I get to see alot of Great Danes at the dog shows I go to. They are generally very calm and elegant. As a giant breed, they are fairly intimidating, however. In reality, they are known to be some of the best-natured dogs around.
As usual, where do you turn when you want to research something? The internet, of course. This info was picked up from several articles (AKC, DogInfo......) and from talking to people who own these amazing dogs.
I always love to learn about the history of a breed and these guys are pretty fascinating. Drawings of dogs resembling Great Danes have been dated to 3000 B.C. It is believed they have English Mastiff and maybe some Irish Wolfhound in their background. In the 16th century, they were used to hunt boars and were pretty ferocious.
In the 1700s, a French naturalist visiting Denmark saw a version of this dog and called it
Grand Danois; Great Dane. Some of the larger ones were called Danish Mastiffs. Either way, the Dane part stuck even they didn't come from Denmark.
In the 1800s, some German breeders worked to breed the ferocity out of the dogs and to otherwise refine them.
Fortunately, the result was a kind and patient dog, good with kids and eager to please. They are loyal defenders if they feel the need to defend. And since their size is enough to make a person think twice, they make pretty darn good guard dogs.
Great Danes are moderately active, requiring walks/exercise several times a day. Simply because of their size, a small house or apartment can be uncomfortable but they are usually fairly laid back. Because of their reach, special care has to be taken to keep stuff out of their reach. Getting ahold of something on a counter or on top of the refrigerator is easy for them.
Good socialization or puppy kindergarten is helpful since training early is easier since they aren't so big. They like to be busy so time alone can present challenges if they get bored.
Great Danes are generally healthy. Like other giant breeds, their life span is shorter than many dogs; only 7 to 10 years. They do tend to have hip dysplasia and growth problems if not fed correctly.
Overall, Great Danes seem to be fantastic family pets. The ones I've met sure are sweethearts.