History of the Great Dane Breed
The great dane is a true giant among breeds, descending from the mastiff. The great dane was developed in Germany to hunt wild boar, and was known as the boar hound when it appeared in America late in the 19th century. While intimidating in size and stature, this is a breed noted for its gentleness and “human-like” compassion. They make excellent family dogs. Its impressive size, family devotion, and gentle nature combine to create a first-rate companion. The breed is highly successful in obedience trials, agility competitions, tracking, scent work, lure-coursing, and therapy dog work. Permissible conformation colors are black, blue, brindle, fawn, harlequin, and mantle.
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Some Frequently Asked Questions about Great Danes
What makes a Dane a Dane?
- “The Great Dane combines, in its regal appearance, dignity, strength and elegance with great size and a powerful, well-formed, smoothly muscled body. It is one of the giant working breeds, but is unique in that its general conformation must be so well balanced that it never appears clumsy, and shall move with a long reach and powerful drive. It is always a unit-the Apollo of dogs. A Great Dane must be spirited, courageous, never timid; always friendly and depend-able. This physical and mental combination is the characteristic which gives the Great Dane the majesty possessed by no other breed. It is particularly true of this breed that there is an impression of great masculinity in dogs, as compared to an impression of femininity in bitches. Lack of true Dane breed type, as defined in this standard, is a serious fault.” (Great Dane Breed Standard, taken from www.gdca.org )
- The accepted colors for Great Danes, as found in our standard are: Fawn, Brindle, Blue, Black, Mantle, and Harlequin. Black masks are found on Fawn and Brindle Danes.
- One of the defining qualities of Great Danes is their size. Great Danes are considered a giant breed. This certainly adds to their majestic appearance, but also can create unique challenges. Please bear in mind, living with a giant dog is not for everyone! If at all possible, please take the opportunity to observe a Great Dane at home. Notice the absence of objects on most coffee tables, and the presence of drool on most walls. A giant breed is a LIFESTYLE as much as it is a dog!
How big do they get, and how much do they eat?
- Males range from 30-37 inches, and weigh from 120-185 pounds
- Females are smaller, ranging from 28-34 inches at the shoulder, and weigh from 100-125 pounds
- Most adult Danes can reach to the middle of a kitchen countertop, and on hind legs, might reach something on top of a refrigerator
- The amount of food a dog eats varies tremendously, but if feeding a diet of primarily dry dog food, 8-10 cups a day would be typical
- For more information on feeding of Great Danes, please talk to your breeder, a member of our club, or look at www.greatdanelady.com
What are some common health problems or other issues to be aware of in the breed?
- Wobbler’s Syndrome
- vonWillenbrand’s Disease
- Hip/Elbow Dysplasia
How do I pick a breeder?
- Ask lots of questions!
- “Where did you sleep the night the puppies were born?” – The answer should be “In the whelping box!” Most breeders want to spend as much time as possible with their new puppies, and some spend many nights with the litter.
- “What were you hoping to accomplish with this breeding?” – Every reputable breeder knows the strengths and weaknesses of his/her stock. When a breeder makes the decision to breed, he/she should have specific, communicable goals in mind. For example, you might hear a breeder say that she loves the head that is produced in her line, and is trying to develop more bone in the next generation. If you are unsure of what a breeder’s answer means, ask! She should be able to relate her goal to the breed standard, and show you on her dog or bitch the parts of the anatomy that are involved.
- “Can you tell me about the pedigree of this litter?” – A good breeder will probably take this question and run with it, giving you stories about two and three generations back. Often you can find out what the temperament, health, and conformation have been through several generations. Remember, a puppy is the product of careful genetic selection, and much of your puppy’s future is determined by its family history.
- “What happens if this puppy does not work out with my family?” – Please be sure that you discuss this with a potential breeder!
- You need to know what support he/she will provide if there are health issues, behavioral problems, or if you ever need to re-home your dog for any reason. In most cases, a breeder will want to be contacted first if you have any kind of problem with your Dane.
- Make sure this is a person you feel comfortable with – will they be available to answer your questions after you take the puppy home?
- Do they have recommendations for you about training? If you are interested in showing your puppy, will they help you in and around the show ring?
What if I just want a pet Dane, not a show dog?
- Every litter of puppies, even those coming from top breeders, will probably have puppies that are “pet” quality and “show” quality. Just because you don’t plan to show a dog does NOT mean a well-known breeder won’t sell a puppy to you. In fact, when you buy a pet puppy from a well-respected breeder, you benefit from the careful planning and consideration that went into the litter, a strong knowledge of the pedigree (conformation, health, and temperament), and that individual’s commitment to “bettering the breed.” Any time you are buying a puppy from an individual or kennel that does not keep ALL THREE of those considerations in mind, you are not dealing with a reputable breeder.
- You should also be aware that there are some unethical breeders that ONLY breed “pet” quality puppies. They often have bad things to say about “show” breeders. This says a great deal about A) the quality of their stock (not good) and B) their commitment to preserving the Great Dane’s unique qualities as specified in our breed standard (no interest in the standard). These people are often financially motivated and/or not well educated about Danes.
- There are several unethical breeders that charge a higher fee for “unusual” or “rare” colors – rest assured, a “Fawnequin, “ or a “Red Merle,” or a “Piebald” is NOT something desirable in a Great Dane. In fact, it is a clear demonstration that the breeder disregards the breed standard, and should be a MAJOR red flag for you as a consumer.
Are they really “gentle giants?”
- They are – when bred well and socialized correctly. Great Danes are exceptionally impressionable dogs. By this, I mean that they a like sponges, absorbing every experience and incorporating it into the way they view people, dogs, and the world at large. So how do you create the right environment to end up with a “gentle giant?”
- oEnroll in a basic training class with your puppy or dog while he’s still young oTake your puppy into a variety of places, and introduce him/her to lots of friendly, gentle people (Note: Please wait until your puppy has had all of his/her vaccinations before you take him/her out and about. There are so many bad germs out in the general public, and some of these can kill your puppy!)
- Be patient and kind with your puppy, but firm. He/she needs to know that YOU are the leader of the pack. If you are unsure about how to communicate pack leadership, check out (insert book suggestion and/or website) or contact our club for additional information.
- Dogs that have been abused, badly bred, or have unusual health problems may not be gentle at all, but they are still giants, and this can be a disastrous situation. Please be very careful about selecting the Great Dane you choose to bring into your family!