Understanding Your Great Dane Temperament
I have found in all my dealings with these huge dogs that the normal Great Dane temperament is that of a gentle, easy going giant.
They aren’t usually aggressive, but their size and deep resonant bark is enough to put off any unwelcome visitors to my home. This makes them an ideal guard dog.
They are also not very demanding when it comes to exercise. A regular walk is enough for them, which works well around my busy lifestyle.
There are however, some disadvantages to having a Dane join the family.
For example, they take up a lot of space, and their food bill can eat up a big chunk of the family budget. Also, I always have to keep a hand towel nearby to wipe up the excessive amount of drool they produce.
In my experience, the size of these dogs can cause problems if there are young children in the family. They don’t deliberately hurt them, but they can knock them over without even being aware of it.
I feel they are best suited for households with bigger children that are less likely to get injured by the family dog.
Watch a Great Dane drinking from a water cooler…how cool?
History of the Great Dane
These dogs were used as hunters, to chase and catch wild boar. They were also effective guard dogs, and would protect their owner’s house and land.
Accordingly this giant dog’s temperament is that of a strong willed working dog, a powerful hunter and protector with deeply entrenched territorial instincts.
Behavior Problems Associated with the Great Dane Temperament
Because they were developed to hunt alongside their owner, the Great Dane tends to become very attached to their human family. They don’t enjoy being on their own, and they can become quite stressed if they don’t have companionship.
This aspect of the temperament of the Great Dane can therefore lead to problems with separation anxiety. A lonely Dane can become bored and make their own entertainment, which often involves digging, chewing or destroying things around the home and yard.
I have found that some lines of Great Dane do have aggressive tendencies and this can make them dangerous to those around them. Other lines are shy and nervous and don’t like to meet people.
In both circumstances there is a risk that these dogs could start biting, one because they are aggressive and the other because they are frightened.
Managing Your Great Dane’s Behavior
The first thing to do is to choose your Dane’s breeder carefully. A responsible breeder will only mate dogs with the best temperaments, so their pups are likely to be similarly good nature.
Leave your pup with their litter until they are 8 weeks old, to give them the best opportunity to socialize with their canine family.
When you bring your pup home, book them into puppy pre-school straight away, and follow it with regular obedience classes. Start establishing the rules while your Dane is small, and reinforce them regularly. These dogs can grow up to 150lbs as adults. Your cute Great Dane puppy jumping up for a cuddle won’t be so cute when they are mature!
Socialization is a must to produce an even dog temperament, and it is particularly the case if your dog has aggressive behaviors or nervous tendencies. Take your Great Dane out to meet friendly people and experience different environments when they are young, so they develop confidence and learn to adapt to changing circumstances.
Another important part of managing your Great Dane’s temperament is to get them used to being on their own from a young age. This reduces the risk of them developing anxiety related behaviors when you aren’t with them. Alternatively, consider getting them a canine companion to keep them company.
If you have the space in your home for them, the Great Dane is a wonderful family dog. Friendly and affectionate, yet protective if the need arises, the many aspects of the Great Dane temperament will make your day to day life a whole lot more enjoyable.
Other Working Dogs
The Great Dane falls in the dog group known as the Working Group. Dogs in this group are strong, large, and excel at tasks such as rescue, pulling, and gauarding. It should come as no suprise to you that they are typically smart, resourceful, fast learners and make great companions. To decide if another breed might be a better fit for you, check out the temperaments of other dogs that fall in the Working Group:
- Bullmastiff temperament
- Boxer temperament
- Akita temperament
- Great Pyrenees temperament
- Alaskan Malamute temperament
- Bernese Mountain dog temperament