Are Great Danes Aggressive? Everything You Need To Know

In history, many years ago, Great Danes were actually bred to be very large dogs that were aggressive enough to take down huge wild boars.

They were also intelligent enough to stop an attack when their owners or handlers asked them to and when at home, they were the most protective dogs ever, with kind and gentle manners.

Today, Great Danes are family companions who have had all of the aggressiveness bred out of them to make them the ultimate guardians and protectors of their homes and families.

One of the best places to take a puppy or dog to socialize is to go to the dog park. This is where he learns a lot of life lessons from other dogs or pups and it shows him the appropriate behavior. You do need to watch for signs of aggression though.

What is the Great Danes’ Temperament and Personality?

Great Danes are some of the largest dogs you will ever see, but they are extremely gentle and loving animals. They can reach a height of 28 to 32 inches tall and a weight between 110 and 175 pounds.

Great Danes are friendly with all family members, other pets, and strangers as well. They are very intelligent and respond extremely well and fast to training with positive reinforcement techniques.

Their energy level is a medium ranking, although as puppies they seem like they play continuously. Great Danes are very popular with families for their gentle and loving attitudes.

What Makes a Great Dane Aggressive Today?

Great Danes, just as all dog breeds, can be trained to be aggressive, but they are not usually like this, instead they are called Gentle Giants for a reason. They are very affectionate, loving, and kind.

If you adopt a Great Dane as a puppy, you can train it and socialize it from the young age of about 8 weeks old. This ensures that your new pup won’t be aggressive towards other pets, children, or humans in any situation.

If you adopt a full-grown Great Dane that is 2 years old or older, there is a chance that this dog, just like any breed, could be aggressive if it was not properly trained and socialized or it was trained to be aggressive.

For the best results, you should adopt any dog as a puppy and train it yourself or have them trained by a professional that only uses positive reinforcement techniques.

Great Dane Healthy Play for Puppies

Puppies can get a little rough in normal and harmless puppy play, whether it’s with siblings or people.

Puppies are a ball of energy that loves to bite, nip, pounce, tug, bark, and growl all while just playing. These are not signs of aggression, they’re just signs of them being immature.

If your Great Dane puppy grabs your hand and shakes it, you should teach him not to do that because he will soon be a huge giant breed dog and this behavior won’t work.

In reality, puppies learn how to control their bite strength through mouthing. Lunging helps them to keep their balance and learn just how strong and large they are–even though they may trip someone or knock down a small child.

All of these behaviors are normal for a Great Dane puppy, but you should try to curb them if they cause even the slightest harm to anyone while they are young.

Training and socialization at the dog park can greatly decrease these actions and teach your pup that all people can be really nice to them and other pets, as well as to have a well-rounded pooch.

Healthy Play Signals In Great Danes

Since Great Danes grow very large so quickly, they may look very intimidating to others when they are playing with another dog or a human family member. There are many signs that your playful puppy is having a healthy playtime.

The first two signals at the beginning of a puppy play session will alert you that your dog is merely playing.

He will do a “play bow” in which his back legs are straight and the front legs are low to the ground. It looks like a deep bow in a person, such as after a Broadway play.

The play bow states to you that it is just playing and it can be a bow that lasts a while or it can be only a few seconds. If playing with another dog, they will both have this motion to signal that it is just healthy play.

The other main signal that your furball is playing is that their body is loose and wiggly with their entire body being slack from floppy ears, down the back, their abdomen, and their tail. No stiffness shows in any part of a dog’s body when it is playing.

Healthy play signs in Great Danes include biting, barking, growling, tackling, body slams, jumping, and hip checks in which one dog bumps the other with his hip on the other’s hip.

It’s kinda like the old dance The Bump. These are all normal play signs of healthy play with others—as long as the first two signals are also present.

Giant breed and large breed dogs learn about their great size and strength as they grow through healthy play. Your huge puppy will modify his play with a smaller or lighter weight dog according to the other dog’s size.

The smaller the other dog, the more gentle your dog will be. If this isn’t happening, then immediately break up the play.

Both dogs take turns in healthy play. One dog will chase the other and then they trade roles so the chaser becomes the chased. It is important to show both dogs that neither is the master of the other and they are equals in playtime.

Dogs should respect the signals of each other. When one dog is finished playing and walks off, the other dog should let it walk away and find someone else to play with.

This is an important step to teach your loving Great Dane as a puppy as some get so excited they don’t want to stop playing with their friends.

You should make your four-legged family member leave the dog alone that walks away and introduce him to another dog that may want to play with him.

When playing, dogs should take breaks and not constantly play hard with each other. They should each take a break and then if they want, resume the play.

If one dog isn’t letting the other take a break, then remove your dog from the situation like the one that continuously plays is overexcited and it can escalate into unhealthy play. The dog that keeps wanting to play is showing dominance over the other dog–and this is a bad sign.

Rude Play for Great Danes of All Ages

Rude play can lead to a dog fight, so it’s best not to let your puppy engage in any type of rude play and he will take this lesson with him into adulthood to be a well-rounded dog as he grows.

Humping is the biggest sign of dominance in dogs and it’s not acceptable. It’s usually a sign that a dog is overstimulated.

If your dog rolls over another and pins him to the ground but not acting loose all over his body, it’s rude to play.

If one dog tries to play with another that isn’t interested, and insists the other should play, they should be stopped.

Dogs should always do the play bow before beginning to play with another dog and not just start jumping around. The other dog that didn’t initiate the play may view this as aggression and it could lead to a fight.

If a dog is trying to stop playing or does not want to play at all, you will notice a tucked tail, hiding or running away. The other dog should leave this dog alone or the scared dog will see this as aggression.

Other no-no’s in dog play include grabbing orbiting the neck or legs of another dog or playing too rough with a younger or smaller dog.

Signs of Aggression in Great Danes of all Ages

There are many different signs of aggression in dogs of all ages that you should be aware of. If you notice them, then your Great Dane and the other dog should be removed from each other and you can put your dog back on its leash or get him to lie down and stay.

If a dog has a stiff body with his ears either pinned backward or forward, it indicates that he is insecure and scared, which can easily turn into aggression. In addition, your dog may have his hackles raised too.

A dog that wags his tail stiffly is not doing it to be friendly, but this is also a sign of aggression, just like a tucked tail, and shaking, which can mean extreme fear. When a dog is very scared, it can run from the situation or he may decide to attack the other dog.

Other signs of aggression to watch for are snarling, lunging at another dog, hovering over another dog, a low growl with teeth showing, snapping, and biting by actually sinking his teeth into another pet.

What Causes Aggression in a Great Dane?

If you’ve recently adopted a Great Dane puppy or an older Great Dane, you should watch it for the signs of aggression. He will become such a huge dog that you definitely don’t want him to be aggressive at all.

If you notice any signs of aggression in your new four-legged family member, your first step is to take your pooch to the vet.

There are many different things that can make your pup suddenly act aggressively toward other dogs and people too.

No matter how loving and peaceful your pet is, if he is in pain, he may lash out because he can’t communicate this to you. It could be as simple as a sticker embedded in a paw between the pads that is causing him pain.

Rarely, but sometimes, dogs can have bad reactions to their normal vaccines that will make them act aggressively.

It can occur several days after the vaccine, so you should watch your dog closely after each vaccine he receives.

Several diseases can cause pain and make your dog aggressive, such as cancer, rabies, and thyroid diseases.

Other Factors That Can Cause Aggression in a Great Dane

Dogs can be territorial or possessive of a particular chair in your home or a favorite toy. If you are sitting in “his” chair or touch “his” toy, he may lash out at you.

This is a behavior that you need to take care of quickly in a puppy so he’s not overly possessive as a giant breed adult.

Great Danes are very sensitive to changes in their households and can be aggressive with too much happening.

If you move to another home, change his food or add new furniture to your home, he may feel threatened because of these changes.

When dogs feel defensive of themselves or family members, it can be a bad thing. If your Great Dane is just wary of a stranger, that is all good.

However, if he becomes very defensive with a stranger it can quickly escalate to aggressiveness and he may even harm the stranger.

If your dog doesn’t get exercise for about an hour a day, he may become withdrawn and aggressive. He needs daily exercise by playing in the yard or taking walks to be healthy and balanced and avoid aggression.

In the wild, animals fight for their food just to stay alive and they can be very aggressive when it comes to their food.

Don’t ever deny your Great Dane at any age a meal to punish him, because most of all the Great Danes are food-driven to learn new commands and tricks.

So, skipping a meal would not be a good thing in his eyes. If you do this, then your dog will likely be very aggressive towards you–and this is the last thing you want.

Great Danes may have learned aggression that is not due to their genes or heredity. If your dog is put in a stressful situation over and over, he may think the only way to act and get out of or rid of the situation is to be aggressive.

This can be caused by other dogs being aggressive to him over and over or it can be caused by a small child that pulls his tail or plays too rough with him.

If you have small children or small children come to your home, you need to make certain that your pooch is only played with in a gentle manner and keep an eye on small kids at all times around your dog until he is fully socialized and trained.

Fear aggression is also possible in any dog. If your dog was put in front of another dog who bites him and he can’t get away from it, he will likely think that his only way to deal with other dogs is to be aggressive towards them.

This can lead to your dog wanting to attack all dogs near him and it can even bleed over to children or adults.

It’s crucial that you keep an eye on your Great Dane at all times when he is near other people or dogs to prevent his aggressive ways.

Final Thoughts

Great Danes are definitely not an aggressive breed of dog. They are the total opposite and their personalities include loving and caring while protecting their family but not acting aggressively in any manner.

If a stranger approaches your home, your dog will bark at them, but he should never lunge at them.

As long as you train your Great Dane puppy at an early age to be socialized properly, he will be the perfect family member that loves to lounge on the couch with you.

In socialization, you can carry dog treats with you and give everyone you encounter on a walk or in the dog park a treat to offer to your pup.

This teaches him that all people are good and will lower any instinct to be aggressive with people. You should also remove him from any situation when another dog is being aggressive towards him.

If you notice any signs of aggressive play at the dog park and you remove your pooch from the situation, he will learn that it’s bad behavior because you took him away from it, and now he’s in time out.

Following all the cues from your beautiful pooch will help you to bond very tightly with him and he will always be by your side and obedient.