Breed Spotlight: the Great Dane

Although the name indicates that the Great Dane hails from Denmark, the name is the only Danish element of the breed. In fact, the exact origins of the Great Dane are unclear to this day. It is believed that this magnificent breed is descended from the ancestors of the modern-day Old English Mastiffs, Irish Wolfhounds, and the ancient Alaunt Mastiffs. 

For centuries, ancient Germans and Celts used large and powerful boarhounds to take down large game, such as wild boar and cattle. These dogs were also used to defend home and country during war times. Being impressive in size and talent, the dogs were soon claimed by German dignitaries to guard their estates and serve as a status symbol of power and nobility. In fact, the ancestors of the modern Great Dane were so loved by their statesmen, that in 1876 the Deutsche Dogge—as they are called in their homeland—was declared the national dog of Germany. 

The first Deutsche Dogges were imported to the United States in the middle of the 1800s, where its inaccurate reputation as a malicious guard dog preceded it. Just as in his home country, the Deutsche Dogge’s impressive size, attractive physique, and numerous talents caught the eye of many dog enthusiasts who quickly set to work on correcting unjust breed stereotypes by producing sound and even-tempered ambassadors of the breed. The breed is now one of the most easily recognized dog breeds in the world thanks in part to such celebrity personalities as Scooby Doo and Marmaduke.

Want to learn more about the Great Dane? Click here for the full breed standard.


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