Great Danes are intelligent, alert, and calm. In combination with their large size and speed, these traits make the Great Dane a good hunting dog. They enjoy participating in dog sports such as agility, tracking, weight pull, flyball, freestyle, rally obedience, and traditional obedience as sport that can provide them with physical and mental stimulation while strengthening their bonds with their family. Great Danes tend to learn well with reward-based training techniques. The Great Dane's reputation as a good family dog means they can be around children; however, as with all dogs, extremely close supervision is needed to prevent accidental injury to the child or dog and avoid the dog's subsequently developing fear-based defensive aggression. Although usually a friendly breed, Great Danes are good watchdogs and may be protective, although this may be just a self-defense response, with socialization minimizing the development of fear-based defensive aggression. Due to their large size, Great Danes may inadvertently intimidate other dogs, which can lead to aggression or fighting.
Some evidence suggests that dogs resembling the Great Dane have existed for thousands of years. Egyptian tombs dating back to 2000 BC feature artwork of similar dogs. Likewise, Greek coins as old as 36 BC depict dogs similar in nature. Perhaps the most famous misnomer in dogdom, the Great Dane is not Danish at all, but German. These dogs may have made their way to Germany through voyaging traders and the modern Great Dane was bred as a boar hunter in Germany during the 1500's. The breed was standardized in Germany in 1891. Many believe that the ancestor to the Great Dane is a mastiff-type dog from Asia that was brought to Germany by the Alans. The modern Great Dane owes its traits to crosses with the Irish Greyhound and the Irish Wolfhound. The dog was brought to the United States in the late 19th century. The breed was recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1887, and the first Great Dane club was founded in America in 1889.