|A Harlequin Great Dane|
|Other names||German Mastiff
|Country of origin||Germany|
|Dog (Canis lupus familiaris)|
The Great Dane, also known as German Mastiff or Danish Hound, is a breed of domestic dog (Canis lupus familiaris) known for its giant size. The Great Dane is one of the world's tallest dog breeds; the current world record holder, measuring 112 cm (44 in) from paw to shoulder, is "Zeus". Great Danes were originally bred to hunt deer and wild boar.
As described by the American Kennel Club:
The Great Dane combines, in its regal appearance, dignity, strength and elegance with great size and a powerful, well-formed, smoothly muscled body. It is one of the giant working breeds, but is unique in that its general conformation must be so well balanced that it never appears clumsy, and shall move with a long reach and powerful drive. The Great Dane is a short haired breed with a strong galloping figure.
In the ratio between length and height, the Great Dane should be square. The male dog should not be less than 30 in (76 cm) at the shoulders, a female 28 in (71 cm). Danes under minimum height are disqualified.
From year to year, the tallest living dog is typically a Great Dane. Previous record holders include Gibson, Titan and George however the current record holder is a black Great Dane named Zeus who stands 112 cm (44 in) at the shoulder. He is also the tallest dog on record (according Guinness World Records), beating the previous holder who was a blue Great Dane named George, who stood 110 cm (43 in) at the shoulder.
The minimum weight for a Great Dane over eighteen months is 120 lb (54 kg) for males, 100 lb (45 kg) for females. Unusually, the American Kennel Club dropped the minimum weight requirement from its standard. The male should appear more massive throughout than the female, with a larger frame and heavier bone.
Great Danes have naturally floppy, triangular ears. In the past, when Great Danes were commonly used to hunt boars, cropping of the ears was performed to make injuries to the dogs' ears less likely during hunts. Now that Danes are primarily companion animals, cropping is sometimes still done for traditional and cosmetic reasons. In the 1930s when Great Danes had their ears cropped, after the surgery two devices called Easter Bonnets were fitted to their ears to make them stand up. Today, the practice is common in the United States but much less common in Europe. In some European countries such as the United Kingdom, Ireland, Denmark, Germany, parts of Australia, and in New Zealand, the practice is banned, or controlled to only be performed by veterinary surgeons.
Coat colors 
- Fawn: The color is yellow gold with a black mask. Black should appear on the eye rims and eyebrows, and may appear on the ears.
- Brindle: The color is fawn and black in a chevron stripe pattern. Often also they are referred to as having a tiger-stripe pattern.
- Blue: The color is a pure steel blue. White markings at the chest and toes are not desirable and considered faults.
- Black: The color is a glossy black. White markings at the chest and toes are not desirable and considered faults.
- Harlequin: The base color is pure white with black torn patches irregularly and well distributed over the entire body; a pure white neck is preferred. The black patches should never be large enough to give the appearance of a blanket, nor so small as to give a stippled or dappled effect. Eligible, but less desirable, are a few small grey patches (this grey is consistent with a Merle marking) or a white base with single black hairs showing through, which tend to give a salt and pepper or dirty effect. (Have the same link to deafness and blindness as Merle and white danes.)
- Mantle (in some countries referred to as Bostons due to the similar coloration and pattern as a Boston Terrier): The color is black and white with a solid black blanket extending over the body; black skull with white muzzle; white blaze is optional; whole white collar preferred; a white chest; white on part or whole of forelegs and hind legs; white tipped black tail. A small white marking in the black blanket is acceptable, as is a break in the white collar
Other colors occur occasionally but are not acceptable for conformation showing, and they are not pursued by breeders who intend to breed show dogs. These colors include white, fawnequin, merle, merlequin, blue merle, fawn mantle, and others. Some breeders may attempt to charge more for puppies of these "rare" colors. However, the breeding of white and merle Danes is particularly controversial, as these colors may be associated with genes that produce deafness. Although they cannot be shown, white or merle Danes can usually still be registered as pedigree dogs.
The Great Dane's large and imposing appearance belies its friendly nature. The breed is often referred to as a "gentle giant". Great Danes are generally well disposed toward other dogs, other non-canine pets, and humans but strangers are obviously an exception. They generally do not exhibit extreme aggressiveness or a high prey drive. The Great Dane is a very gentle and loving animal and with the proper care and training is great around children, especially when being raised with them. However, if not properly socialized a Great Dane may become fearful or aggressive towards new stimuli, such as strangers and new environments.
Like most dogs, Great Danes require daily walks to remain healthy. However it is important not to over exercise this breed, particularly when young. Great Dane puppies grow very large, very fast, which puts them at risk of joint and bone problems. Because of a puppy's natural energy, Dane owners often take steps to minimize activity while the dog is still growing.
Given their large size, Great Danes continue to grow (mostly gaining weight) longer than most dogs. Even at one year of age a Great Dane will continue to grow for several more months.
Great Danes, like most giant dogs, have a fairly slow metabolism. This results in less energy and less food consumption per pound of dog than in small breeds. Great Danes have some health problems that are common to large breeds, including bloat (gastric dilatation volvulus)(GDV). The average life span of Great Danes is 6 to 8 years. Like many larger breeds, Great Danes are at particular risk for hip dysplasia.
Dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) and many congenital heart diseases are also commonly found in the Great Dane, leading to its nickname: the Heartbreak breed, in conjunction with its shorter lifespan. Great Danes also may carry the merle gene, which is part of the genetic makeup that creates the harlequin coloring. The merle gene is an incomplete dominant, meaning only one copy of the gene is needed to show the merle coloring; two merle genes produce excessive white markings and many health issues such as deafness, blindness, or other debilitating ocular issues.
Dogs resembling the Great Dane have been seen on Egyptian monuments dating back to 3,000 BC. According to Barbara Stein, "The breed originated in Germany, probably from a cross between the English mastiff and the Irish Wolfhound." In the early 1700s, a French naturalist, the Comte de Buffon, first saw these dogs while traveling in Denmark. He labelled the breed "le Grande Danois" or Great Dane. For some reason, the name stuck - although only in English. (The Germans continued to refer to the breed as the "Deutsche Dogge".) So, although Denmark has absolutely no part to play in the story of the history of Great Danes, the dog is nevertheless tied to it, albeit in name only. According to Jacob Nicolay Wilse, the Danes called the dog "large hound", a terminology continued well into the 20th century. As late as 1780 in Germany the hound is referred to as "Grosser Dänischer Jagdhund" (English: Large Danish Hunting Hound). At the first dog exhibition, held in Hamburg on 14–20 July 1863, eight dogs were called "Dänische Dogge" and seven "Ulmer Dogge". Most fanciers today credit Germany with the well-balanced, elegant Great Dane as we know it. It is known that German nobility imported these English Boar Hounds until the 17th and 18th centuries, by which time they had developed their own breeding stock and no longer needed the imports. In 1880, a Dr. Bodinus held a meeting in Berlin where judges and breeders agreed that the breed as developed by the Germans was distinctly different from the stockier English Mastiffs and would henceforth be known solely as the Deutsche Dogge, or German Dog. The Deutsche Doggen Club of Germany was founded, and the name Deutsche Dogge took hold in parts of Europe. The Germans had a hard time convincing other countries to accept the breed name, however. The Italians to this day call the breed "Alano", which means mastiff. In England, the United States and other English-speaking countries, the dogs are called Great Danes.
Popular culture 
- Fang, Hagrid's dog from the Harry Potter series, is a boarhound, another name for Great Danes. Though in the movie, the role was played by a Neapolitan Mastiff.
- English poet Alexander Pope (1688-1744) kept a Great Dane named Bounce. Pope, who was crippled, physically weak and subject to threats due to his frequent lampoons, never left his house without Bounce for protection. His dog was immortalized in his poem, "Bounce to Fop",  a satirical address from his dog to the royal dog Fop, and also in the painting "Alexander Pope and His Dog, Bounce" (1718) by Jonathan Richardson .
- Manchester United goalkeeper Peter Schmeichel was nicknamed the "Great Dane".
- The Great Dane was named the state dog of Pennsylvania in 1965.
- Scooby-Doo, the famous Hanna-Barbera character, was based on a Great Dane by animation designer Iwao Takamoto. Takamoto based his illustrations on sketches given to him by a Hanna-Barbera employee who bred this dog. Scooby closely resembles a Great Dane, although his tail is longer than the breed's, bearing closer resemblance to a cat's tail.
- The athletic teams of the University at Albany have been known as the Great Danes since 1965. Damien The Great Dane has been the mascot since that time. In 2003, the school added Lil' D, a smaller Great Dane, to help Damien entertain the crowds.
- Astro, the dog in The Jetsons.
- Brutus in The Ugly Dachshund, a Great Dane raised by a Dachshund mother.
- Marmaduke is a newspaper comic strip drawn by Brad Anderson from 1954 to the present day. The strip revolves around the Winslow family and their Great Dane, Marmaduke.
- Singer, the main but tragic hero of The Guardian, a novel by Nicholas Sparks.
- Elmer, a Great Dane in Oswald the Lucky Rabbit by Walter Lantz
- In each film version of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's The Hound of the Baskervilles, a Great Dane was cast as the cursed hellhound that kills the Baskerville family.
- Ace the Bat-Hound, from the Batman TV series, was depicted as a Great Dane mix.
- Ben, Hōgen, and Genba from Japanese anime and manga, Ginga Nagareboshi Gin and Ginga Densetsu Weed.
- Just Nuisance who was the only dog to be officially enlisted in the Royal Navy. Done mainly as a morale booster for World War II enlisted troops, Nuisance proved to be a lasting legacy of the small Cape Town suburb of Simons Town.
See also 
- Reichshund, term used in Germany for Bismarck's Great Danes and for a while for the breed
- Becker,The Great Dane - Embodying a Full Exposition of the History, Breeding Principles, Education, and Present State of the Breed (a Vintage Dog Books Breed Classic): Embodying a Full Exposition the History, Breeding Principles, Education, and Present State of the Breed, Published by READ BOOKS, 2005, ISBN 1-905124-43-0.
- "By Zeus! 7'4 Great Dane and 2’6 bull from Armagh in latest Guinness Book of Records". Irish Independent. Retrieved 13 September 2012.
- "Great Dane Breed Standard". American Kennel Club. 1999.
- "UK Kennel Club Breed Standard"
- Post http://www.independent.ie/entertainment/books/by-zeus-74-great-dane-and-26-bull-from-armagh-in-latest-guinness-book-of-records-3228529.html Post. Retrieved 13 September 2012. Missing or empty
- "New Zealand Kennel Club standard"
- Cunliffe, Juliette (2005). The Complete Encyclopedia of Dog Breeds. UK: Parragon Publishing. ISBN 1-4054-4389-8.
- "Easter Bonnets for Dogs Make Ears Stand Erect" Popular Mechanics, December 1934
- Great Dane: A Comprehensive Guide to Owning and Caring for Your Dog, Kennel Club Book, 2003, ISBN 1-59378-273-X
- Biniok, Janice. Great Dane : a practical guide for the Great Dane. Neptune City, NJ: T.F.H. Publications. ISBN 079384178X.
- "The Great Dane Adoption Society, Care Advice"
- "All about Great Danes.com". All about Great Danes.com Exercise Advice. 2012. Retrieved 2012-04-05.
- "Summary results of the Purebred Dog Health Survey for Great Danes". Kennel Club/British Small Animal Veterinary Association Scientific Committee. 2004. Retrieved 29 March 2010.
- "National Health Survey". Great Dane Club of America. 2004. Retrieved 29 March 2010.
- Collier's Encyclopedia, 1993, sv Great Dane
- "IS THE HISTORY OF THE GREAT DANE ENGLISH OR GERMAN?". www.about-great-danes.com. Retrieved 24 January 2013.
- "Fuldstændig beskrivelse af stapelstaden Fridericia – efter pålidelige underretninger og egne undersøgninger." 1767, p176
- Edward C. Ash: Practical Dog Book, 1931, "The Great Dane"
- Bulletin Officiel de la Société Canine de Monaco, August 1938
- "History of the Great Dane". Illini Great Dane Club. Retrieved 24 January 2013.
- State Symbols USA, www.statesymbolsusa.org
- "Iwao Takamoto, 81, the Animation Artist Who Created Scooby-Doo, Dies", by Susan Stewart, January 10, 2007, The New York Times
- "Iwao Takamoto, cartoonist who created Scooby-Doo, dies at 81", The Associated Press, January 9, 2007, Canadian Broadcasting Corporation
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