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The Best All-Around Dog Breed, with Great Videos!

Wonderful Great Danes!

Since I have years of experience with dogs and am known as a true canine aficionado, I’m often asked by potential dog owners about different breeds. Of course, many would-be owners already have a specific breed in mind. Others, however, are totally clueless. They want me to tell them which breed to go out and buy.

That’s an almost impossible task. Just about every breed has its good points and bad points, and a lot depends on the individual dog’s bloodlines and on how it’s handled and trained. Any breed can make a good companion, just like any breed can bite or attack if provoked enough. If someone really presses me for a specific answer, I give them my opinion. Before I share that with you, I’ll tell you about breeds with which I’m familiar.

Breeds I’ve owned, bred, worked with, or known on a first-name basis – ones owned by family or close friends:

German shepherd, Labrador retriever

Siberian husky, Border collie

Collie, Jack Russell

Border collie, Toy poodle

Australian shepherd, Dalmatian

Shih Tzu, Alaskan malamute

Dachshund, Anatolian shepherd

Pomeranian, American bulldog

English bulldog, English mastiff

English Springer spaniel, wolf hybrid

Golden retriever, fox terrier

Chihuahua, Brittany spaniel

English pointer, English setter

German pointer, Irish setter

Bloodhound, Black and tan coonhound

Beagle, pug

Maltese, Akita

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Basset hound, Siberian husky

mutts, pit bull

Great Dane

This list is in no certain order. In fact, the last dog on the list is the first on my list of the best all-around dog breed. I’ve owned nine Great Danes over the years, and if I could own only one breed for the rest of my life, it would definitely be a Dane!

Why, you ask? Great Danes are the most human-like breed I’ve ever met. They have an enormous capacity for understanding their human families. They have a unique sense of humor and can be real clowns. Danes are also very smart and are willing, making them very easy to train. The fawn male I have now is the smartest dog I have ever seen!

You might be surprised to learn that Great Danes get along wonderfully with children. They’re extremely tolerant of the poking and prodding toddlers are wont to do. To see an example of this, be sure to watch the last video, found below. These gentle giants just love being around and playing with kids! And you don’t have to worry about the huge canines jumping on the tikes because they’re taller than most kids.

Great Danes are super easy to groom. Their short coat just needs a good brushing once a week, along with an occasional bath. They don’t shed much, either. Surprisingly, they make wonderful inside pets. Visitors to our home are always shocked at how graceful our big boys are. They never knock things over in the house.

All the Danes I’ve owned are clean and meticulous. They’re easy to house break, and they don’t like to get dirty when they go outside. They don’t even like to get their paws wet! When it rains, they try to “hold it” until it dries up outside, but ours never, never have an “accident” in the house.

People often wonder if they can afford to feed such a large dog. We spend more money feeding our cats than we do our two Danes! Great Danes are laid back and lazy, with slow metabolisms. They don’t eat nearly as much as you’d think.

While Danes are not naturally aggressive, they do make excellent watch dogs. They’re amazingly alert to their surroundings. Ours know when there’s a strange car in the neighbor’s drive and when a stranger comes to our door. When that happens, they spring into action, barking, growling, and hackles raised. They look and sound absolutely ferocious! I honestly feel very safe and protected with them around.

Every Dane I’ve known gets along well with other animals, too. Our Danes were not raised around cats, but when the dogs were grown, we inherited a couple of kitties. The cats live outside, but the dogs are fascinated with them. When they encounter one of the fur balls outside, the big dogs love on the kitties and sniff them all over.

Danes are also playful, and some are natural retrievers. I’ve had a few that I think could easily be trained to retrieve doves or other downed birds. Wow – wouldn’t I get some strange looks on the dove field!

Great Danes are real people dogs and expect to be a part of the family. They don’t do well as kennel dogs or full-time outside dogs. They like air conditioning in the summer and heat in the winter. They grieve when you’re away. That’s why we decided to have two Danes - they'd be company for each other when we weren't at home.

The only down side I can think of concerning the breed is their lifespan. Most Great Danes live only about nine years. Some breeders, however, are increasing the longevity of their bloodlines to twelve and even fourteen years.

I would recommend this breed for just about anyone, including first-time dog owners, families with small children, those living in high-crime areas, older owners looking for a companion, and families with older kids who want a playmate.

With Great Danes, you'll have a variety of coat colors from which to choose: fawn, brindle, blue, black, harleguin, and mantle.

Please remember, dear reader, that this is all based on my personal opinion, based on my personal experiences. I’m sure there are some bad Danes out there somewhere, just like there are bad representatives of every breed. It’s also important for you to know that I do not breed or sell Great Danes. I have two neutered males, unfortunately. Had I known what an amazing dog my Hamlet would turn out to be, I would never have had him “fixed.” My daughter owns Hamlet’s sister from a later litter, and I hope she will someday have puppies so I can get another dog of the same bloodlines.

Hamlet with his blankie.

Hamlet with his blankie.

Great Danes love kids!

Great Danes love kids!

Is Grendel a fine specimen of a dog, or what??

Is Grendel a fine specimen of a dog, or what??

Great Dane coat colors

This gorgeous Blue Great Dane is from Von Knopf Danes.  Visit their great website:

This gorgeous Blue Great Dane is from Von Knopf Danes. Visit their great website:

Brindle Great Dane

Brindle Great Dane

Read more about Great Danes and other breeds:

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  • Best Family Dogs
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  • Saddle Breaking a Great Dane
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  • Why Great Danes are Great
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  • Dog Ears: To Crop or Not to Crop
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shae on June 24, 2012:

So I do not get this there is no furry animalsIII

Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on June 21, 2011:

Sara, thanks - glad you enjoyed!

Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on June 21, 2011:

Hi, Jenn! All 9 Danes I've owned loved kids and were completely unflappable. I know a dog is a dog is a dog and as such can be unpredictable. I never recommend leaving any dog and small child unsupervised.

Our furkids are amazingly graceful, and they never hurt the grandkids, even unintentionally. I did have a male Dane once who was pretty clumsy, however.

As soon as our grands get old enough, we teach them to respect animals. The babies, however, are too young to teach that to, so they do crawl on the dogs. When that first began, I'd separate the dogs from the babies so the dogs wouldn't get annoyed, but the furkids whined and begged to go back for more! Our dogs seek out the grandkids, including the babies and toddlers. It's amazing how careful they are with the little ones. The kids feed the Danes Skittles sometimes, and it's amusing to watch those huge mouths take the candy so carefully from the tiny hands. Believe me - I'd trust my grandkids with my Danes much, much, MUCH quicker than I'd trust them with a Chihuahua or just about any other breed!

Jenn~n~Luke on June 11, 2011:

I'd love to know what you're feeding your danes if it only costs $5 a week!LOL I'm spending over $120 a month for one, and TOTW isn't even the most expensive brand...although it is GREAT grain free quality.

I will make a comment about the children however. Many reputable breeders and rescues absolutey refuse to sell or adopt a dane to families with small children, usually under the age of 12. This is because they have seen, and experienced far too many cases of children being hurt UNINTENTIONALLy by a clumbsy movement, a paw that came down the wrong way, a nip, a tail wag sending little Johnny across the room. I have a problem with people promoting this breed as so tolerant of children, that it makes people believe they can allow their kids to treat the dog any way they choose...which is the number one cause of dog bite in families. Children should be taught respect and boundaries, the proper way to interact with animals from day one. And that does not include riding them like ponies, pulling ears, climbing all over them. No matter how tolerant a dog, any dog, it only takes a split second for disaster to strike.At the end of the day,they are animals and can react unpredictably. It is our duty as Great Dane lovers to not only teach the good side to the breed, but the possible negatives. The importance of getting your pup from a reputable breeder, or rescue..the importance of proper nutrition and excersise...We love our breed, I myself have been more passionate about GD's than anything else in the world since Iwas old enough to speak, but I have a duty to tell people the truth about this breed. Not all are tolerant of children. The byb's have done a lot of damage to this breed health and temperment wise. This is NOT a breed for just anyone.

Just wanted to point out those few things for those who might be reading...I enjoyed your pictures :)

Sara on June 04, 2011:

Thanks for that, awesome pics and video,I love Danes but don't have the space for one in our small bungalow, but we have a westie boy.Thanks for sharing.

Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on March 30, 2011:

Thanks! They're my babies!

Mrs. Menagerie from The Zoo on March 16, 2011:

What awesome and beautiful dogs! And what a great hub...thanks.

Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on March 11, 2011:

Many thanks, fellow dog lover!

DOGS 101 from Planet Earth on March 02, 2011:

Loved your pictures. Thanks for sharing them!

Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on February 08, 2011:

For sure you can't carry a Great Dane in your purse! lol

Sighthound boy on February 05, 2011:

Interesting read, the blue Dane looks lovely. Some friends of mine have a Dane and it is gentle and playful. They said they wouldn't have another purely because the size of the dog limited what they could do with it publicly.

Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on January 11, 2011:

Phil, how old is Brute? You're not supposed to run with them until after a certain age. I think it's two.

Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on January 11, 2011:

I didn't have all nine at the same time! Danes are awesome!

Miss Lil' Atlanta from Atlanta, GA on January 10, 2011:

Great danes I have to say are definitely in my top 3 favorite dog breeds, too. I've just always been so amazed by these gentle giants and have been dying to own one since I was a kid. I'm actually seriously considering on buying a great dane in about two years or so.

Great hub by the way. Nine great danes! Dang that's a lot of danes, but to be honest, if I had the opportunity to have and spend enough time caring for that number of dogs, I would do it in a heart beat.

Phil on January 10, 2011:

Thanks for advice. Brute doing really well - he's a great baby though! Just started taking him running with me (we've had bad bad snow here for past month). Really recommend a dane rescue to anyone and although he's big and will get bigger, so gentle.

Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on January 02, 2011:

Fay, I'd love to have a Mastiff. Yours is a cutie!!

Kephrira, you've nailed it exactly! Big dogs don't have to be defensive with kids.

kephrira from Birmingham on January 02, 2011:

I've never had a great dane, but I think bigger dogs are usually better with kids. What you say about them being very tolerant of kids prodding and yanking them around and stuff generally goes for all larger breeds (definitely newfoundlands which are lovely) just because a child could hurt a smaller dog so they might feel like they need to defend themselves, whereas big dogs can afford to be calm because a small child wouldn't be strong enough to hurt them.

fayx24 from Australia on December 30, 2010:

I love the picture of Hamlet! What a gorgeous baby! I adore large dogs and have an English Mastiff 'puppy', the apple of my eye. I found the personal information you gave really describes the Great Dane to a tee! Loved it!

Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on November 14, 2010:

Steph, glad you had a Dane!

Jaye, my pal had a mini Schnauzer named Bailey, and he was great!

Susan, thanks for reading!

Susan Zutautas from Ontario, Canada on November 09, 2010:

Great Article. Beautiful dogs!

Jaye Denman from Deep South, USA on November 08, 2010:

Great Danes are beautiful dogs, quite regal-looking. Beautiful photos. However, I wouldn't want to lose my heart to a dog with an expected short lifespan. Even the little dogs with the most longevity leave too soon.

Looking at your long list of dogs that shared your life, you practically worked your way through the dog breed book! Except, you didn't ever have a miniature Schnauzer, so I've got to tell you that you really missed a delightful companion. It's not too late....JAYE

Stephanie from Texas on November 03, 2010:

I love Great Danes!

We had one when I was growing up. I used to ride him around like a pony. He was the babysitter and we used to have a lot of fun together. I love big dogs in general, but I have many great memories of my Great Dane friend Eddy. :)

I currently have a little 6 month chihuahua (Zoey) and she THINKS she's a big dog. haha She is the first little dog I've ever had. I've had to get accustomed to her being under foot all the time. Other than that she makes me smile everyday.

I love this hub. The photos are great! Thanks for sharing.

Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on September 29, 2010:

Phil, that is so exciting! Make sure to give him plenty of chew toys, and get him an elevated food/water dish. Danes are prone to bloat, and this will help. Also, don't let him run and play right after eating.

Phil on September 28, 2010:

Hi just came back to tell you - my wife and I read this again together and last week we went to see a rescue great dane (only 5 months old). We have been preparing for him for the past few days and we pick him up and bring him home today! He's called Brute!! Thanks so for help and I'm pleased we're getting a rescue.

Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on September 23, 2010:

Thanks, Bull! Always good to hear from another dog lover!

bullmaster91 on September 12, 2010:

Beautiful Topic I myself am a all breed dog lover and breeder. Your Topic about Great Dane is very impressive keep up the good work.

Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on September 11, 2010:

Phil, I'm here to tell ya - the Great Dane is a superb dog breed!

Phil on September 09, 2010:

Hi great info - will have to come back and read again, though, as so much to consider. We lost our dog (collie cross) 1 yr ago and we're now ready for a new friend. Hadn't considered great danes at all but they do sound so laid back - great pics and very useful article, thanks.

Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on August 27, 2010:

They're great, John!

john123=) on August 26, 2010:

wow i always taught a big dog like a dane would be vicious but what you said makes a dane sound like a proud and loyal dog

Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on August 26, 2010:

John, most Great Danes are not aggressive toward other dogs. They're big and sweet!

john123=) on August 24, 2010:

sorry my sister it meets another dog dose it bark and growl?????

John123=) on August 24, 2010:

That was brill and i have a Question

im only 13 and i love great danes if your walking the dane and i meets another dog dose it bark and grow???

Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on August 06, 2010:

Cosplay, same here. The Danes hate the pool!

Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on August 06, 2010:

Siouksie, Border Collies are smart dogs but are too active for me. Many thanks for reading!

cosplay on August 05, 2010:

It's literally a sauna down here in the summer! I spend most of it my pool, but the dogs don't care for it. lol

siouksie from Western Australia on August 04, 2010:

I've just got my first dog, a Border Collie cross Staffy and she's just divine. We did a lot of research before we decided on any particular type of breed but after reading this I am tempted to get a great Dane should I ever decide to add another dog to the family!

Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on July 25, 2010:

Thanks, DoggieD!

Doggie Devotee from Danville KY on July 23, 2010:

This was a very nice hub with some great information.

Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on June 27, 2010:

Peg, they're the best!

Bayou, we spend $5 per week per dog on food. There are different theories about lifespan. One is their circulatory system. Another is that many Danes die from bloat - a twisting of the stomach. This can be largely prevented by not letting the dogs run and play after eating.

bayoulady from Northern Louisiana,USA on June 25, 2010:

Could you comment a bit more on the cost feeding a dog that large? I'd love to have a dane, but the COST of feeding concerns me. I have a little doxie-chihuahua mix (9 pounds) dog,and feeding her costs less than $15.00 a month.

Why is their lifespan so short? Is it relative to their size, joints, heart, etc.?

Loved the pictures!

Peg Cole from North Dallas, Texas on June 25, 2010:

You gotta love those miniature horses! Aren't they beautiful? Absolutely lovely hub with awesome pics. My neighbor raised Great Danes and wow, they are neat dogs.

Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on June 14, 2010:

Royal, big dogs are da bomb!!

royal5klein on June 14, 2010:

Great Dane are so adorable and awesome. Espcially the one from the movie "7 Pounds". I have a small yorkie and I can't play around with it as well as my friends blue nose pitbull. It must be so cool to have a big dog.

Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on June 11, 2010:

Hi, Jandee! My best friend has a boxer, and it's a great dog!

jandee from Liverpool.U.K on June 10, 2010:

Hello,I made a new friend recently and she has 2 dogs and is minding 1. Her eldest dog is a mastiff and the younger is a Great Dane These dogs are amazingly adorable and the guest dog is a Collie type all 3 are beauts.My dog is a nutty and hyper Boxer who doesn't care to return and you should just see the antics of my Boxer jumping over the Great Danes head,held very aloof and disdainfully. after such madness it is relaxing to return to her home and watch the snakes crawl around without any interest from the former 3 dogs(Boxer now in car,away from snakes)enjoyed reading...

tangoshoes on June 10, 2010:


Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on May 25, 2010:

Yep, Greenthumb - he's a beauty! I'm kinda partial to the fawn Danes, though! lol

GreenThumbLady from The Beautiful Earth on May 25, 2010:

Ooooh I love the picture of the Blue Great Dane. So royal looking!

Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on April 27, 2010:

Great breeds you have! Thanks, MCWebster!

MCWebster on April 27, 2010:

Hi habee,

Great Danes are certainly wonderful. My neighbor just rescued one, and he is great. I was privileged to receive a portrait commission for a Dane a while back, too, and he was magnificent.

We are dog lovers ourselves, and share our home with a beautiful and gentle Hungarian Kuvasz and a mischievous and loving Tibetan Spaniel.

Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on April 15, 2010:

Areydo, it warms my heart to find another GD lover! I'm so glad you "get" this wonderful breed!

Areydo from USA on April 15, 2010:

I really enjoyed this hub! We took in a two year old black Great Dane from a friend going through a 'break-up' and she is the sweetest baby. We babysat a harlequin male a week or so ago and oh my gosh, they had a blast playing like two puppies. Our three W.H. fox terriers stayed out of the way except for an occassional dive into the big dog play. Our GD is very gentle and nice to the small dogs except for the one occassionally pushing her to the limit. That one thinks she is alpha even though only a foot tall and the youngest here. Great Danes are definitely the best breed in my opinion, love them!

Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on April 11, 2010:

Thanks, Herbi! Isn't Hammie cute?

Pinky, I honestly don't think you'll ever regret getting a Great Dane!

pinkylee on April 11, 2010:

the more i read about great danes the more and more i want one ... it will have to wait til im not in an apartment anymore though lol

theherbivorehippi from Holly, MI on April 11, 2010:

I love the picture with the blankie!!!

Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on February 28, 2010:

Hi, Melissa! I've always wanted a Westie. One of my friends has one, and it's adorable!

Melissa McClain from Atlanta, GA on February 26, 2010:

I enjoyed your article, although my Westie would not be happy with me if I agreed with it. ;)

It looks like you, your family, and friends have had a lot of dogs! Now I know who to come to for dog advice!

Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on January 26, 2010:

It's literally a sauna down here in the summer! I spend most of it my pool, but the dogs don't care for it. lol

Audrey Kirchner from Washington on January 26, 2010:

I hear ya - we are in high mountain dessert or was that desert? ha ha - Griffin is a wooly not a 'regular' like Denaya and so he is panting all the time but they say they can tolerate extreme heat - he did fine in the summertime and we get up to about 110 on the worst days although it is very dry. I just keep the little pool available although on thinking about it, guess since he is already at 72 pounds and only 8 months old, I guess the pool will need to be enlarged! I'm thinking I need one for myself for crying out loud!

Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on January 25, 2010:

I have the same prob, Audrey. I'd like to add a Scotty and maybe an Irish Wolfhound. I really like mals, but it's so hot here, I don't know if it would be happy, even inside.

Audrey Kirchner from Washington on January 25, 2010:

Oh man oh man - Griffin is so totally jealous - again! Beautiful pics and they are beautiful/good natured dogs for sure....unlike the unruly malamutes! Yikes - what was I thinking? If I wanted a pony, I should have stuck with Danes, eh? Ah well - I love 'em but I love so many breeds of dogs - that's what always gets me into trouble. Great hub!

Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on January 24, 2010:

Oh, Maita, I do luvs me doggies! Thanks, pal!

prettydarkhorse from US on January 23, 2010:

Great Dane, thnaks for the informationm habee, gotta love a woman who loves dogs, Maita

Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on January 23, 2010:

Hi, Eth. As far as mongrels go, I've have great ones and not-so-great ones. lol! I think I want a blue Dane!

Ethel Smith from Kingston-Upon-Hull on January 23, 2010:

Fabulous dogs. The blue one looks stunning. I have to disagree though. The best all round breed is.....MONGREL lol

Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on January 23, 2010:

You are welcome, my friend! Did you like the pics of my puppies??

Hello, hello, from London, UK on January 22, 2010:

Thank you, habee, for an enjoyable read about a subject I didn't know anything about it.

Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on January 22, 2010:

Delaney, Labs are great dogs - I've had several. Mine, however, were terrible watch dogs and would go home with anybody!

Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on January 22, 2010:

Emi, many Dane owners in the US have their dogs' ears cropped. It's illegal in the UK.

Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on January 22, 2010:

Dolores, yes, there are several Dane rescues. I'm trying to talk hubby into our rescuing one!

Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on January 22, 2010:

Lily, that sounds like something a Dane would do!

Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on January 22, 2010:

Island, you might not believe this, but most Danes are happy in small spaces as long as they get a walk every day. They are true couch potatoes!

Delaney Boling on January 22, 2010:

Danes are great dogs... but I love my black lab! When my Wife and I were considering what dog to get, we read up on the different breeds and consulted some well-respected local breeders and trainers. After doing our research, our choice was between a Labrador Retriever and a Great Dane. We wanted a good family dog as we're planning on starting a family, and we wanted a dog that wasn't prone to neuroticism. I know, I know.. everyone thinks labs are crazy because of the movie 'Marly and Me', but every trainer and breeder I spoke with said that as long as they're trained, they're mellow and sweet. Needless to say, they were right. We couldn't be happier with our black lab, Truffle, but we still would love to get a Brindle Dane one day. As always, great hub!

emievil from Philippines on January 22, 2010:

Great pictures of Danes Habee. Unfortunately, I'm not sure we have too many Danes here (if we have, they're too expensive to purchase). Right now, we have a Doberman Pinscher who stands about 5 ft. in his two hind legs. She's very friendly actually but the people around here are scared of her. My husband and I are the only ones who can control her. But we're okay with that since we got her as a watch dog. But if we see a Dane, you can be sure we'll try to get one.

Just one question though, and I know I might get into hot water here with some of your readers, are the ears of Danes cropped?

Dolores Monet from East Coast, United States on January 22, 2010:

Habee, Danes are truly magnificent animals, beautiful creatures. I've never met one that didn't have a lovely disposition. I wonder if they have Great Dane rescue. I know a lot of people like to 'rescue' dogs that have lost homes or been cast out.

Lily Rose from A Coast on January 22, 2010:

Great read! My mom has told me many times about the neighbor who had a great dane when my sister and I were just babies. My mom would place my sister and I on a large blanket in the front yard and the grown-ups would hang out and the neighbor's dane took care of us babies. She would walk the perimiter of the blanket and push us back on it if we tried to crawl or roll away!

As a teenager, our neighbor had a brindle, Sam, who was gorgeous - every time we saw her, she'd jump up on me with her front paws on my shoulders and she towered over me! She was super smart and sweet. I've always been in awe of these gentle giants.

Sylvia Van Velzer from Hawaii on January 22, 2010:

I enjoyed your Velcro Dogs hub and i enjoyed this one as well. How did you know i'm hunting for a new dog??? Now i'm confused. Just kidding! I believe everything you said about Great Danes, as i got close to those my friend owned. They are beautiful! I don't have space for large dogs, but, if i did, i would certainly go for a Blue Dane!

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