Breed All About It – Dog Breeds starting With G – Great Dane

Dog Breeds starting With G – Great Dane

Narrator: Here’s a quiz what’s the tallest dog in the world? One of America’s favorite cartoon dogs. And a dog that was thought to protect people from ghost, that’s right – the Great Dane.

Andrea Arden: They’re called like the Apollo of the dog world and they definitely deserve that name, they’re beautiful.

Narrator: Powerful and athletic, yes. But the Great Dane’s calm disposition has led the gentle giant to be called the world’s largest lap dog.

Dr. Karen Halligan: I had a client the other day with his Great Dane, I kid you not, sitting on his lap in the waiting room.

Narrator: But the roots of this breed are anything but warm and fuzzy. First of all they’re not really Danish.

Andrea Arden: It’s interesting that their name is Great Dane when their origins has nothing to do with Denmark. They’re actually a German Mastiff.

Dr. Karen Halligan: I’m stumped. I’m not sure how the name Great Dane came up.

Narrator: Well no one really knows how the English name of this dog came to be Great Dane. The breed is part of the Mastiff family. Asiatic tribes likely brought Dane like dogs to Germany in the 5th century. There’s evidence of dogs resembling the Great Dane in ancient Rome, Egypt and even China. The breed we know today was developed in Germany about 400 years ago.

Dr. Karen Halligan: They were bred in Germany to hunt large prey, to patrol estates, and they were even used as war dogs.

Tyson Kilmer: It’s a Mastiff that’s mixed with a Greyhound.

Andrea Arden: I think sometimes people forget that underneath all that calm is still a very, very large guarding dog.

Narrator: The breed was also ascribed mystical powers in medieval times and was said to protect against evil spirits.

Tyson Kilmer: The Great Dane is a magical animal.

Narrator: Over the last hundred years the aggression and prey drive that made the dogs such as sought after hunter have largely been bred out of the breed. Today’s Great Danes prefer the couch to combat.

Dr. Karen Halligan: They lay on the couch, you better have a big bed. They are couch potatoes.

Narrator: The physical characteristics bred into this dog leave no doubt as to its original purpose. Start with great height.

Tyson Kilmer: It’s just a gigantic beast. We’re talking about paws that are the size of a man’s hand fully splayed.

Dr. Karen Halligan: The Great Dane is one of the tallest dogs along with the Irish Wolfhound.

Narrator: The Irish Wolfhound is actually on average taller than the Great Dane. But a Great Dane named Gibson currently holds the title of world’s tallest dog at 42.2 inches. While its cousin the English Mastiff is the heaviest dog at a hundred fifty pounds or more, the Great Dane is no pushover. In fact they like to do the pushing.

Andrea Arden: A lot of Danes to be leaners, they tend to be like Doberman’s dogs who like to step on your feet and kind of lean on you.

Narrator: Most of that height comes from proportionally long legs.

Dr. Karen Halligan: As big as they are, they’re just so beautiful to see because they’re not clumsy. They’re very graceful when they move.

Narrator: The head of the Great Dane is unmistakably Mastiff like. The top of the skull is almost exactly parallel to the large snout; this gives the dog a regal appearance. The Great Dane is one of the most varied of all breeds. They can weigh anywhere from 120 to 200 pounds and there are six coat color varieties. For the most part they do well almost anywhere, but Danes do need space.

Tyson Kilmer: This isn’t a dog that you cramp into an apartment. This is a dog that needs to stretch its legs out every single day.

Narrator: Its large size makes it critical to train this dog early. The Great Dane is a short-haired dog, so grooming is no sweat.

Tyson Kilmer: It’s as easy as hosing them off and sponge them down.

Narrator: Unfortunately health problems abound. This breed has one of the shortest life expectancies of all dogs at seven and a half years. While the legs are often the first to go Great Danes are prone to a devastating internal disorder.

Dr. Karen Halligan: They’re the number one breed of dog to get bloat. It’s the number one reason why a Great Dane dies and that’s unfortunate because you get such a close bond with them.

Narrator: Bloat can occur when a dog with a full stomach engages in heavy activity like exercise. Great Danes along with many other breeds have stomachs that are not attached to the rib cage. During heavy activity the stomach can flip blocking the intestinal tract. If not treated immediately bloat is extremely dangerous.

Tyson Kilmer: What we need to be doing is making sure that they eat their meal and they rest for a good 40 minutes to an hour before giving them any type of exercise.

Narrator: Despite the health concerns these dogs fit in well with families.

Andrea Arden: I think kids might tend to think that they could climb all over that dog, and ride it like a pony, climb on it when playing on the bed, and that’s really not a safe thing to do with any dog and certainly not a dog as large as the Great Dane.

Narrator: Not all dogs adhere to breed standards, but in general the Great Dane needs space. The breed does not live long. It has lots of health issues. They’re easy to groom. They’re easy to train but start early. Train and acclimate them early to children and they’ll be wonderful family dogs.

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