The world met Scooby-Doo for the first time in 1969 when the original Hanna-Barbera series, “Scooby-Doo, Where Are You!” debuted. The series regaled audiences with the exploits of four teenage detectives and their beloved dog, Scooby-Doo. The “Mystery Inc.” gang would face seemingly paranormal activity every week, only to unmask the greedy villain behind it all and solve the mystery. The villain, of course, would’ve gotten away with it, too, if it weren’t for these “meddling kids.”
That original series grew into a litany of TV and streaming spin-offs, as well as movies, books, comics, merchandise, etc. The Scooby-Doo franchise is now estimated to be worth over $1 billion!
Three generations grew up with Fred, Velma, Daphne, Shaggy, and Scooby-Doo. These sleuths don’t seem to be going anywhere, either. But what kind of dog is Scooby-Doo, exactly?
Scooby Doo is a fictional Great Dane dog known for his love for food and his cowardly personality. While the creators of the show have never explicitly stated his breed, he is believed to be a Great Dane due to his size, appearance, and characteristics that match the breed’s temperament. Armed with his mystery-solving abilities, Scooby Doo has won the hearts of many viewers and remains one of the most beloved cartoon dogs of all time.
However, he isn’t the only famous animated Great Dane. Astro, the loyal dog of The Jetsons (another Hanna-Barbera cartoon), was a Great Dane. Marmaduke, the big dog from the comic strip and movies, was also a Great Dane.
Scooby-Doo is easily the most well-known of the three fictional Great Danes, though. This is the perfect breed choice for Scooby-Doo, since Great Danes were historically believed to ward off ghosts and evil spirits, like those specters and ghouls the Mystery Inc. gang faced.
Hanna-Barbera animator, Iwao Takamoto, designed the animated canine Scooby-Doo. He wanted to build a character that reflected the characteristics of a real-life Great Dane but also one that exhibited some very clear differences. He worked with a colleague at Hanna-Barbera, who was also a Great Dane breeder. This relationship helped Takamoto create a character that shared enough similarities with the breed to make it immediately recognizable, yet enough differences that the character would be both flawed and funny.
Let’s explore the similarities and differences between Scooby-Doo and a true Great Dane.
Great Danes are among the largest dogs in the world. A male Great Dane can stand up to 32 inches tall at the shoulder and weigh up to 175 pounds. (Females are a bit smaller.)
Scooby-Doo is very Great Dane-like in his size. He is every bit the height and weight of a full-grown male Great Dane (maybe even a bit heavier, considering all the Scooby Snacks he consumes). In fact, Scooby might even give the world’s tallest dog a run for his money.
There are seven different American Kennel Club (AKC) standards for Great Dane coats, colors, and patterns. Those standards, as listed on our official Great Dane page, are:
- Harlequin – Harlequin Great Danes have a great, random, modern art style look to their white base fur coat with black splotches.
- Black – Black Great Danes have a beautifully rich, black coloration to their fur and must be black throughout their bodies to meet AKC registration.
- Merle – Merle Great Danes are similar to Harlequins except that their “undercoat” is more of a grey instead of white.
- Brindle – Brindle Great Danes, much like other brindle-colored breeds, are a mix-match of colors and patterns, yet they do have a fawn coloration underneath their fur.
- Blue – Blue Great Danes have regal coats that range from light to dark grey. Ideally, they will have no other colors on their fur.
- Fawn – Fawn Great Danes are the most common of the breed. They have a tan color across their whole body except for a darker “mask” on their face.
- Mantle – Mantle Great Danes have consistent markings across their body, consisting of a black base coat and white on their feet, face, and chest.
Scooby-Doo doesn’t match any of these colors and patterns. At best, he has the spots of a Harlequin with the color of a Fawn Great Dane, but even that is quite a stretch. Scooby is also missing the prominent face mask found on many Great Danes.
The AKC describes Great Danes as “the picture of elegance and balance.” Great Danes are known as the “Apollo of dogs” because of their muscular build and regal appearance. Our old pal, Scooby-Doo, is none of those things, and that was intentional.
Takamoto said, “The legs were supposed to be straight, so I made them bowed. I sloped the hindquarters and made his feet too big. He was supposed to have a firm jaw, so I receded it.”
With his incorrect color pattern and clumsy body build, Scooby-Doo is not going to win at Westminster anytime soon.
Stanley Coren, a professor of canine psychology at the University of British Columbia, ranked Great Danes as the 12th-smartest breed.
Scooby-Doo, by all accounts, is an intelligent dog. Even overlooking the fact that he can speak (somewhat broken) English, he is a remarkable problem solver. He comes up with some pretty ingenious plans to escape danger, such as donning a costume to outsmart a werewolf or mummy.
The Great Dane breed dates all the way back to the 1500s. The breed originated in a cross between an Irish Wolfhound and an old English Mastiff. These dogs were bred to hunt large animals, such as wild boars. They were also bred as brave guard dogs for their owners.
The Scooby-Doo character, on the other hand, is cowardly and quick to flee from trouble. In fact, it’s not clear who is the bigger chicken, Scooby-Doo or his best friend, Shaggy!
Not surprisingly, large dogs consume large amounts of food. Female Great Danes require six to eight cups of kibble per day, while males consume eight to ten cups per day.
Scooby-Doo had a healthy appetite, to say the least! However, he would also eat anything, from large sandwiches to ice cream (the gang hung out at a malt shop, after all!).
The diet of a Great Dane is far more restrictive than that, though. Bloat is one of the top health problems of the breed, even causing fatalities. Human food should be given sparingly.
Great Danes are exceptionally large but also have a sweet disposition. In the 1700s, German aristocrats sought to remove the predatory instinct from the breed. That was the beginning of the loving, gentle giants that Great Danes are today.
While Great Danes are enormous, they are also lap dogs. At least, that’s how they see themselves! They will make themselves right at home on your couch, as well as on your lap. If a 175-pound lapdog isn’t what you’re looking for, you probably need to consider a different breed. These dogs are all about cuddling up with their owners, despite their prodigious size.
Scooby-Doo certainly hits the mark on this one. He is best buddies with Shaggy and will hop into his arms without a second thought.
As with most of the extremely large dog breeds, Great Danes sadly have short lifespans. A Great Dane typically lives eight to ten years.
Considering Scooby-Doo is well over 50 years old now, we’ll just chalk that one up to the magic of animation.
A Real-Life Scooby Doo?
In 2015, a Great Dane in England gained notoriety as a real-life Scooby-Doo. This giant pooch was scared of nearly everything, including small dogs, the vacuum cleaner, and even plastic bags. So, maybe the character created in 1969 has more true-to-life characteristics than we thought!
The photo featured at the top of this post is © iStock.com/memoriesarecaptured
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