Originally developed to hunt wild boar in Germany over 1,000 years ago, the Great Dane resulted from a combination of the Irish wolfhound and the old English mastiff. These large dogs typically have a gentle temperament and regal appearance, sometimes referred to as the "Apollo" of dogs. They were originally recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1887 as part of the working group. With the proper training, care and physical space, your Great Dane will become an obedient, loyal member of your family.
Expose your Great Dane to a variety of people and other dogs once he's 7 weeks old. This will properly socialize your dog, making him less likely to be aggressive later in life, which is important because of his large, intimidating size -- fully grown Great Danes range in size from 120 to 160 pounds, according to PetPlace.com. The AKC recommends that Great Danes need to be friendly and outgoing for show purposes; aggressive or shy dogs are not acceptable.
Train your Great Dane using positive reinforcement techniques from a young age. Great Danes are usually gentle and sweet tempered, making them easier to work with in dog obedience classes than other breeds. Because these dogs are so spirited and large, they can be difficult to control without proper training.
Brush your Great Dane daily using a natural-bristle body brush to keep his coat shiny and bathe him only as needed. The grooming should take only a few minutes because the coat is so short and doesn't shed excessively.
Because some Great Danes drool, wipe your dog's face and mouth with a damp washcloth before brushing.
Exercise your Great Dane daily with a long walk around your neighborhood or game of fetch in the yard. These large dogs need exercise, but not overtly strenuous exercise, because they are prone to arthritis and hip dysplasia. Use a harness to walk your Great Dane to give you greater control over him than a simple leash; a harness is also more comfortable for large-chested dogs such as the Great Dane.
Because their coats are so short, you may need to put a blanket or sweater on your Great Dane during the cold winter months when taking him outdoors for walks and exercise.
Provide your Great Dane with a large dog bed or soft blanket to curl up and snuggle in. Because Great Danes can suffer from arthritis, hip dysplasia and bone diseases such as osteochondrosis and elbow dysplasia, a comfortable, orthopedic bed is important for their comfort.
Feed your Great Dane four meals each day as a puppy and two or three as an adult. Follow the manufacturer's recommendations based on your dog's weight for his daily caloric intake, dividing it into the smaller meals. Great Danes are prone to bloat, a condition caused by a build-up of air in the dog's stomach that can be fatal. Factors that increase your Great Dane's risk of developing bloat, also called gastric torsion, include feeding him from raised bowls, feeding him a food high in fat, feeding him one single large meal or exercising him before or after eating.
Avoid exercise with your Great Dane less than one hour before a meal and less than two hours afterward. To keep track of his meal times, don't free-feed your Great Dane. While raised dishes may make your Great Dane more comfortable during his meals, they can also contribute to the development of bloat, especially in an older dog.
Great Danes should always be fed adult food, even as puppies; accelerated growth from the high-protein puppy food can lead to bone and joint problems later in life, recommends the Heartland Great Dane Rescue.
Bring your Great Dane for regular visits with a veterinarian to check for any health issues and have him properly vaccinated according to your doctor's recommendations. Great Danes can suffer from bone and joint issues in addition to eye problems including glaucoma, entropion and cataracts as they get older. Certain heart conditions such as chronic valvular disease and dilated cardiomyopathy can also affect this breed.
Older Great Danes with arthritis can benefit from glucosamine and chondroiton -- speak to your veterinarian about these natural supplements.