One of the members of the great Dane breed has the distinction of being the tallest dog on the planet, notes the Guinness Book of World Record's 2013 edition. The Michigan-based pooch, named Zeus, is 44 inches in height, starting from his feet and going all the way up to the most elevated portion of his back. For the most part, great Danes can live successfully and harmoniously alongside fellow pets and children. However, it's always important to closely monitor great Danes in the presence of young kids, since these dogs are so immense, they can easily accidentally push over small children. These family-focused animals adore the familiar human beings in their lives, but can sometimes be wary and aloof with newbies. It may seem that the Dane's food intake would be of similar enormity. This isn't the case, however, as most great Danes consume similar amounts of food as canines of smaller and more "normal" body size. Great Danes' physical fitness requirements are also close to those of normal-sized canines. Short outdoor runs or lengthy outdoor strolls are both good options for a great Dane's daily exercise regimen.
Male great Danes are usually slightly taller than the females. The males are usually at least 30 inches in height, while the females are generally at least 28 inches -- taken from the shoulder region. They appear in an assortment of colors, notably black, blue, brown and pale yellowish-brown. Bi-colored black-and-white great Danes also are common.
Great Danes have naturally floppy, triangular ears. In the past, when Great Danes were commonly used to hunt boars, cropping of the ears was performed to make injuries to the dogs' ears less likely during hunts. Now that Danes are primarily companion animals, cropping is sometimes still done for traditional and cosmetic reasons. Today, the practice is fairly common in the United States but much less so in Europe.
The Great Dane's large and imposing appearance belies its friendly nature. The breed is often referred to as a "gentle giant". Great Danes are generally well disposed toward other dogs, other non-canine pets, and familiar humans. They generally do not exhibit extreme aggressiveness or a high prey drive. The Great Dane is a very gentle and loving animal and with the proper care and training is great around children, especially when being raised with them. However, if not properly socialized a Great Dane may become fearful or aggressive towards new stimuli, such as strangers and new environments. Great Danes are a breed recommended for families provided that they get trained early and onwards, regarded by animal experts due to their preference for sitting on and leaning against owners as 'the world's biggest 'lapdog.
Like most dogs, Great Danes require daily walks to maintain their health. However, it is important not to over exercise this breed, particularly when young. Great Dane puppies grow very large, very fast, which puts them at risk of joint and bone problems. Because of a puppy's natural energy, Dane owners often take steps to minimize activity while the dog is still growing. Great Danes continue to grow (mostly gaining weight) longer than most dogs. Even at one year of age a Great Dane will continue to grow for several more months.
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