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  • Temperament: Friendly, Patient, Dependable
  • AKC Breed Popularity: Ranks 14 of 194
  • Height: 30-32 inches (male), 28-30 inches (female)
  • Weight: 140-175 pounds (male), 110-140 pounds (female)
  • Life Expectancy: 7-10 years
  • Group: Working Group

    The AKC has grouped all of the breeds that it registers into seven categories, or groups, roughly based on function and heritage. Breeds are grouped together because they share traits of form and function or a common heritage.

Great Dane standing in three-quarter view facing forward
Great Dane head facing left
Great Dane lying down facing left, head turned forward
Great Dane black and white coat detail
Great Dane sitting in three-quarter view
Great Dane head and shoulders facing forward
Great Dane lying in three-quarter view facing forward
Great Dane head facing forward
Great Dane standing facing left
Great Dane fawn-colored coat detail
Great Dane puppy

Find a Puppy: Great Dane

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GENERAL APPEARANCE

The Great Dane combines, in its regal appearance, dignity, strength and elegance with great size and a powerful, well-formed, smoothly muscled body. It is one of the giant working breeds, but is unique in that its general conformation must be so well balanced that it never appears clumsy, and shall move with a long reach and powerful drive. It is always a unit — the Apollo of dogs. A Great Dane must be spirited, courageous, never timid; always friendly and dependable. This physical and mental combination is the characteristic which gives the Great Dane the majesty possessed by no other breed.

HEAD

The head shall be rectangular, long, distinguished, expressive, finely chiseled, especially below the eyes. Seen from the side, the Dane’s forehead must be sharply set off from the bridge of the nose (a strongly pronounced stop). The plane of the skull and the plane of the muzzle must be straight and parallel to one another. The skull plane under and to the inner point of the eye must slope without any bony protuberance in a smooth line to a full square jaw with a deep muzzle (fluttering lips are undesirable). The masculinity of the male is very pronounced in structural appearance of the head. The bitch’s head is more delicately formed.

BODY

The neck shall be firm, high set, well arched, long and muscular. From the nape, it should gradually broaden and flow smoothly into the withers. The neck underline should be clean. Withers shall slope smoothly into a short level back with a broad loin. The chest shall be broad, deep and well muscled. The forechest should be well developed without a pronounced sternum. The brisket extends to the elbow, with well sprung ribs. The body underline should be tightly muscled with a well-defined tuck-up. The croup should be broad and very slightly sloping.

FOREQUARTERS

The forequarters, viewed from the side, shall be strong and muscular. The shoulder blade must be strong and sloping, forming, as near as possible, a right angle in its articulation with the upper arm. A line from the upper tip of the shoulder to the back of the elbow joint should be perpendicular. The ligaments and muscles holding the shoulder blade to the rib cage must be well developed, firm and securely attached to prevent loose shoulders. The shoulder blade and the upper arm should be the same length. The elbow should be one-half the distance from the withers to the ground. The strong pasterns should slope slightly. The feet should be round and compact with well-arched toes, neither toeing in, toeing out, nor rolling to the inside or outside. The nails should be short, strong and as dark as possible, except that they may be lighter in harlequins. Dewclaws may or may not be removed.

COAT

The coat shall be short, thick and clean with a smooth glossy appearance.

EYES AND EARS

Eyes shall be medium size, deep set, and dark, with a lively intelligent expression. The eyelids are almond-shaped and relatively tight, with well developed brows. Haws and mongolian eyes are serious faults. In harlequins, the eyes should be dark; light colored eyes, eyes of different colors and walleyes are permitted but not desirable. Ears shall be high set, medium in size and of moderate thickness, folded forward close to the cheek. The top line of the folded ear should be level with the skull. If cropped, the ear length is in proportion to the size of the head and the ears are carried uniformly erect. Nose shall be black, except in the blue Dane, where it is a dark blue-black. A black spotted nose is permitted on the harlequin; a pink colored nose is not desirable.

HINDQUARTERS

The hindquarters shall be strong, broad, muscular and well angulated, with well let down hocks. Seen from the rear, the hock joints appear to be perfectly straight, turned neither toward the inside nor toward the outside. The rear feet should be round and compact, with well-arched toes, neither toeing in nor out. The nails should be short, strong and as dark as possible, except they may be lighter in harlequins. Wolf claws are a serious fault.

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About the Great Dane

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.

National Breed Clubs and Rescue

Want to connect with other people who love the same breed as much as you do? We have plenty of opportunities to get involved in your local community, thanks to AKC Breed Clubs located in every state, and more than 450 AKC Rescue Network groups across the country.
Great Dane puppy

Find a Puppy: Great Dane

AKC Marketplace | PuppyFinder

AKC Marketplace is the only site to exclusively list 100% AKC puppies from AKC-Registered litters and the breeders who have cared for and raised these puppies are required to follow rules and regulations established by the AKC.
Find Great Dane Puppies

Care

NUTRITION

Feed the Great Dane a high-quality dog food appropriate to the dog’s age (puppy, adult, or senior). Give table scraps sparingly, if at all, especially avoiding cooked bones and foods with high fat content. Learn about which human foods are safe for dogs, and which are not. Owners must be aware that the number-one killer of the breed is bloat, where the stomach distends and twists. The causes of bloat aren’t fully understood, but experts agree that multiple small meals per day and preventing vigorous exercise around mealtimes can help reduce the chances of it happening.

GROOMING

For most of the year the Great Dane’s short, smooth coat doesn’t shed much, but given the size of the dog, this can still amount to a fair bit of hair. Weekly brushing with a medium-bristle brush, a rubber grooming mitt or tool, or a hound glove will help keep shedding to a minimum. During shedding season once or twice a year, however, hair loss will be more profuse, with a daily brushing ideal. Great Danes need a bath only occasionally, unless they get into something messy. As with all breeds, the Great Dane’s nails should be trimmed regularly, because overly long nails can cause the dog pain as well as problems walking and running.

Grooming Frequency

Occasional Bath/Brush
Specialty/Professional
Occasional Bath/Brush

Shedding

Infrequent
Frequent
Seasonal

EXERCISE

Great Danes may seem sedate, but they require daily exercise appropriate to their age. A brisk walk two or three times a day can be enough. They can make good companions on jogs or hikes, but you must wait until the dog is 2 years old to avoid damage to growing joints. Because of the risk of bloat, avoid rigorous exercise around mealtimes. Danes tend to follow their nose wherever a scent takes them, so they should always be kept on a leash and only allowed loose in areas secured with a tall fence. Many Great Danes enjoy participating in agilityobediencetracking events, weight pulls, and sports such as flyball.

Energy Level

Couch Potato
Needs Lots of Activity
Energetic

TRAINING

Early socialization and puppy training classes are recommended. For a breed as large and powerful as the Great Dane, obedience training is a must. Socialization—gently exposing the puppy to a wide variety of people, places, and situations—will help him develop into a well-adjusted adult. Great Danes are sociable, friendly, and eager to please, and they respond well to firm, consistent training methods. They need to have human contact, affection, and socialization with other people and animals.

Trainability

May be Stubborn
Eager to Please
Agreeable

Temperament/Demeanor

Aloof/Wary
Outgoing
Alert/Responsive

HEALTH

Bloat, or gastric dilatation-volvulus (GDV), is the number-one killer of Danes. Owners should educate themselves to recognize the signs that bloat could be happening and what to do if so. Many breeders and owners consider a surgery called a prophylactic gastropexy (“preventative tack”) that can help prevent some of the more serious aspects of GDV. Other health issues that can affect the breed include eye and cardiac diseases, hypothyroidism and autoimmune thyroiditis, and hip dysplasia. A responsible breeder will screenbreeding stock for conditions that can affect the breed.

 

Recommended Health Tests from the National Breed Club:

  • Hip Evaluation
  • Ophthalmologist Evaluation
  • Thyroid Evaluation
  • Cardiac Exam

Read the Official Breed Club Health Statement.

Great Dane
Great Dane
Great Dane
Great Dane
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Great Dane

History

​No one is quite sure how or why Great Danes, a German breed, came to be associated with Denmark. (In Germany they’re known as the Deutsche Dog, or “German dog.”) We do know that once upon a time, German nobles used Danes to hunt ferocious wild boars. Later, Danes became famous as protectors of their home and loved ones, a job they are still happy to perform.

Did You Know?

The Great Dane's name is the English translation of the breed name in French: grand Danois, meaning "big Danish."
There is no known reason for connecting Denmark with either the origin or the development of the Great Dane; it was "made in Germany", and it was German fanciers who led the world in breeding most of the finest specimens.
The Great Dane is a very old breed, cultivated as a distinct type for probably 400 years, if not longer.
The Great Dane had a half-dozen names used for centuries in France, including dogue allemand ("German Mastiff"); "Mastiff" in English, dogue or dogo in the Latin languages, and dogge in the Germanic languages all meant the same thing: a giant dog with heavy head for fighting or hunting purposes.
The earliest written description of a dog resembling the Great Dane may be found in Chinese literature of 1121 BC, according to an article by Dr. G. Ciaburri in a Great Dane Club of Italy publication (1929).
The Dane was developed as a boar hound by the Germans.

The Breed Standard

GENERAL APPEARANCE

The Great Dane combines, in its regal appearance, dignity, strength and elegance with great size and a powerful, well-formed, smoothly muscled body. It is one of the giant working breeds, but is unique in that its general conformation must be so well balanced that it never appears clumsy, and shall move with a long reach and powerful drive. It is always a unit — the Apollo of dogs. A Great Dane must be spirited, courageous, never timid; always friendly and dependable. This physical and mental combination is the characteristic which gives the Great Dane the majesty possessed by no other breed.

HEAD

The head shall be rectangular, long, distinguished, expressive, finely chiseled, especially below the eyes. Seen from the side, the Dane’s forehead must be sharply set off from the bridge of the nose (a strongly pronounced stop). The plane of the skull and the plane of the muzzle must be straight and parallel to one another. The skull plane under and to the inner point of the eye must slope without any bony protuberance in a smooth line to a full square jaw with a deep muzzle (fluttering lips are undesirable). The masculinity of the male is very pronounced in structural appearance of the head. The bitch’s head is more delicately formed.

BODY

The neck shall be firm, high set, well arched, long and muscular. From the nape, it should gradually broaden and flow smoothly into the withers. The neck underline should be clean. Withers shall slope smoothly into a short level back with a broad loin. The chest shall be broad, deep and well muscled. The forechest should be well developed without a pronounced sternum. The brisket extends to the elbow, with well sprung ribs. The body underline should be tightly muscled with a well-defined tuck-up. The croup should be broad and very slightly sloping.

FOREQUARTERS

The forequarters, viewed from the side, shall be strong and muscular. The shoulder blade must be strong and sloping, forming, as near as possible, a right angle in its articulation with the upper arm. A line from the upper tip of the shoulder to the back of the elbow joint should be perpendicular. The ligaments and muscles holding the shoulder blade to the rib cage must be well developed, firm and securely attached to prevent loose shoulders. The shoulder blade and the upper arm should be the same length. The elbow should be one-half the distance from the withers to the ground. The strong pasterns should slope slightly. The feet should be round and compact with well-arched toes, neither toeing in, toeing out, nor rolling to the inside or outside. The nails should be short, strong and as dark as possible, except that they may be lighter in harlequins. Dewclaws may or may not be removed.

COAT

The coat shall be short, thick and clean with a smooth glossy appearance.

EYES AND EARS

Eyes shall be medium size, deep set, and dark, with a lively intelligent expression. The eyelids are almond-shaped and relatively tight, with well developed brows. Haws and mongolian eyes are serious faults. In harlequins, the eyes should be dark; light colored eyes, eyes of different colors and walleyes are permitted but not desirable. Ears shall be high set, medium in size and of moderate thickness, folded forward close to the cheek. The top line of the folded ear should be level with the skull. If cropped, the ear length is in proportion to the size of the head and the ears are carried uniformly erect. Nose shall be black, except in the blue Dane, where it is a dark blue-black. A black spotted nose is permitted on the harlequin; a pink colored nose is not desirable.

HINDQUARTERS

The hindquarters shall be strong, broad, muscular and well angulated, with well let down hocks. Seen from the rear, the hock joints appear to be perfectly straight, turned neither toward the inside nor toward the outside. The rear feet should be round and compact, with well-arched toes, neither toeing in nor out. The nails should be short, strong and as dark as possible, except they may be lighter in harlequins. Wolf claws are a serious fault.

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Colors & Markings

Colors

Description Standard Colors Registration Code
BLACK Check Mark For Standard Color 007
BLACK & WHITE Check Mark For Standard Color 019
BLUE Check Mark For Standard Color 037
BRINDLE Check Mark For Standard Color 057
FAWN Check Mark For Standard Color 082
HARLEQUIN Check Mark For Standard Color 112
MANTLE Check Mark For Standard Color 431
MERLE Check Mark For Standard Color 131
WHITE Check Mark For Standard Color 199
BLUE & WHITE 045
BLUE BRINDLE 056
CHOCOLATE 071
CHOCOLATE & WHITE 271
CHOCOLATE BRINDLE 342
MANTLE MERLE 516
MERLEQUIN 517
SILVER 176

Markings

Description Standard Markings Registration Code
BLACK MARKINGS Check Mark For Standard Mark 002
BLACK MASK Check Mark For Standard Mark 004
WHITE MARKINGS Check Mark For Standard Mark 014
BLUE MARKINGS 027
BLUE MASK 006
BRINDLE MARKINGS 007
CHOCOLATE MARKINGS 043
CHOCOLATE MASK 060
FAWN MARKINGS 008
MERLE MARKINGS 035
PIEBALD 025

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