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They’re certainly great, but did you know they’re not Danish? Dogs resembling Great Danes appear as far back as carvings in ancient Egypt, but the modern Great Dane was actually bred in Germany in the 1800s as a boar-hunting beast.

Today, these giant dogs make beloved family pets. They are often described as “the Apollo of dogs,” thanks to their grace, courage, stature, and beauty. Here’s everything else you need to know about these colossal canines:

1. Great Danes Are the Tallest Dogs in the World

A male Great Dane can reach up to 32 inches at the shoulder and weigh a massive 175 pounds. Females are slightly smaller, at up to 30 inches and 140 pounds — and both males and females can tower over many humans when they stand on their hind legs. Despite their size, Great Danes are elegant, and even regal in their gait and disposition.

2. Danes Are Highly Affectionate and Social

These pups love love. They need lots of affection and socialization with people and other animals, making them great family pets. Thanks to their sweet, gentle, patient dispositions, Danes are even great with kids — though like all dogs, they should never be left alone with young children, and they’ll need to be taught not to play as rough as they would with a puppy.

Great Dane standing next to a middle-aged woman outdoors on a farm.
©Jennifer -

3. Daily Exercise Is a Must

You won’t need to run a daily marathon with your Great Dane, but they will need activity. Two brisk walks of decent length should do it, though remember that puppies have more energy and should be exercised accordingly. As adults, Great Danes are happy jogging companions, but it’s important to wait until they’re at least two years old, as running before then can damage their bones.

4. Great Danes Tend to Follow Their Noses

These dogs were bred to hunt boar, and if they get a scent, they’ll want to follow it. Walks should be on-leash, and at home, and any yard will need to be securely fenced.

5. Proper Training Is Essential

With dogs this big and powerful, it’s important that they obey commands and are properly socialized. Luckily, Danes are mostly friendly and eager to please, making training a pleasure (though beware the odd stubborn streak). Buying from a reputable breeder also ensures good socialization in the crucial early months of the dog’s life.

Great Dane puppy bring back an obedience dumbbell outdoors in the grass.
MF Photo/Shutterstock

6. These Outsize Athletes Love Dog Sports

As strong, intelligent members of the Working Group, Great Danes are wonderful competitors in a variety of dog sports, including Agility, Obedience, Tracking, and Flyball.

7. Big Breeds Have Big Needs

A Great Dane can cost a lot more to feed than a small dog, in addition to incurring higher-than-average medical fees and wear-and-tear to your home and car. If you’re bringing a Great Dane into your life, be aware that owning one will not come cheap.

8. They Have a Relatively Low Life Expectancy

These gentle giants sadly tend to live just 7 to 10 years — though they will certainly fill those years with several lifetimes’ worth of love. 

Related article: Great Dane History: The Apollo of the Dogs
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