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European Great Dane vs. American Great Dane: Which is Best for Your Family?

European Great Dane vs. American Great Dane

The same purebred breed of dogs that come from different countries entirely or even from different parts of a single country, will not all look exactly the same.

They may also have other things in common, such as their personalities and traits for being a guardian for your family, easy or harder to train, differences in prices, and much more.

The European and American Great Danes are quite similar in most ways, so which should you choose as the best companion dog for your family? Read on to find out about all of the similarities and differences between these massive and beautiful dogs.

The Apollo of Dogs

Both of these dogs are considered “The Apollo of Dogs” for their massive size and absolute beauty, at the same time as Apollo was considered the most beautiful of all the Greek gods.

One of the two looks like a giant mastiff while the other has more of a delicate appearance, such as a greyhound. Both breeds stand out because of their size but also because they are gentle giants and very loving family companions as well.

No matter which of the two you decide to adopt for your new four-legged family member, you will be getting a very handsome pet that is super loving in his personality.

European Great Dane vs. American Great Dane: Does Size Matter?

The size difference between the two different Great Danes is the most different feature between the two. The European and American Great Dane are both considered giant breeds of dogs.

However, the European Dane can reach a height of 34 inches and weigh up to 240 pounds.

The American Great Dane will be a bit shorter at 32 inches or so and much lighter with a mature weight of 140 pounds.

European Great Dane vs. American Great Dane: Appearance

Both dogs have been documented as being around for over 400 years. Both types of Great Danes were used as hunters for wild boar and also protectors of their family and their homes.

The original Great Danes could be both ferocious in the hunt, but intelligent enough to stop when called off by their handlers and then go home to protect and guard their family members in a sweet and cuddly manner.

Breeders eventually bred out the working dog’s ferocity to create a loving family member instead. Both dogs were from the past heritage of the Irish Wolfhound, the English Mastiff, and the Greyhound.

The American Great Dane takes more after the Greyhound in his sleek appearance and the European Great Dane favors the heritage of the English Mastiff more.


The American Great Dane has eyes that are very slightly droopy to give him a very alert appearance, while the European Great Dane has very droopy eyes, much like those of a bloodhound. The eye color is the same for both breeds.

They may be anywhere from deep brown to blue, depending on their lineage and heredity from their parents. You can also see both breeds with two different colored eyes quite often.

Be aware though, that each of the Great Danes with two colors of eyes is more susceptible to glaucoma and cataracts than puppies with the same colored eyes.

Body Shape

All three of the dogs that were bred together to form a Great Dane have attributes that each pup gains from it. The Mastiffs have very large chests for their athletic build.

The Greyhounds are one of the fastest breeds of dogs ever to give a Great Dane a very fast speed. The Irish Wolfhounds are extremely tall to give the Great Danes their incredibly tall height.

The American Great Dane looks more like a Greyhound with a less dense body, giving them even more speed than their European counterparts. It is tightly defined with very compact muscles and a graceful appearance.

The European Great Dane takes more after the Mastiff. He is massive with a very full body and a large chest.

He will look very bulky with a thicker and shorter neck and a wider girth and chest than the American Great Dane.

Muzzle and LIps

The massive European Great Dane has loose and very full lips which cause a lot of slobbering and drooling. The muzzle is short and squared off in this breed.

The American Great Dane has a tighter mouth area that is more compact and he does not drool. This breed also has a much longer and slimmer muzzle in appearance.


Both breeds have naturally floppy ears. However, most American Great Danes have their ears cropped when they are very young as puppies to fit the breed standard set forth by the AKC. The European Great Danes usually don’t have their ears cropped but they are left flopping forward.

If you choose an American Great Dane over the European version, you can choose a puppy before the ears are cropped by a breeder and request the ears not be cropped. Of course, if you want a show dog, the ears will need to be cropped to compete in dog shows.


Both dogs have shiny coats that are short and straight, but the European Great Dane’s coat is denser than the American version.

An American Great Dane has approved coat colors by the AKC, whereas the European Great Dane’s acceptable coat colors are by the Federation Cynologique Internationale (FCI). The coat colors of each breed are very similar to each other.

American Great Danes coats will be brindle, fawn, blue, harlequin, black, mantle, and merle. European Great Danes may be black, mantletiger (the same as mantle), plattenhunde (the same as harlequin), blue, fawn, and brindle.

The brindle coloration has the same rules for each of the breeder’s associations for both American and European Great Danes.

They may be fawn and black, blue, red and black or shades of gray. The brindling stripes sit on top of a base coat of either red or fawn.

European Great Dane vs. American Great Dane: Personality and Temperament

The American Great Dane isn’t timid, but he certainly isn’t aggressive either. They are very courageous dogs and are often called one of the best companion and family dogs ever.

American Great Danes are so sweet that they are friendly with everyone–even strangers. Although they may be a bit more watchful of strangers than the European Great Dane.

American Great Danes are great with children of all ages and will very willingly play with them. You should watch your dog until he’s fully trained around small children though, so he doesn’t accidentally knock them down or hit them with his tail.

You can truly see how gentle these dogs are with other dogs and pets. They socialize very well with all other animals, no matter the size or breed.

The European Great Dane is not as welcoming to strangers as the American Great Dane. They are standoffish and will take quite a bit of time to interact with people they don’t know before warming up to them.

Socialization from a young age can help with this aspect so that your dog doesn’t grow up being too wary of others on walks.

European Great Danes are devoted to their owners and the entire family. They are good with babies, toddlers, teenagers, adults, and even the elderly. You should still have assisted playtime with small children though, due to their great size. This breed of dog will also get along well with other pets in the household.

European Great Dane vs. American Great Dane: Exercise Needs

The American Great Dane needs more exercise than the European Great Dane because he takes after the Greyhound side of his heritage and he’s very active indeed.

This can be a handful due to his size, so it’s best to give him exercise for about an hour per day as a minimum to quieten him down.

The European Great Dane takes more after the heritage of the Mastiff. He is very docile and laid back and would rather lie around with his family members than any other thing in the world. This breed only needs about 30 minutes of exercise per day to stay healthy and at a healthy weight.

European Great Dane vs. American Great Dane: Guard Dog Capabilities

The American Great Dane is a great family guardian and protector. He does bark quite a bit and is excitable, so you will certainly know if someone is at the door or in your yard, but he is not aggressive and won’t hurt anyone or attempt to.

The European Great Dane is a lot more subdued and doesn’t bark much either. If a stranger is outside or on your property, this breed will not give it a thought at all. Their enormous size can scare off a predator though.

European Great Dane vs. American Great Dane: Grooming Requirements

Both of the breeds have single coats that are straight and short. This means you only need to brush them out about once a week unless they are shedding and then you need to brush them every day to keep the hair from being all over your house.

The European Great Dane does shed more, simply because he is a much larger dog. The short coats also mean that they don’t do well in cold weather as they get cold easily, so if you live in a cold climate, your Great Dane of either of the descendants shouldn’t live outside.

European Great Dane vs. American Great Dane: Ear Care

Any dog with floppy ears can have issues with their ears trapping dirt, debris, ear wax, and moisture in them much more readily than a dog with cropped ears that stand straight up and have good airflow,

In the summer, floppy ears get very warm, making them susceptible to ear infections when bacteria grows inside of the ear canal. Dog ear drops will help you to keep your European Great Dane’s ears from being infected and needing veterinary attention.

You should clean their ears in the same way, no matter if they are cropped or floppy. Simply pour some dog ear cleaning solution into the ear canal while holding the outer ear.

Allow the liquid to sit for about 30 seconds while massaging the ear canal and then let go of the outer ear. The solution and any debris, dirt, or wax will drain out of your dog’s ears cleaning them.

European Great Dane vs. American Great Dane: Training

You’ll be happy to know that both breeds of dogs are very easy to train. They are exceptionally intelligent and want to please their handlers and family members, which makes training a snap.

You should start obedience training as soon as you bring your new pooch home, as he will grow very quickly and he will need to have the fundamentals of commands on which to build.

Remember, the gentle giants are super loving and you wouldn’t want a dog that’s over 100 pounds jumping up on you each day when you return home from work.

Things to keep in mind while training your new furball is to use short training sessions for a puppy with a short attention span. Learn what motivates your pup. Does he prefer treats or lots of praise and petting?

Stay consistent on the training by using the same commands each time and also try to stick to a schedule. Focus on just one command or trick at a time and keep practicing.

European Great Dane vs. American Great Dane: Health Issues

All purebred dogs have some health conditions that are in their bloodlines and passed down through heredity. Great Danes of any sort are no different. Both the American and European Great Danes have a lifespan of 7 to 10 years with great care.

Both the European Great Dane and the American Great Dane are prone to gum disorders with overgrown gums. This is when the gums trap bacteria and debris and make plaque.

The overgrown gums can even cover half of the teeth in some cases. Fortunately, there is an easy fix because a vet can remove the excess tissue easily.

All Great Danes have joint issues such as elbow and hip dysplasia. This is due to their being a giant breed of dog that is very large and heavy.

The European Great Dane will have more severe issues with joints because he is larger and much heavier than the American Great Dane.

Skin allergies are worse in the American Great Dane because its coat is thinner than the denser European Great Dane. Thicker coats prevent over-drying and also protect the skin to prevent skin allergies.

Both varieties of Great Danes suffer equally as much with eye and heart diseases. Eye disorders such as cataracts will be worse in either breed with two different colored eyes.

Both dogs also have the genetic makeup to suffer from bloat equally as well. The European Great Dane has a deeper chest, so he will be even more susceptible to bloat.

European Great Dane vs. American Great Dane: Cost of Puppies

European Great Dane puppies are usually found at a higher price point than their American counterparts. You can expect to pay between $2,000 and $3,500 for a European Great Dane.

The American Great Dane puppies will generally sell for somewhere between $600 and $3,000 depending on whether they are from show dog quality bloodlines or, they are simply a healthy pooch for a companion dog for your family.

So, Which of The Two Great Danes is Right for You and Your Family?

You have many differences to take into account when deciding between adopting a European or American Great Dane. The biggest differences between the two can help you to decide.

Who Are American Great Danes Good For?

It takes the right type of family dynamics to own an American Great Dane. When choosing between the two, you should choose the American Great Dane if your family is active and can handle a more high-strung dog with confidence.

Families like the more elegant appearance of a dog rather than a huge dog, families with smaller yards who are intimidated by the size of the European Great Dane, who have other pets at home and need an excellent guard dog will choose the American Great Dane.

Who Are European Great Danes Good For?

European Great Danes are better for families who want a large and intimidating-sized dog. If you like drooping eyes and loose skin and want a dog that isn’t that friendly to strangers with a Mastiff appearance, then this may be the breed for you.

You should also have a family that is more laid back than active because the European Great Dane is happy to be a couch potato.

All of these facts about the two different Great Dane Breeds should help you to decide which of the two will be the best new companion pup for your family.