The Great Dane Temperament

by Arlene Scarbrough

Great Danes are known throughout the canine world as ďgentle giantsĒ.  In general, they are very good with children and with other animals.  They are supposed to be gentle, kind, loyal, affectionate, intelligent, and easy to train.   

Good breeders will work very long and hard to perpetuate the traits listed in the preceding paragraph.  Now, on to the real world.  Yes, there are great danes with aggressive temperaments; danes who are not overly bright; danes who are destructive.  If you are considering acquiring a dane as a new member of your family, it is up to you to function as an informed buyer and avoid the pitfalls.  Also, to wind up with a dane like we describe in the first paragraph, it is also your responsibility to utilize common sense and raise your dane properly.   

First, you should locate a breeder who is knowledgeable and cares about the breed.  A knowledgeable, caring breeder would never dream of breeding a dane with a bad temperament. A dane with a bad temperament can certainly become an uncontrollable lethal weapon. You should also select a breeder who you feel comfortable interacting with because your breeder needs to be there for you when you have questions or need assistance throughout the life of your dane.   

When you look at litters, try to meet both the sire and dam.  If they fit the description in the first paragraph, chances are their puppies will also.  Some breeders utilize an outside stud, but you should at least be able to meet the dam.  


Once you find a good breeder and get a healthy pup with a good temperament, the rest is up to you.  If you raise the pup as you would a child with love, discipline and affection you will be on the right path.  If you think of the pup as a dumb animal, youíve already missed the boat.  These dogs need to be properly trained.  Just as children are different, and require different techniques to properly train and educate them, so are puppies.  Soft puppies who live to please, just as soft children, require more communication and less discipline.  Just get them understand what you expect, and they will try to please you.  Stubborn, intelligent pups may require a little more physical discipline.  If you donít know what youíre doing, you can read several books on training techniques or hire a trainer who is familiar with danes.  If you have selected the right breeder, they should be a valuable resource for you when it comes to training.   


We have 19 danes and three toy poodles.  The poodles range from twelve to fourteen years of age, and we have never had a dane attempt to hurt the poodles.  We always have from four to six danes in the house, and the poodles are always inside.  We have had cats, skunks, birds, pot bellied pigs, a friends miniature horse, another friend's pet lamb, ferrets and all sorts of animals inside with the danes without incident.  We have had horses that played with the danes without a problem. Although, we have no two legged small children, we have children of all ages here without a problem.   


Even if you have a dane with a wonderful temperament, it is your responsibility to utilize common sense.  You wouldnít leave an eight year old child with a two year old child without supervision, and likewise, you donít leave a puppy with small children without supervision.  You teach your dane to respect children and other animals, just as you teach your children to respect animals and other children.  You donít let your children pounce on a sleeping dog, aggravate a dog when it is trying to eat, kick the dog, pull its hair, etc. 


If you think of a puppy in terms of adding a child to your household, or another child if you already have children, youíll be heading in the right direction.  Just remember these pups grow much more quickly than children.  Our six month old danes average around a hundred pounds, so donít let the cute little puppy get accustomed to doing anything that you would not want a 150 pound dane doing.  

A warning:  the more intelligent the dog, the more easily it is bored.  Bored dogs, like bored children, tend to get into trouble.  If  all adults in the house work and the dog is expected to be alone during the week for a large part of the day,  you might consider getting a pair.  Once again, like children, they will entertain each other.  These dogs are extremely social and are not fond of being alone.


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