The Apollo of dogs, Great Dane is amongst the tallest of dogs. A dog who has it all — magnificence, royalty and power. Read on to find out more about Dane magic … Iwalked into a colleague’s house, just to be greeted by one of my favourite breeds — the “Great Dane”. Little did I realise that the people accompanying me disappeared, literally into thin air, my focus being totally on the dog — a Harlequin (white base with black patches) with blue eyes. I was completely awestruck. The moment froze and it felt completely like a typical Hindi movie scene – my sweetheart was right in front of me! Just then, the owner interrupted and introduced “Angel” to me, I definitely agreed! From that moment on, Angel and I became friends. It took a whole lot of coaxing to get my other friends in, as they did not believe that Angel is a “Gentle Giant”. Needless to say, they had a tough time and had to literally force me to leave, when we were through with our social call. Such is the magic of Great Danes.
The personality of a Great Dane goes beyond words. He is a handsome dog, with a huge and sturdy body. And behind this huge body, is a heart of gold. Great Danes make very good companions. They are sensitive and highly affectionate. They are spirited, courageous, friendly and dependable, never timid or aggressive. They are the gentle giants and are excellent with children. They’ve got that majestic and a diplomatic look on their faces.
They were originally developed in Germany to hunt wild boar and stags but today they make excellent pets due to their nice temperament. He is the gentlest and the kindest dog with his own family and friends. Great Danes love human company and when segregated from human company, they can become unruly and destructive.
Often considered as the king of dogs, Great Dane is extremely loyal, dependable and devoted. They are spirited and courageous. Rajesh Katyal, one of the renowned breeders of Great Danes, recalls his experience with his pet “Bony”, a female Great Dane, who had been terribly ill and no treatment worked on her. She had been lying in the corner of the room for more than 48 hrs. As Rajesh sat on the mattress on the other side, he saw her suddenly get up and come toward him. Wow, he was happy to see her move. She came near him, sat right next to him and put her head in his laps, which she would normally do, but this time she slept forever. It was her unconditional love and her will to be with her master which made her gather the strength to walk a few steps just before she passed away in his arms. Such is the loyalty of Great Danes. Rajesh particularly admires the Great Dane’s combination of beauty and brains, accompanied with great sensitivity towards their owners.
The general appearance?: The Great Dane combines within himself size, substance, elegance, strength with a well developed smoothly muscled body — all put together with a very regal appearance. The Great Dane is one of the giants of the working breeds and should never appear clumsy therefore his general conformation should be very well balanced and should move with a long reach and a powerful drive. The Great Dane should be very friendly, spirited, courageous and dependable but should never be timid in nature. It is this mental and physical combination in his characteristic, which makes a Great Dane majestic. The Great Dane expressions should give an impression of great masculinity in dogs and femininity in the females. Any deviation or lack of breed type as defined in the standard is a very serious fault.
Size and proportion?: The males are massive with larger frame and heavier bones and are often square in proportion. Females should be square but a somewhat longer body is permissible, providing she is well proportioned to her height. The average height of males is around 30-32” at the shoulders while that for females is 28-30”. (Seems huge!) The average weight of dogs is 54-90 kgs while that for females is 45-59 kgs. (Sounds similar with the weights of human beings!) Unfortunately, they have a shorter life span of around 7-10 years.
These dogs are found in five colours (six in US including mantle?– black and white with a solid black blanket extending over the body). These include fawn (yellow gold with black mask), brindle (deep yellow colour brindled with strong black cross stripes), blue (pure steel blue), black (glossy) and harlequin (pure white base colour with black torn patches irregularly and well distributed over the body).
Training?: Even though a Great Dane is a huge creature, he is a child at heart, forget the saying, ‘spare the rod, spoil the child’ as this dog needs a gentle training. Any harsh treatment will only make it distrustful and edgy. Training should be motivational, an untrained Great Dane could be a serious hazard. A proper training plan must be made from the time one gets the pup home. The Great Dane puppy needs lot of love and attention. They need to be fed a moderate protein and fat diet. Socialization is very important. Lots of love, correct diet and play will help your puppy grow into a handsome/ pretty individual.
Grooming?: Quality time to spend with your pet, a daily quick brush for your short-haired Dane would keep you in touch with his health, bathing is a major chore for this tall dog and one needs time energy and patience! Like other dogs, Danes also require regular ear cleaning, dental care and toe-nail trimming. They need plenty of exercise – at the least a daily routine of long walk or run is essential. Care should be taken of the exercise given to puppies as their bones are still forming. Puppies enjoy exercising themselves in free space.
Common heredity problems:
As all dogs, this breed is also susceptible to various diseases. Some of these include:
- Hip dysplasia or poor formation of the hip joint where the head of the thigh bone does not fit snugly into the pelvic socket, is one of the most common problems.
- Bone disorders : The Great Danes suffer from bone disorders like–Hypertrophic Osteodystrophy (HOD), Osteochondritis Dessicans (OCD) and Panosteitis.
- Hypothyroidism is also an abnormality seen in Great Danes. It is a generalized metabolic disease characterized by malfunction of the thyroid gland, which cause lethargy, weight gain, hair loss and skin problems.
- Bloat is a condition where a dog’s stomach produces excessive gas and enlarges severely enough to cause death. It is usually associated with gastric torsion (a condition where the stomach twists, thereby impeding input and output).
- Cardiomyopathy is a disease of weakened heart muscles.
The breed might have problems like wobbler’s syndrome, capped elbows and thickening of skin on pressure points. Care of the puppy begins with careful selection of parents to produce the litter. Akshay, a proud owner of a Great Dane, opines, “Lots of care need to be taken in bringing up a Great Dane pup. Especially during the first 6 months of the dog’s age, one needs to be very careful with their overall growth, one needs to take special care of their diet to avoid any bone related disorders”.
In a nutshell, the Great Dane is a people-oriented dog, a gentle-giant which is loving and kind – a truly companion dog!
(Inputs from Rajesh Katyal, a breeder of Great Danes since 1987. Breeding under the prefix “Paquin”, his aim is to produce top show quality Great Danes as defined in the breed standard, keeping strong emphasis on health, soundness and socialization. He can be contacted at 0120-2570872, 9899113993, or e-mail at email@example.com)