The Great Dane has been known by many names, including the Deutsche Dogge, the Grand Danois (an old French designation meaning “big Danish,” the Dogue Allemand (French for “German Mastiff”), the Ulm Dog, the Ulmer Dogge, the Ulmer Mastiff, the Boarhound, the Danish Dog, the English Dogge, the Tiger Dog, the Tiger Mastiff, the Grand Danois, the Brosse Dogge, the Hetzreude, the Saufanger, the Fanghund, the Kammerhunde (“Chamber Dog”), the Liebhunde (“Life Dog”), the Gentle Giant and simply the Dane. It is an enormous breed that has been cultivated as a distinct type for hundreds of years. No none knows why the English adopted a French name for this truly German breed, nor is there any known association between the origin or development of Great Danes and the country of Denmark. Whatever its given name, great size was never enough to make the “Apollo of dogs” a suitable representative of his distinguished breed; he always needed elegance, beauty, courage, nobility, speed and stamina, as well as a gentle, reliable disposition. The Great Dane was recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1887, as a member of its Working Group.
The mature male Great Dane should not be less than 30 inches at the shoulder but is preferred to be over 32 inches in height. Adult females should not stand less than 28 inches at the shoulder but are preferred to be over 30 inches in height. There is no upper height limit. Danes vary widely in weight but typically range between 100 and 170 pounds. Their short, glossy coat is very easy to care for. Danes come in a range of colors, including black, blue, brindle, fawn, harlequin and mantle. They also come in white or mostly white and merle, which are accepted for AKC registration, breeding and participation in performance events but are not eligible for conformation competition. Great Danes may be shown with cropped or natural ears in the American show ring. However, many countries no longer permit showing with cropped ears, and natural ears are slowly gaining favor with many breed fanciers.