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NATIONAL DOG OF GERMANY Despite the name, the Great Dane isn’t from Denmark, rather they originate from Germany. In 1876, they were officially named the National Dog of Germany. Back at the end of the 1500s, the Duke of Braunschweig is said to have taken hordes of Great Danes out to hunt boars. This game needed powerful, intelligent and tenacious dogs to take down vicious prey. Unlike the comical, floppy aesthetic that Great Danes have today, their ears were historically cropped to prevent tearing when hunting powerful prey. German nobles were so impressed with the breed that they bought the best dogs to keep for themselves. They were then used as guard dogs, and ultimately as companions.  WORLDS TALLEST DOG It shouldn’t come as a surprise that the worlds tallest dog record is held by a Great Dane. In 2008 a remarkable dog was born in Michigan, USA, and he was called Zeus. Zeus grew to be a certified therapy dog, and then, in 2012, he was crowned with the title of ‘Worlds Tallest Dog’. At only 4 years old, he stood at 44 inches at his shoulders, the average Great Dane is around 32 inches! And if that isn’t impressive enough, on his hind legs, Zeus stood at an insane 7ft 4 inches! Unfortunately, just shy of his 6th birthday, Zeus passed away from natural causes. The general rule of thumb tends to the be that the bigger the dog, the shorter the lifespan, which leads to our next fact.  SHORTEST LIFE SPAN Unfortunately, the Great Dane has one of the shortest life expectancies. On average, they only live between 6-10 years…but keep in mind that a 10 year old Great Dane has never been documented. The oldest documented Great Dane is from the UK, and his name is Freddy. Freddy is currently 8! If you want to keep up with his life and how he’s getting on, he does have his own Instagram; ‘freddygreatdane’. Maybe he holds the key to how we can help this great breed enjoy life a little bit longer. It hardly seems fair that smaller breeds can last at least twice as long! It isn’t yet clear why one of the biggest dog breeds have such short lifespans. In other species, size means longevity! The African Elephant and Blue Whales for example can both reach around 80 years of age. It’s almost as if a Great Dane live through their adult years in fast motion, the gangly puppy to teenage years can sometimes last up to 2 years, giving them only 4-5 years of adulthood at the most! 15TH MOST POPULAR BREED  Despite the joy of a Great Dane being a short-lived privilege, they are the 15th most popular breed in the USA. Now this is out of hundreds of recognised breeds according to the American Kennel Club. When you take a look at their temperaments, it really isn’t a surprise. They have a long list of redeeming qualities. They’ve come a long way from being capable of hunting and taking down boars in the German countryside. The Great Dane is now coined as ‘the gentle giant’. They make beautiful additions to the family, their peaceful disposition and relentless attempts at being a lap dog will just make them a joy to be around! They’re very people orientated and will even go so far as to defending your home and family should they feel they need to! And that will be the few times they will bark, they don’t tend to bark for the sake of it. But you can expect them to be vocal with sassy back chat by grumbling, which will come from a good-natured place I promise!  DESIGNER MONGRELS The German nobles created this breed by developing mastiff-type dogs, they needed the size and muscle mass to take down wild boars. In addition to this, along the way, Greyhound genes were added for speed and the Wolfhound was also introduced for their height. The dogs that were created from this combination were fearsome hunters with the physical stature to intimidate anything that comes across its path. But to create this lovable, large-than-life breed we know today. They had to learn to become human companions, and we can thank the noblemen that fancied the breeds as formidable guard dogs of both their property and family members. So through decades of living with people instead of hunting, their personalities shifted to become affectionate and people-orientated. But they still maintained that defensive streak!

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