Yes, unfortunately it is true that they are short lived. They are pretty much considered a "senior" by the time they are five. Have Been told that the oldest Dane made it to 16 overseas in the 90's. One in the states made it to 16 in the fall of 2006. Suzi from Dale Bath Great Dane Rescue out of Cincinnati Ohio turned 16 in Feb. 2008. Most only making it to 7-10 yrs old though. Great Danes come in several different colors; Black, Blue, Harlequin, Fawn, Mantle/Boston, Brindle, Merle, and Mantle Merle. Some "designer colors" are out there by back yard breeders, including Fawniquins, Bindlequins, Mantle Fawns, and so forth, these are not desired. If you are to cross Great Danes, the desired color matings would be, Black on Black, Blk on Blu, blk on fwn, brndl on brndl, brndl on fwn, blu on fwn, blk on harl, blk on mntl, blk on mrl, harl on mntl, harl on mrl, mrl on mntl. I being a Mantle Merle owner have done a lot of research on them, and have found that it is not good to have a mrl on mrl breeding or a mrl on harl for the main possibility of a double merle breeding. The double merle gene is deadly and can cause deaf and/or blind puppies and many times still born pups. The only way to know if your dog is double merle is to have it's DNA tested. The colors I mentioned (not the "designer colors") are all registered colors with AKC. The merle, and mantle merle are non showable as of present through AKC, hopefully in the near future this will be changed. Great Danes are all in all a family dog. They don't understand being left out of things, and just want to be with you and your family at all times. Being originally bred to hunt boar, they do need proper amounts of exercise to keep in shape. You DO not want an overweight dane Proper feeding is a must, with no more than 23% protein is a must, even for pups. I personally feed and recommend Eagle Pack Holistic Large breed puppy. Great Danes are prone to health problems. Many at that!! Bone structure is a big one, and it is important that even though your pup needs enough excersise, but to make sure it is not overly streneous. They are extremley intelligent. Great Danes are not Golden Retrievers. They have an independent mind of their own and are not pushovers to raise and train. Some Great Danes are willful, obstinate, and dominant (they want to be the boss) and will make you prove that you can make them do things. You must show them, through absolute consistency, that you mean what you say. Frankly, most Great Danes are "too much dog" for the average household. Very few people really have the knowledge, facilities, or skills necessary to manage this breed.
Ok, haha! Hope that doesn't bore you or anyone else!!