The Great Dane is a very large, elegant, muscular dog with a short, sleek coat. A height of at least 32 in. is preferred for males and 30 in. for females. The Great Dane comes in many colors, including fawn or brindle with black mask, black, blue, harlequin (white with ragged black patches), and mantle (black with white collar, muzzle, chest, and tail tip). The body length is approximately equal to the height, giving an overall square appearance, though bitches may be slightly longer if well-proportioned. The back is short and level. The rectangular head is long and sculpted, with a very pronounced stop. The flat forehead is on a plane parallel to the muzzle. The muzzle is deep and the jaw square. The nose is black, except in blue Danes (dark blue-black nose), and harlequins (black spotted nose permitted). A scissors bite is preferred. The dog can be shown with ears either natural or cropped to a point. The natural ears are triangular in shape and fold down. Cropped ears stand erect. The long tail tapers to a point; it is carried low. History:
Selective breeding of this type of dog began in the Middle Ages in Germany when mastiff-type dogs were crossed with Irish Wolfhounds. Despite the name, the dog does not originate in Denmark. The dogs were popular as estate guardians and big game hunters. The Great Dane was a favorite of the German chancellor Bismarck. This noble breed has been used in war, as a coach dog, boar hunter, guard, and watchdog. Today the Great Dane is primarily a watchdog and companion.