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What is a Great Dane?

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  • Written By: Sheri Cyprus
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 19 November 2016
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The Great Dane is a giant breed of smooth-coated dog. Only the Irish Wolfhound is taller than the Great Dane. Despite its huge size, the Great Dane is known for having a gentle nature that has earned this dog breed the nickname of "Gentle Giant."

The Great Dane breed was developed by mixing Greyhound and English Mastiff breeds. The Great Dane has nothing to do with Denmark, but was developed in Germany and England. Apparently, a French naturalist saw the breed in Denmark and the name Grand Danois, or Great Dane, stayed. The Great Dane is also called the Deutsche Dogge, or German dog.

Socialization of all dogs is important, but since the Great Dane often weighs more than some humans, early and proper socialization of this giant breed is absolutely crucial. After all, you have to be able to walk your dog, not let your dog walk you! Proper socialization means that the dog is not taken away from its mother too early and is exposed to all types of animals and people from a young age.

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In general, the Great Dane breed is known for having a calm disposition and that, plus its size, makes this breed desirable to use as helper dogs for physically disabled people. The Great Dane is a social breed that doesn't like to be left alone for too long or it may cause damage to property. These dogs are not made to be outdoor dogs and usually have thin coats. Surprisingly, the Great Dane is considered to be a good apartment dog as long as it gets two walks daily. Great Danes are not known for excessive barking.

Great Danes are easy to groom and they don't shed very much. The Great Dane coat is smooth, but thick and short, and usually does well with a combing using a grooming mitt or a brushing with a soft-bristled brush once a week. Six Great Dane coat colors are recognized by the American Kennel Club: Black, Mantle, Harlequin, Fawn, Brindle and Blue. The Blue is a gray-blue, the Mantle is black and white and the Harlequin is white with black patches. Giant dog breeds often need feeding twice a day as adults and raised dishes are often recommended for giant breeds to save strain on shoulder joints and to help ease digestion.

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