What Great Danes Were Bred For?


Question: What Great Danes Were Bred For?

Answer: Great Danes were originally bred as hunting and fighting dogs back in the 16th century by German breeders. Other tasks such as carting, tracking and watchdog duties were later introduced due to the strength, size and endurance of Great Dane dogs.

what were great danes bred for

Excellent breeding programs have given Great Danes some great qualities which enable them to perform many versatile tasks. Great Danes were mainly bred as hunting dogs, fighting dogs, guard dogs, championship dogs and family dogs.

In the next sections I am going to be breaking down the exact reasons why Great Dane dogs were bred since their origins.

So without much being said, let’s get started.

Hunting Dogs

As mentioned earlier, Great Danes were originally bred for hunting purposes. The Germans used the dogs for hunting wild boars in the late 16th century due to the size, stature, power, boldness and endurance of the breed.

The exceptional hunting skills of Great Danes enabled them to capture and kill large animals that hunters were going for.

An engraving dating 1686 which represents a wild boar hunt in Denmark shows dogs that are very similar to modern day Great Danes going after a wild boar:

great danes bred for hunting

There are also other wall painting fragments from From the later Tiryns palace (National Archaeological Museum of Athens) which show Great Danes during a wild boar hunt:

great dane hunting wall painting

All this is evidence that Great Danes were originally bred for hunting purposes due to their exceptional strength, boldness, endurance and power that many hunters were looking for.

Fighting Dogs

Dog fighting has been banned in most countries except Japan, Albania and parts of Russia but this bloody sport is one of the reasons why Great Danes were bred.

Great Danes had the size, power, endurance, boldness and aggressiveness that made them favorites in many dog fighting competitions.

Selective Great Dane breeding has given the dogs a gentle temperament but earlier version of the breed were know to be very harsh and aggressive for dog fighting competitions.

Guard Dogs

The defensive temperament of Great Dane dogs led many breeders to train them to become more friendlier, gentle and suitable family dogs.

Many social elites started keeping Great Danes as pets and guard dogs throughout the 17th and 18th century.

It is actually said that Great Danes gained popularity in Germany when Prince Otto Von Bismarck started keeping many of them as pets. His love for Great Dane dogs furthered the interest in the breed among social elites and began the foundation of the breed’s development in Germany.

In the United Kingdom, King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra were also great admirers of Great Dane dogs due to its beauty, size and strength.

There are also several pictures of Prince George with Great Danes:

prince George with a great dane

The rise in popularity of Great Danes among the social elites also spread to the masses and the breed began a very reliable guard dog to many families.

Championship Dogs

Championships are basically awards given to dogs that have passed through a specific selection process at dog shows.

Great Danes are also bred as championship dogs. The first recorded Great Dane champion registered by the American Kennel Club was a German import called Juno. The dog was owned by the Osceola kennel which also won several awards with other breeds.

Mrs. J. Arthur Rank from the Ouborough kennel also had four well bred Great Danes which were all crowned champions.

great dane champions

Traditionally, dogs were crowned champions at breed shows but championships are now being offered to dogs that have exhibited exceptional degrees of excellence in other dog related sports.

Family Dogs

The Great Dane is a loyal, trustworthy and dependable breed that are great as family companions. The dogs are friendly with kids and adults alike so they are mostly bred as family dogs or companions.

The temperament of Great Danes can be easily summarized as being:

  • Devoted.
  • Reserved.
  • Loving.
  • Friendly.
  • Confident.
  • Gentle.

All these qualities make Great Danes a great breed choice for families with the right place to house such a large dog and the necessary resources required to take care of the pooch.

Great Danes are a unique breed so they have specific needs regarding food, exercise, grooming and other care related issues. This means that you should make sure you are aware of all the care requirements of Great Dane dogs before you start owning one.

Other than the specific care needs, Great Danes are great family dogs that can be a great member of your family.

Carting Dogs

Carting is a basically a dog sport whereby a dog pulls a dogcart filled with supplies like firewood or farm produce. The dog can sometimes pull people depending on the nature of the event.

This sport usually require a large dog breed with a lot of power to pull a dogcart filled with heavy supplies so the Great Dane was a perfect choice due to its size and stature.

great dane carting

Carting is still a popular sport around the world and many Great Danes are dominating the sport due to their excellent qualities of strength, endurance and confidence.

Beautiful Large Dogs

It is fair to say that Great Danes were also bred for their beauty. The breed has been a favorite for people who like large dogs that are beautiful.

During the 1920s and 1930s breeders started focusing on beauty and dogs like Ch. Etfa von de Saalburg would emerge as the finest Great Danes ever bred even by today’s standards.

Throughout the years, breeders have been focusing on improving coat color and many excellent colors have been produced.

There are currently six official Great Dane colors recognized by the American Kennel Club:

Other rare colors like white, fawnequin and merle are also available but they are not part of the official color list.

All of this has been a focus on creating a beautifully coated Great Dane with excellent muscle and body features.

So, What Are Great Danes Bred For?

Great Danes were originally bred as hunting and fighting dogs due to their strength, size, endurance and boldness. The breed was previously aggressive but selective breeding and training has made the breed to be more friendly and gentle.

Other tasks such as carting, tracking and watchdog duties were also some of the reasons why Great Dane dogs were bred.

Modern day reasons for breeding Great Dane dogs include championships, security. Great Danes are mostly kept as pets due to their gentle and reserved temperament.

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