As puppies, Great Danes can knock over small tables and large children. As adults they can clear a coffee table with a swipe of a tail. Although he may sometimes seem like a bull in a china shop, the biggest thing about the Great Dane isn’t his formidable size (up to 175 pounds), but his heart. He may have been bred to hunt ferocious boars and guard estates, but these days, this tall and elegant dog is better suited to life as a lover, not a fighter. If you’re looking for a gentle giant, this may well be the dog for you.

His size may seem to require its own zip code, but the Dane’s calm nature makes him more suitable to apartment living than many a more anxious or active breed. While puppyhood may be a challenge in an apartment, a well-socialized and well-trained Dane will be perfectly content to have one good 10 or 20-minute walk a day for his exercise.

Because Great Danes have protective natures when their families are involved, it’s essential to teach young dogs not to jump up on people and that nipping or any act of aggression is not allowed. What tends to be laughed off in a tiny dog is no laughing matter in a full-grown dog of this size. Let the Dane’s size itself serve as a deterrent and never encourage aggressive behavior.

While most Great Danes aren't nuisance barkers, if allowed to develop barking as a habit, they’ll have what's probably the loudest, deepest, most far-carrying bark of any canine. (There’s a reason that a Great Dane led the Twilight Bark to get the news of missing puppies into the countryside in the classic movie “101 Dalmatians.”)

Many Great Danes have cropped ears, but that look seems to be on the wane, even in the show ring, where “natural ears” are now allowed. While there are still people who defend this cosmetic procedure, ear cropping has no benefit to the dog whatsoever, and it is a painful fashion that most of the civilized world has outlawed. As for grooming, Dane owners get off relatively easy. The short coat is easy to care for, although the Dane does shed and it can seem like a lot of hair since he’s a lot of dog.

What you'll save on grooming bills you'll more than spend on food, since these giant dogs need a lot of fuel, particularly when they're growing. Although overfeeding is not healthy for any dog, it’s especially important in a Great Dane puppy since rapid growth can contribute to skeletal problems including arthristis. Put aside extra time for clean-up, by the way, since much of what goes in must come out, in rather alarming quantities.