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If you asked someone to describe the Great Dane of today, you’d probably get some of these responses: Gentle Giant, Sensitive, Peaceful Disposition, Friendly. These are not the responses you would’ve gotten as the breed originated. Let’s take a brief journey through the Great Dane history.
As far back as 3000BC you can find dogs resembling the Great Dane on Egyptian monuments. In 13th & 14th century BC, they can be seen on ancient Grecian artifacts.
I’m sure you’ve heard the Great Dane was a “bore hunter”. To be more descriptive, they were used in hunting not only boar but deer, bear, elk; etc. During the hunt they were used after the other hunting dogs to seize and hold the prey until the hunter came to kill it. As ammunition became a more common means of hunting the roll of the Great Dane was changed.
Originally, European countries imported the dogs from England. It is thought they were a cross with the English Mastiff and the Wolfhound. During the 17th century, the Germans stopped importing these dogs from England and began formally breeding them. German nobility would search for the most intimidating and largest in size examples of these dogs. Once found, these dogs would live as their “kammerhunde” or “chamber dog” in the courts. The Great Dane’s job changed from seizing vicious prey to guarding noble family members. The Great Dane no longer slept on the cold, muddy outdoors; staked out with heavy chains. Instead, they were dressed in collars lined with velvet and enjoyed all the spoils of nobility.
While other countries also bred and contributed to the original Great Dane, it was the Germans who really took ownership of this breed. So much so that in 1876 they claimed the Great Dane as Germany’s National Breed. However, the AKC did not recognize the breed until 1887.
SOME GREAT DANE TIDBITS
BLOAT – Bloat is a very common killer of Great Danes. While no one knows the exact reason for its onset, there is much evidence to suggest anxiety and stress may lead to this. While the following are not all inclusive, here are some things we chose to do. We recommend doing your own research and partnering with your vet for expert advice.
We DO NOT use harsh correction with our Danes. We chose positive reinforcement training to redirect and motivate.
We do not feed our Danes from elevated dishes
We do not allow our Danes to participate in vigorous play after eating. Instead, we have them rest after each meal.
TRAINING – a common age for Great Danes to end up in shelters is around or after 9mths. This is because a 9mth old Dane may look the size of a normal dog; however, many people forget that their intelligence and training is still that of pup. We recommend doing your homework prior to selecting this Breed and start obedience training as soon as possible (our recommended trainers are either Carrie Brooks & Kaye Geyler @ Go Rogue Dog Training Center LLC or Jason Lake @ dog-ter.com).
SOCIALIZING – Socialization is crucial to a Dane and the critical time for socialization is within the first 3-12 weeks of age. We take this responsibility very seriously which is why we expose our puppies to as many different elements as possible. What a puppy is exposed to in this period shapes their outlook for their adult life. After this 12 week marker, you move into a period of training your Danes appropriate behavior within the environments you live. Because of their giant size, it is up to you to set the boundaries for what is acceptable in your home. In our home, we make it a priority to take our Danes with us to as many places as possible in order to expose them to as many environments as possible. Since a Danes primary goal is to please you, this makes teaching them new things exciting and fun.
EXERCISE – While these dogs may look like lean running machines, excessive exercise is not needed and for the first 18mths is not suggested. Danes grow bones first (this usually lasts roughly 18mths) then they put on muscle. Over exercising a puppy can lead to long term growth problems. We take our Danes on daily walks. During their puppy stage, our walks last on average 5 or so minutes for each month they are old. So our 4 month old pup would go for 20 minute walks give or take.
FEEDING - Over feeding is just as bad as over exercising a Dane especially during the first 18mths. You will want to keep them on the lean side as to not put too much weight on their growing bones. We prefer a raw diet; however, if you choose to go with a kibble please do your research. Not all kibbles are alike. You will want to pick one of good quality, but also with low protein. Always consult with your vet when choosing a feeding plan.
LIFE SPAN – the average life expectancy of a Dane is 7-10yrs.