You are out on a walk. And you see a ferocious looking dog out for its daily rounds with its owner. This mighty beast is almost as tall as the person he’s walking with. You dare not go near it. That would probably be your reaction on your first encounter with a Great Dane. The Great Dane is a domestic dog German breed known for its unusually large size. They are famous for their enormous bodies and great height. The world’s largest dog currently happens to be a Great Dane, measuring 44 inches from paw to shoulder. Even when judged in dog shows a Great Dane should have a square build, not less 30 inches in height for males and 28 inches for females. This is one of the reasons that Great Danes have historically been used for hunting.
True dog lovers often refer to Great Danes as gentle giants. This is owing to their large size bellies and their surprisingly friendly nature. They are known for their constant desire for physical affection from their owners. Seeing a Great Dane bounding up to you for some innocent display of affection may be misconstrued as an attack which might cause you to run away or even fall down. But once you get acquainted, the love that you are on the receiving end of, has no bounds. These dogs will smother you with affection and will expect the same from you in return. But don’t worry it won’t be violent in its craving for attention.
According to the American Kennel Club, “The Great Dane combines, in its regal appearance, dignity, strength and elegance with great size and a powerful well-formed, smoothly-muscled body. It is one of the giant working breeds, but is unique in that its general conformation must be so well balanced that it never appears clumsy and shall move with a long reach and powerful drive. The Great Dane is a short haired breed with a strong galloping figure.”
Great Danes usually have naturally triangular floppy ears that make them look all the more adorable. Now this breed is primarily for companionship and security cropping of the ears is only done for cosmetic purposes, unlike traditionally when it was done to protect them from injury during hunting. Some people would use devices to make their ears stand up, but that would be considered as grounds for animal cruelty in some parts of the world. Great Danes are commonly available in colors ranging from white, fawn (yellow-golden) or even blue, to the more typical black, Dalmatian-like or striped. Sometimes the color of a Great Dane can tell us if it has a tendency towards being deaf or blind.
In contrast to their imposing appearance, the breed is generally well behaved towards others, dogs of a similar or different breed, non-canine pets and familiar humans. They are rarely aggressive or display a high prey drive. These gentle loving animals with proper care and training are good company for children, especially in their growing years; they sometimes even become possessive about them or their owners. But simultaneously if not properly acquainted, they tend to become aggressive and fearful towards unknown people and strange environments. They are highly recommended as family dogs as long as they are trained. They enjoy sitting and leaning on their owners and so are often called as the world’s biggest lapdogs.
Their life expectancy does not go beyond 6-8 years. But this breed continues to grow longer than most breeds, even beyond the age of one. Because of their large size, they have a greater tendency towards joint and bone troubles so their exercise should not be overdone especially when young. Heart and gastric issues too are fairly common in this breed along with a low energy and metabolic rate. But at the same time, their appetite is in concurrence with their large size.
Great Danes are extremely famous in popular media. The hit television series of Scooby Doo had this breed as the title character. It was a friendly, playful but scared dog unless given his favorite snack. The pet dog of the cartoon family of Jetsons too was a Great Dane. The comic strip that was later made into a movie called Marmaduke, too had a Great Dane in the lead role. It was about a playful, mischief-making dog that would always get into trouble. The Hound of Baskerville a fictional tale by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle too had this breed cast as the killer. Several other books, movies and TV shows had Great Danes as an integral character.
Another great feature about Great Danes is that their outward appearance works wonders in scaring off intruders or unwanted entities in the house. But at the same time the owners and acquaintances are well aware of its genuinely adorable nature. Their intimidating appearance is in strong contrast to its affable demeanor. In spite of knowing about their loving temperament, outsiders continue to be suspicious in the first few meetings. Apart from being an inseparable part of the family and a pleasant companion it also keeps one safe and ensures security.