Dog Breed profiles

Great Dane Breed Profile

Great Dane fact file

KC Group: Working
Size: X large
Height: Minimum height over age of 18 months: Dogs 76cm; bitches: 71cm
Weight: Minimum weight over age of 18 months: Dogs 54kg; bitches: 46kg
Average lifespan: 8 years
Good with children?: Seek breeder advice
Exercise requirement: Lots
Good guard dogs?: Yes
Moulting level: Low
Grooming: Little
Colour: Brindle, fawn, blue, black, harlequin, and mantle are the standard colours
Jogging partner: Short runs


The following conditions are known within the breed:
  • Heart problems.
  • Hip dysplasia.
  • Glaucoma.
  • Gastric dilatation volvulus (bloat).
  • Cervical spondylopathy (wobbler’s syndrome).
Great Danes are prone to cardiomyopathy, which is the deterioration of the heart muscle. The condition is life threatening.
Hip dysplasia is the malformation of the hip joint.
Glaucoma occurs when the pressure of the fluid inside the eyeball becomes high. The internal structure of the eye is destroyed. The condition is painful and must be caught early if the dog’s sight is to be saved.
Bloat is a life-threatening condition where the stomach can twist and cut off the blood supply. The condition can develop suddenly and immediate veterinary help is needed to save the dog’s life.
The breed is also susceptible to wobbler’s syndrome which is the instability or malformation of the spine in the neck area. It can cause lameness and gets its name from the unsteady gait shown in suffering dogs.
Health tests
Kennel Club assured breeders are strongly recommended to use the following: the British Veterinary Association/Kennel Club hip dysplasia scheme. Breeders should only breed from dogs that have a hip score well below the breed mean score of 12; the breed club heart testing scheme.
Kennel Club assured breeders are also strongly recommended not to produce a litter from a bitch under the age of two.
The Great Dane is being monitored under the British Veterinary Association/Kennel Club/International Sheep Dog Society eye scheme for glaucoma.


  • Intelligent and dignified.
  • Very tolerant and quite sensitive.
  • Devoted and loving.


  • Contrary to general belief, you don’t need a huge house to own a Great Dane. As long as he is well exercised and comfortable he will be happy.
  • Great Danes want to spend time with their families. They are not suitable for those who work all day, but can be left for a few hours.
  • They show a tolerance and affection towards children, although interactions should be supervised.
  • They get on with other pets.
  • Puppies need short, structured exercise two or three times a day. Prolonged exercise can damage their rapidly growing bones.
  • Adult Great Danes need around 40 minutes of exercise a day, but will be happy to go much longer.


  • Great Danes are eager to please making them relatively easy to train.
  • It is important to start training and socialisaion early as any problems can be compounded because they are so large.
  • They can take part in many dog activities. There are even some groups specifically for large breeds.

General care

  • The Great Dane’s short coat needs grooming once a week.
  • These dogs tend to show their age around seven years old. They will value routine more than ever and tend to be more affected by the cold.


  • Faithful and tolerant.
  • A good guard dog.
  • Eager to please.


  • Short life expectancy.

Did you know?

  • Great Danes were originally used as hunting dogs to catch wild boar.
  • The breed was introduced to Britain in 1877.
  • They make excellent watchdogs and guard dogs.