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Great Dane

Despite their imposing size and appearance, the Great Dane is a gentle giant with an easy-going disposition. Originally bred as hunting dogs in Germany, they now make popular family pets. 

The name Great Dane originates from the French phrase Grand Danois meaning “Big Danish.” But the name is a misnomer, as the breed originated in Germany and not Denmark, as the name would have your think. In 1876, the Great Dane was declared Germany’s National Dog, and in 1880, the breed was officially referred to as “Deutsche Dogge” or “German Mastiff”. Dating back to the Middle Ages, the Great Dane was selectively bred as a hunter and guardian. The Great Dane has ancestral ties to Tibetan and English Mastiffs, Greyhounds, and the Irish Wolfhound. 

Great Danes are a giant dog breed ranging from around 71 to 81cm in height and weighing between 45 to 55kgs. Females tend to be smaller than males.  They come in a variety of colours including fawn, brindle, blue, black, and harlequin, which is a patchy coat pattern. The average lifespan is 7 to 9 years.


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Dog Breed Facts & Characteristics


Germany, 1800’s 

Also known as 

Grand Danois, Deutsche Dogge, German Mastiff, German Boarhound, “Apollo of dogs”


Giant; 71 to 81cm high, 45 to 55kgs

Weight Range

45 to 55kgs


Fawn, brindle, blue, black, harlequin

Life expectancy

7 to 9 years 


Short and thick, sheds 


Courageous, friendly, and gentle 

Activity levels

Moderately active 

Best suited for

Active households of experienced dog people 

Apartment friendly

Better suited to larger properties 


Great Danes are known for being friendly, gentle, and affectionate with their owners, but can be cautious with strangers. Although they are generally friendly with children, their large stature may not make them a suitable option for households with very small children who can be easily pulled or knocked over by an over exuberant Dane. As dogs bred for hunting, some individuals still have strong predatory drives and may be aggressive towards other animals. Therefore, it is very important to show caution if introducing a Great Dane to other pets or small animals. Early training and socialization with other animals, environments and people is vital to help ensure a well-balanced and polite dog later in life. Great Dane’s are moderately active and need daily exercise and sufficient room to romp. This means they are better suited to larger properties as apartment life will cramp their style. Overall, the Great Dane can make a great family pet in a reasonably active household of experienced dog people. 


The Great Dane has a short, dense, coat that sheds but is quite low maintenance. Flea control all year around is recommend as is tick control if in a tick area. 


When choosing a food for your Great Dane, select a premium large breed dog food appropriate to your dog’s age. Help your fur baby avoid becoming overweight by ensuring that you follow the recommended feeding guides on the food appropriate to your pet's size. Make sure your dog always has a supply of fresh, clean water available.

Common health concerns 

According to PetSure claims data over the 2020 calendar year, the top reasons why Great Danes visited the Vet excluding routine visits such as vaccinations included allergic skin disease, arthritis, gastrointestinal problems, cancers and other musculoskeletal complaints such as back pain.   

Table: The five most common reasons for Great Danes to visit the vet (excluding routine care visits) according to PetSure data in the 2020 calendar year:



Average cost for single treatment
(average pet insurance claim amount)

Highest cost for single treatment (highest pet insurance claim seen for this condition)


Skin conditions, including allergic skin disease 








Gastrointestinal tract problems, including gastritis and Canine Haemorrhagic Gastroenteritis (HGE)




Cancers and tumours




Musculoskeletal complaints, including lameness and back pain 



Disclaimer: Reimbursement for these claims would be subject to limits, such as annual benefit limits or sub-limits, benefit percentage, applicable waiting periods and any applicable excess. Cover is subject to the policy terms and conditions. You should consider the relevant Product Disclosure Statement or policy wording available from the relevant provider

Most popular Great Dane names (PetSure data 2020)

Most popular names

  1. George
  2. Duke
  3. Luna
  4. Odin
  5. Willow
  6. Zeus
  7. Cleo
  8. Moose
  9. Arlo 
  10. Arthur

Most popular female names

  1. Luna
  2. Willow
  3. Cleo
  4. Ash
  5. Frankie
  6. Gracie
  7. Lily
  8. Lola
  9. Peggy
  10. Roxy 

Most popular male names

  1. George
  2. Duke
  3. Odin
  4. Zeus
  5. Moose
  6. Arlo
  7. Arthur
  8. Archer
  9. Benson
  10. Bentley

Did you know?

Freddy, an eight and a half-year-old Great Dane held the record as the Guinness World Records “tallest dog living (male)” until his passing in January 2021. Freddy, who lived in Essex, England, measured 1.035 m from foot to withers and stood 2.26 m tall on his hind legs. Ironically, Freddy was the smallest of his litter, but eventually grew to weigh 89 kg!

Where can I get a Great Dane?

Although they are a pure breed of dog, breed specific rescues may have Great Danes for adoption. It may also be possible to find a wonderful giant dog for your family at the local shelter or rescue organisation who is looking for a loving home. 


  1. American Kennel Club, Great Dane, Accessed on 06/05/2021
  2. Australian National Kennel Council, Great Dane, Accessed on 06/05/2021 
  3. Guinness World Records 2021, Freddy, The World’s Tallest Dog, Dies Aged 8, Accessed on 29/04/2021 

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Kylie Mitchell is a veterinarian with over 17 years experience in animal health and welfare, including in the veterinary and pet insurance industries

She has three rescue cats (Noah, Bei Bei and Meeka), four very old cockatiels and a pond-full of fish.

Kylie's pets

Bei Bei
Bei Bei