Pet ownership is one of the most fulfilling and rewarding things in life. While it does come with responsibility, it also comes with many funny, cute, and comforting moments. When all goes well, you end up with more than just an animal to care for. You also get the benefit of companionship, care, and warmth. This is the result of the kind of bonds that animals tend to form with their owners. Dogs are some of the best companions you can have as a pet owner. This is the reason why so many people choose to get dogs over other animals. While there are variations in behavior, features, responsiveness, etc., dogs tend to be very loyal, and they also display interesting personalities.
If you are looking to get a dog, there are numerous breeds for you to choose from. Choosing a breed is not a choice that should be taken lightly. If you were to choose the wrong one, what should be a fun and fulfilling experience can quickly become a nightmare? The variations in physical features and behaviors mean that the requirements for care also vary. Therefore, you need to ensure that the dog you choose is one that you can care for adequately. One breed that you may consider getting is a Great Dane. These are large dogs that have provided enjoyable experiences to many owners worldwide. If you are thinking about getting one, being informed is non-negotiable. To get started, read below to see 10 things you need to know before owning one of these dogs.
10They Are the Tallest Dogs in the World
If you do not have a large space for a dog to roam, a Great Dane may not be the most suitable option for you. Typically, larger dogs require more space than smaller ones, and it doesn’t get much larger than a Great Dane. These dogs are known for their incredible size, but it does not end there. They are statically proven to be the tallest dogs in the world. There are height competitions held yearly in which dog owners bring their pets to have them measured. Almost every year, the winner of these competitions is a Great Dane.
In fact, the tallest dog in recorded history (according to Guinness World Records), is a Great Dane named Zeus. Before his passing in 2014, he wore the crown as he stood at an impressive 44 inches (111.8 cm) at the shoulders. To qualify for these competitions, the males cannot be less than 30 inches (76 cm) at the shoulders, and the females cannot be less than 28 inches (71 cm) at the shoulders. These measurements equate to just about 2’6”, which means that the minimum height for these competitions is higher than the normal or maximum height for many other breeds.
Great Danes are also on the heavy side, which is no surprise considering the heights they can reach. Once they were over 18 months old, the minimum qualifying weight for the males was 120 lbs., while the minimum for the females was 100 lbs. However, the American Kennel Club has reduced the weight requirement.
9They Are Not Danish
With a name such as “Great Dane,” it is not hard to see why people would assume the breed has Danish origins. While this is widely thought to be the case, the breed is of German origin. The gigantic breed, which is also known as the Apollo of dogs, is said to have been around for a very long time. In fact, it is estimated that the Great Dane has existed for over four centuries. These dogs are the descendants of mastiff-like dogs. They were initially bred by German nobility for offensive and defensive purposes. The main ones of these were the hunting of wild boar and the protection of country estates.
Back in the 18th century, the Danes were used for security of carriages and of estates. The upper class was also famous for using Danes for sport. Due to the large size and the strength of the dogs, they were one of the few breeds that could take down wild boar.
While the appearance of the breed is mostly the same, the traits that the Danes of today possess are much different than those of the early Danes. The current-day version originated in the 1800s and are well known for being domestic pets. Despite their massive size, city dwellers also use them to guard dwellings and other buildings from bandits. In 1880, the Germans banned the use of the name “Great Dane.” The breed is still referred to by this name in other English-speaking countries, but in Germany, it is now referred to as the “Deutsche Dogge.”
8Their Nature Completely Contradicts Their Appearance
It is natural to assume that a large dog is both a powerful and aggressive one. The Great Dane is as muscular as it is large, so there is no denying the breed’s strength. It was this kind of strength that allowed for the hunting of wild boar by the earlier variation of Danes. However, today’s Great Danes have a nature that contrasts their imposing appearance.
As they are so large and tough-looking, the normal assumption is that they are aggressive and dangerous. However, they are very friendly dogs that enjoy affection from their owners and show the same in return. This is one of the main reasons why many refer to the Great Danes as “gentle giants.” The breed is traditionally well mannered and interacts very well with other dogs, non-canine pets, and familiar persons. Apart from a lack of high aggression, Danes also don’t exhibit a very high prey drive.
While they are naturally very compassionate animals, proper socialization and care are instrumental in bringing these traits out as best as possible. When properly trained, Great Danes can even be trusted around children. This is especially true if they are raised with these children. Note, however, that if the proper training is not received, the breed can be a risk factor. This is the result of a lack of understanding of the environment, which results in an ineffective perception of danger. Whenever this is the case, the breed is known to become aggressive or fearful of new stimuli such as new environments or strangers.
7They Are Prone to Certain Health Conditions
As far as dog breeds go, Great Danes are generally considered to be very healthy animals. However, as is the case with all breeds, there are some conditions that the Danes are more susceptible to than other breeds. If you are thinking of getting one of these dogs, you should familiarize yourself with these conditions and their associated symptoms. This allows you to act from an informed standpoint if you should have to deal with any of these illnesses. It is important to note that not a Great Dane can live its life without ever experiencing any of these ailments, but the possibility does exist.
Hip Dysplasia is the first condition. It is an inherited developmental issue in which the hip joint doesn’t securely accommodate the thighbone. As the dog ages, arthritis can develop from this. While some dogs show physical discomfort at the hind end, others do not. X-ray screening is the only way to be sure of what is going on with your dog.
The second ailment is Gastric Torsion, which is also called bloat. This occurs when the stomach begins to twist as it becomes distended with either air or gas. This results in the dog’s inability to vomit or belch to get rid of said air. The return of blood to the heart is also impeded, which drops blood pressure. A distended abdomen, heavy salivating, or retching for seemingly no reason are symptoms you should watch out for. Seek immediate medical attention if they show up. Danes are also at risk for heart disease and bone cancer. Ensure routine check-ups are performed at the vet so early diagnosis can be made.
6Special Attention Must Be Paid to Exercise
Based on the even temperament mentioned above, the Great Dane makes for a perfect house pet provided you have the space needed for a big dog. Apart from space, you need to make allocations for the Dane where exercise is concerned. Below is an overview of some of the ways to do so.
First, there is the matter of time. While these dogs are usually quiet indoors, they do need to get adequate exercise. You can achieve this by providing a big yard for play, or you can walk your dog at least once daily. The exercise requirements depend on the age of the dog. Typically, puppies and adolescents require up to 90 minutes of daily exercise, while adults only require 30 to 60 minutes. While you can do this with your Great Dane, you need to be very selective about when you start doing so. This is because the Dane is a large breed. Larger dogs need more time before their skeletal structure is adequately developed. It is recommended that you only jog with a Great Dane that is at least 18 months to two years old.
Note that there’s no need to overdo the amount of activity that your Great Dane gets as they don’t have high exercise requirements. They are not lazy dogs; however, moderate exercise is enough to keep them healthy. Overdoing it can lead to hip and joint development issues, especially in puppies.
5The Great Dane Is Used of Referenced in Many Media Productions
It is not surprising that a dog this large and this majestic makes several appearances in media productions such as comics, cartoons, television shows, and movies. You should note that not all these references are explicitly stated to be Great Danes. Some of them are based on Great Danes instead.
Scooby-Doo is one of the most recognizable animated characters to both children and adults. What most people may not know is that the character is based on the Great Dane breed of dog. This was confirmed by Iwao Takamoto, who is the animation designer responsible for Scooby. He created the design based on sketches he received from an employee who was a Dane breeder. He made a few alterations, however, such as lengthening the tail, shortening the chin, and sloping the back. The Harry Potter character Fang is also based on Danes. While a Neapolitan Mastiff is used in the film productions for the character, the novels on which the films are based used a Great Dane.
Dynomutt, Dog Wonder was an animated series that was produced from 1976-1977 by Hanna-Barbera Productions. It revolved around a robotic dog named Dynomutt that could produce numerous mechanical apparitions from his body. The design of Dynomutt is based on Great Danes. Brad Anderson’s Marmaduke was a newspaper comic strip that was drawn from 1954-2015. The comics focused on a family and their Great Dane named Marmaduke. The series was so beloved that it eventually spawned a movie tie in.
The Jetsons, Space Stars, and JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure are a few of many other productions that used or referenced Great Danes.
4They Require a Specific Diet for the Best Results
Nutrition is a very important part of caring for any pet, and Great Danes are no different. As a very fast growing giant breed, it requires a specific diet to ensure that it grows in the most healthy way possible.
The first thing to note is that you should never feed a Great Dane puppy with regular puppy food. This is because it is too rich in its contents. There are specially designed blends for large breeds, and these are the only types Danes are to be fed. It is also important to note that these foods for large breeds are made with all the important nutrients and, therefore, there is no need for you to supplement it with anything. Calcium is widely used as a dog food supplement, but you should avoid this.
The next point of focus is quantity. Assuming the food is of high quality, the amount you should feed your Dane depends on the dog’s age and gender. Generally, three to six-month-old females get three to six cups, while males get four to eight cups. Eight-month-old females should be fed five to eight cups, while males should be fed six to 10 cups. For adolescents, the females should get 8 cups, while the males should get nine to 15 cups. Finally, adult females must be fed six to eight cups, while the males must be fed eight to 10 cups. These measurements are to be fed to your dog thrice daily until the age of five months, after which two meals a day is recommended.
3They Do Not Live Long
This is a hard pill to swallow. One of the best parts of owning a pet is forming a bond with said pet. This results in a level of companionship that you grow to rely on. Going through this experience multiple times in life is not easy, nor is it desirable. However, pet owners do understand the reality that pets do not live forever. They typically have life spans that are way shorter than that of a human, and Great Danes also fall into this category.
While there are some dogs that can lead reasonably long lives, Great Danes are not those dogs. In fact, they are known for having a lifespan that is on the short end of the spectrum. While research is inconclusive about whether larger breeds tend to die faster, Great Danes make an argument for that belief as they usually don’t live past 10 years.
This is one of the only deal breakers for people when they consider getting Danes. The loving and affectionate nature of these dogs makes it very easy and natural to form deep bonds with them. This makes their passing a much harder pill to swallow for attached owners. If not being able to have a dog for a long period of time is an issue for you, then you’re better off getting another breed that offers a little more in the lifespan department. If you don’t mind the short lifespan and you want an enriching pet-owning experience, then you should consider getting a Great Dane.
2It Is Pennsylvania’s State Dog
Sometimes people forget that the US States have various symbols, including animals. One such symbol is the state dog. For Pennsylvania, the Great Dane serves this purpose. In 1965, the Great Dane was designated as the state’s dog. In fact, there is a portrait that hangs in the Governor’s reception room that symbolizes this. The portrait is one of William Penn and his Great Dane.
Like other places in the world, there was a time when frontier Pennsylvania used Great Danes as both a working breed and as a hunting breed. There is PA legislation that explains the decision to name an official state dog. According to the documentation, doing so recognizes the devotion and the service of all dogs in the state. Apart from the service the breed contributed, the Great Dane was chosen as the official state dog because its physical and other attributes were said to exemplify those of the state of PA. Some of these attributes are Dane’s strength, size, wit, beauty, tolerance, intelligence, courage, faithfulness, stability, etc.
According to Sam Rohrer, who was a State Representative at the time the designation was made, there was an overwhelming reception and agreement with the choice of the Great Dane. The Speaker of the House required a voice vote to confirm Dane’s designation. In response, the chamber showed their approval with barks, growls, and yips. The reaction was so overwhelming that it was even described as an “assault” on the Speaker’s ears. The event is known in the annals of legislative history as the “Barking Dog Vote.”
1The Great Dane Comes in Five to Six Colors
Depending on the standard used, a Great Dane can be one of either five or six colors. The first possible color is fawn. Danes of the fawn variation sport a yellow gold coat with a black mask. There may be black on the ears, but it typically appears on the eyebrows and the eye rims. Second, there is the brindle variation. This is a spin on the fawn and black color scheme as it has a chevron stripe pattern. Sometimes Danes of the variation are referred to as being striped instead of being identified by their color.
The third variation is the black one. These Danes are glossy black all the way through. Some of them are born with white markings on the toes and the chest. These markings are considered as faults in the breeding community as they are not desirable. The fourth color scheme is known as Harlequin. The base color for this scheme is pure white. There is an irregular distribution of black torn patches that are distributed along Dane’s entire body. Sometimes there are a few small gray patches; however, they are undesirable.
The fifth color scheme is blue. This is a pure steel blue color. Sometimes there are white markings at the feet and at the chest, but these are not desirable traits in the breeding community. The mantle is a possible sixth color scheme that is sometimes seen. Some countries refer to them as “Bostons” because their black and white pattern makes them look like Boston Terriers.
Many people have decided to get pets for different reasons. Dogs are some of the most common pets that people choose as they provide a sense of companionship. This is advantageous as many other pets feel like nothing more than something extra to care for. Great Danes are very interesting dogs, and this has caused them to catch on in the pet scene as many people have chosen them for companions. There are quite a few things to know about the breed before getting one, and some of these are presented above.
Danes are very large dogs, and they require more space and a different diet from most traditional dogs. In fact, the tallest dogs in the world tend to be of this breed, so if large dogs make you uncomfortable, you may want to look elsewhere. In the past, these dogs were bred for estate protection and wild boar hunting. Their strength and size made them suitable for such activities. Today’s Great Danes, however, no longer fit that mold and are move friendly in nature. This comes as a surprise to many because of their imposing appearance.
The Great Dane breed was selected as Pennsylvania’s official state dog, and it features in many media productions. This goes to show just how iconic these dogs are. Unfortunately, with all the amazing qualities these dogs possess, they are short-lived companions as they don’t usually make it past their 10th birthday. This applies even if the cause of death is natural causes and not one of the illnesses such as bloat that Danes are susceptible to.