The Great Dane is said to have been developed from the boar hound, and English Mastiff and Irish Wolfhound lines. The Bullenbeisser (German Bulldog) may also be its direct ancestor.

While some say the breed originated in Germany, others maintain it as Denmark, probably because the name of the breed in the English language is a translation of in old French term, grand Danois, meaning “big Danish.” Some experts also link the origins of the muscular Great Dane to Tibet for its similarity to Tibetan Mastiffs.

In the 1800s, the Great Dane was used by Germans for its size and strength to hunt wild boar and stags. Nowadays, these courageous kings of dogs are more likely found enjoying a snooze on the couch or bed at home.

They are known as the ‘gentle giants’, devoted to loving and protecting their human family.

Kind, affectionate and dignified –  Great Danes really are ‘gentle giants’ who adore owners above all else


Great Danes are gentle and friendly with loved ones, but generally aloof in the company of strangers. They are calm in temperament (imagine a small horse galloping through your house in excitement!) and are usually quite inactive indoors. They need lots of room to lie down, play and stretch out.

They are not happy living exclusively outdoors – happiest beside their human family. Although they do not bark much, their large size and dependable, brave and loyal nature make them an excellent watchdog.

Because of their giant size, training is of utmost importance from when they are puppies so they will be manageable when fully grown. Great Danes are intelligent and willing to please, with lots of energy and stamina. They have achieved high status in confirmation, obedience, tracking, endurance jumping and agility.

However, when training, it can be challenging to find them a motivator interesting enough to initiate the desired response.


Great Danes are low maintenance with a smooth, short-haired and sleek-looking coat that is easy to groom. However, bathing can be a big task due to their size. This breed is an average shedder.

They may be happy living on your couch, but Great Danes need moderate exercise like a daily walk. They grow very rapidly so feeding a good quality diet is also important.

Despite being a giant breed, Great Danes don’t eat as much as one would imagine – they eat no more than any large dog. Like all dogs, they require regular tick, flea, intestinal worms and heart worm treatments. Consult your veterinarian on treatment options, including the diet best suited for your dog. Desexing and vaccination against diseases, such as the deadly parvo virus and highly infectious canine cough, are also important to discuss with your vet.


Great Danes are wonderful companions for anyone and suitable for families with children. However, like with any dog, supervision is important when around kids. (You don’t want your giant dog sitting on your two-year-old!)

The breed is suitable for apartments or houses, as long as they have space to spread out a little. They require a secure enclosure outdoors; preferably a large fenced yard (minimum 1.8 meters high). Some growing puppies can be highly destructive to landscaping so if your garden appearance is a priority, perhaps hire a full-time gardener or consider another breed.

Fact file

Origin Germany
Lifespan 8-10
Colors Brindle, fawn, blue, black, harlequin, mantle
Cost $1300+
Common hereditary problems Cardiomyopathy, hip dysplasia, hypothyroidism, cataracts, bone disorders (Hypertrophic Osteodystrophy and Panosteitis).