Great Dane: Training, Health Care, and Breed Information


The Great Dane is a humongous, sweet, and loyal dog. The American fascination with Great Danes took shape in a hilarious and accurate Sunday comic strip, about “Marmaduke,” the Great Dane that was bigger than a house and remained puppy-minded for life.

A Great Dane is also beautiful and dignified in appearance, and their outgoing, curious personalities are immediately endearing.

Jump to: Breed History, Appearance, Temperament, Health Issues, or Great Dane Training.

Breed History – Great Dane

The first origins of the Great Dane are lost in history, with some sources saying they were known to the ancient Egyptians, and others saying they are only about 400 years old as a breed. Are they from Germany? Denmark? Greece? Ireland? Nobody really knows, but the name “Great Dane” is constant in most European tongues, making Denmark a fairly good bet.

Appearance – Great Dane

Great Danes are the world’s tallest breed of dog, according to the official record books. Fully grown, they are 30 inches tall or taller, with the world’s tallest Great Dane having been more than 3.5 feet in height. They weigh 120 pounds or more.

Great Danes come in a variety of colors, such as mantle, harlequin, black, brindle, fawn, and blue. Some of the patterns are very striking, such as the tiger-striped brindle and the gunmetal-like blue Great Dane. They really are gorgeous.

Great Danes have a drooping flap of skin around the snout which makes the face very distinctive and boxy-looking. Some breeders clip the Great Dane’s ears as a tradition, but that practice was born in the past to protect the ears from being ripped-off during wild combat.


Social Temperament – Great Danes

Perfect for families with children, other dogs, and even cats, smart and obedient, outgoing and even-tempered – the Great Dane truly is a gentle giant. They want to be connected to every family activity and they are prone to separation anxiety when left alone too long, too often. They need time to get used to strangers, but thorough puppy socialization training will make this much smoother.

Unlike so many other larger breeds of dog, there is very little risk of destructive behavior with Great Danes. A Great Dane is a somewhat lazy dog, not needing a lot of exercise due to low metabolism. One good walk per day is plenty to burn off any excess energy.

Unique Health Problems – Great Dane

It’s very easy to over-feed a Great Dane because they need a lot less food than you’d think. They live only about a decade, though a couple more years can be added to this with the best possible diet and a happy lifestyle.

Here are the health concerns every Great Dane owner should know about:

  • Great Danes are prone to bloating, a painful and sometimes fatal condition that can be corrected with surgery.
  • One of the biggest health problems and a frequent “natural cause” for a Great Dane’s death is Cardiomyopathic Dilation. The heart muscles expand and grow less dense, making the heart less efficient. This can usually be bred-out with careful breeding, making it a smart choice to go to a responsible Great Dane breeder.

Great Dane Training

The most important thing with Great Dane training is thorough puppy socialization. This will help your Great Dane understand how big he is and how to avoid playing too rough. Obedience training is also a huge help with any dog. Both socialization and obedience training should begin very early in life.

Clicker training works very well in Great Dane training, because of their slower metabolism. They shouldn’t be stuffed with treats every time they do something right. If you want to master clicker training and learn to do it like a professional obedience trainer, check this out: Clicker Training – Becoming a Super Trainer.

A few other things that you should know in advance for successful Great Dane training:

  • Every puppy will want to gnaw on things when he’s teething, but just think of the damage a Great Dane could do! Make sure to start chew toy training early.
  • Of course, house training is going to be one of your first concerns. I agree with the experts – crate training and potty training go hand-in-hand with any breed, including Great Danes.
  • Your biggest Great Dane behavior problems will be leash-pulling, counter-surfing, and jumping up. A dog this big can easily spot tasty meals you meant to eat yourself, can easily drag you down the street, and can easily knock down even an adult just by saying “HI!” too enthusiastically.

As you can see, there’s fairly few concerns about Great Dane training, a testament to what wonderful family dogs they tend to be!

Learn all about training a dog, or go back to read about other choosing a dog breed.

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