Natures Gentle Giants: Great Danes
Great Danes attract attention everywhere they go because of their huge size. Despite the fact that they quite look intimidating, these dogs are very gentle and affable dogs. The tallest Great Dane on record stood a staggering 7 foot high when standing on his rear legs!
Great Danes were originally used to hunt boar and they are categorized as working dogs. They are no longer used for hunting and they are generally kept as family dogs and for show purposes. Many different color patterns have been developed and some of these dogs can look truly striking.
Although Great Danes come in a wide range of colors and color patters, the American Kennel Club only recognizes 6 colors for show purposes: Harlequin, Brindle, Fawn, Black, Blue and Mantle. Harlequin coloration is a black and white pattern over the entire body, Mantle is a less intense variation of this color pattern where the dog is mainly white but has a black head and back. Black and Blue Great Danes may have white markings on the chest and feet but these are undesirable if the dog is to be used for showing. Fawn dogs are golden in color with a black mask round the face and a brindle has all the markings of a fawn colored dog but also has black stripes giving the dog a tiger like appearance.
Great Danes make great family pets as they get along well with other dogs and cats. Their friendly nature makes them good for households with children however they should always be supervised around children because of their extremely large size. Some individuals of the breed may be prone to chasing small prey due to their hunting origins but this is extremely rare and not very common in the breed as a whole.
Despite the fact that Great Danes are in the hunting group of dogs, they dont really need a lot of exercise. In fact it is unadvisable to let a Great Dane jog until after the age of a year to protect his bones. As with any dog they need to be walked regularly but are just as happy to lounge around the house. They do well in an apartment setting as long as they are walked daily.
As with other large breed dogs, Great Danes have a slow digestive system with a low metabolic rate and they dont need as much food as you would think. The breed is prone to GDV and bloat and these dogs shouldnt be allowed to drink or eat rapidly as this may trigger a gastrointestinal problem.
The breed is also prone to cardiovascular diseases, hip dysplasia, tumors and tail injuries. Average lifespan is commonly 8-10 years but some individuals have been known to live as long as 14 years. A strange phenomena that occurs with this breed is that any organs occurring in a white colored part of the dog will not develop properly: if there is white around the dogs ear, he will be deaf and if there is white around his eyes he will be blind. One of the major reasons these dogs are abandoned by their owners is because they are so large. These dogs retain their puppy-like playfulness as adults and this can make the difficult to handle due to their enormous size. Their friendly nature makes them ideal as indoor dogs and they dont do well being kept alone in a yard. Marmaduke and Scooby-Doo are famous cartoon characters that were based on the Great Dane.