The Great Dane is a domestic German breed popular for its size. In Germany, the breed is called Deutsche Dogge or the German Mastiff. They are very well known for their large sized bodies and great heights.
The Great Dane is one of the tallest breeds of dogs in the world. According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the world record for the tallest dog is registered for the Zeus who died recently in September 2014 at the age of 5. He measured 112 cm or 44 inches in height fro paw to shoulder. These dogs seek a lot of physical attention of their owners due to their large size.
The historians have seen a lot of similarity between the Great Dane dogs and the dogs on the Egyptian monuments of around 3,000 BC. There were large boarhounds found in Greece during the 14th-13th centuries BC which resembled a lot to the Great Dane. There are a lot of bigger dogs depicted on rune stones in Scandinavia, on coinage in Denmark and also in the Old Norse poems. Around seven skeletons of very large hunting dogs can be found in the University of Copenhagen Zoological Museum.
In 19th century, this dog was called “German boarhound” in various countries which spoke English. Some German breeders tried to name this breed as “German Dogge” and “German Mastiff” as they wanted to popularise this dog as a luxurious dog and not as a dog for hard work. But due to the increasing tensions between Germany and various other countries, this dog later came to be known as “Great Dane”.
The American Kennel Club describes the Great Dane s a great combination of dignity, strength, elegance along with large size and powerful and masculine body structure. This is a breed of short hair and strong galloping figure.
The ratio of the length and height of the Great Dane should be such that it should appear square in shape. The male dog should be at least 30 inches or 76 cm at the shoulders and a female should be 28 inches or 71 cm. The dogs of this breed which have their height below the minimum requirement are disqualified.
The minimum weight for the Great Dane is stated as 120 lb or 54 kg for males and 100 lb or 45 kg for females. The males should always appear massive than the females and should have a larger frame along with heavy bones.
The Great Dane naturally has floppy and triangular ears. Earlier when these dogs were used for hunting, their ears were cropped to avoid much of the injuries during the hunting games. Even now their ears are cropped for traditional or cosmetic reasons. In many countries, this practice of cropping the ears has been banned.
There are around three varieties of colours in coat with five to six acceptable shades. These are fawn and brindle, harlequin and black and even blue. There are even different colours which may be found but are not acceptable. They are not even pursued by the breeders who do the breeding for the show dogs.
The large size and imposing appearance of the Great Dane generally fails to justify its friendly nature. They are generally referred to as “gentle giants” and are very well disposed towards other dogs, non-canine pets and even the familiar humans. They lack extreme aggressive nature or even the high instincts towards their prey. The Great Dane is generally very much loving and gentle and is trained well with small children. But if they are not trained well they may develop a fear to the unknown environment and strangers. They are often named as “the world’s largest lapdog” because of the way they sit on and lean towards their owners.
The Great Dane also require daily walks and regular exercise to maintain their health, but they should not be over exercised. Due to their large size and fast growth, the owners must take care of their joints and minimize their activities during the growth age.
They generally have a slower metabolism which means less energy and less intake of food as compared to other breeds. A normal Great Dane lives for around 6 to 8 years; however there are few exceptions which lived more than 10 years. The Great Dane may show some health problems like bloat, hip dysplasia, dilated cardiomyopathy and many other heart diseases. The congenital heart diseases gave this breed a nickname: the Heartbreak breed along with a short life span. This breed may develop a “wobblers disease” which affects their vertebral column.
The character Scooby-Doo in the cartoon series of Hanna-Barbera was also based on the Great Dane. Similarly it has been characterized in various other places like Elmer in Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, Brutus in The Ugly Dachshund and Astro in The Jetsons.