The words Dog Breed Info with the letter D inside of a black paw print

The Purebred Great Dane

Information and Pictures

A large brown brindle Great Dane wearing a black collar is sitting on a black top in front of a flower bed

Junior the brindle Great Dane at 8 months old

Other Names
  • Deutsche Dogge
  • German Mastiff

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The Great Dane is a giant, powerful dog. Square in body, but females may be slightly longer than tall. The long head is rectangular in shape. The muzzle is deep, with a pronounced stop. The nose is black, blue/black on blue Danes or black spotted on the harlequins. The dark, deep-set eyes are medium in size. The medium sized ears are set high and either cropped or left natural. If left in their natural state they are folded forward, hanging close to the cheek. When cropped they stand erect and are large in proportion to the rest of the head. Note: cropping ears is illegal in most parts of Europe. The well arched neck is set high, firm and muscular. The front legs are perfectly straight. The feet are round with dark toenails. The tail is set high, thicker at the base and tapering to a point. Dewclaws are sometimes removed. The coat is short and thick. Colors come in brindle, fawn, black, blue, mantle, harlequin and sometimes merle. Although not a recognized color, chocolate does occur in a recessive gene. Merle is a common result of harlequin breeding, but it is not a recognized color.


The Great Dane has a good disposition, often called a "gentle giant." Charming and affectionate, it is playful and patient with children. It loves everyone and needs to be around people. The Great Dane does not bark much and only becomes aggressive when the circumstances require it. It is reliable, trustworthy and dependable. Courageous and loyal, it is a good watchdog. The Great Dane does not stay little for long and consistent training and rules should start right from puppyhood. This giant dog should be taught not to jump or lean on people. The objective in training this dog is to achieve pack leader status. It is a natural instinct for a dog to have an order in its pack. When we humans live with dogs, we become their pack. The entire pack cooperates under a single leader. Lines are clearly defined. You and all other humans MUST be higher up in the order than the dog. That is the only way your relationship can be a success. Dogs who know their place below humans in the pack order will be good with children. If you are not a firm, confident, consistent pack leader who knows how to correct the dog when he is showing signs of aggression, the dog can be dog-aggressive. Owners who know how to properly handle their dogs will not have this issue.

Height, Weight

Height: Males 30 - 34 inches (76 - 86 cm) Females 28 - 32 inches (71 - 81 cm)
Weight: Males 120 - 200 pounds (54 - 90 kg) Females 100 - 130 pounds (45 - 59 kg)
Dogs of even larger size are more prized.

Health Problems

Prone to hip dysplasia, bloat, heart disease and tail injuries. Prone to mast cell tumors. Jogging is not recommended until the dog is at least one year old, but walking is necessary. Not a long-lived breed.

Living Conditions

The Great Dane will do okay in an apartment if it is sufficiently exercised. It is relatively inactive indoors and does best with at least a large yard.


The Great Dane needs plenty of exercise. It needs to be taken on a daily long walk.

Life Expectancy

The average is under 10 years, however some can live to be 12-13 years old.

Litter Size

Often very large litters, 10 to 15 puppies. One litter reported having 19 puppies!


The smooth, shorthaired coat is easy to groom. Comb and brush with a firm bristle brush and dry shampoo when necessary. Bathing this giant is a major chore, so it pays to avoid the need by daily grooming. The nails must be kept trimmed. This breed is an average shedder.


The Great Dane is a very old breed, known as the "Apollo of all dogs." Dogs resembling the Great Dane have appeared on Greek money dating back to 36 B.C. There are also drawings of these dogs on Egyptian monuments from roughly 3000 B.C. The earliest writings of dogs that sounded like Great Danes were in Chinese literature dating back to 1121 B.C. In 407 A.D., German Gaul and part of Italy and Spain were invaded by an Asiatic people (the Alans) who brought with them powerful mastiff-like dogs. They were admired for their ability to bring down bear and wild boar. The dogs were thought to have been Wolfhounds mixed with old English Mastiffs. With selective breeding the Greyhound was added in to create the Great Dane. Besides being used as a hunter, they were also used as estate guard dogs. The Great Dane was recognized in 1887. Some of the Great Dane's talents are tracking, watchdog and carting.


Mastiff, AKC Working

  • ACA = American Canine Association Inc.
  • ACR = American Canine Registry
  • AKC = American Kennel Club
  • ANKC = Australian National Kennel Club
  • APRI = American Pet Registry, Inc.
  • CCR = Canadian Canine Registry
  • CKC = Canadian Kennel Club
  • CKC = Continental Kennel Club
  • DRA = Dog Registry of America, Inc.
  • FCI = Fédération Cynologique Internationale
  • KCGB = Kennel Club of Great Britain
  • NAPR = North American Purebred Registry, Inc.
  • NKC = National Kennel Club
  • NZKC = New Zealand Kennel Club
  • UKC = United Kennel Club
A large-breed black and white dog with big ears sitting next to a small white puppy with black and gray spotts and a pink nose

"Our Great Dane puppies, left Daphne the female mantle patterned pup at 5 months old and right our male Great Dane Stetson the harlequin patterned pup at 2 months old. Look at the size difference!!! Amazing what 3 months can do!"

A gray with white Great Dane is wearing a blue bandana laying in grass with its mouth open and tongue out. There is a garden behind it

Minard the Great Dane at 4 years old

A black and white harlequin Great Dane Puppy is sitting in front of a brown wooden baby crib looking down and to the left

Gracie the black and white harlequin Great Dane as a puppy at 8 weeks old

A black and white Great Dane is standing in grass and it has its front paws on the shoulder of a lady in a blue shirt. The dog is a couple of feet taller than the lady.

Great Dane weighing in at almost 200 pounds (90 kg.) demonstrating how big he is.

A chocolate Great Dane is laying on a green throw rug in front of a wooden cabinet

"This is Herschel when we first brought him home; he was 4 months old and weighed 51 pounds. Today he is a healthy 118-pound bundle of love."

Two tan with black Great Dane puppies are sitting on a pink blanket in front of a white wall and looking forward

Ramba and Runa nuo Grazuciu (LKD), Great Dane puppies at 3 months old from Lithuania, owned by H. Kuncevic

An extra large, tall dog with long legs, long hanging ears, a big black nose, deep set eyes  and a pink tongue showing standing outside in front of a white house and a Land Rover car.

Spike the Great Dane at 1 1/2 years old

See more examples of the Great Dane