A regal, gentle guardian in giant's clothing
* Breed appearance
* Temperament, behavior, and training
The big dog crosses the field in an effortless gallop, muscles stretching
and contracting, devouring the ground with his long, powerful strides.His
sleek black coat glows with vitality; his elegant manner is manifest
in every stride.
Closer he comes, and the ground shakes under his great size and
speed. Ever closer he comes, slows to a trot, then stops. He doesn't
wait to be petted but instead nudges a hand with his giant head.
This is the Great Dane, a sleek, athletic dog tightly bonded to
humans, capable of great courage, and known among fanciers as "the
Apollo of dogs."
The Great Dane is properly called the Deutsche Dogge or German
Mastiff, a name eschewed by fanciers in English-speaking countries.
However, there is no evidence that the dog developed anywhere but
Germany, and there is no known reason for it to be named for the
country of Denmark. The breed originated from dogs of the mastiff
type and was developed to hunt wild boar, guard castles, pull carts,
and participate in battle.
Since the Germans never do anything by halves, the Deutsche Dogge
lived up to its promise as a fierce, courageous canine--a "super
dog"--designed to hunt the savage and unpredictable European
wild boar, a beast well- armed with formidable tusks that could
rip a dog to shreds.
The Dane is obviously more refined than the English Mastiff and
the massive, salivating Neapolitan Mastiff or Dogue de Bordeaux
of recent cinematic fame, but it most likely came from the same
original stock. The mastiff-type dog originated in Asia and has
been molded into and influenced several different breeds. There
is evidence that the Dane's more elegant appearance may have come
from an infusion of Irish wolfhound blood and some fanciers claim
the English Mastiff as the progenitor of this breed, but the dog
may indeed be a descendant of both. But whatever its origin, the
Great Dane is a picture of style and grace quite unlike any other
Although Dane-like dogs have been portrayed in oriental writings
and on Egyptian monuments dated prior to the birth of Christ, the
breed is considered to be about 400 years old. The Great Dane Club
of America was formed in 1889 and became the fourth breed club to
join the American Kennel Club.
Hieght: The Great Dane is among the tallest of
dogs. Males must be at least 30 inches and preferably at least 32
inches at the shoulders in order to compete in the show ring. Females
can be about two inches shorter and must be more refined in type
than the males.
Weight: At least 56 kg for adult dog and 50 for
Head: Elongated, expressive, finely sculpted,
stop well define. Forehead to parallel to nose.muzzel and scull
equal in leanth.Pendulous jowls. Nose large and black. Under Canadian
and F.C.I. standards, scissor bite. Elsewhere, level bite.
Eyes: round, preferably medium size. In the Harlequin
type, light or differently coloured eyes permitted but not desirable.
Ears: small to medium in size, carried high, slightly
erect. Under Canadian and F.C.I. standards, ears may be cropped.
Body: deep and board with well sprung ribs. Brisket
descending to the elbows, deep and well drawn up. Back short and
firm. Croup full. Loins pulled in and strong. Belly arched. Shoulders
long and sloping.
Tail: set on high, just reaching the hock. Thick
at the base, tapering to the tip.
Forequarters: strong and muscular, well-sloped
back. Elbows well under the body. Forelegs straight with big, flat
Hindquarters: thighs board and extremely muscular.
Hocks and stifles well bent, hocks well let down. Full croup, slight
droop at tail root.
Feet: cat footed. Nails well arched close, strong,
Coat: short, thick, glossy.
Colour: for brindles, all shades of fawn, with
black stripes. Fawn dogs, lightest buff to deepest orange, with
black mask. Blue dogs, steel blue with no trace of yellow, black,
or mouse grey. Black dogs, glossy black. Harlequin dogs, white with
irregular black marking well distributed over the body.
Faults: head round, apple or wedge-shaped. Poorly
defined stop Muzzle snipy. Eyes too light, slanting, with visible
haw. Poor ear carriage. Short neck. Dewlap. Sway- or camel back.
Tail too long, or ringed. Cow-hocked. Shelly body. Straight shoulders.
Out at elbows. Hare footed. Dew -claw on hind leg. Coat too long,
dull, or off-colour.
Ears: The Danes ears may be cropped (cut and
shaped) or not. The breed's ears naturally fold over and droop along
the cheek. Wild boars found these to be handy targets to grab; cropping
developed to eliminate the ear flap and thus spare the dog the pain
of having it ripped off in a fight. The early ear crops left little
to seize; today the crop is cosmetic and sculpts the ear into an
upright, pointed appendage that adds to the style of the dog.
Cropping is usually done when the pup is less than eight weeks
old as long as he is in good health. If the pup has worms or has
been ill, cropping should wait. The cropped ears are then taped
to condition the cartilage to support an upright ear instead of
a droopy one.
England has outlawed ear cropping of all breeds, and several European
countries have followed suit. Australian owners do not crop Dane's
ears, either, and more and more American breeders are questioning
the propriety of doing so. However, today virtually all Danes competing
in the show ring have cropped ears.
Temperament, behavior, and training
Although he can be somewhat active and needs a period of exercise
each day to stay fit, the Great Dane is a great house dog. Puppies
can be clumsy, but adults are surefooted and seldom knock things
over just by walking around. They like children but may be too much
of a challenge for toddlers who are unsteady on their feet.
Although the breed is generally gentle with people, some Danes
can be dominant unless taught with a firm hand and some can be aggressive
to other dogs and small critters. Obedience training is a must;
an energetic 130-pound dog that towers over a preschool child and
can easily rest his head on the dinner table must have some manners.
Training must be gentle; leash-jerking and harsh discipline may
make him distrustful and edgy.
Above all, the Great Dane is a people-dog. He needs space to accommodate
his long legs and large body, but he likes nothing better than to
spend time with his person.
A short-coated breed, the Dane needs little coat care. He may get
cold in winter, so should not be left outdoors for extended periods
If it's very cold, owners often purchase a sweater for long walks
in the park. Some Danes have a whole wardrobe.
Like most giant breeds, the Dane has a shorter life span than
smaller dogs; he lives about 10 years if he is healthy. The breed
is susceptible to hip dysplasia, bloat, bone cancer, heart disease,
and tumors. Care of the puppy begins with careful selection of parents
to produce the litter. Breeding stock should be x-rayed for hip
dysplasia and screened for heart problems. Dogs with bloat or cancer
in their lines should probably not be bred.
The Dane can seriously impact the family budget. This dog needs
a larger dish, more food, a higher dose of medicine, a larger collar,
etc., and larger is always more expensive. It costs more to spay
or neuter a big dog, too.
Those who can cope with or prefer a large, aristocratic dog will
do well with a Deutsche Dogge. This is a people-oriented dog, loving
and kind, playful and even spirited--a true companion dog