The Great Dane: The State Dog of Pennsylvania

Great Danes are easily recognizable on the street; they are tall, lanky, and bigger than some ponies and people. A Great Dane will turn heads as it walks down the block with its easy looking long strides. But they are not a common breed due to their size and the living situations many of us have like apartment buildings with pet restrictions on weight and height or just the simple need of having the space for such a big dog. However, the Great Dane is a gentle, smart dog that is often described as elegant, friendly, and majestic and makes a great family pet.

Brief History

The Great Dane is also known as the German Mastiff, Danish Hound, or Grand Danois (French for Great Dane). Great Danes hold the record of the “World’s Tallest Dog” and is sometimes referred to as the “king of dogs.” The breed is most likely a mix of the English Mastiff and the Irish Wolfhound, although some people believe the Great Dane may date as far as back as 3000 B.C. The Dane was used to hunt boar in Germany and had their ears cropped to triangular points to protect them from being bitten and cut. They were also used as watch dogs, estate guard dogs, and pulled carts.

It is the state dog of Pennsylvania and has been since 19656 due to William Penn who is the founder of Pennsylvania and brought his Great Danes over from England. William Penn was granted the land by King Charles II of England in 1681 as a repayment of debt owed to Penn’s father.

Colors and Coat

Great Danes come in a variety of markings and colors. The markings that are approved by the American Kennel Club are brindle, fawn, blue, black, harlequin, and mantle. They should have short fur that is easy to maintain and shed moderately. To keep them shiny, comb or brush their fur about once a week or so and wipe their muzzle when they drool. Oh yes, they drool.


Great Danes are referred to as the gentle giant because they have a great disposition and often are laid back towards children and social with other animals. Aggression is not a common trait except when their watchdog nature kicks in. They will bark and alert you to strangers approaching the house or any place they deem “theirs” and “yours.” Overall, they aren’t big talkers and do not like to be left alone for long periods of time.

Danes can be brave and courageous but often you may see them walking with their owner in a slow, relaxed gait taking in the sunshine and checking out stuff they find interesting. I’ve heard of Great Danes stopping to smell everything from flowers to a child’s toy on a front lawn.


Great Danes do not have a long life span and can be subject to various health problems such as gastric-dilation-volvulus. This is a painful distending and twisting of the stomach. They should be fed small meals because they have a slow metabolism. Exercise should be moderate and not follow a meal immediately. As puppies, their play time and exercise should be monitored to ensure they do not hurt themselves as they grow.

Great Danes are also subject to heart conditions and hip problems. Their average life span is 8 to 10 years. But the time you have with your Great Dane can be great. Some are silly and do not realize how big they are and may try to sit on your lap or stand between you legs. Others may try to play with small dogs and get all turned around as the little dogs run circles around them.

All in all, the Great Dane is a great dog with a head-turning body that can be a wonderfully affectionate pet.

Upcoming Dog Events in California

Though the season is slowing down with having tons of dog events, there are still a select few to attend in California in the next few weeks. Many of them are holiday-themed and fundraisers, so your pet can help you get in the spirit!


Great Danes Playdays

Old Port Beach

Avila Beach, California

November 7

The Gentle Giants club hosts a Great Dane gathering on the beach every first Saturday of the month. It will go on from 11:00 AM-1:00 PM. Gentle Giants Rescue is a national organization that rescues big breed dogs.

Santa Paws Holiday Auction

Miner’s Foundry

Nevada City, California

November 21

This event will occur from 6:00-10:00 PM, and is $12 in advance and $15 at the door. It is a benefit for AnimalSave, and its programs, such as neuter/spay programs, foster adoption programs and cat nap rooms. Tickets are available at Animal Save Thrift Store, Briarpatch Co-Op in Grass Valley and Harmony Books in Nevada City.

Pet Photos with Santa

Family Tails Photography

Redwood City, California

November 28, 29; December 5,6

Of course your pets need a photo with Santa this holiday season! It costs $40 for five photos on a disc, and you can easily then print out as many photos as you please. The photos will be taken on a first come, first serve basis, so no appointments are necessary. You can go on any one of those four listed dates from 12:00 PM-4:00 PM. Family Tails Photography is a professional pet photography studio.


Holiday Hounds Dog Parade

Palomar College to Civic Center

San Marcos, California

December 6

This dog and owner march is part of the traditional San Marcos holiday parade. It is $5 to enter and march with your dog. It is a two mile parade route, and you are welcome to dress up your dog in holiday fashion. You are required to register in advance in order to participate in such festivities. You are required to get to the check in table no later than noon, and the parade shall kick off at 12:30. Dogs will be grouped according to size. Dogs must be up to date with any vaccinations and have an identification. The parade should be over by 2:00 PM.