usually turned inward. Seen from the side, a considerable bend in the pastern toward the front indicates weakness and is in most cases connected with stretched and spread toes (splay foot); seen from the side a forward bow in the forearm (chair leg); an excessively knotty bulge in the front of the pastern joint. Spreading toes (splay foot), bent, long toes (rabbit paws); toes turned toward the outside or towards the inside; light-coloured nails.

Great Dane Body: The withers form the highest part of the back which slopes downward slightly toward the loins, which are imperceptibly arched and strong. The back should be short and tensely set. Chest deals with that part of the thorax (rib cage) in front of the shoulders and front legs. The chest should be quite broad, deep and well muscled. Ribs and brisket deals with that part of the thorax back of the shoulders and front legs. Should be broad, with the ribs sprung well out from the spine and flattened at the side to allow proper movement of the shoulders extending down to the elbow joint. The belly should be well shaped and tightly muscled, and with the rear part of the thorax, should wing in a pleasing curve (tuck-up).

Faults to look for: Receding back; swayback; camel or roach back; a back line which is too high at the rear; an excessively long back. A narrow and poorly muscled chest; strong protruding sternum (pigeon breast). Narrow (slab-sided) rib cage; round (barrel) rib cage; shallow rib cage not reaching the elbow joint. Poor tuck-up.

Hindquarters: The croup must be full, slightly drooping and must continue imperceptibly to the tail root. Hind legs, the first thighs (from hip joint to knee) are broad and muscular. The second thighs (from knee to hock joint) are strong and long. Seen from the side, the angulation of the first thigh with the body, of the second thigh with the first thigh, and the pastern root with the second thigh should be very moderate, neither too straight nor too exaggerated. Seen from the rear, the hock joints appear to be perfectly straight, turned neither towards the inside nor towards the outside. Paws, round and turned neither towards the inside nor towards the outside. Toes short, highly arched and well closed. Nails short, strong and as dark as possible.

Faults in Hindquarters: A croup which is too straight; a croup which slopes downward too steeply; and too narrow a croup. Hind legs: soft, flabby, poorly muscled thighs; cow-hocks which are the result of the hock joint turning inward and the hock and rear paws turning outward; barrel legs, the result of the hock joints being too far apart; steep rear. As seen from the side, a steep rear is the result of the angles of the rear legs forming almost a straight line; overangulation is the result of exaggerated angles between the first and second thighs and the hocks and is very conducive to weakness. The rear legs should never be too long in proportion to the front legs. Spreading toes (splay foot); bent, long toes (rabbit paws); toes turned towards the outside or towards the inside. Furthermore, the fifth toe on the hind legs appearing at a higher position and with wolf’s claw or spur; excessively long nails; light-coloured nails.

Great Dane’s Tail: Should start high and fairly broad, terminating slender and thin at the hock joint. At rest, the tail should fall straight. When excited or running, slightly curved (sabre-like).

Faults to look out for: A too high, or too low-set tail (the tail-set is governed by the slope of the croup); too long or too short a tail; tail bent too far over the back (ring tail); a tail which is curled; a twisted tail (sideways); a tail carried too high over the back (gay tail); a brush tail (hair too long on lower side). Cropping tail to desired length is forbidden.

Great Dane’s Gait: Long, easy, springy stride with no tossing or rolling of body. The back line should move smoothly, parallel to the ground. The gait of the Great Dane should denote strength and power. The rear legs should have drive. The forelegs should track smoothly and straight. The Dane should track in two parallel straight lines.

Faults in Gait: Short steps. The rear quarters should not pitch. The forelegs should not have a hackney gait (forced or choppy stride). When moving rapidly the Great Dane should not pace for the reason that it causes excessive sideto-side rolling of the body and thus reduces endurance.

General Great Dane Faults: The faults below are important according to their grouping (very serious, serious, minor) and not according to their sequence as placed in each grouping:

Very Serious: Lack of unity. Poor bone development. Poor musculature. Lightweight whippety Danes. Rickets. Timidity. Bitch dog. Sway back. Roach back. Cow-hocks. Pitching gait. Short steps. Undershot teeth.

Serious: Out of condition. Coarseness. Any deviation from the standard on all colouration. Deviation from parallel planes of skull and foreface. Wedge head. Poorly defined stop. Narrow nose bridge. Snipey muzzle. Any colour but dark eyes in fawns and brindles. Mongolian eyes. Missing teeth. Overshot teeth. Heavy neck. Short neck. Dewlaps. Narrow chest. Narrow rib cage; round rib cage; shallow rib cage. Loose shoulders; steep shoulders. Elbows turned inward. Chair legs (front). Knotty bulge in pastern joint (adult dog). Weak pastern roots. Receeding back. Too long a back. Back high in rear. In harlequins, a pink nose. Poor tuck-up (except in bitches that have been bred). Too straight/sloping or narrow croup. Over-angulation. Steep rear. Too long rear legs. Poorly muscled thighs. Barrel legs. Paws turned outward; rabbit paws. Wolf’s claw. Hackney gait.

Minor: Doggy bitches. Small white marks on chest and toes–blues, blacks, brindles, and fawns. Few grey spots and pointings on harlequins. Excessively long hair. Excessively dull hair. Apple head. Small stop. Fluttering lips. Eyes too far apart. Drooping lower eyelids. Haws. Any colour but dark eyes in blacks, blues and harlequins. Discoloured teeth. Even bite. Pigeon breast. Loaded shoulders. Elbows turned outward. Paws turned inward. Splay foot. Excessively long toenails. Light nails (except in harlequins). Low set tail. Too long a tail. Too short a tail. Gay tail. Curled tail. Twisted tail. Brush tail.

Disqualifications: Danes under minimum height. White Great Danes without any black marks (albinos). Merles, a solid mouse-grey colour or a mouse-grey base with black or white or both colour spots or white base with mouse-grey spots. Brindle, fawn, and blue Danes with white forehead line, white collars, high white stockings and white bellies. Great Danes with predominantly blue, grey, yellow or also brindled spots. Docked tails. Split noses.

How long do Great Danes live? Are they genetically healthy?

Great Danes have some health problems that are common to large breeds, including hip dysplasia and bloat. Their average life span is 6 to 8 years; however, some Great Danes have been known to reach 10 years of age or more.

Links: Great Dane clubs USA; UK