Great Dane

Canis lupus

Last updated: October 1, 2022
Verified by: AZ Animals Staff
Image Credit Viborg / Creative Commons

Large and imposing in appearance!

Great Dane Scientific Classification

Kingdom
Animalia
Phylum
Chordata
Class
Mammalia
Order
Carnivora
Family
Canidae
Genus
Canis
Scientific Name
Canis lupus

Read our Complete Guide to Classification of Animals.

Great Dane Conservation Status

Great Dane Locations

Great Dane Locations

Great Dane Facts

Diet
Omnivore
Common Name
Great Dane
Slogan
Large and imposing in appearance!
Group
Mastiff

Great Dane Physical Characteristics

Skin Type
Hair
Lifespan
8 to 10 years
Weight
45kg (100lbs)

Great Dane as a Pet:

General Health
Energy Level
Shedability
Trainability
Intelligence
Tendency to Chew
Size
Family and kid friendliness
Yappiness / Barking
Moderate
Separation Anxiety
Moderate
Preferred Temperature
Average climate
Exercise Needs
Moderate
Friendly With Other Dogs
Moderate
Pure bred cost to own
$600 to $3,000
Dog group
Working
Male weight
110-175 lbs
Female weight
100-130 lbs

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View all of the Great Dane images!



Sometimes called “the Apollo of Dogs,” Great Danes are a giant German working breed that was originally developed by German nobles as a boarhound.

Ranking at number 16 on the American Kennel Club’s most popular list, these gentle giants will steal your heart as well as your sofa. They have short, smooth coats that come in a variety of colors, including fawn, brindle, steel blue, black, mantle, harlequin, and merle. This breed only requires moderate daily exercise, but due to their size, they do need space. Unfortunately, that size makes them ill-suited for apartment living; they won’t have enough room.

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Great Danes are well-known for their affectionate and gentle nature. They get along famously with children and other animals, which makes them excellent family pets.

You can check out more incredible facts about Great Danes.

3 pros and cons of owning a Great Dane

Pros!Cons!
They are easygoing and affectionate
Great Danes are well-known for their easygoing and affectionate nature, which makes them wonderful family pets.
They drool a lot
Given their size, it’s not exactly surprising that Great Danes tend to drool excessively. If you choose to own this breed, you should expect that your clothes, furniture, and floors will all end up covered in drool at some point.
They only require moderate exercise
Unlike most other large and giant breeds, Great Danes only require moderate daily exercise. They will be quite happy with a daily walk or game of fetch in the back yard.
They take up a lot of space
Great Danes can weigh as much as the average man and will easily take up an entire sofa when they lie down. If you live in a small apartment, this is not the right breed for you.
They are easy to train
Great Danes are eager to please their masters, which makes training a breeze.
They have a short lifespan
As with all giant breeds, the life expectancy of a Great Dane is unfortunately short. They only live for an average of 8 to 10 years.

Great Dane Size and Weight

On average, Great Danes can weigh anywhere from 110 pounds to 175 pounds and stand between 28 and 32 inches high at the shoulder. The males of this breed tend to be slightly taller than the females. Learn more about the best big dog breeds here.



Great Dane Common Health Issues

The number one health issue that Great Danes face is gastric dilatation-volvulus, more commonly known as bloat. Owners should take safety measures to reduce the chances of bloat. They should also familiarize themselves with symptoms of bloating and what to do if it occurs.

Great Danes may fall victim to conditions such as diseases involving their heart, eyes or thyroid, and hip or elbow dysplasia.

Health and Entertainment for your Great Dane

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Great Dane Temperament

Despite their intimidating appearance, Great Danes are one of the friendliest dog breeds in the world. They are also remarkably gentle with children, and their eagerness to please their masters makes them a joy to train. They are quite affectionate with their families and hate being left alone, so if you spend a lot of time out of the house and can’t take your dog with you, this is not the breed for you. When left to their own devices for too long, they can become quite destructive. That’s not good for any dog, but destructiveness in a dog of this size is a homeowner’s worst nightmare.

Due to their social nature, these dogs are excellent with other pets and children, making them wonderful family dogs. Just be aware that despite their size, they often decide that they are lap dogs. If you’re not prepared to share your couch with your giant pup, you may want to consider a different breed.

How To Take Care of a Great Dane

Due to their size and the nature of their breed, owners should put together a strict feeding and exercise routine. Beyond that, the Great Dane is a generally maintenance-free breed, needing only moderate daily exercise and casual grooming. Since adults of this breed can easily outgrow their owners, it’s important to start obedience training early. It’s much easier to teach a 60-pound pup good manners than it is to re-train an unruly 150-pound adult.

The Best Dog Food for Great Danes

Great Danes should only eat high-quality food specially formulated for giant breeds. Owners should only allow these dogs to eat human food sparingly and use caution in choosing which foods they receive. The number one killer of this breed is bloat, so taking care of a feeding routine is of the utmost importance. To lower the chances of bloating, be sure to feed your Great Dane multiple small meals each day, use a food dish that forces slower eating, keep food and water in raised dishes and limit exercise before and after meals.

Great Danes are one of those giant breeds with big, loving hearts that can, unfortunately, struggle to support that much dog. Therefore, due to the link between heart failure and legumes in dog food, Great Dane owners may want to look into the benefits of legume-free dog food.

So, A-Z Animals thinks the best dog food to give to Great Danes is Nutro Ultra Large Breed Adult Dry Dog Food.

This food stays away from those questionable legume ingredients such as peas, lentils, and chickpeas. Instead, there’s just complete, wholesome nutrition. For example, this food has not one but two high-quality protein sources, chicken and lamb, that fortify the large dog formula with extra glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate to nourish your Great Dane’s joints. This food is also rich in amino acids that aid Great Dane’s sensitive digestion.

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Overall Best
Nutro Ultra Large Breed Adult Dry Dog Food
  • Lamb and brown rice recipe for large dog breeds
  • Contains glucosamine and chondroitin to support healthy joints
  • Antioxidants for immune health
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Best Great Dane Insurance

Since most pet insurance companies don’t cover pre-existing conditions and Great Danes are prone to quite a few health problems, it’s a good idea to get health coverage for them at an early age. Since bloat is so common in this breed, it’s more important than ever to have coverage for an emergency situation.

Great Dane Maintenance And Grooming

Great Danes don’t shed too much throughout most of the year, so weekly brushing is enough to keep hair fall to a minimum. They do, however, have seasonal shedding cycles twice each year, during which time they will need daily brushing to keep your home from getting covered in dog hair. They are not an overly dirty breed, so they will only need bathing a few times each year. Outside of brushing and bathing, the only maintenance a Great Dane needs is frequent tooth brushing and ear cleaning, as well as monthly naily trimming.

Great Dane Training

Due to the Great Dane’s massive adult size, early training and socialization are imperative. This breed is friendly and loves to please his master, so with gentle and consistent guidance, he will excel at obedience training.

Great Dane Exercise

Despite their size, Great Danes are not overly active dogs. The only exercise they need is a daily walk or a nice game of fetch in the back yard. When they are older, they can make great hiking or jogging companions, but activities of this nature should wait until your dog reaches at least two years old so that they don’t put too much strain on growing bones and joints.

Great Dane Puppies

Like all breeds, Great Dane puppies are full of energy and need constant care and attention. Since this breed gets so big when they are fully grown, it’s a good idea to start obedience training and socialization early. These dogs are eager to please and highly sociable, so gentle and consistent training will make these pups into model citizens in no time.

As with other giant breeds, you should take care when playing with your Great Dane pup. Since vigorous activity can put a lot of strain on growing bones and joints, you shouldn’t let your puppy jump or participate in high-impact activities like jogging until they are about two years old.

Beautiful black Great Dane dog puppy portrait

Zanna Pesnina/Shutterstock.com

Great Danes And Children

Despite their hulking size, Great Danes are one of the most gentle and affectionate breeds in the world, which makes them ideal companions for children of all ages. They do often forget how big they are, which means they can accidentally knock over or crush a small child. Owners should take care of teaching their Great Danes how to interact politely with little ones while they are puppies to reduce accidental injuries, and should never leave dogs and children unsupervised.

Dogs similar to a Great Dane

If you’d like a dog that’s similar in size or personality to the Great Dane, here are a few breeds to check out.

  • Mastiff
    Mastiffs are roughly the same size as Great Danes and are just as easy to train.
  • Doberman Pinscher
    Doberman Pinschers are a good deal smaller than Great Danes and are a more athletic breed.
  • Bullmastiff
    Bullmastiffs are slightly smaller than Great Danes and equally affectionate family dogs.

Famous Great Danes

Though there’s not much record of famous Great Danes in real life, this breed has been quite popular in the fictional world of cartoons. The three most popular Great Danes in tv history are Astro from the Jetsons, Marmaduke from the Sunday paper comic strip of the same name, and, of course, Scooby-Doo.

A few popular names for Great Danes include:

  • Duke
  • Tank
  • Apollo
  • Brutus
  • Samson
  • Maxi
  • Olympia
  • Harley
  • Dakota
  • Ursa

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What's the right dog for you?

Dogs are our best friends but which breed is your perfect match?

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About the Author

AZ Animals is a growing team of animals experts, researchers, farmers, conservationists, writers, editors, and -- of course -- pet owners who have come together to help you better understand the animal kingdom and how we interact.

Great Dane FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

How tall is a Great Dane?

The average Great Dane stands between 28 and 32 inches tall at the shoulder.

How much does a Great Dane weigh?

On average, Great Danes weigh between 110 and 175 pounds.

How fast can a Great Dane run?

Great Danes can reach top speeds of up to 30 miles per hour.

Are Great Danes good pets?

Yes. Great Danes have a gentle and affectionate nature and are incredibly social creatures that can get along well with humans and other animals, making them excellent family pets.

Are Great Danes dangerous?

No. Although they may look imposing, properly socialized Great Danes are gentle giants who are friendly with everyone they meet.

What is the difference between a merle and a harlequin Great Dane?

The only difference between merle and harlequin Great Danes is the markings on their coat. Harlequins are white with black markings, while merles are dapple grey with black markings. Merle coats often occur when two harlequins are bred together.

Are Great Danes herbivores, carnivores, or omnivores?

Great Danes are Omnivores, meaning they eat both plants and other animals.

What Kingdom do Great Danes belong to?

Great Danes belong to the Kingdom Animalia.

What class do Great Danes belong to?

Great Danes belong to the class Mammalia.

What phylum to Great Danes belong to?

Great Danes belong to the phylum Chordata.

What family do Great Danes belong to?

Great Danes belong to the family Canidae.

What order do Great Danes belong to?

Great Danes belong to the order Carnivora.

What type of covering do Great Danes have?

Great Danes are covered in Hair.

What genus do Great Danes belong to?

Great Danes belong to the genus Canis.

What is an interesting fact about Great Danes?

Great Danes are large and imposing in appearance!

What is the scientific name for the Great Dane?

The scientific name for the Great Dane is Canis lupus.

What is the lifespan of a Great Dane?

Great Danes can live for 7 years.

What is the difference between a Great Dane vs Greyhound?

There are many differences between a Greyhound and a Great Dane. The Great Dane grows much heavier than the average Greyhound, while Greyhounds have a longer lifespan than Great Danes do.

What are the differences between a Dalmatian and a Great Dane?

The key differences between Dalmatians and Great Danes are size, appearance, temperament, and life expectancy. Although Dalmatians and Great Danes share a similar build, both breeds are easily distinguishable. These two breeds do not belong to the same breed group and have numerous variances. Dalmatians, for example, belong to the non-sporting group, but Great Danes belong to the working group.

What are the differences between a Great Dane and a Mastiff?

The major differences between the Great Dane and the English Mastiff are their size, temperament, health condition, and appearance. Their position on the gigantic spectrum is another reason to mention. For example, the Great Dane is a very tall and long dog, but the English Mastiff is very broad.

What are the differences between an Irish Wolfhound and a Great Dane?

The key differences between the Irish Wolfhound and the Great Dane are appearance, size, health risk, and temperament. Great Danes are frequently larger dogs, although Irish wolfhounds generally are taller.

Although the Irish Wolfhound originated in Ireland and the Great Dane originated in Germany, most experts say that the Great Dane’s genealogy is a cross between the English Mastiff and the Irish Wolfhound.

What are the key differences between Great Danes and Dobermans?

The key differences between Great Danes and Dobermans are appearance, characteristics, and health factors.

What's the difference between an American and a European Great Dane?

There are many differences between American and European Great Danes, including their weights, lifespans, and behaviors.

What's the difference between the Great Dane and the Weimaraner?

The Great Dane is larger than the Weimaraner, though the Weimaraner lives a longer lifespan compared to the average Great Dane. Additionally, the Great Dane requires less exercise than the energetic Weimaraner.

What are the key differences between Catahoula Leopard Dogs and Great Danes?

The key differences between Catahoula Leopard Dogs and Great Danes are origin, appearance, lifespan, temperament, trainability, and grooming.

What is the key difference between Great Dane and St Bernard?

The key difference between a St. Bernard and a Great Dane is appearance. Other differences include size, lifespan, temperament, energy level, grooming requirements, drooling, and barking.

Sources
  1. David Burnie, Dorling Kindersley (2011) Animal, The Definitive Visual Guide To The World's Wildlife
  2. Tom Jackson, Lorenz Books (2007) The World Encyclopedia Of Animals
  3. David Burnie, Kingfisher (2011) The Kingfisher Animal Encyclopedia
  4. David Burnie, Dorling Kindersley (2008) Illustrated Encyclopedia Of Animals
  5. Dorling Kindersley (2006) Dorling Kindersley Encyclopedia Of Animals
  6. American kennel Club, Available here: https://www.akc.org/dog-breeds/great-dane/
  7. Great Dane Care, Available here: https://greatdanecare.com/are-great-danes-good-with-kids/

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