Great Dane Dog Breed Complete Guide

Great Danes are large-giant breed dogs that are known for their massive size, gentle personality, and stunning coat colors.

They are called the “Apollo of dogs” because of their large size and as the largest dog breed. Despite their huge size, they are popular dogs that are gentle and friendly companion dogs. 

In this comprehensive guide, we will dive deep into the fascinating world of the Great Dane, from its breed information to essential care tips, explaining in depth:

  • Great Dane history
  • Great Dane characteristics
  • Male vs Female Great Dane
  • Great Dane colors
  • Great Dane temperament
  • Great Dane health issues
  • Great Dane lifespan 
  • Great Dane care
  • Great Dane price
  • Great Dane pros and cons

This guide centralizes all the resources needed to learn more about the Great Dane dog breed, ownership and how to properly care for them from diet requirements, exercise, training, grooming, Great Dane breeders, where to find Great Dane puppies for sale, where to find Great Danes for adoption, Great Dane pet insurance and know whether a Great Dane is the right dog for you.

Whether you’re an enthusiast, a new Great Dane owner, or a seasoned owner, this comprehensive guide will equip you with the knowledge you need.

So, let’s roll up our sleeves and embark on this journey to understand the Great Dane dog breed and discover discover what makes this breed truly exceptional and whether it’s the best dog breed for you.

Quick Great Dane Facts


Working breed


32 to 34 inches (male) 28 to 32 inches (female)


120 to 200 pounds( male) 100 to 130 pounds (female) 


Single coated

Coat color

Black, Blue, Merle, Mantle, Fawn, Brindle, Harlequin


Affectionate, friendly, gentle, intelligent, confident, reserved


Moderate Shedder


Quick to learn 


7-10 years


$ 1000 – $ 3000

great dane

The Great Dane’s ancestors came from Germany, although Egyptian artifacts are also believed to show dogs that look like the Great Dane as far back as 3000 B.C.

The Great Dane’s bloodline is considered to be a mix of the Mastiff, Irish Wolfhound, and the Greyhound. They were bred as working dogs for hunting wild boars. 

The breed’s bloodline gave them the ability to run fast, and become aggressive, which enabled them to be efficient in hunting.

Over time they were kept around the home and not used as hunting dogs.

German breeders further refined their temperament making them more affectionate and gentle, compared to the aggressive dogs that they were.

It is not known when the first Great Dane was brought to the United States, however, the American Kennel Club (AKC) recognized the breed in 1889.

Great Dane Appearance

Physical Features

The Great Dane has a tightly muscled lean body with long a rectangular head, a big muzzle, almond-shaped eyes, natural floppy triangular ears, a thick neck, a broad deep chest, long legs, and a medium-sized tail. 

Some Great Danes have their ears cropped. In the past, as hunting dogs, Great Dane ear cropping was performed to prevent injuries to their ears. 

Today, this practice is still performed in some counties but is illegal in other countries. In most European counties,  ear cropping has been banned.

Male vs Female Great Dane: Average Size and weight

The Great Dane is characterized by their large size and muscled body. They are truly massive dogs.

The male Great Danes are slightly taller and heavier than the female Great Danes.

A male Great Dane stands at 32 to 34 inches with an average weight of 120 to 200 pounds while the female Great Dane stands at 28 to 32 inches with a weight of 100 to 130 pounds. 

Great Dane Coat Colors

The Great is a single-coated dog breed. The coat is short, and sleek and comes in different coat colors and patterns. Each coat color is unique and gives a Great Dane a distinctive appearance.

There are seven Great Dane coat colors:

  • Black
  • Blue
  • Merle
  • Harlequin
  • Mantle
  • Fawn
  • Brindle

These colors are recognized by the American Kennel Club as the breed’s standards. Variations of the Great Dane coat color exist and are recognized, however, some are not.

Read more here on the Great Dane colors to understand their characteristics, how to spot them, and their health concerns.

Great Dane Temperament

The Great Dane is a gentle, affectionate, friendly, confident, reserved, and people-oriented dog. They are one of the most affectionate dog breeds, despite their intimidating size. 

They are good family dogs that love being around people, including children. They don’t like being separated from their family and are very prone to separation anxiety when not near their human family members.

The breed is intelligent meaning that they learn quickly therefore training them is not difficult. They have moderate energy and therefore are more reserved.

The Great Dane also gets along with other pets and animals. They require early socialization and training to be well-behaved as well as get along with both animals and people. 

Great Dane Health

Generally, the Great Dane is a healthy dog breed, however, they are susceptible to the breed’s specific health problems and conditions that affect large breed dogs.

These health conditions include: 

  • Hip dysplasia

Hip dysplasia is a hereditary condition in Great Danes which occurs during their growth stages. The condition causes pain and difficulty in walking because of the loosening of the hip joint.

  • Bloat 

Bloat is a common Great Dane health problem and the number one killer of the breed. It is the accumulation of air in the stomach that makes it twist, preventing blood flow in the body.

  • Dilated cardiomyopathy

Dilated cardiomyopathy is a heart disease that prevents the heart from functioning properly resulting in less optimal pumping. This often leads to heart failure and death. 

  • Osteochondritis 

Osteochondritis is a joint condition that causes the joints and bones to break away. This causes severe pain and limited joint movement. It commonly affects puppies that grow up quickly.

  • Bone cancer 

Osteosarcoma or bone cancer is malignant cancer common in large breed dogs such as the Great Dane. 

  • Wobbler syndrome 

Wobblers Syndrome is a neurological disease that affects the spinal cord area of the neck causing nerve compression. This leads to neck pain and difficulty in walking with a wobbly gait.

  • Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis is the inflammation of the joints which leads to stiff joints, pain, and swelling. The condition develops from aging.

Great Dane Lifespan

The Great Dane’s lifespan is 7 to 10 years, which is a very short life expectancy compared to other dog breeds, with a few lucky ones living up to 12 years. 

Great Dane Care

Food and Diet requirements

Great Danes grow rapidly and require a nutritiously balanced diet for large-giant breed dogs, for healthy growth and prevention of developmental problems.

The basic essential nutrients of the Great Dane diet should have water, proteins, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, and minerals.

Great Dane supplements are also essential to promote bone and joint health. These are glucosamine and chondroitin supplements.

Probiotics and prebiotics in the diet support gut health.

The amount of food depends on a Great Dane’s age, size, level of activity, and health. 

All Great Danes at all stages of life should not be fed one meal per day because this increases the risk of the development of bloat which is life-threatening to the breed.

Great Dane puppies grow rapidly and a proper diet regulates this growth so that they do not develop bone and joint health problems as they grow.

The Great Dane puppy diet should therefore contain high-quality large-giant breed puppy dog food which is formulated with the right proportion of nutrients that regulates the rate of growth and supports healthy development. 

A discussion of the Great Dane dog food should always be done with a veterinarian, who will guide on a dog’s specific needs and diet requirements.


Great Danes have moderate energy levels and do not require a lot of exercises compared to other active breeds. 

An adult Great Dane only needs 30 to 60 minutes of exercise per day while a puppy needs only 90 minutes of exercise every day. 

The exercise should be moderate and not strenuous in the first 18 months to prevent injury to their joints, and bones and the development of skeletal health problems later in life. 

Great Dane toys also help to mentally stimulate them.

The Great Dane needs a home with a large space as well as a yard with a secure fence. A 6-foot fence is required to prevent crossing over to areas they should not.


The Great Dane is an intelligent dog that learns quickly and is generally receptive to training. With early, consistent and proper training they become well-behaved and obedient dogs.

Socialization should also start when they are puppies to help them adjust to different environments, people, and other animals.


Great Dane grooming is not difficult. They have a short coat that moderately sheds and only needs brushing two to three times a week to keep it clean.

 More shedding occurs in the spring therefore frequent brushing is done during this time of the year to keep up with the loose hair.

Bathing is only required once a month (4 – 6 weeks), depending on their level of activity and how often they get dirty. 

The teeth should be brushed two to three times a week and the nails trimmed once a month. The ears must also be checked weekly with cleaning once a month and properly dried after each bath. 

Great Dane Price: How much is a Great Dane?

The average Great Dane price is $1000 to $3000 from a reputable Great Dane breeder. 

The price also varies based on the age, gender, the specific coat color, the availability of puppies, the breeder, and their location.  

Great Dane puppies are generally more expensive than an adult or older Great Danes. Great Danes in rescue groups are also less expensive.

Puppy mills are unscrupulous salesmen that unethically breed puppies that are unhealthy and sell at high prices to unaware buyers. 

Therefore be cautious where you buy a Great Dane when considering purchasing one.

Where to find Great Dane puppies for sale

Great Dane puppies can be purchased from Great Dane breeders. Professional Great Dane breeders that practice ethical breeding produce healthy puppies.

Breeders provide the health history and certificates of their puppies which confirms the health status of a puppy before purchase. 

Approved and certified Great Dane breeders can be found on the American Kennel Club’s marketplace.

Where to find Great Danes for adoption

Great Danes for adoption are available at Great Dane rescue groups or centers. Great Dane rescues help to rehome Great Danes that need forever homes and provide assistance in getting a Great Dane.

When you obtain a Great Dane from a rescue center, ensure that they go through health checks to know their health status.

Great Dane rescues in the United States include:

Great Dane Pet Insurance: Should I get one?

Great Dane pet insurance is a health insurance policy for Great Danes that pays for medical expenses for your pet.

Unexpected illnesses or injuries can occur and large veterinarian bills can be emotionally and financially stressful. 

Getting medical cover is a way to guard yourself against this which also ensures your Great Dane’s health care needs are met. Therefore it is important to have health insurance for your dog.

 Great Dane pet insurance costs approximately $70 per month, however, the cost depends on the age of a Great Dane and the type of cover.

Summary: Great Dane

Great Danes are giant dog breeds that are intimidating at first glance however, they are very affectionate dogs.

A summary of the Great Dane facts include:

  • They come in different fascinating coat colors.
  • They are suitable for homes that have a large space so as to move around the home comfortably due to their size.
  • The breed moderately sheds.
  • Great Danes are generally health dogs but are susceptible to health concerns of large breed dogs, however, with  good breeding and nurturing, they live healthy lives.
  • They are eager to please their human family, easy to train and get along with other animals.

Related Posts