If you’ve never had a Great Dane, then there are a few things you should be aware of. As a breed, they are highly intelligent, highly sensitive, highly social, and huge.
- they are house dogs. Or apartment dogs. They must have your attention and be in your presence. If you put them out in the backyard and leave them there, they will loose their mind from boredom and lonliness. And when 170 pounds loses its mind, you lose yours shortly thereafter.
- Danes think. Studies have shown they can problem solve as well as a 7 year old human child. That means they learn very, very fast. They will whiz through obedience class! Their minds can get bored quickly, and a bored Dane will find ways to entertain himself–like opening the cabinets and rummaging through the fridge. Each and every one of my Danes astonished me by how fast they learned, whether I was teaching them something or not. (Read the past loves page.)
- Danes are sensitive dogs. They are acutely aware of your emotions, intentions, and desires. They want to please you, but you have show them what you want when they are little. If you are angry, sad, excited, or afraid, they know it right away. And usually, will try to cheer you up, defend you, or offer to play. If you aren’t sure what you are feeling, your Dane can show you!
- Danes cannot live without a close and balanced pack. They are naturally given to living happily with kids and other animals. Being so human oriented, they just go bonkers if you ignore them. They want to go where you go, do what you do, and have a purpose for their lives.
- Give them attention. Give them exercise, rules, and appropriate affection. If you are willing to be their calm and certain pack leader, they are willing to do anything you ask of them. Make your Dane part of your family’s daily life, and he will be happy.
- Danes are giant dogs. I call them “super giants”, because they not only get well over 100 pounds, they stand around 3 feet at the shoulder. There can be as much as 6″ and 80 pound difference between a “small” Dane and a large one. Genetics is the strongest indicator of size. But they will scrunch into a VW Bug, and they will find a way to fit on the couch with four other people! So rule number one is to train them as babies to be calm and gentle.
- They slobber. But then, you would too if you had lips that big. I have slobber towels everywhere. They may look noble when standing pretty, but every single one of them has a cartoon character in their personality! So be prepared for considerable entertainment.
ADVICE FROM 30+ YEARS: Set your rules and train your Dane as soon as you get him home! If you don’t want him on the couch when he’s large enough to shove you off of it, don’t let him on the couch as a puppy. If you don’t want him running to the door and swallowing friends who come to visit in slobbery excitement, don’t let him do it as a puppy. Teach your Dane manners right from the start. You won’t need pinch collars, halters, or other manhandling tools if you train him as a baby.
If you live in an apartment and work all day, then take the time when you come home and on weekends to give your Dane exercise and interaction. Teach him to use the treadmill as a puppy, and the exercise will burn off extra energy. Take him in the car when you go to the grocery store. Take him to strip malls and dog shows, let him play with the neighborhood kids. Just having you do things with him is enough to keep your big buddy satisfied.
They are a light beige to warm tan color, with a black “mask” on the muzzle. Fawn are usually smaller in size, averaging 140-160 pounds. Occationally there will be white markings, but pup with white patches will not be shown or bred. Fawns in my experience are typically easy going and less stubborn than the blacks and variations of blacks, though some might argue that. They are getting harder to find now that the harlequins have become so popular.
Ranging from steel grey, to dark grey, Blue danes have a blueish cast to their coat. They seem to be larger and more muscular in general, but that’s just my opinion.
Blue Danes are somewhate rare, but certainly stunning. A cropped and stacked Blue Dane can be intimidating to strangers, just in appearance. But they too are big babies, like other Danes.
This has become the most popular color recently. Harls, as they are casually called, are usually much much bigger: males, and even bitches coming in at 36-37 inches tall and 180 pounds. I find them to be prone to looking “weedy”, in that the depth of chest and muscle can a bit less than other colors. There are more problems with deafness and blindness in Harls than other colors because of the genetic “accidental” coloring, much like Dalmations.
Brindles can have a light tan background to their “tiger strips” or a darker background like this picture that’s called a “reverse brindle”. They are in the “fawn” breeding lines, and will have a black mask. Brindles are a striking color and stand out! As for size, they are much like fawns, averaging 140-160 pounds.
Black Danes can be formidible looking to strangers, as well, but they’re still gentle giants. They tend to be more aloof and stubborn in my experience, but not always. These Danes here were neutered before 12 months, so you can see what I mean by “weedy” growth: the legs are very long and skinny, not substantial at all, and the chest is not wide or muscular.
As with black lines like Harls, mantles are much larger than their Fawn cousins. The biggest dog I ever had was a german mantle. Brazos was 38″ and 220 pound of red meat. He was on the really big end of Great Dane sizes. Most American mantles are about 160-180 pounds, though breeders are making them smaller too.
Merles are an accidental color, and are not allowed in dog shows, nor should they be bred. This pic gives you some idea of how tall a Dane can be! My merle was Shabah, and he was 36″ and 185 pounds. Merles can have more temperment problems than other colors, and they also can have more health issues.
All of these pictures are of American Great Danes, and below are some pictures of the European Danes, so you can see the physical differences between the breeding lines. My euro breeder has agreed to write an article explaining the differences in more detail, when she gets some time: she has 21 puppies from two huge litters right now (Feb 08), so have patience.
my boy Kenai’s Italian Daddy, Benicio. This is an excellent picture of the deep chest, and longer jowels of a Euro Dane. Euro Danes, especially in the UK look much more like their mastiff ancestors than the refined American Danes.
Danes come in all shapes, colors, personality, and sizes! They adjust to just about any human lifestyle that includes them in fun and interaction.