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European Great Danes vs American Great Danes

European Great Danes vs American Great Danes

Great Danes are large and lean-looking dogs. But, did you know there are two varieties of this breed? European Great Danes vs American Great Danes. Now, what sets them apart? How do we know which is which? And most importantly, do they have the same personalities?

We all know and love Great Danes. They are probably the best-natured dogs in the world! Despite their intimidating size, this breed is sweet and affectionate. They love to play and just snuggle up with their human family. In fact, if you get a Great Dane, be prepared that they will become your shadow!

But don’t let this dog fool you. Just because they are so loving and caring with you, doesn’t mean they wouldn’t attack anyone who tries to hurt you or your family!

But, are both varieties of this breed the same? Do all of the above-mentioned traits apply to both the European Great Danes and the American Great Danes?

That’s what we’ll try to find out in this article! But, maybe you don’t want to learn more about the differences between the American and European Great Dane. Then you can check out our other Breed vs Breed articles:

American vs European Great Danes – The comparison

The Great Dane is partially from Germany and partially from England. Despite their name, they aren’t Danish like some would think!

Many people believe that this breed has been around for over 400 years! Which means they belong to the oldest dog breeds in the world!

The Great Dane was very expensive and valuable to hunters, so during hunting, they were even put on their own armor.

In the 16th century, the English bred large, strong dogs by crossing Mastiffs with the large Irish Wolfhound. After that, in the 17th century, they were brought to Germany where their development continued independently. Their main purpose was to keep prey under control when hunting wild boars and bears until the hunter could kill them.

As the traditional hunting of big game slowly went out of fashion in the 19th century and new firearms appeared, the brave, large hunting dogs also began to slowly disappear. But, because of the noble and majestic appearance of the breed, breeders from Ulm continued breeding them. They began to breed and sell the Great Dane as a luxury dog and a status symbol. But, this time the breeders made it their mission to breed a friendly, gentle, and undemanding dog and called them the Ulmer Hund, or dog from Ulm.

Later in the 19th century, people started using the term Great Dane, although the breed has little to do with Denmark.


The breed standards in Europe and the US are very different, not only with the Great Dane but for other breeds too. For now, we will only focus on the European Great Danes vs American Great Danes to see what sets them apart.

There are many differences in the appearance of the European and American Great Danes. American Great Danes usually have a smaller head and thinner muzzle, besides that their lips are less prominent. The American variety has a thin neck and tight skin.

European Danes have a much bigger head and a blunter muzzle, they also have large lips. They have a thicker neck and a fuller body type, and you’ll notice that the European Great Danes have a more wrinkled look to them. They are also much stronger.

There is also a difference in their weight. European Great Danes weigh around 180 pounds, but these huge canines have the potential to surpass the range of 220 to 240 pounds.

American Great Danes are usually between 125 and 135 pounds heavy.

Differences between European Great Danes and American Great Danes

Other characteristics of European Great Danes:

  • much bigger
  • have a heavier, square-shaped head
  • they have big lips that hang
  • extra droopy eyes
  • thick necks

Other characteristics of American Great Danes:

  • look much sleeker
  • their head is smaller and is more proportional to the rest of their body
  • rectangular head
  • seem lighter on the feet


Besides the differences in their appearance, they also differ in temperament. Now, all Great Danes are friendly and loving dogs. There is no denying that. But the European Great Dane is a bit goofier and laid back. They love to have fun and play around. They are also a bit lazier.

American Great Danes make great pets for active families. That’s because they have a lot of energy especially while they are young.

Other characteristics of European Great Danes:

  • very affectionate and exuberant
  • playful and you’ll often see them running in circles in a playful way
  • drape themselves when sitting on a couch
  • calm and gentle
  • easy to train but need consistency
  • has a harmonious, lithe, and a bit springy gait

Other characteristics of American Great Danes:

  • more active
  • love to sit like humans
  • enjoy going on lonk walks and playing games
  • intelligent and easy to train
  • has a powerful gait and long easy strides

It’s also important to note that European Great Danes have a shorter life span. Usually, European Great Danes live around 6 to 8 years.

American Great Danes live a bit longer. They live between 9 and 10 years, there are also reports that some have lived up to 13 years.

When it comes to their health problems, both varieties have the same health issues:

Conclusion – American vs European Great Danes

Both varieties of this breed are amazing dogs and both have their qualities. Generally speaking, they are very similar, but there are also other differences.

Now, if you wonder which is for you, we can’t tell you that. It all depends on your lifestyle, your family and so on. But, we might be able to help you decide.

European Great Danes are perfect for you if you want:

  • a large dog
  • a dog with droopy eyes and loose skin
  • dogs that are couch potatos
  • a mastiff-looking dog

American Great Danes are perfect for you if you want:

  • a big dog, but not as intimidating as the European Great Dane
  • an excellent watchdog
  • if you have other pets
  • an elegant looking dog
  • a great watchdog
  • a very active dog

While you’re here read more about Great Danes:

My name is Jackie and I am a veterinarian with a degree in veterinary medicine. With extensive experience in treating various animals, I am known for my compassionate and personalized approach to animal care.