GREAT DANE 101! Everything You Need To Know About The GREAT DANE
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Where does the Great Dane come from? Unlike its name suggests, the Great Dane is not a Danish, but a German breed. Back in 16th century, these so-called “Boar Hounds” would assist their owners in the pursuit of wild boar in the dense woods of Germany. These massive dogs are said to stem from no other than the great English Mastiff itself. However, over time, the appearance of the Great Dane changed quite considerably, probably due to introducing large sighthounds into their bloodline, such as the English Greyhound and the Irish Wolfhound. In this way, the breed was refined considerably in appearance and became quite distinct from the English Mastiff, until it was finally given the name “Deutsche Dogge”. During the 18th century, Great Danes were predominantly owned by German noblemen as estate guardians and were used to protect horse carriages. Since then, these gentle giants have become popular companion dogs all over the world. But even today, many a noble Great Dane can be found proudly guarding its owner’s estate, villa or country house. Despite being an amazing companion and fearsome-looking guardian, today’s Great Dane owes most of its fame to its sheer size: The record for the tallest dog in the world goes to the Great Dane “Zeus”, who measured 111,80 cm at the withers (which is 44 inches). However, the average adult males stand “only” between 76 and 86 cm tall (which is between 30 and 34 inches) and weigh between 54 and 90 kg (or between 119 and 198 pounds), with the females being a bit smaller and lighter. What is their temperament like? When it comes to their temperament, Great Danes are the proverbial gentle giants. They make superb family companions, as they are exceptionally patient and loving with children of all ages. The same applies for other pets in the household: These dogs are immensely affectionate, loyal and devoted towards everyone in the home. Despite their size, they are quite calm indoors and remarkably measured in their movements. Which is a blessing, as a raucous dog of this size could easily knock over furniture and children whilst running through the house. Instead, the laid-back Great Dane can quite often be found lounging on comfortable sofas for most of the day. When it comes to their guarding behaviour, Great Danes are usually far more reluctant to actively defend their owners or territory than the average large guardian breed. But even though these tall, athletic dogs are very mellow in character and calm in temperament, they do come with a natural guarding instinct. The Great Danes’ deep, booming bark - in combination with its enormous size and intimidating looks -, is usually more than enough to discourage anyone up to no good from approaching you or your home. How intelligent and trainable are Great Danes? Apart from being naturally watchful and affectionate, Great Danes are also highly intelligent. These dogs can do far more than just look impressive behind the fence: Very smart and trainable, Great Danes are a joy to work with. Contrary to many other large guardian breeds like the Rottweiler or the Giant Schnauzer, these gentle giants are not given to engaging their handler in battles of will: Whilst calm, consistent leadership will absolutely bring out the best in them, they are quite forgiving, and far less less likely to react aggressively than the Rottie, the Schnauzer or even the German Shepherd. The biggest challenge in training these dogs is their sensitivity: Despite their intimidating looks, Great Danes are actually quite sensitive. Unless socialised from an early age onwards, they can be skittish and even timid. Which is why any negative experiences with humans or other dogs can easily leave a mark in their character - and lead to fearful or reactive behaviour in the future. Due to this sensitivity, anyone raising and training Great Danes should lead them with a firm, but gentle hand. Are Great Danes healthy dogs? Even though an athletic and agile breed, the majestic Great Dane comes with quite a number of health concerns. As their hearts are too small for their large bodies, Great Danes are particularly prone to heart conditions such as dilated cardiomyopathy and numerous congenital heart diseases. Which sadly contribute to these affectionate giants short life-expectancy of only 6 to 8 years. In addition, Great Danes can suffer from all the typical health concerns in large and giant breed dogs, such as bloat, elbow- and hip dysplasia. Some of the minor health issues the breed is prone to include Wobbler’s syndrome, deafness and blindness. When it comes to the Great Dane’s health, colour plays an important role. For example, merle-coloured dogs with excessive white markings are particularly susceptible to problems with their vision and hearing. How much exercise does the Great Dane need? Due to their sheer size and considerable prey drive, Great Danes need quite a bit of exercise– not only to satisfy their desire to run, chase and play, but also to vent any surplus energy. Otherwise, the powerful jaws of a Great Dane could do serious harm to your furniture. If you need to leave your giant dog alone in the house for extended periods of time, vigorous exercise before going out is particularly important: In this way, your dog is tired out for the next few hours and will have a far easier time relaxing. These athletic canines should be provided with at least one good long run off leash per day, complemented by several smaller walks, playtimes and training sessions. Regular obedience work helps to keep these former hunting dogs on track – and less likely to chase after cats, rabbits or other dogs. It is very important to keep Great Danes socialised throughout their lives, and to allow them to meet plenty of other dogs and humans on a regular basis. What are their grooming requirements? The very good news is that the short and naturally shiny coat of the Great Dane hardly requires any grooming. In essence, one to two short brushes twice a week are enough to keep them clean. The best tools are plastic grooming mitts and soft natural bristle brushes. During shedding season in spring and autumn, more frequent brushing is needed to keep your extra-large canine’s short hairs from getting all over your floors and your furniture. Apart from brushing your Great Dane, you should check their ears once a week for any residue or built-up – especially if your dog has uncropped, ears. If they do not run on concrete regularly, their claws will get quite long and thus prone to injury. Which is why cutting your Great Dane’s nails once every 4 to 6 weeks is recommended. Overview The beautiful Great Dane is one of the most even-tempered and mellow large guardian breeds of today. At the same time, these elegant dogs are absolutely devoted family guardians. Great Danes are the perfect choice for large breeds-enthusiasts who want to share their home with an impressive-looking, but gentle and well-balanced canine companion.