The Great Dane is an impressive size and draws a lot of attention on the street and in the park. Mastiffs have lived at European princely courts for centuries. Great Dane puppies take more than two years to mature and reach a height of at least 72 centimeters at the withers. If you are thinking about buying a small Great Dane, there are a few things you should consider!
External Characteristics of the Great Dane: Recognizable at First Glance
Great Danes are among the largest dogs in the world, along with Anatolian Shepherd Dogs, Irish Wolfhounds, and Scottish Shepherd Dogs. Already in the Middle Ages, mastiffs of the same type were kept as chamber dogs on estates and were also used in the hunt to grab large wild animals. Bitches reach a height at the withers between 72 and 80 centimeters, for males a minimum height of 80 centimeters applies. They weigh between 50 and 82 kilograms – if you are delicately built, your dog may be significantly heavier than you.
The Great Dane’s appearance from head to tail tip
- The ears are set high and hang down to the cheeks. Great Dane ears are often docked in the USA, but this measure is strictly forbidden in Germany. Cropped ears point upwards.
- The head is symmetrical and elongated, with a strong muzzle and drooping lips (scissor bite). The cheeks are narrow and do not protrude. The nose is broad and black in color, the nose stop is clearly visible.
- The eyes should be medium-sized, almond-shaped, and set relatively close together. Dark brown eyes are desirable, but light blue and amber eyes also occur.
- The body is about as long as it is high in males and slightly longer in females. The shoulders are long and lie diagonally to the body, and the fore and hind legs are also long, straight, and strongly muscled. Even as puppies, the dogs have large paws with well-padded pads. The tail reaches to the hock, is not docked in Germany, and is usually carried hanging down.
Coat colors in German mastiffs
- Yellow and yellow tabby with a black mask, white markings are not desirable in inbreeding.
- Tiger Mastiffs (Harlequin Pattern): White base color with black spots. There are also gray tigers with a gray base color and mastiffs with brownish or bluish spots (porcelain mastiffs), but they are not wanted to inbreed.
- Black or black with white markings. Coated tigers also belong to this group, they have white markings on the chest, on the stomach, on the inside of the legs, on the forehead furrow, and on the paws.
- Blue or blue with white markings.
The History of the Great Dane
Although the Great Dane is listed as the Great Dane in English and American studbooks, they do not have Danish origins. Since the beginning of the 17th century, mastiffs have also been bred in Germany by the princely courts of England. In 1888 the Great Dane was standardized under that name for the first time and the first Great Dane Club was formed.
Great Danes in the Principality
Great Danes were considered noble chamber dogs on British farms – the most beautiful of them were used purely as companion dogs and were not used for hunting. As bear hounds, they were only sent out hunting after the brawny boar hounds, which would chase and tire the game. Mastiffs took on the dangerous task of fixing injured prey. Since the dogs were very valuable, they were protected with special armor made of felt and bone.
Great Danes in Antiquity
It is likely that mastiff-like dogs from the Celts in the Roman Empire met the classic Roman Molosser and were crossed with them. As early as the 2nd century AD, Roman sources tell of giant British dogs that easily killed the Roman fighting dogs in the arenas. Almost all European mastiffs and molasses are descended from these Roman arena fighters.
Nature and Character of Great Danes
Great Danes are known for their even-tempered and calm disposition. Like all large dog breeds, they need ample exercise, but shouldn’t be overexerted: young Great Danes have a high metabolism and grow very quickly. In order for their bones and muscles to develop properly, they need long regeneration phases and lots of food after sporting sessions.
Character traits at a glance
- Affectionate and people-related.
- Friendly to disinterested in strangers, but still has a protective instinct.
- Crazy about snacks and food.
- Confident and fearless.
- Patient and considerate.
Great Danes as family dogs
If the dogs are properly socialized as puppies, they will behave considerately towards children and other animals. They do not behave in a dominant manner and are quick to forgive mistakes in their upbringing. Sometimes they are not able to judge their size correctly – smaller children are sometimes pushed over while playing. If you make sure that dog and child learn to get along with each other, there shouldn’t be any major problems with a Great Dane in the family.
Are you a match for a Great Dane?
Even strong owners have great problems keeping their dog under control with a restless Great Dane on the leash. Therefore, representatives of the breed are not suitable as first dogs. If you make mistakes in socialization or even get scared of your growing dog, living together will hardly be possible. So before you buy a puppy, think carefully about whether you can control and properly train a dog of this size.