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If you've ever had the pleasure of meeting a Dane or the privilege of having one in your home, hunting vicious wild boars and taking down assassins isn't something you'd expect from the giant couch potatoes we know and love today. But it's all true.
In the 1800s wild boar and bear hunts were popular among German nobility and their canine of choice, the Boarhound, was the stock of our beloved Great Danes. The dogs were absolutely ferocious and fiercely protective of their owners.
When not out hunting, these massive canines were favorite chamber dogs or guardians in the bedrooms of German nobility. They were fitted with ornate collars to protect their necks and indeed prevented many assassinations as the nobility of Germany fell out of favor.
It was the downfall of the German nobility that led to the mellowing of the intense temperament of the breed and they found new life as loving household companions.
The temperament of the Great Dane today is quite the opposite of their Boarhound ancestors. Today, they are considered a breed with low to maybe moderate energy level and are content to sleep around the house all day without needing much exercise. Dane's share two distinct characteristics with their ancestors still; their intense loyalty to and fierce protection of their family. Their size and deep bark make them an imposing deterrent and they are still very capable of handling threats to their home and family.
The other 99% of the time, the Dane embodies all the qualities of gentle giants. They are incredibly affectionate and will go so far as to sit in your lap if you'll let them. They are a calm and steady presence and have found great success as service and emotional support dogs because of their mellow temperaments.
SOCIAL - CHILDREN/SMALL ANIMALS/STRANGERS
Their calm and loving personalities really shine when it comes to children and small animals too. Dane's are affectionate with their adult human family members but are exceedingly gentle when it comes to the smaller members of their family. Some people have reported that they refuse to leave a new baby alone and can spend hours staring at them without another care in the world. They are doting and infinitely patient with the sticky and grabbing hands of children, but this is not a green light to leave them unsupervised or not teach both child and canine how to respect each other. That includes NO PONY RIDES! They aren't ponies and the joints in the back and legs come under immense stress even if it's just for a couple of minutes. Dane's are forgiving, their joints are not.
With small animals, and let's face it... most animals in the home are going to be smaller than the Dane... they extend much of the same gentleness that they have with children. You can find countless accounts of Dane's snuggled with kittens, ducklings, and other young animals. Again, these interactions should always be supervised because their sheer size could lead to all kinds of accidents. Especially when they are young and prone to being clumsy and overexcited.
When they are young, it's always best to socialize them with as many other people in as many environments as possible. Dane's are very friendly with other people and this should be encouraged with proper manners because of their massive size. Short trips to local parks or dog-friendly stores are great for this since everyone will want to talk with you and pet your extraordinary canine companion. I say short trips because you don't want to overwhelm your Great Dane with new people, sights, and sounds. Their gentle personalities and attention-loving natures make them an easy canine to socialize and they delight people of all ages who marvel at how such a gargantuan canine can be so gentle.
Despite their bloody origins, these lovable giants have squeezed their way into our hearts and homes with their sweet and mellow personalities. They are capable and willing protectors of their family but enjoy all the cozy napping spots they can find right next to their family. They are famously gentle with children and small animals in the home and even friendly with strangers. It's easy to see why fans of this glorious breed are so dedicated to them.
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