A dog as powerful as it is good-natured, the Great Dane has served as a hunting dog, a guard dog, and a family pet. Custom holds that today's Great Dane comes from breeding the Irish Wolfhound with the old English Mastiff, the combination of which made for a strong boar-hunting dog. However, despite its original purpose, the modern specimen has become known for its gentle and affectionate temperament.
High-energy as well, the Great Dane needs a family that will give it both exercise and limits. Like many dogs, the breed needs to know its place in the family hierarchy. Otherwise, it may become extremely insecure. An insecure dog is likely to be aggressive with other animals and may try to assert dominance over children, while a dog who knows who its “alpha” is will submit to other humans gladly. The Great Dane also needs long walks each day but does not typically display excessive exuberance indoors, a nature that makes the dog ideal for families or those who live in smaller homes or apartments.