The Great Dane Illustrated Standard
Approved and Published by the Great Dane Club of America, Inc. September 1995, Illustrations by Stephen J. Hubbell

An Illustrated Standard And Guide for the Evaluation of the Great Dane

This booklet has been prepared by The Great Dane Club of America to assist fanciers, breeders and judges in their assessment and understanding of desired Great Dane type. Nothing in the discussions or illustrations contained herein should be construed as altering or contradicting the provisions of the Official Standard for the Great Dane adopted by this Club and approved by The American Kennel Club. It is rather to be considered as a supplement to, and expansion on, the Official Standard.

The reader should remember that the Official Standard describes the ideal Great Dane. In the following commentary we discuss common deviations from that ideal, and the relative importance to be placed on such deviations in the overall evaluation of an individual specimen of the breed.

Any deviation from the Official Standard should be penalized to the extent of the deviation, keeping in mind the extent to which such deviation affects the structural function of the working dog and the aesthetic appearance of the overall dog. The dog should be judged as a whole, balancing his positive qualities with his faults and giving due consideration to those areas in which he may excel.


The dog we know today as the Great Dane traces its history to the "mastiff" type canines depicted in carvings, pictures and writings dating back to 3,000 B.C. These dogs were used as fierce hunters and were feared as war dogs. They were highly prized for their strength, boldness, and loyalty.

As time passed, these dogs began to be selectively bred in several countries at the same time and were known by many names. In Germany, where they served originally as boar hounds and as guard dogs for baronial estates, they were called the "Deutsche Dogge" and became the national dog in 1870. Standards were being adopted and a more refined looking dog was being developed; in England, crosses between these dogs and greyhounds were made. Meanwhile, in themid-1800's some fanciers in the United States began importing dogs, primarily from Germany. A specialty breed club was organized in 1889, which evolved into The Great Dane Club of America in 1891.

The American Dane enthusiasts continued to import and breed, refining and delineating the breed's characteristics, eliminating the short legs and coarse bodies and breeding out the aggressive behavior inherent in the early imports.

Today the Great Dane fills a variety of roles. As companions, show dogs, protectors or working dogs, the Dane's versatility, intelligence and adaptability make him extremely popular; just as his size, elegance, symmetry and carriage result in the beautiful animal we call The Apollo of Dogs.

On the following pages the Official AKC Standard is set forth by section, with discussion and illustrations as appropriate.

In conjunction with this material the reader is also encouraged to view the videotape presentation of the Great Dane, filmed and distributed by The American Kennel Club.

General Appearance:

AKC Standard

General Appearance - The Great Dane combines, in its regal appearance, dignity, strength and elegance with great size and a powerful, well-formed, smoothly muscled body. It is one of the giant working breeds, but is unique in that its general conformation must be so well balanced that it never appears clumsy, and shall move with a long reach and powerful drive. It is always a unit-the Apollo of dogs. A Great Dane must be spirited, courageous, never timid; always friendly and dependable. This physical and mental combination is the characteristic which gives the Great Dane the majesty possessed by no other breed. It is particularly true of this breed that there is an impression of great masculinity in dogs, as compared to an impression of femininity in bitches. Lack of true Dane breed type, as defined in this standard, is a serious fault.


The essence of Great Dane type is created by the balanced combination of sculptured headpiece; long, tapered, clean neck; well developed body; strong bone; and heavily padded feet; clothed in a glossy coat of correct rich color and moving with precision and grace. A substantial deficiency in any of these attributes will result in a lack of true Dane type - a "common looking" dog. The presence or absence of breed type is the single most important factor in assessing the overall quality of the Great Dane.

Great Dane Dog and Great Dane Bitch

Great Dane Anatomy

continue to page 2 (Size, proportion, subsance and Head)