The Great Dane sometimes referred to as the German Mastiff or Deutch Dogge in Germany, is one of the tallest breeds in the world, matched only by the Irish Wolfhound, which it is believed to have also played a role in its development. Typically, from year to year, the Great Dane wins the title as tallest, with the current tallest one by the name of Zeus that reached the height of 44 inches at the shoulders.
Dogs resembling the Great Dane have been historically represented in Egyptian monuments that date back to 3,000 BC and in frescos of ancient Greece from the 14th-13th century BC. The University of Copenhagen Zoological Museum manages no less than seven skeletons of very large hunting dogs, dating from the 5th Century BC through 1000 AD.
In its present-day form, the breed was given the name Great Dane in 1755 in Buffon's Histoire naturelle, générale et particulière.
It is common in the US for owners to crop the ears but is less common in European countries due to laws that prohibit the practices of cropping ears and docking tails.
Due to its large size, it is often afflicted by the same issues as other large breeds face, such as hip dysplasia, heart issues, breathing issues, gastric issues, and climate-related issues such as easily overheating.
Merle / Harlequin:
It should be noted that very little is actually known about the Merle trait. Most of what is written is based on pure speculation without any valid scientific evidence to back up such theories. Many show the trait noted with the "Mm" or similar derivative; however, no evidence of such a gene actually exists and claims that it is a dominant trait has no scientific validity. The Merle gene was believed to have been discovered recently, but it has proven false since then, and the test was subsequently pulled from the market. Most of what is reported on Merle, often by self-proclaimed experts, is as trustworthy as a wicker basket holding water. While health issues are often reported negatively against the Merle trait, no studies exist that have addressed issues of inbreeding or high levels of white genetics. High levels of inbreeding and dogs with heavy white genetics have, on the other hand, concretely proven to have the same issues often blamed on the Merle trait. While the Merle trait should not be taken lightly, many breeders have bred Merle specimens (even some Merle to Merle) without any increased evidence of health issues. Healthy breeding has been accomplished simply by not including high levels of white, reducing inbreeding coefficients as much as possible, and not breeding Merle to Merle.
Fawn, brindle, blue, black, mantle (primary black with white areas on the muzzle, chest, collar, legs), and optional blaze are acceptable. The blaze is a line on the face and head often referred to as Bostonian in reference to its similarity to the Boston Terrier. Harlequin, which is related to and in some cases includes the Merle trait, is a regular occurrence.