The Great Dane is a German breed of domestic dog known for its giant size. Though Irish Wolfhounds are taller as a breed, the world’s tallest dog is a Great Dane. Anyone who’s spent time with one also knows that they’re the world’s biggest lapdogs — literally. These puppies are lounge-y and large, with paws as big as an adult’s hands.
Despite their names, Great Danes are not from Denmark — the Germans bred Great Danes for hunting and guarding. Some also served in the military. But over the last century, breeders have diminished their prey drive and aggression. Today’s Great Dane will take the couch over combat any time.
This large-sized and medium-energy breed can grow to between 110-180 pounds and lives an average of 7-10 years.
As puppies, Great Danes can knock over small tables and large children. As adults they can clear a coffee table with a swipe of a tail. Although he may sometimes seem like a bull in a china shop, the biggest thing about the Great Dane isn’t his formidable size (up to 175 pounds), but his heart. He may have been bred to hunt ferocious boars and guard estates, but these days, this tall and elegant dog is better suited to life as a lover, not a fighter. If you’re looking for a gentle giant, this may well be the dog for you.
His size may seem to require its own zip code, but the Dane’s calm nature makes him more suitable to apartment living than many a more anxious or active breed. While puppyhood may be a challenge in an apartment, a well-socialized and well-trained Dane will be perfectly content to have one good 10 or 20-minute walk a day for his exercise.
Because Great Danes have protective natures when their families are involved, it’s essential to teach young dogs not to jump up on people and that nipping or any act of aggression is not allowed. What tends to be laughed off in a tiny dog is no laughing matter in a full-grown dog of this size. Let the Dane’s size itself serve as a deterrent and never encourage aggressive behavior.
As tall as 32 inches at the shoulder, Danes tower over most other dogs—and when standing on their hind legs, they are taller than most people. These powerful giants are the picture of elegance and balance, with the smooth and easy stride of born noblemen. The coat comes in different colors and patterns, perhaps the best-known being the black-and-white patchwork pattern known as “harlequin.”
Despite their sweet nature, Danes are alert home guardians. Just the sight of these gentle giants is usually enough to make intruders think twice. But those foolish enough to mistake the breed’s friendliness for softness will meet a powerful foe of true courage and spirit. Patient with kids, Danes are people-pleasers who make friends easily.