By Richard Cussons
There are some breeds that are instantly recognizable. The Great Dane is one of those: its powerful, yet never clumsy, form makes it the target of much admiration. Of course, it’s more than the Dane’s robust build that makes it so easy to spot; it’s the natural bearing that it carries. This dog has been called the “Apollo” of all breeds, and with good reason.
Its origins date back to 3,000 BC, where drawings found on Egyptian monuments depict Dane-like dogs. And then, in 2,000 BC, Babylonian artifacts were discovered, some including drawings on soldiers using the dogs. The term “Apollo”, however, reflects the Greek use of the animals. Coins dating back to 36 BC have been found, inscribed with the Dane’s image. It is commonly believed the Great Dane was used in arena blood sports, due to its size and power.
Throughout history, this massive dog was breed for battle and the hunt. Today, we would find that strange since the Dane is considered one of the gentlest breeds, but it was not always so. In 407 AD, an Asiatic race called the Alans invaded parts of Italy, Spain and Germany, using these dogs in battle. During the 15th and 16th century, they were use to hunt boar, bear and other large prey.
It is during this time that the breed seen today was started. In Germany, the Dane was admired for its abilities and selective breeding began. Crossing its larger frame (from Tibetan Mastiff decent) with the more slender build of an Irish Wolfhound, the Great Dane of today was formed.
The name “Dane” came from French Naturalist Comte de Buffon. In the 1700’s, he traveled to Denmark, found a breed similar, but more slender, and called it a ‘Grand Danois’, Great Danish Dog.
After that, the name stuck.
The Great Dane is known, today, not for its battle skills, but for its temperament. Its large head and powerful frame could deceive anyone into believing this dog to be a modern monster. This is not true, however. The Great Dane is a gentle giant, a protective, but never aggressive, animal. Recognized for their loyalty and calm natures, this is a breed ideal for families. The Dane is devoted to his “clan” and takes well to training. Also, he is a patient fellow, perfect for children. However, standing between 28 to 34 inches and weighing between 100 to 200 pounds, the Dane is still intimidating to ward off any problems. If he senses danger toward his family, he will become protective.
At a glance, the Great Dane seems to be the perfect pet, and he may be… for some. Before choosing to own a Great Dane, you must understand the disadvantages. While that powerful frame may make an excellent protector, it will also take up massive amounts of space. And, since the Dane–affectionate thing that he is–needs to be with you, simply locking him outside is not going to work. Another aspect of the breed that you must realize is the need for exercise. This is a dog that, if not given sufficient play, will suffer bloat or other medical complications. They need, at least, a long walk during the day. More is recommended. Many families do not have the time to spend exercising their pet. Or, the extra money to feed it. While this breed is usually slimmer, dogs still eat between three and six cups of food a day. Some families may not be able to afford that, along with just the basic expenses that come with having a larger dog. And the greatest disadvantage to owning a Great Dane–or any larger breed–is that they don’t live as long. The typical life span is eight to ten years.
Before purchasing any breed, you must be certain that it is more than just the one you want: it’s the one you can handle. Never select a puppy because it’s “cute” or because a friend owns one and swears by it. Each family has different needs and some breeds won’t fulfill them.
Owning a Great Dane can be a wonderful experience, if you have the time to devote to it. Consider this before bringing one of these gentle giants into your home.
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