One of the largest breeds of dogs in the world is known for its gentle temperament but obviously needs the right training to retain its gentle nature.
Let’s take a closer look at some of the most interesting facts about Great Danes, a fascinating dog breed that has an extensive history.
1. The great Dane isn’t really from Denmark
Even though this particular dog breed is known as the Great Dane, this wasn’t always the case. The predecessors of this dog breed originally came from England and were descendants of a crossbreed of English Mastiffs and Irish Wolfhounds.
These huge dogs ended up being imported by German nobility halfway through the 16th century and were referred to as “Englische Docke” or “Englische Tocke.”
This gradually changed to “Englischer Hund” or “Englischer Dogge,” which literally translates to “English Dog.” Because the breed we know today was created in Germany, the Great Dane is actually considered to be a German dog.
2. It’s recognized as the largest dog breed in the world
One of the most remarkable facts about Great Danes is that these dogs are considered to be the largest dog breed in the world.
They are recognized as such and there’s a minimum height requirement set by the American Kennel Club (AKC).
The minimum height of a male dog is set at 76 centimeters (30 inches) at the shoulders, and that of the female dog is set at 71 centimeters (28 inches).
That’s quite huge indeed, and every dog below this minimum height is disqualified from being recognized as a Great Dane.
3. They were used for a variety of purposes by the German nobility
The breeding of the predecessor of this dog breed in Europe started as early as the 17th century.
The breed that was known back then as the “Englische Dogge” was used as a catch dog back then to keep the prey in place until the hunter arrived to kill the bear, boar, or deer.
Apart from being used during hunting trips, these dogs also stayed inside the house of their owners and wore expensively decorated collars as well.
This went as far as the owners keeping them inside their bedrooms to serve as guard dogs. The huge size of these dogs was surely enough to scare any potential assassin away quickly.
4. It has gone by a wide variety of names throughout its history
The original name of these dogs after being imported from England and bred in Germany was “Englische Docke” or “Englische Tocke.”
This name then gradually changed to “Englischer Hund” or “Englischer Dogge” before being changed yet again in 1878 to “Deutsche Dogge” or “German Mastiff.”
By the 19th century, the breed originating from England had pretty much disappeared and in English-speaking countries, it was referred to as the “German boarhound.”
Because of the tragic events in the 20th century and the negative sentiment towards Germany, the name was changed yet again to “Great Dane.”
This was a reference to a dog described in 1755 as the “Grand Danois.”
5. The tallest dog in history was a black dog named Zeus
As this breed is considered to be the tallest dog breed in the world, it also holds the record for the tallest dog in the world.
According to Guinness World Records, the tallest dog to have ever lived was a black Great Dane named Zeus.
This immense dog reached a height of 111.8 centimeters (44 inches) at the shoulders and weighed an astounding 70.3 kilos (155 pounds).
Unfortunately, this height is associated with health problems and Zeus passed away at the young age of 5 in 2014.
More interesting facts about great Danes
6. After this dog breed was imported to Germany, special breeding programs were created in Germany and Austria to increase the dog’s height.
This resulted in the Englisher Hund being crossbred with the Molossian hound and Suliot dog, breeds that have their roots in Ancient Greece.
7. Apart from a height minimum to qualify as being recognized as a Great Dane, the breed originally also had a weight minimum to qualify. This was set at 54 kilos (120 lb) for males and 45 kilos for females (100 lb).
While this is still in place in other countries, the American Kennel Club dropped this weight limit from its standard. This means that lighter dogs can still qualify as being recognized.
8. This dog breed has distinctive triangular-shaped and floppy ears. When these dogs were still used to hunt, their ears were often cropped to prevent injuries to their ears.
This practice is still done today but for practical and cosmetic reasons. A remarkable trend appeared in the 1930s when so-called “Easter Bonnets” were used to make the ears of these dogs stand up after the surgery, a remarkable sight to say the least.
9. The coat color of these dogs can appear in 5 to 6 different shades according to the various official standards across the world.
These color combinations include Fawn and brindle, Black, harlequin, and mantle. Pure steel blue is also an acceptable color for this dog breed.
10. These enormous dogs are usually known for their friendly behavior, but this only applies to well-trained individuals.
Greta Danes that haven’t been adjusted to social environments can become aggressive when they come across strangers.
11. Unfortunately, Great Danes don’t have a long life expectancy, something related to various health problems associated with their size.
They are prone to heart disease which has earned them the nickname “the heartbreak breed.” Most dogs live between to 10 years, but a life expectancy of just 6 to 7 years isn’t uncommon as well.
12. Because of the sheer size of these dogs, they also consume quite a lot of food. According to Guinness World records, the tallest dog to have ever lived, Zeus, ate about 12 cups of food every day.
This is the equivalent of about 13.6 kilos (30 lb) of food daily, an astounding figure indeed!