Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Great Dane FAQ

Please remember that the information contained herin is general and based upon personal experiences. There are always exceptions.

General Description

The Great Dane is one of the giant breed of dogs. They are tall and well muscled without being heavy. Their appearance is often described as aristocratic or majestic. Part of the AKC standard reads as follows: "The Great Dane combines in its distinguished appearance dignity, strength and elegance with great size and a powerful, well-formed, smoothly muscled body. He ... must be well balanced ... and is always a unit - the Apollo of dogs. He must be spirited and courageous - never timid. He is friendly and dependable."

How big is a Great Dane really?

When is a Dane full grown?According to the AKC standard the male Great Dane should not be less than 30 inches at the shoulder and is preferable that he be 32 inches or more. The female should not be less than 28 inches and is preferable to be 30 inches or more. From what I have seen in the show ring a very correct male of 34 inches can win but most people like larger dogs (a height of 36 inches is an advertising point in the breed magazines). How long it takes a Great Dane to become full grown depends on the breeding with some pedigree lines maturing at about 1 year of age for females and some (many) not maturing until 3 years for males. Full height is often achieved by 18-24 months and weight/musculature by 3 years. The "puppyhood" of a Great Dane usually lasts at least 18 months. They usually settle down from frantic puppy activity levels about 9 months to 1 year and are mentally mature (out of adolescense) between 18 - 28 months.
The size of a Great Dane is a two edged sword. Being so big certainly allows you to romp with them to your hearts content and people think twice (or more) before entering the house uninvited. However it does take more effort to travel with a Great Dane and to feed and care for them. Great Danes are easily trainable so obedience and control should never be an issue as long as you are willing to do your part (a personal observation: obedience classes are to train the *people* and to socialize the dog not vice versa). It is up to each person to assess the benefit vs. work equation for this breed (as for any breed.) Except for the travelling point Danes are wonderfully easy to care for in my opinion. (Some males which have very full flews (lips) may be prone to slobber. This is individual dependent and not necessarily characteristic of the breed.)

How much does a Dane eat? What kind of diet is required?

This really depends on the type of food you choose to feed (how concentrated it is). Follow the directions on the bag for the weight and condition of the dog. However it is generally recommended that puppy food NOT be fed to this breed.
Danes are susecptible to bloat and torsion so the less stress on the gastrointenstinal tract the better. Puppies are usually fed 4 times a day gradually decreasing to twice a day between 4 to 6 months.

How much excercise does a Dane need?

A Great Dane needs only a moderate amount of exercise. This amount is less than breeds such as German Sheperd Dogs, Dobermans, Dalmations, and the other active sporting and herding breeds. Usually a walk on a long lead (then they get more exercise than you do by running from here to there smelling everything) or 10 - 15 minutes of chasing a ball, frisbee, or stick per day are sufficient. Of course the more the better. However, it is recommended that you do NOT jog with a Great Dane until they are at least 18 months old (they grow so much so fast that continued strain of this kind could lead to development problems).

What are the grooming requirements?

Very minimal grooming is needed. Danes are short haired dogs so there is no required daily brushing, trimming, stripping etc. A bath, nail trim, and teeth cleaning when necessary are all that are needed although a brush will be appreciated especially when doing what little shedding they do.

How much room does a Dane need? Where should I keep a Dane?

It is recommended that Great Danes be kept indoors. This is both because of their short hair coat and their disposition. Danes can handle a kennel situation if it is run right and they receive enough attention but really thrive indoors with the family. A Dane should never be left continually outside in the yard (you will have a sick, neurotic dog). Danes are definately part of the family. This does not mean that Danes need constant attention. They can be left in a fenced yard for a sunny afternoon, will curl up at your feet at night, or can be crated at night just as long as they are with you. Many Danes will sleep in another room, especially if there are more than one of them, but of course prefer to be with a member of the family.

Are Danes good with children? Are Danes good watchdogs?

Danes are very good with children. I would caution that you watch Danes and children when they are together just because a Dane is so big that even just licking a child may knock them over (of course some kids think this is great). Danes are also good watchdogs (even if they can't tell the difference between a doorbell on TV and a real one).
Of course people think twice before entering a house where the dog is looking back through the peephole at them . The Danes I have known also seem to be able to easily distinguish between those you readily accept into the house and those you don't. And if you have done your job and trained them to leave people alone they are more than happy to lay down somewhere in the room and leave your guests alone AFTER they have said hello! (and provided the person is not a previous wrestling buddy!).

What is the average lifespan of a Dane?

The average lifespan of most giant breeds is about 8 years. I know of Danes living to 10-12 years but 8 is average.

What are the common health problems with Danes?

There are two main health problems which afflict the Great Dane breed: hip dysplasia and bloat/torsion. Wobblers, thyroid problems, and eyes (CERF approval) also appear in the breed in some bloodlines.

General Health Maintenance

Great Danes will cost more for maintanance than smaller dogs. Their shots will cost more, their heartworm medicine will definately cost more, and you need to find a vet with a FLOOR SCALE THAT IS BIG ENOUGH :-) !

History of the Great Dane

The Great Dane was developed to hunt the wild boar of Europe (and hence the cropped ears typically seen on Danes in the US). The Germans are generally credited with developing the Dane as it exists today. It is generally accepted that the Great Dane is descended from some type of mastiff and wolfhound.
The Great Dane breed is at least 400 years old but there are drawings of a dog which resemble the Great Dane on Egyption monuments of 3000 B.C. and the earliest written description of a dog resembling a Great Dane is found in Chinese Literature of 1121 B.C. There is no reason anyone has been able to determine for connecting Denmark (Dane) with this dog. It was "made in Germany" and the breed standard of all countries is based on the german Deutsche Doggen Club standard.

What colors do Danes come in?

The AKC recognized Fawn, Brindle, Black, Blue, and Harlequin.

Merle (gray) is also a color that is not AKC recognized (there has been discussion/flames about this and merle has been correlated to genetic defects).

Disclaimer: (info taken from this site

The above information is intended to provide answers to some of the common questions typically asked about the Great Dane.
It is based largely on an author's personal experience of owning a Great Dane as well as comments from others who have been involved in the breed for far longer. I have also referred to the following books:
The Complete Dog Book Publication of the American Kennel Club

The Great Dane by Anna Katharine Nichols.


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