Dog Breed Info Center(R) DBIC

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



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
Side view - A large breed black, gray and white large headed dog with a big muzzle and pink spots on its nose looking up with its perk ears pinned back.

An adult harlequin Great Dane—Photo courtesy of David Hancock

A tan with white Great Dane is standing in grass and there is a body of water and palm trees behind it

Rayna the fawn Great Dane at 18 months old, photo courtesy of Camelot Kennels

A black and white spotted harlequin merle Great Dane has its front paws on the shoulders of a man in a white shirt. The Great Dane is standing on its hind legs and is almost as tall as the man.

Achilles the harlequin merle Great Dane puppy at 9 months old

A black and white spotted harlequin merle Great Dane is standing on concrete and looking forward

Achilles the harlequin merle Great Dane puppy at 9 months old

A black and white spotted harlequin merle Great Dane is sniffing the bottom of a green pole. There is a bottle of Pepsi on a concrete stand next to it

Achilles the harlequin merle Great Dane puppy at 9 months old

A brown brindle Great Dane is wearing a black collar sitting in a parking lot looking alert to the right.

Junior the brindle Great Dane at 8 months old

A brown brindle Great Dane is wearing a black collar standing in front of a person in a parking lot

Junior the brindle Great Dane at 8 months old

A brown brindle Great Dane is sitting in a parking lot with a black car behind it.

Junior the brindle Great Dane at 8 months old

A white, black and gray harlequin Great Dane is sitting in a parking lot. There is a table behind it. It is wearing a purple bandana and a flea and tick collar.

Chili the harlequin Great Dane is famous around his local area. Everyone loves him. He is beautiful with ice blue eyes. His owner signs commands to him and he follows them. He is shown here at 7 years old

A white, black and gray harlequin Great Dane is standing in front of a pink vehicle that says 'Nurse Next Door Home Care Services' on it. There is a tan dog in front of it

Chili the harlequin Great Dane at 7 years old

A grey with white Great Dane is standing in a kitchen. It is looking to the left. There is a food bowl and water bowl behind it

"Merlin is a 14-month-old blue Great Dane. Some of his likes are ice cubes, chasing tennis balls and chasing me or being chased while I am on a 4-wheeler. He also loves peanut butter in his Kong. We live on almost 5 acres and he loves running beside the 4-wheeler. His temperament is great. Loves my two boys (8 and 9) and likes being around people and other dogs. We try to keep him socialized so he does not lose his love of people. He barks when someone approaches the house but stops as soon as he sees it is OK. I do watch Cesar and try to follow a number of his methods. Another method I adhere to is NILIF—Nothing In Life Is Free. Merlin does not have any toy/food/location aggression. I can place his food down and he sits and waits for a release command so he can eat. I can remove his food while he is eating as well and he does not show any signs of aggression at all. He is a very well-mannered dog."

A brown brindle Great Dane is laying on a porch. Its ears are taped up. There is a blue tarp behind it

Ryan is a 7-month-old beautifully marked brindle male possessing that "watch me" attitude great champions are made of.Photo courtesy of Camelot Kennels

Right Profile - A grey with black and white Great Dane is standing outside in grass with a tree behind it.

Elvis the 2 1/2 years old Great Dane, born Dec. 1, 1999 at Grande Negros, Sweden is a real big beauty; weight 200 lb. (92 kg), height 36 inches (93 cm).

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 white, black and gray harlequin Great Dane has its paws on the shoulder of a man in a grey sweatshirt and baseball cap inside of a living room that has wood walls in a home. The Great Dane is kissing the mans face. The dog is almost as tall as the man.

Chloe the harlequin Great Dane demonstrating how big she is—to give you a perspective, her owner is 6'3" tall!

A chocolate with white Great Dane is sitting in grass with fallen leaves around him. Its mouth is open and tongue is out

"This is my Herschel, a chocolate Great Dane at about 8 months old. He is a true chocolate dog, his nose, the pads of his feet, even his claws are a dark chocolate color. I saw him up for sale for what seemed like an eternity, so after watching his listing for some time I contacted the seller. It seems they were having a hard time placing him in a home because of his color. Chocolate Danes are born of black parents that carry a recessive gene. Even if they carry the recessive gene, it is unlikely their offspring will become a chocolate dog. Because of his unusual color, and the fact that chocolates are not show accepted colors, it appeared he might wait a while before being adopted. I thought it was a shame that his littermates, all traditional colors, were being purchased left and right while this beautiful dog was being left behind. When the seller described his personality, I decided that my other Great Dane, Floyd, and I had to meet him." See More of Herschel.

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

A white Great Dane is standing on a cement patio with a grill behind it and a white dog house to the left of it

"This is my Great Dane, Sugar. Sugar has a defect in her genes that makes her white. I was told that she is harlequin, which means that she should have black spots all over her body. She is deaf as a result of her defect. Sugar has been raised with my other animals and they have shown her what is right and wrong. She also trusts me to guide her and protect her. She was named because of her color and she is very sweet. She stays close to me and pays attention to what I do. She has been very well socialized. She has four other dogs and a cat to play with. Her best friend is the Chihuahua we call Sandy, which is probably what she was looking for at the time this picture was taken. She is only a year old and weighs about 90 lbs. She has a special made house that we built for her. She likes to take me on long walks and swim in lakes."

A white Great Dane is sitting on a bank in front of bushes looking at a body of water.

Sugar the white Great Dane looking out into the water