Great Dane is a real aristocrat of the canine world. He wins hearts with majestic beauty, intelligence, and affectionate attitude towards households, and excellent protective qualities.
The Great Dane at first meeting seems a formidable and even dangerous dog, thanks to its outstanding physical characteristics. However, behind the appearance of a stern giant, in fact, a calm and incredibly loyal to the family is hiding. He is not prone to aggression unless the actions of an outsider provoke the dog to protect the life of the owners or his own.
Today scientists distinguish a whole group of large breeds, united by the name “mastiff-like dogs”. In addition to the dogs themselves, it includes mastiffs, bulldogs, St. Bernards, Dalmatians, Rottweilers, Newfoundlands, Leonberger. It is believed that they all descended from one ancestor – the Tibetan mastiff. This breed is considered one of the oldest service breed, the first documentary evidence of its existence dates back to the XII century BC. Huge strong dogs have been used for centuries to protect mountain monasteries, hunt large predators, and protect the herds of nomads. Over time, the breed spread throughout the region. Tibetan dogs were very popular in India, Persia, and other Asian countries. There they began to be used as a military “weapon” on the battlefields, which significantly increased the value of animals. According to Persian law, killing such a dog was an even more serious crime than inflicting death on a person, which was reflected in the amount of the fine imposed on the culprit.
Archaeological finds indicate that the Tibetan Great Danes took part in numerous campaigns of King Xerxes, including the suppression of the uprisings in Egypt and Babylon and the protracted Greek campaign. It is possible that the winners received not only weapons and gold but also warlike dogs as trophies. Images of Great Danes are found on the coins of Ancient Greece, and in Corinth, they even erected a monument for their services in the battles with the Peloponnese. Aristotle in his writings paid tribute to the incredible power and natural strength of war dogs.
It is not surprising that his pupil and one of the greatest commanders of world history – Alexander the Great – became an ardent admirer of Molossians (this is how they called furry people from Tibet in Europe). The mighty dogs also took a liking to the Romans. In peacetime, Great Danes were “kept in shape”, forcing them to fight in the ring along with the most dangerous wild animals; during campaigns, they invariably accompanied the troops. Together with legionnaires and traders, the animals landed on the British Isles and ended up on the territory of modern Germany, France, and Scandinavia.
Images of huge dogs are found on runestones that have survived to this day, they are mentioned in the Old Icelandic epic, “The Elder Edda”, and the collection of the Museum of Natural History of Denmark boasts seven skeletons of giant hunting dogs that lived between the 5th century BC … e. and X century A.D. e.
In a word, the Great Danes had their Great Migration. And by the 19th century, in different regions of the Old World, several populations were bred, differing in physique and color, but invariably strong and large Molossians.
The time for large-scale ancient campaigns has passed, in military conflicts, they used different tactics and strategies, and with the improvement of weapons, the effectiveness of dogs in battle came to naught. This could become the reason for the disappearance of the breed, but in the Middle Ages, other qualities of the Great Danes came to the fore.
They required the stamina and ability of runners to participate in the big game hunt. The greatest success here was achieved by English breeders who crossed “aliens” with traditional British “boar dogs”. Thanks to the genes of the English Mastiff and the Irish Wolfhound, the breed received a more graceful constitution and longer legs. Boars, deer, and wild boars simply had no chance against a pack of such athletes. At the same time, the kennel owners realized that these giants have a powerful guardian instinct, so European nobles and nobles began to actively use the Great Danes as personal bodyguards and incorruptible guards.
For a long time, there was a real confusion about the names. French Dogue Allemand, German Englische Docke, English German boarhound, German Dogge, German Mastiff, as well as Ulmer Dogge, Danische Dodge, Hatzrude, Saupacker, Kammerhunde and other variants of names, in fact, meant the same type of dog, although from- for the difference in phenotype, it was not necessary to speak of a single breed at that time. The Danes were the first to decide to monitor the purity of the blood of their giants, in 1866 the standard of the Danish mastiff was approved. Looking ahead, let’s say that the interest in the undertaking quickly faded away, and today only the English version of the name The Great Dane reminds of this breed – the big Dane.
Only at the end of the 19th century did German dog breeders unite for a common goal: to create one breed based on motley dog-like breeds, which would incorporate the best external features and working qualities of animals from different regions. The initiative group first met officially in 1878 in Berlin, and two years later the standard appeared. On January 12, 1888, the National Dogo Club of Germany began its work, and soon the first volume of the herdbook of the breed was published. The strongest influence on the formation of breeding lines had the nurseries of Mark Hartenstein, Mester, Karl Farber.
To preserve the purity of the color, the offspring were allowed to be obtained only in strict combinations, otherwise, recessive genes could lead to a lightening of the tone or the appearance of unwanted spots. But that was in the first decades of the twentieth century. The Second World War significantly reduced the number of dogs and kennels, therefore, in peacetime, the number of individuals and productive lines had to be restored by the whole world.
Today the breed is recognized by the leading canine organizations: the Federation of Cynological International (FCI), the American Kennel Club (AKC), the Canadian Kennel Club (SCC), the National Cynological Council of Australia (ANKC), and the national associations of European states.
The first Great Dane came to Russia even before the revolution. Emperor Alexander II brought two pets from an exhibition in Hamburg, but the breed did not gain instant popularity. Only in the 70s of the last century in the USSR they seriously started breeding it. To do this, they bought dogs in the countries of the socialist camp – the GDR, Poland, Czechoslovakia. Nurseries can now be found in many large cities.
Great Dane is a giant breed. Sexual dimorphism is pronounced. The growth of a dog at the withers should not be lower than 80 cm, for a bitch – 72 cm. The normal weight of an adult (over 18 months old) starts from 54 and 45 kg, respectively. Males look more massive due to the size of the skeleton and heavier bones.
The dog gives the impression of a powerful, but proportionally built and even elegant animal. Males have a pronounced square format, females may be slightly more elongated.
The head is long, narrow, with pronounced but not protruding superciliary arches. The foot stands out well and is located approximately halfway between the tip of the nose and the back of the head. The upper line of the muzzle and skull are parallel.
Well developed, broad rather than the round nose. The nostrils are large. The color of the lobe is black (only with a marbled color, partial pigmentation is allowed).
Wide, well-developed jaws.
Strong, healthy. Scissor bite, complete.
Well-defined angles, dark lips. In marbled Great Danes, incomplete pigmentation is allowed.
The eyes are round in shape, medium in size, with tight-fitting eyelids. As dark as possible, although lighter colors are acceptable in blue and marbled dogs.
The ears of the Great Dane are set high, triangular. Hanging in the natural state, the front part is close to the cheeks. Cupping was necessary when used for hunting, today it is not necessary and is cosmetic in nature.
Long, muscular neck. Vertical with a slight forward slope. Provides a smooth transition from the top of the body to the head.
The body of the dog is powerful. The chest is wide, with a well-developed rib cage and mobile ribs. The belly is tucked up. The back is short and firm. The loin is wide and slightly curved. The croup is broad and muscular, with a slight slope from the rump to the base of the tail.
The tail of the Great Dane is set high. Tapering gradually from a wide base to tip. At rest, hangs down freely. In an excited state, should not rise significantly above the level of the back.
Strong, muscular legs. When viewed from the front, completely straight, the hind legs are parallel to the anterior ones. The front ones with a long, oblique shoulder blade form well-muscled shoulders. The hindquarters are strong, well angulated.
Rounded, arched feet. The nails are short and as dark as possible.
The coat is very short and dense, shiny and smooth.
In Great Danes, a fawn color (from pale gold to deep gold with a black mask), brindle (fawn background with black stripes parallel to the ribs), marble (white with irregularly torn black spots), black and blue colors are recognized.
You will hear a lot of compliments from any owner of the Great Dane to the breed. These giants are naturally very intelligent and benevolent. Of course, the puppy loves active games and is prone to mischief, which, given its size, can be destructive. But they are not harmful and do not do nasty things for the sake of pleasure, and if during the fight for a stick you find yourself on the ground, you should not consider such an act as a manifestation of hostility – often the “kid” during the period of active growth simply does not realize his size and, as a result, does not measure up his strength, which he applies to win in single combat.
With age, this passes, an adult dog becomes a sedate and reliable companion. The sharply expressed instinct of the protector and guardian of the weak members of the “pack” turns the Great Dane not just into a guard – with such a nanny your child will be completely safe, the dog will never give him an offense.
Let the external calmness and the indifferent look with which the Great Dane looks around at others do not be misled. He constantly “monitors” the situation and controls the situation in order, if necessary, to show the one who encroaches on the life or property of the household, who is in charge here. At the same time, he usually does not show unmotivated aggression towards random passers-by and neighbors, except for animals with an unstable psyche, disturbed as a result of cruel treatment or improper upbringing.
A sociable and cheerful pet, most of all, he loves to spend time with his family. Psychologically, it does not tolerate long absences of the owners, therefore, if your work is connected with frequent business trips, we advise you to think about a puppy of a different breed.
Great Dane has high intelligence and a good memory, so an experienced owner will not have any problems with training. It is important to start training as early as possible – from the first days of the puppy’s stay in your home. The same goes for socialization. If this moment was not missed, even the owners of the dog will be able to avoid problems with fights on the dog playground.
It is better to master the commands gradually, always in an easy, playful way. Do not overwhelm the class, as a tired and absent-minded puppy is unlikely to make significant progress. Do not forget about rewards, including treats, for a correctly completed task. Patience and kindness are the keys to success. The assertion of authority should be confident and firm, but without shouting or even more physical punishment. Relationships based on submission out of fear lead to regular attempts to “overthrow” the cruel “leader”, and can even cause a broken psyche.
Despite the assurances of some breeders that the Great Dane feels good in a city apartment, due to its calm nature and moderate need for physical activity, most experts still recommend getting such a dog only to those who live in a private house with a fenced area. The fact is that it is better to share living space with such a large “neighbor” where there are enough square meters for all family members.
In addition, people living on the floor below are unlikely to be delighted with the sounds of heavy footsteps overhead. But the inhabitants of the adjoining yards will not be particularly bothered by the dog, because the great mastiffs are not among the tiresome “hollows” and they rarely bark. At the same time, the enclosure is impossible, the dog does not tolerate too high or low temperatures, and the constant human society guarantees it psychological comfort.
The wool of the representatives of this breed is very short, and the molt is moderately expressed, therefore, to care for it, it is enough to comb out the dead hairs once a week with a special message mitt or a brush with a soft bristle, and in the spring and autumn to do this procedure two to three times more often. For bathing, use veterinary shampoo and do not overdo it – washing after each walk is not just an unnecessary measure, it will badly affect the pet’s immunity due to the destruction of the natural protective barrier in the form of a fatty film.
From puppyhood, teach the Great Dane to hygiene procedures. Taking into account the size of the animal, it is almost impossible to keep it in place by force when cutting the claws, and if the process becomes habitual, no difficulties are felt. Regular brushing of teeth with a specialized paste prevents bad breath, the formation of tartar, and, in a global perspective, the need for dental treatment. Examination and cleaning of the auricles will help to avoid local infections or notice their appearance in time. If plaque occurs, increased sulfur production, or an odor from the ear canal, immediately consult a doctor who will diagnose and prescribe adequate treatment. The same goes for the eyes.
For the normal formation of the body during the period of growth and maintaining health in adulthood, proper nutrition is necessary, which is easiest to provide with the help of high-quality feeds from trusted manufacturers and vitamin and mineral supplements. Natural food should include lean meat (chicken, beef, rabbit) at the rate of 600-800 g per day for an adult dog, cereals, and vegetables. Sweets, pastries, pork, smoked meats, and any leftovers from the human table are categorically contraindicated. The savings can cost you the life of your pet, so check the costs against your finances before purchasing a puppy.
We must not forget that Great Danes have a slow metabolism, so physical activity immediately after feeding can lead to volvulus. There should be at least 30 minutes between eating and walking.
Unfortunately, the perfectly built canine Apollo can boast of neither good health nor a long life expectancy. At 8-9 years old, Great Danes are already old, there are very few animals older than this age.
According to statistics, the main cause of death of representatives of the breed is the aforementioned volvulus, which can develop very quickly even in a young and generally healthy animal. Without emergency surgery, death is almost inevitable. Sudden bloating, heavy breathing, vomiting of foam should be a signal for an immediate visit to the clinic!
The giant growth of the Great Dane provokes problems with the musculoskeletal system. The most common diseases: hip and elbow dysplasia, arthritis, wobbler syndrome, osteomyelitis, osteochondrosis, bone cancer. Also, there are frequent problems with the heart (cardiomyopathy, aortic stenosis), kidneys (Addison’s disease), thyroid gland (hypothyroidism), skin (demodicosis, cutaneous histiocytoma, granuloma, interdigital dermatitis). The senses also suffer: deafness, cataracts, and entropy of the eyelids are possible.
To ensure a good quality of life for a pet, it is important to monitor its nutrition and physical activity, and regularly undergo examinations by a veterinarian.
How to choose a puppy?
Tips for choosing a Great Dane do not differ from general recommendations for purebred dogs: only responsible breeders, eminent kennels, and a full set of medical documents that indicate the normal health of the baby and his parents. During a personal visit, observe the behavior of the puppy, establish contact with him. Pay attention to the conditions for keeping animals.