The Great Dane is a breed of dog known for its large size.
It is a giant dog that combines nobility with robustness and power with elegance.
The Great Dane’s large and imposing appearance belies its friendly nature. They are known for seeking physical affection with their owners, and the breed is often referred to as a “gentle giant”.
The average lifespan for a Great Dane is about 8 to 10 years.
The Great Dane is the tallest dog breed, with males standing at least 76 cm (30 inches) and females at least 71 cm (28 inches) – it weighs 50 to 82 kg (110 to 180 pounds).
The record holder for the tallest dog ever is a Great Dane called Zeus (died September 2014), who measured 111.8 cm (44 in) from paw to shoulder.
The Great Dane has a massive, square-jawed head and body lines that give it an elegant appearance.
Its short coat is black, fawn (golden brown), brindle, blue-gray, harlequin (white with black patches), or mantle (white with a black “blanket” extending over the body).
Historians claim that there are drawings of dogs that resemble the Great Dane on Egyptian monuments from roughly 3000 BC.
The earliest written description of a dog resembling the breed can be found in Chinese literature of 1121 BC.
The origins of the Great Dane as we know it today can be traced to the Irish Wolfhound with mixture of old English Mastiff.
In the middle of the 16th century, the nobility in many countries of Europe imported strong, long-legged dogs from England, which were descended from crossbreeds between English Mastiffs and Irish Wolfhounds. They were dog hybrids in different sizes and phenotypes with no formal breed. These dogs were called Englische Dogge.
These dogs were bred in the courts of German nobility, independent of the English methods, since the start of the 17th century.
When no longer used for hunting, the breed changed to one of a companion and estate guard dog.
The Englische Dogge became rare, and was kept only as a dog of hobby or luxury.
In 1878, a committee was formed in Berlin which changed the name of the “Englische Dogge” (English mastiff derivatives) to “Deutsche Dogge” (German mastiff).
However, due to the increasing tensions between Germany and other countries, the dog later became referred to as a “Great Dane” – name was derived from one of its French names, grand Danois (big Danish), although there is no known reason to associate Denmark with the history or origin of the breed.
In Germany it is still called the Deutsche Dogge.
This breed was registered with the AKC in 1887.
The Great Dane was named the state dog of Pennsylvania in 1965.
Animation designer Iwao Takamoto based the Hanna-Barbera character Scooby-Doo on a Great Dane. He derived his design from sketches given to him by a Hanna-Barbera employee who bred Danes, and then endeavoured to make Scooby the opposite of a perfect pedigree, with a longer tail, bowed legs, small chin and a sloping back.