The Great Dane is known as the “Apollo of all dogs.” Incised on some Greek money dating back to 36 B.C. is the image of a dog very similar to the Great Dane of today. An illustration dating back to approximately 600 B.C. shows Assyrian huntsmen with Dane-like dogs. In 407 A.D. German Gaul and part of Italy and Spain were invaded by an Asiatic people who brought with them powerful mastiff-like dogs. In Germany especially, where these magnificent animals capable of overcoming bears and wild boars were much admired, a process of selective breeding was begun. The dogs were crossed with Irish Greyhounds, and the result was the beautiful, large dog known today as the Great Dane.
From the middle to the late 1800s, breeders both in Germany and England became very interested in the breed and more or less developed it to the standards, which are recognised today. It has been claimed that the Great Dane is German in origin, which is not certain. However, what is evident, is that German breeders contributed largely to bringing the Great Dane to its glory of today.
Why the breed is called under different names is uncertain. The breed did not originate in Denmark, yet in most English speaking countries the breed is called ‘Great Dane’, in most of central Europe it is recognized as ‘Deutsche Dogge’, though in France, it is recognized as both ‘Dogue Allemand’ and ‘Danois’. In Holland, ‘Duitse Dogge’ and ‘Deense Dogge’ and in Italy it is called ‘Alano’. In 1880, Germany adopted the Great Dane as its national dog and was called the Deutsche Dogge and in England the breed was recognized by the Kennel Club in 1884 as the Great Dane.