Category Archives: Great Dane

How Some Popular Dog Breeds Got Their Name

Cocker Spaniel

By Linda Cole

Deciding on the perfect name for a new puppy or dog isn’t always easy to do. You want to pick one that fits his personality and is easy to learn. Now imagine coming up with a name for a new dog breed. The history of dog breeds is an interesting story. The history behind naming some of our popular dog breeds is also an intriguing tale.

Cocker Spaniel

Spaniels date back to the 14th century; they evolved over the years with some working on land and others working as water retrievers. These dogs were highly prized by English hunters for their outstanding ability to flush out and retrieve a large, short legged and bulky wading bird called a woodcock. This nocturnal bird spends most of the day hiding in dense cover. People started calling the dog “cocker,” and the name caught on.

Labrador Retriever

Newfoundland is the land of the Labrador Retriever, not Labrador. Fishermen around the Canadian province used a small water dog that was bred with Newfoundland dogs to produce a first-class swimmer called the St. John’s Water Dog, the ancestor of the Labrador. The breed had webbed feet and was used to retrieve fishermen’s nets from the icy waters and bring them back to shore. In the early 1800s, the Earl of Malmesbury saw one of the dogs in action and imported it to England. He trained his dogs to retrieve ducks and called them “Labrador dogs.” Even though the Earl was confused about which province his dogs came from, the name stuck as the dog became more popular.

Cairn Terrier

Cairn Terrier

This little dog was developed on the Isle of Skye, in Scotland. Farmers wanted a small, feisty dog with lots of courage, determination, intelligence and the ability to go to ground when necessary after prey. The Cairn Terrier was bred to hunt badger, otter, fox, rabbit and other vermin. They were especially good at digging prey out from under cairns, which are mounds of man-made piles of stone used in the Scottish Highlands as grave site memorials and boundary markers. People started calling the dogs Cairn, and that’s where the breed name came from.

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Do Great Danes Make Good Service Dogs?

By Linda Cole

When you think of service dogs, it’s the German Shepherd or Golden Retriever that comes to mind, not a huge dog like a Great Dane. However, this breed is finding a place as a service dog precisely because of their size. The Service Dog Project has been training these massive dogs to assist children and help war veterans have a better quality of life, and you can follow the development of six puppies on two different puppy cams.

The Great Dane is second only to the Irish Wolfhound when it comes to height. This working dog is from the mastiff group, and known as the “Apollo of all dogs” because evidence of the breed dates back to 36 B.C. The Great Dane is most likely a combination of the Irish Wolfhound and the old English mastiff, and was used in the early years as a war dog and hunting dog. Regardless of his name, the Great Dane is of German origin. This dog has the stamina that was needed to chase down wild boar and bear, and the strength and courage to stand up to his prey. He has also been used as an estate guard dog.

A service dog is trained to assist their owner with a specific disability. Mobility assistance dogs helps people who suffer from diseases like Rheumatoid Arthritis, Parkinson’s Disease, Muscular Dystrophy, Cerebral Palsy, spinal cord disease, stroke and brain injuries, as well as other diseases or conditions that limit a person’s mobility.

The Great Dane is a perfect breed to train as a service dog because of their giant size and gentle personality. Any dog that’s used to help give balance support for their owner needs to be at least 45 percent of the person’s height and 65 percent of their weight. It takes a strong, tall dog to give confidence to someone who needs support to walk and help to regain their balance if they start to fall.

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Life with Giant George, the World’s Tallest Dog

By Julia Williams

Great Danes are often called “gentle giants” for a very obvious reason – they are one of the largest dog breeds in the world. Great Danes are so big that they are shoo-ins for the Guinness Book of World Records in the Tallest Dog category. In fact, most of the title holders in that category are Great Danes, including Titan, Gibson and Harvey. Giant George, a gargantuan blue Great Dane from Tucson, Arizona, is the current “King of Dogs” with not one but TWO Guinness titles: Tallest Dog Ever and Tallest Dog Living.

Just How Big Is the World’s Biggest Dog?

Giant George is so impossibly tall that when people see his picture they cry “photoshopped fraud.” Snopes, the website famous for debunking internet untruths, said that Giant George “looks more like a miniature horse than a dog.” Indeed he does. But Snopes also said he’s a real dog, and Guinness reps confirmed it. They measured the super-sized Great Dane themselves, and said he stands 43 inches tall from paw to shoulder and is 7 feet 3 inches from nose to tail. The 5-year-old dog weighs 245 pounds (which is, incidentally, about 100 pounds heavier than the average Great Dane).

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Breed Profile: Great Dane, the "Gentle Giant"


By Ruthie Bently

I have known several Great Danes during my career as a pet care professional. I had clients that lived in an apartment with three of these “gentle giants.” A Great Dane can do well in an apartment if they get plenty of exercise at the dog park or on long walks, though I would not recommend them for everyone.

The Great Dane is the second largest dog, behind the Irish Wolfhound. A male Great Dane stands between 30 to 34 inches at the withers, and weighs between 120 to 200 pounds. A female stands between 28 to 32 inches at the shoulder, and weighs between 100 to 130 pounds. The AKC standard states “The male shall not be less than 30 inches at the shoulders, but it is preferable that he be 32 inches or more, providing he is well proportioned to his height. The female shall not be less than 28 inches at the shoulders, but it is preferable that she be 30 inches or more, providing she is well proportioned to her height. Danes under minimum height must be disqualified.”

Due to their size, there are a few things to consider before getting a Great Dane. They don’t have to jump up on a counter to surf; they are tall enough to set their head on the counter or the kitchen table. They can empty a table of its contents with one wag of their tail. Great Danes are good with children but they could knock over a small child unintentionally, so they need to be supervised with children. The size of your residence should also be considered. They won’t fit in most cars, and you need a fairly large vehicle for them to fit into comfortably. They have an energetic, friendly personality and are known for being elegant though strong. They require daily exercise, but their short coat is easily groomed. Acceptable coat colors are black, blue, brindle, harlequin, fawn and mantle.

The Great Dane is a member of the working group and was recognized by the AKC in 1887. The translation of the breed’s French name (grand Danois) means “big Danish,” though Denmark has nothing to do with their lineage. They were developed in Germany to hunt wild boar and to guard estates, and the breed is believed to be over 400 years old. Their lineage can be traced back to crosses between old English Mastiffs and Irish Wolfhounds. Drawings on Egyptian monuments from around 3000 B.C. are believed to resemble the Great Dane, and the earliest documentation of a dog resembling them dates back to 1121 B.C. in China.

I grew up reading the Sunday comics, and Marmaduke was one of my favorites. It’s drawn by Brad Anderson, who created it and it focuses on the Winslow family and their irrepressible Great Dane, Marmaduke. The movie Marmaduke (based on the comic strip) opened in theaters this past June. My definition of responsible pet ownership includes thoroughly researching a breed you are interested in adding as a member of your family. I mention this because every time Hollywood introduces a movie about a specific dog, everyone wants one. However, many of these dogs end up in shelters, because they were not the right breed for the person. After Beethoven, Saint Bernards flooded the shelters; after 101 Dalmatians it was Dalmatians, and after Beverly Hills Chihuahua it was Chihuahuas.

The Great Dane Club of America and the AKC both advised people against rushing out to get a Great Dane after seeing the Marmaduke movie. Read more about this giant breed here, and help prevent a plethora of Great Danes from ending up in shelters.

Read more articles by Ruthie Bently

The personal opinions and/or use of trade, corporate or brand names, is for information and convenience only. Such use does not constitute an endorsement by CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods of any product or service. Opinions are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods.