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10 Interesting Great Dane Facts You Might Not Know

Written by: Sarah Psaradelis

Last Updated on April 22, 2024 by Dogster Team

two great dane dogs in the forest

10 Interesting Great Dane Facts You Might Not Know

Great Danes descended from large hunting dogs. They are characterized as one of the largest dog breeds in the world, which is understandable with their massive size. Despite their size, Great Danes are regarded as the “gentle giants” of the canine world and are equally as sociable as they are protective.

If you are looking for more fascinating facts surrounding Great Danes, this article might have a few facts you didn’t know.

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The 10 Facts About Great Danes

1. Great Danes Are a German Dog Breed

Great Danes are a German breed with ancestors that have been around for centuries. They descended from Mastiff-type dogs that were imported to European countries from England. These ancient dogs were not a recognized breed and were known as “English dogs”. They were used to hunt bears and wild boars with the help of a huntsman. Their name was changed in the 19th century to “German boarhound.”

Due to the Geopolitical tensions, their name changed to “Great Dane,” which was taken from their French name Grand Danios, or “Big Danish”. However, Great Danes are called “German mastiffs” in Germany. Great Danes were used by German Nobles who trained them to protect their country estates from intruders.

great dane dog standing by the sea
Image Credit: RugliG, Shutterstock

2. Great Danes Are Not a High-Energy Breed

You might expect such a large and intimidating dog breed to be very active. However, Great Danes are often fondly described as lazy and laid-back. Although their “lazy” disposition is normal for their breed, they still require plenty of exercise and playtime to keep busy. You don’t want your Great Dane to get too comfortable lounging around all day.

It’s important to encourage them to be active. Most Great Danes have no problem snoozing for about 12 to 18 hours a day, especially if they have nothing better to do.

3. Harlequin Great Danes Are Incredibly Rare

Great Danes are available in various colors and patterns, with some being rarer than others. The incredibly rare harlequin pattern is caused by a Merle (M) gene mutation, resulting in distinctive cow-like markings.

According to the AKC breed standard, the Harlequin Great Dane’s base color is white with torn black patches throughout. The breed standard mentions that merle patches are normal.1 There are also several mismarked Harlequin Great Danes, such as a brindle coat pattern, blue Harlequin Great Dane, and Merlequin Great Dane.

great dane dog standing on grass
Image Credit: Al_Er, Shutterstock

4. They Were Believed to Repel Evil Entities

During the Middle Ages, Great Danes were believed to ward off evil entities. This is likely because of the protective nature that made them excellent guardians over the German nobility’s estates. There was a belief that these dogs could sense entities and protect their owners from them. Some Great Dane owners would sleep close to their dogs to protect them from nightmares too.

5. Great Danes Are Germany’s National Dogs

With their tall and muscular frames, gentle nature, and German origins, it’s clear why Great Danes are Germany’s national dogs. These noble dogs originate from Germany and one of their original names, Deutsche dogge or “German mastiff, is still used there. In 1876, the Great Dane was elected as Germany’s national dog.

great dane dog standing on grass
Image Credit: belu gheorghe, Shutterstock

6. Great Danes Naturally Have Floppy Ears

If you are used to seeing Great Danes with short ears, you might be surprised to know that their ears are naturally floppy. Their ears were cropped short when they were used as hunting dogs, as their ears were a liability when hunting wild boars. Cropping their ears helped prevent the wild boars from biting at them and wasn’t for aesthetic purposes.

Although you might find some Great Danes have cropped ears nowadays, it isn’t as popular as it was decades ago.

7. Scooby Doo Is a Great Dane

The popular television show Scooby-Doo features a Great Dane as the main character. Production designer Iwao Takamoto was the one to design Scooby-Doo’s character in a similar way to Great Danes. Takamoto made sure to get the traits right by taking notes from a Great Dane breeder.

Scooby-Doo has a tall size, bowed legs, a sloped tail, and a sloping chin inspired by Great Danes.

great dane dog standing outdoor in snow
Image Credit: Dmussman, Shutterstock

8. Great Danes Are the Official State Dogs of Pennsylvania

In 1995, Great Danes were declared the national state dogs of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. They earned this title because they were used as devoted working and hunting dogs in Pennsylvania. Great Danes have a noble history in Pennsylvania and were even depicted in the Governor’s reception room painting.

9. Great Danes Are Found in 7 Official Colors

Great Danes are available in seven official coat colors recognized in the AKC breed standard. The AKC also recognizes other colors such as white and gray to complete the official colors and patterns.

  • Fawn
  • Mantle
  • Blue
  • Black
  • Merle
  • Brindle
  • Harlequin
Great dane dog in the forest in autumn
Image Credit: Angyalosi Beata, Shutterstock

10. They Are the Tallest Dogs in the World

Great Danes as a breed are the second tallest in the world next to the Irish Wolfhound. However, the tallest dog on record was a Great Dane. The average Great Dane stands at a whopping 28 to 32 inches tall and can weigh up to 175 pounds. The tallest dog in the world was Zeus, a male Great Dane from Texas. Zeus stood at a staggering 41 inches (3 feet 5.18 inches) tall and was the largest of his litter.

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There are many interesting facts surrounding Great Danes. These dogs have a noble history as hunting and working dogs while being excellent guardians and faithful companions. Great Danes are one of the most popular purebred dogs in the world and have been made the official state dog for Pennsylvania and the national dog of Germany.

Their popularity has earned them a place in a popular television series and has even been on record as the tallest dog in the world.

Featured Image Credit: Al_Er, Shutterstock

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