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frontispiece celebrating the Dansk Kennel Klub's 100th Anniversary (founded 1897)

Standard of the Danish Dog (Grand Danois, Great Dane)

Country of origin: Denmark.

The general appearance of the Danish Dog is impressive, elegant and powerful. A big, beautiful dog with harmonious and beautiful lines. The head with its streamlined, clean-cut outline has, especially with the males, an almost strict (serious) expression. The entire shape of the dog gives the image of a strong yet elegant, smoothly rounded resilience without gnarled muscles and sharp protruding bones, with it’s, to the smallest details, completely harmonious proportions. The musculature is dry and firm and seen playing under the skin even when the dog is at rest. No nervous twitches or weakness of the musculature. No obesity. No folds or wrinkles due to loose skin. The stable, well-built skeleton with a strong, firm spine and with the limbs’ straight and pretty tough, strong bones, carries the musculature. The posture must be with a well raised neck and head, whereby the line of the back will be very slightly sloping towards the rear, standing high on the paw pads, carried by the dry sinewy pastern, which can never be either weak, sunk and hollow nor, even worse, bulging forwards. Well-raised posture gives the dog a good balance; it´s weight cannot rest heavily on the front limbs, but must lie more towards the back, so that the dog stands firm on all four legs. Strength and vitality and clean colours give the Danish dog the harmony in the overall appearance that seems so noble and harmoniously fits its size, faithful character, pride, bravery and entire appearance.

The head, which is carried high, must harmonize with the dog’s size. It must be dry, elongated, high (deep) and compressed (narrow), marked (chiselled) and expressive. From the centre point between the eyes there must be equal lengths to the occiput and to the snout (nose). Seen from the front, the strongly developed broad muzzle with the large, open nostrils and the broad bridge of the nose doesn’t seem distinctively narrower than the back of the head (skull).The bridge of the nose runs evenly between the eyes and over into the frontal furrow, a light but marked cavitation (indentation), that runs up though the middle of the skull and decreases in depth towards the occiput. Seen from the front you also see the dry, almost flat cheeks. Round, bulging cheeks are a fault that ruins the character of the head. The area in front of the eyes must be well filled, never hollow, but marked (chiselled) and dry.

Seen from the side, the skull can neither fall nor rise from the ledge of the forehead (brow) and backwards, it must be as flat as possible and can only arch very little. The line of the forehead must be parallel to the line of the nasal bridge as well as the underline of the lip. Clear lip fold. The broad, square muzzle must be sharply cut in the front and in length with the lip’s forefront (edge) forming a right angle with the lip’s underline, yet this angle (lip-fold) is rounded. The lips cannot be loose and flapping. The occiput cannot be particularly protruding. The bridge of the nose is rather straight, never hollow. In the front the two nasal bones terminate in a protuberance and these two protuberances are connected, as the inner forefront of the nasal bones connects with the nose cartilage and they create a thickened rim (ridge). On some dogs these thickened rims (ridges) feel like a deep V and on some dogs a flat V coming out from the two nasal protuberances and conjoining towards the rear. Split nose is a disqualification.

The strongly developed, raised from side to side, superciliary arches, create a marked stop on each side of the muzzle, which (still seen from the side) form a short perpendicular connection line with both the line of the forehead as well as the line of the bridge of the nose.

Seen from the top, the sidelines of the back of the head seem parallel. The sidelines in the front of the head also seem like two parallel lines; the more strongly built the forehead, the bigger the distance between these lines.

Jaws and teeth. The jaws must be dry and strongly developed, showing force in the powerful bite. The lower jaw neither protruding nor receding. Teeth well developed, fresh (clean), white and well set. The incisors of the upper jaw must slide closely over the front teeth of the lower jaw. Front teeth in the upper as well as especially in the lower jaw must be placed in a straight line between the canines.

The ears must be set high and not be too far from each other. Both cropped and uncropped ears are permitted. If the ears are cropped, the crop must be beautifully and regularly performed, identical on each ear. The position of the ears must be identical; they must be stiff, pointed and carried beautifully erect. If the ears are not cropped, they must be pretty fine and not too big; they must be lying as smoothly as possible, flat in towards the sides of the head, so that as the trailing edge of the ear is raised when the dog “pricks up it’s ears”, it is not pulled up on the topskull (“crown”) of the dog. The forefront of the ear lying towards the side of the head is sloping forwards and downwards.

Eyes. Middle-sized. Round. Expressive and as dark as possible. Set fairly high. Not turning inwards or outwards. Too much distance between the eyes creates a stupid, too little distance a sneaky (nasty) expression. Almond eyes are a fault. Red underlined eyes and droopy lower eyelids are faults.

The movement when striding and trotting is long, ground covering and regular without too much swinging of the front paws, not bouncing, swaying and bumping, but stretched (extended) and resilient. The gallop is flat with good forward drive, not high and bouncy, the dog must sort of dart (propel) itself forward across the ground.

The shoulder is long, oblique, sinewy, muscular, but dry, not overloaded and fleshy, ending well and tightly to the body. Steep and loose shoulders are faulty.

Forelegs. The relatively short upper arm is connected firmly and strongly to the lower arm at the elbow joint. The conjunction of it all is, seen from the front, suitably broad, and the front legs positioned as two vertical (parallel) lines. The front leg is, seen from the front, pretty slim, without bulging muscles on the outermost upper part of the upper arm. Seen from the side, the front leg is also vertically set, but broad, flat, dry and sinewy.

The pasterns are strong, not too long, sloping slightly backwards in the top. Any form of crooked-leggedness from either the front or the side, a loose shoulder, in- or outwards rotation of the elbow (causing faulty movement), knuckling over as well as stepping too deeply through (flat-footed and braking down at the pastern) are faults.

The paws (feet) are pretty big and strong, round, high (well arched) and firmly closed so that the toes are closely-knit together. The paw pads must be firm but resilient and must not feel dry, cracked or broken. The claws (nails) are turning downwards if the toes are properly set. Spread toes, crooked toes and hare feet are faults. Dewclaws must be removed from the puppies.

The neck is muscular and of suitable length, rather long than short, and slightly curved in an S-shape. From the strong upper neck, which has a good, firm, but clearly marked connection to the head, it grows stronger downwards and sort of spreads out into a smooth transition into the body’s, chest’s and shoulder’s muscles. In front it continues in a beautiful, smooth arch over the throat and into the lower jaw.
A completely dry neck without any trace of loose skin is the ideal, yet hardly obtainable, but throat folds should be avoided and loose neck skin should definitely not be found. The neck is carried raised high. The neck cannot be too strongly swung in the “S” shape – the Danish dog shall not be a hound, but a far more powerful (bigger and stronger in body type) animal – neither can the neck be too short, as it gives the dog a clumpy (cloddy, cobby) or round-shouldered touch. Deer neck (ewe neck) is absolutely reprehensible.

The body very deep with good depth of the chest. The ribs under and behind the shoulder are lightly arched and faintly bending backwards, further back more strongly arched and more slanted backwards. The belly is well tucked (raised, retracted), however the underline of the chest and the belly are not at all creating the strongly swung “S” as seen in the hound, and the entire body’s build shows more solid force and density than in that breed. In older bitches who have been used in the breeding program, it can be somewhat forgiven an abdomen that is a little deeper set. The topline slightly sloping backwards, lightly raised (arched) over the relatively short loin and with a smooth transition to the croup, the back dry, absolutely firm and strong, of suitable length to harmonize with the size of the dog, rather short than long.

The musculature strongly developed, especially in the front. The loin broad and powerful. One cannot exaggerate the importance of the back, not only for forming a harmonic, beautiful topline, but even more so because the strength of the back provides the power, which transitioned to the hind limbs determines the dogs propulsion. The croup of good width, strong, muscular yet dry and beautifully arched without sharp hip protrusions.

Hollow back, arched back, hyena (backwards-sloping) back or a back sloping forwards, long (and therefore weak) back, saggy belly, slim or hollow chest, barrel chest, flat or sloping croup and thin croup with protruding bones are faults.

Hind legs. The rear must be, seen from the back, of good width, exactly as broad as the croup. The hind legs parallel. Seen from the side, the hind legs are positioned slightly backwards in the lower part. The lower thigh is long. Both lower and upper thigh are broad with powerful, beautifully arched, long muscles. Good angulations in both knee- and hock joints. Metatarsals dry and sinewy and not too long. Knee joint and hock can neither turn inwards nor outwards. Steep positioning in the back is an especially ugly fault, which breaks the topline and the entire harmonious build of the dog. Faults are also loose knee joints, outwards turned hocks (bowed /’barrel’ legs) and inwards turned hocks (cow hocks) as well as week / hollow metatarsals, so that the dog steps flat-footed with broken-down pasterns.

The paws (feet) are pretty big and powerful, round, quite high (arched) and firmly closed so that the toes are tightly gathered. The paw pads must be firm yet resilient and cannot feel dry, cracked or broken. The claws are turning downwards if the toes are properly set. Spread toes, crooked toes and hare feet are faults. Dewclaws must be removed on the puppies.

The tail is compact at the root and running smoothly out into a fine tip, high-set and wide (broad, thick). It cannot be like a sausage sticking out from the croup, but must fall evenly and naturally along it.
Stretched out it must reach to around the heel (hock / calcaneus tip). In two equally big dogs, the knot (calcaneus tip) of the heel isn’t always at equal height above the ground, and therefore it has not been possible to slavishly set the length – but the most important thing is that the length of the tail is in harmony with the rest of the build of he dog. The last joint of the tail is a troublesome point of the Great Dane, and it must be handled with care, as the last third quarter of the tail is gradually more and more pointed (tapered). When the dog is at rest, it carries the tail slightly curved and fairly low. In action or during running, the tail is carried higher, but can never curl or be carried over the back. Faults – Whip tail, too short and thick tail, too high or lowset tail, curly tail, crooked tail and cropped tail.

The coat should be short, dense, glossy and smooth lying. Faults: Frizzy, woolly, wavy or too long coat as well as too long hair on the tail, especially the bottom (under) side of the tail (brush tail)


The colour or colours must – whichever one it is – be clean. Two colour groups naturally divide the Danish dog. On one side the fawn and brindled animals, and the other side the blacks, blues and harlequin coloured animals. In the first group all grey (bluish grey) colour markings or hints of grey (bluish grey) are disqualifying. However, the black markings turning greyish due to white hairs are not to be disqualified. In the latter mentioned group, all yellow (brown, red) colour markings or hints of yellow (brown, red) are a disqualification.

Under the first mentioned colour group are included:

1. Fawn dogs. The clearer the yellow (fawn) colour is, the better. The eyes always brown, as dark as possible. Black mask is preferred, black nails also. Snout (muzzle) always black. White chest spot and white on the paws can be permitted, but the dog that has the least white markings is, when it comes to colour, preferred the most. Disqualifications: Light yellow eyes, and eyes of other light colour, light eye rims or light-coloured muzzle, big white markings (blaze, collar, tip of tail etc.).

2. Brindle dogs. The ideal ground colour is strong (rich, deep) yellow (fawn), however it is often darker, golden-brown or warm brown. The danger of the darker ground colour is that the black tiger stripes will not be as clear as on the lighter ground colour. The tiger stripes (diagonal stripes) strongly black, as sharply lined (defined) as possible. Eyes always brown, as dark as possible. Muzzle is always black. Nails preferred black. White chest spot and white on the paws can be permitted, but the dog with the least white markings is, when it comes to colour, preferred the most. Disqualifications: Light yellow eyes, eyes of other light colour, light eye rims or light-coloured muzzle, big white markings (blaze, collar, tip of tail etc.).

Under the latter mentioned colour group are included:

1. Black dogs. The black dog must be black as coal. The eyes must be dark, muzzle always black. Black nails are preferred. White spot on the chest is not a fault. Otherwise, the least possible white is desirable, however white claws (nails), toes and paws and white chest marking can be permitted, but will downgrade at assessment. All other white markings are disqualified (complete collar, white blaze, white tip of the tail etc.), light eyes, light-coloured muzzle or light eye rims as well as “dirty” black colour.

2. Blue grey dogs. The colour is pure blue grey. Eyes as dark as possible (brown or blue grey). Black nails are preferred. White chest marking, black or darker mask and black or darker “eel marking” over the back are not disqualifications. White claws and paws (not beyond the pastern) and white throat can be permitted, but will downgrade at assessment; muzzle must be black or very dark slate grey. Eye rims dark. Any white markings other than the aforementioned, light eyes (also glass eyes) light-coloured muzzle, light eye rims and “dirty” colours, darker, black or light spots, darker blackish or lighter yellowish shade (hue) are all disqualifying faults.

3. Harlequin coloured dogs. The ground colour must be clear white without roan of any other colour and without a shade of either blue or grey in the white. The patches must be irregularly spread, bigger and smaller, in irregular shape, and quite asymmetrically distributed over the entire dog, pure shiny black with no hue of brown or grey. White collar and completely white front legs are not desirable. The edge between the white ground colour and the black spots must be as sharp as possible, the eyes are preferred dark. Claws (nails) and muzzle are preferred black. A few, sharply defined, grey, smaller spots are permitted. Permitted are also light, grey eyes and also glass eye (wall eye). Furthermore a black spotted nose (butterfly nose) and white paws are permitted. Faults are red, flesh-coloured nose, bluish grey or grey roan ground colour and water-blue or light yellow eyes. Disqualifying faults are: Red eyes (iris), white ground colour with only a few big black blotches (patches) or very few small black spots, completely white colour without any markings what so ever, as well as dogs where the grey or black blotches/patches are predominant.


The bigger, the better, but with the absolute requirement that the size is aligned with the harmonious and strong built, in other words, as long as the dog can carry it’s size. Shoulder height for a male not below 76 cm, preferred 80 cm and above; for a bitch not below 72 cm – preferably 75 cm and above (height to withers)

p. t. Copenhagen 16. March 1935.

Jørgen Larsen.

Thus, adopted by Danish Kennel Clubs Board meeting 18. March 1935.

P. B. V.

A. Moltke,


translation from Danish to English: Helene Nicoline Lund Gammelgaard, September 2014  [the Danish standard from 1935 was approved by the Danish Kennel Club in 1935, translated in to French in May 1937 (then the corporate language of the FCI) and approved by the FCI in July 1937]. source

[see the current AKC, FCI & TKC breed standards  here ]

more in Dansk


Christian IX of Denmark with his Great Dane in 1861.