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American vs European Great Dane: What's the Difference?

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Great Danes are often admired for their grace, stateliness, and beauty—but what's the difference between an American Great Dane and a European Great Dane? Consider, for example, the long-running debate between American and European Great Danes, and whether European Great Danes are really Great Danes. This article will attempt to shed some light on the history of these two canine species while understanding their key differences.

American vs. European Great Dane: A Comparison

American vs European Great Dane
One of the tallest dogs in the world, the Great Dane, is known as the gentle giant.

© AZ-Animals.com

main difference american great dane european great dane
high 28 – 34 inches 30 – 34 inches
weight 99 to 200 lbs. 180 to 240 lbs.
jacket type short, dense, tight short, dense, wrinkled
color Fawn, Blue, Brindle, Merle, Mantle, Black, Ugly Fawn, Blue, Brindle, Mel, Black, Plattenhunde, Mantletiger
temperament Gentle, excitable, intelligent, loving gentle, reserved, intelligent, caring
trainability very high high; requires consistency
life expectancy 8 to 10 years 6 to 8 years old
health problems Cardiomyopathy, hip dysplasia Cardiomyopathy, hip dysplasia, bone and joint problems

Key Differences Between American and European Great Danes

American vs European Great Dane
Due to their greyhound DNA, European Danes have been described as being larger and more mastiff-like than American Great Danes.

© Jesus Soto/Shutterstock.com

There are some key differences between American and European Great Danes. Both Danes are descended from mastiffs; however, today's European Danes are described as larger and more mastiff-like than American Great Danes due to their greyhound DNA. European Danes are said to have originated in Europe, while American Danes are said to have originated in the United States. However, many seem to believe that European Great Danes were transferred to the Americas, where they were bred.

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The similarities and differences in appearance between the two are small, but worth noting. For example, American Danes have smaller, more rectangular heads with thinner muzzles and more prominent lips. European Danes are characterized by their larger, squarer skulls, blunter noses, and drooping lips. Let's explore their differences further.

appearance

American vs European Great Dane
European Danes have longer necks, wider torsos, and more wrinkles than American Danes.

©velora/Shutterstock.com

American vs European Great Dane: Height

There is not much difference in height between the two breeds. American Great Danes are known for their slender, graceful, smooth appearance, which makes them appear taller. Great Danes stand between 30 and 34 inches tall. Females are between 28 and 32 inches tall.

American vs European Great Dane: Weight

This is the point of difference between the two. American Great Danes are slightly smaller than European Great Danes, weighing between 99 and 200 pounds, depending on sex and maturity. European Great Danes are larger and more muscular than American Great Danes. At full maturity, European Great Danes can weigh between 180 and 240 pounds!

American vs European Great Dane
The American Great Dane has a thinner neck and body and tighter skin than the European Great Dane.

© iStock.com/Earl-Wilkerson

American vs European Great Dane: Coat Types

Both Great Danes have a short, bushy coat with a glossy appearance. However, the American Great Dane has a thinner neck and body than the European Great Dane, with tighter skin. European Danes have longer necks, wider torsos, and more wrinkles than American Danes.

American vs European Great Dane: Color

The AKC recognizes the seven primary colors of the American Great Dane:

  • Black
  • spot
  • please
  • blue
  • Mel
  • clown
  • mantle

For European Great Danes, the FCI recognized colors are nearly the same, although they have additional colors such as:

  • Plattenhunde – white base with large black spots.
  • Mantletiger – Black coat with white muzzle, belly, chest, legs, neck and tail tip.
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feature

American vs European Great Dane
The European Dane is a more laid-back, gentler version of the Great Dane.

©Guy J. Sagi/Shutterstock.com

American vs European Great Dane: Temperament

In addition to physical differences, American and European Great Danes also differ in temperament. The European Dane is a more laid-back, gentler version of the Great Dane. If you're looking for a friendly and affectionate family dog, look no further than the European Dane!

American Great Danes are also great family dogs, although they are a little nervous in their early years. Compared to European Danes, American Danes are more robust and elegant.

American vs European Great Dane: Trainability

While American Great Danes are considered easy to train, European Great Danes are supposed to be stubborn learners. European Great Danes are smart, but they do have one flaw: they strive for consistency. They will only obey your orders if they believe you are trustworthy and stick to a strict schedule.

health factor

American vs European Great Dane
While American Great Danes are considered easy to train, European Great Danes are supposed to be stubborn learners.

© Eric Isselee/Shutterstock.com

American vs. European Great Danes: Life Expectancy

Great Danes are known to have a short lifespan due to many issues caused by size and DNA. Unfortunately, European Great Danes typically live 6 to 8 years, while American Great Danes live 9 to 10 years. They have been known to live up to 13 years in some cases, but that's about it.

American vs European Great Dane: Health concerns

In terms of health, American and European Great Danes are very similar due to their larger size. Both breeds are prone to the following diseases:

  • Cardiomyopathy
  • Hypothyroidism
  • hip dysplasia
  • torn cruciate ligament
  • Tricuspid valve disease
  • Addison's disease
  • swing syndrome

Keep in mind that European Great Danes are more prone to bone and joint problems than American Great Danes due to their oversized size.

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Summary of American vs. European Great Danes

American vs European Great Dane
European Great Danes typically live 6 to 8 years, while American Great Danes live 9 to 10 years.

© iStock.com/Bigandt_Photography

Whether you choose an American-bred Great Dane or one of European ancestry, a Great Dane makes a delightful companion and loving family member. They are very people-oriented and generally calm. They can be naughty, silly, and a lot of fun.

Although the American and European Great Danes are basically the same breed, they are starting to diverge due to breeding practices and pet owner preferences. It is of course necessary to discuss their differences, as many pet owners buy them based on their GI prestige rather than their actual style.

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featured image

Close-up of a great dane
One of the tallest dogs in the world, the Great Dane, is known as the gentle giant.

© iStock.com/Earl-Wilkerson


about the author


I have spent a large part of my life as a writer and artist with great respect for viewing nature analytically and metaphysically. After careful investigation, the natural world reveals truths far beyond the obvious. For me, the source of everything we have is embodied in our planet; the process of writing and creating art around this subject is an attempt to convey the wonder of it.

FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

did you know?

Did you know that the beloved Scooby-Doo breed is based on the Great Dane? Scooby-doo, like most Great Danes, has long, slender legs and a long, strong body. Scooby-doo, on the other hand, is less graceful in build and size than most Great Danes, which makes him more cartoonish.

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