Great Dane: Color, Lifespan, Characteristics & Facts

The tallest dog breed on Earth, Great Danes are towering animals with gentle, kind personalities. Though many assume the animals are active and unruly, the truth is they are much more relaxed than smaller breeds.

The dogs rarely bark, and are content only going out every once in a while. In fact, you are much more likely to find them laying down on your chair doing their best lap dog impression than you are running trails.

When faced with the breed, many ask the question “how tall is a Great Dane?” The answer is really tall. An adult Great Dane can reach up to 34 inches in height. However, despite that, the canines are generally lean due to the amount of calories it takes to fuel their frame.

The Great Dane’s unique appearance has made them extremely popular over the years. As such, there are many types in the world.

Careful breeding practices created the Blue Great Dane, Black Great Dane, Brindle Great Dane, Spotted Great Dane, Blue Merle Great Dane, Boston Great Dane, and Grey Great Dane. Silver Great Danes, Chocolate Great Danes, and the Great Dane Harlequin exist as well.

Unfortunately, the breed does not live as long as smaller dogs. They come with a few serious health conditions that seem to go hand-in-hand with being so tall.

Breed Overview

Other Names: Apollo of Dogs

Origin: Germany

Height: 28 to 34 inches

Weight: 100-200 pounds

Life Span: 8 to 10 years

Colors: Blue, Mantle, Fawn, Black, Brindle, Harlequin

1. Personality & Temperament

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Great Danes are a bit of an enigma. Their large size suggests they are headstrong animals that love being outdoors. However, in reality they are softies that love napping on the couch or bed.

The dogs are incredibly affectionate. So much so that they generally make poor guard dogs as they will walk up to and interact with complete strangers. Even so, they are wonderful with all members of the family and actively spend time cuddling with their owners.

Just make sure they have their own space to go to as well. A great large dog bed, like the ones in this article, should be able to accommodate for their massive size and are an important part of sharing a home with such an impressive animal.

The gentle giants respond well to positive reinforcement, especially during their early years. Danes that do not get a lot of affection while young can become unruly as they age. That makes getting a strong crate vital when choosing to bring the breed into your home.

2. How to Care for a Great Dane


As you can imagine, Great Danes need quite a lot of food to maintain their impressive size. The canines should get roughly 4 to 8 cups over three meals from three to six months old. Then, switch to 6 to 8 cups until they reach a year. At that time, give them between 2,500 and 3,000 calories a day.

The best dog food for Great Danes tends to be anything packed with vitamins and nutrients. Puppies do not take long to grow, and they need fuel to keep up with their rapidly shifting frames.

Fat and protein are also important for the growing dogs. However, never feed Great Danes puppy food. The fat and protein levels in such products are too high for the breed. That can then lead to more serious health problems down the line.


Great Danes need to be bathed once every six to eight weeks depending on your Dane’s activity. That schedule cuts down on shedding and keeps your dog’s coat looking fresh each and every month.

Though they don’t shed a lot for their size, Dane’s do get rid of their fur from time to time. A quick brush each day will prevent that from happening. It is also important to wipe down your pup’s ears each week with a damp cloth. A dog toothbrush will prevent mouth issues as well.


While they are not as active as many people assume, Danes love to run. The towering breed should be walked for about a half-hour to an hour each day. The dogs are also friendly, which means they love spending time with other breeds at dog parks hiking trails.

However, be careful to never put too much exercise on Dane puppies. Though a bit here and there can keep them lean, too much running at a young age can threaten their fast-growing joints.


Great Danes love to please their owners, which makes them easy to train. They respond well to crate, house, and obedience training.

The trick with Dane puppies is to be patient and use positive reinforcement to reward activities. Negative reinforcement, even a single shout or yell, will make them scared. If you do want to express dissatisfaction, do it calmly and sternly.

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3. Common Health Issues of the Great Dane

Great Danes are extremely large. While that is one of their draws, it is also the reason for their low life expectancy. A full grown Great Dane is prone to a few problematic health issues all owners should know.

Tricuspid Valve Disease

Tricuspid Valve Disease is a serious condition that, if left untreated, can cause failure within your dog’s heart. The condition occurs when a valve malfunctions and shuts down certain parts of the muscle.

This causes many symptoms, including no desire to exercise, distended stomach, difficulty breathing, increased heartbeat, and general weakness. If your Dane seems a bit more sluggish than usual, can’t move around easily, or gets fatigued, you need to take them to the vet.

Though this condition is problematic when untreated, it can be fought when caught early. Many vets drain the fluid from the heart and put the dog on a low salt diet in order to lose weight. Special vitamins and nutrients are often prescribed as well.


Many dogs suffer from cancer. Bone cancer, also known as osteosarcoma, is the most common in Great Danes. This disease develops like any other disease, which means it is not always easy to detect during the early stages.

Danes who contract osteosarcoma tend to have lumps in their body. They may also show swelling, lameness, joint pain, and weakness. Extreme fatigue and general tiredness are important markers as well.

If you suspect something is wrong with your Dane, take them in for a scan.

Gastric Torsion

Gastric torsion leads to more Dane deaths than any other health issue. Also called canine bloat, the condition comes on when dogs eat too much or too quickly. While humans can deal with being a bit bloated, dogs cannot.

Gas builds up quite quickly, which then causes the stomach to stretch to the point where it limits blood circulation to the heart.

Unfortunately, the issue is hard to detect and becomes fatal quite quickly. A hard stomach, lack of normal digestive sounds, inability to defecate, dry heaving, vomiting foam, licking the air, whining, collapsing to the ground, and pacing are all symptoms. If your dog experiences some or all of those issues, take them in immediately.

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4. Children & Other Pets

Great Danes are large-but-friendly animals. That combination makes them perfect companions to both young and older children. The dogs like to play, but also don’t mind spending time cuddling or lounging with kids.

It is worth mentioning that, due to their size, Danes should never be left alone with younger children. No matter how sweet your dog is, there is always a chance that an accident could happen. This is especially important when dealing with Great Dane puppies.

Danes are large dogs that need a lot of space to thrive. As such, they can be a bit territorial with other breeds. Though this isn’t an issue with any dogs they’re raised with, they tend to be more aggressive with canines they don’t know.

However, they do get along with smaller animals. Their hunting nature is all but gone, which makes them unlikely to go after rodents, birds, or cats.

5. The History of the Great Dane

One of the most interesting Great Dane facts is that, despite their name, the canines hail from Germany rather than Denmark. Nobody is sure where they started, but many believe they came about from a mating between an English Mastiff and Irish Wolfhound.

Regardless, the large breed quickly gained popularity due to their ability to hunt large game smaller dogs could not handle. Trappers quickly took them all throughout Europe.

However, in just a few years they switched from fierce hunters to calm companions. The wealthy took to the breed’s large size and quickly converted them into house pets.

The Danes then got less and less aggressive as time went on. Their new personality, mixed with the size, made them perfect in homes across the world.

They came to American in the 1800’s, which is how they eventually split into the American Great Dane and European Great Dane. Both types are extremely similar, only being separated by subtle differences.

Even so, each breed is actively welcomed into houses all around the world to this day.

6. The Regular Expenses of Owning a Great Dane

Pure breed Great Danes from respected breeders commonly go from $600 all the way up to $3000. However, adoptions do cost a bit less.

7. Great Dane Rescue Groups

Great Danes are great pets, but there are still some out there looking for homes. Many different groups work together to bridge that gap like Great Dane Rescue

1 thought on “Great Dane: Color, Lifespan, Characteristics & Facts”

  1. I have a female great Dane her name is Sari she is the sweetest dog she has been such a blessing to me as I got her right after my husband passed away I just think the world of her.

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