Easily one of the most recognizable dog breeds, the Great Dane is sure to turn heads. Known as the “Apollo of Dogs” and the “World’s Largest Lapdog,” the many sides of the Great Dane have helped propel this breed to popularity.

Bred for Power

The Great Dane got his start in the forest of what is now Germany. Bred for power, the speed and strength of this hunting super-dog helped ancient tribes take down the fierce and savage wild boar. The Dane’s ancestors certainly knew how to make an impression, with ancient representations of these dogs found as far as Egypt and Rome.

Even as the need to hunt big game declined, the desire for this colossal breed continued to grow. As the Great Dane transitioned from hunter to house pet, his aggression and prey instinct was swapped for good nature and patience, creating the “gentle giant” we know and love today.

Gentle Giant

The Great Dane certainly lives up to his name. Weighing from 120 to 200 pounds, he stands from 2 to 3 feet tall at the shoulders. Distinguished and expressive, the Great Dane holds his rectangular head high on an arched neck, portraying nobility.

Grooming a Great Dane is relatively easy. His short, thick coat, which needs occasional brushing, can be fawn, brindle, blue, black, mantle, or harlequin, a pattern unique to the breed.

World’s Largest Lap Dog

Once a canine warrior, the modern Great Dane is more likely to be a couch potato. Sweet and docile, this dog forms strong bonds with his owners and loves to be near them. The Dane has a reputation for clinging to his owners and is known to lean against his favorite person. He can even attempt to crawl into their laps, rightfully earning him the nickname “World’s Largest Lapdog.”

However, don’t let his low-key nature fool you — this big dog still needs to stretch his long limbs daily. The Great Dane generally doesn’t reach full height until about 3 years of age, so be careful not to cause additional stress on his body during exercise. With proper care, the Great Dane can make a loving and loyal family member.

Photo Credit: Everett P. Smith