This unlikely mix has a divergent and impressive heritage; the elegant, regal, pampered Great Dane, and the agile, tenacious, Pitbull with a stubborn terrier streak. Combine the courage, adaptability, balance, loyalty, and sensitive natures, and you will have a family pet and a best friend for life.
This mix will produce a large to giant-sized dog, probably with long legs and less muscle than the Pitbull. The ears will be set low, most likely floppy, and often upright. It will likely be a happy dog that moves well, with a slight up-curve in its tail.
Weight & Height
The size discrepancy in its parents is complicated by the fact that the male Great Dane is significantly bigger than the female. This mix will likely be large, weighing between 60 to 100 pounds (28 to 45 kgs). The adult usually measures 24 to 30 inches (61 to 76 cms).
Thanks to its Great Dane parent, this mix generally has an easy elegance about its movements. The gait will probably be relaxed in long, easy strides. When it moves, it will most likely give the impression of strength, determination, and endurance.
This mix has an enormous range: black, white, cream, brindle, fawn, sable, blue, golden, gray, merle, salt, and pepper, brown, spotted, and even a light gray and charcoal harlequin. The Great Dane sometimes has a mantle coat, but this seldom appears in the mix. The nose should be black.
Coat Length & Thickness
The Great Dane Pitbull mix will almost certainly have a short, dense coat with close-fitting hair. It might even be stiff, but it is more likely to be smooth and glossy. This mix will have a single coat.
Despite its size, “sweetheart” is the term applied by all owners. This mix is alert, intuitive, intensely affectionate, dependable, loyal, a wonderful family member, and just as demanding. It will sleep on your bed, so best prepare. Only buy from a reputable large/giant dog breeder who has vetted the parents.
Does Not Like Being Alone
Sensitivity is a trait that exists in both parents, coupled with a need for company. This is sure to present in your pet not being able to be alone for long, if not in outright separation anxiety. It will not express dangerous territoriality but will defend its home vigorously.
Not Aggressive but Unruly if Untrained
Simply by being so large, your dog is frightening. It is also energetic and friendly. It is imperative that you start training from day one. Once all vaccinations are done, attend puppy socialization classes followed by adult training. You must be able to control your dog off the lead.
Preferred Climate Is Warm Weather
It will be rare for your dog to have a thin coat. Nevertheless, this type of mix is sensitive to the cold and will need a warm bed inside (apart from yours) and a jacket/raincoat and boots for the exterior, especially if there are ice and snow that is salted.
Companion or Suitability Factor
Your dog will be a rewarding addition in your life. Affectionate, but also demanding, it will lean against you heavily for attention in the middle of a conversation. When you sit, it will place its great head on your lap. It is intuitive, dependable, confident, and loyal.
Kid-Friendly with Caution
The dog’s parents are noted to be fond of children. Teach children how to interact with the dog and train your large dog to recognize that the child is a human and not a puppy. Full-time supervision is vital, even if you were assured the Pitbull parent was even-tempered.
Is Not Apartment Friendly
Even though your dog is sometimes a “couch potato,” it is simply too big, with a sweeping tail at the wrong height, to be comfortable in an apartment. It must have an insulated, giant crate in a quiet spot, especially when young and access to the outdoors twice a day.
Is a Perfect Watchdog
The Great Dane has strong protective instincts, and this, coupled with the Pitbull’s intense need to guard its territory, means it is highly likely that any intruders will be dealt with appropriately. The size of your dog will also discourage anyone from canvassing your home from breaking and entering.
Not Suitable for Senior Citizens
Despite the fact that both the parents are affectionate and warm, this mix is too large and heavy for the average older person. It needs too much exercise and eats a great deal. Just needing help to carry the dog food as well as the expense of upkeep is prohibitive.
A Great Service Dog
Both parents appear on lists of suitable service, therapy, and emotional support dogs, so one would imagine the mix would be ideal. Cons include a tendency to drool, shed hair, their need for exercise, and having to cope with people who have mistaken beliefs about the nature of the Pitbull.
As a therapy dog, its size is a plus, like with opening doors for wheelchair-bound owners. As a therapy or emotional support dog, they would excel, for example, helping the owner cope with fear, PTSD, etc. Because they train well, they could warn of impending anxiety or epileptic fits, etc.
Tends to Get Along with Other Pets If Trained Properly
The Great Dane side of your dog is usually comfortable with other animals. If Pitbull genes have come through strongly, you may have problems with other dogs of the same sex. You should always introduce any new dog to others in neutral territory and take time when introducing a cat.
Intelligence & Training
Owning a large dog brings specific demands, especially where both parents are friendly, affectionate, and love people. A giant, perhaps drooling dog, at head height, moving swiftly towards your darling child, is enough to alarm any parent. You must train until a voice command stops your dog in its tracks.
Experience with this mix shows it will inherit the Great Dane genes physically, and the temperament will come from both parents. Both breeds are reasonably intelligent and respond well to training. If you start training early, you can encourage its instinctive, (innate) adaptive (problem-solving) and working (following orders) intelligence.
Training Could Be Challenging
Both parents are easy to train, but there will be a great deal of inherited playfulness and who knows what kind of sense of humor! Great Danes particularly need patience in training. Work in short sessions (8 to 10 minutes) twice daily and be firm, consistent and gentle in correction.
Ensure robust fencing as both parents tend to wander. Feed your friend excellent grade food, constituted for large breed puppies, 3 times a day till 5 months then, at least twice a day. It might grow too quickly, and you should consult your vet on how to adjust its food.
Adults Eat 6 – 8 Cups (Females) and 8 – 10 Cups (Males) Dry Food a Day
If feasible, continue to feed three small meals per day for adults to avoid bloating tendencies. It should not have to spread its feet to eat. Raise the dish if this happens. Feed food formulated particularly for large breeds and supplement with glucosamine and fish oil to strengthen the skeleton.
Needs At Least 60 Minutes Exercise Per Day
Your dog will need at least 45 minutes of free exercise and 15 min training or playing games with you. Do not over-exercise a puppy. Wait until it is at least 18 months before you let it run with you. Lifespan: 8 – 12 years if the Pitbull genes dominate.
Shedding & Bathing
You will need to brush with a firm bristle brush every day to control the shedding. Train it to enjoy daily teeth brushing as well. Keep the nails short and clean the ears with a soft cloth 2 to 3 times a week. Only bathe when it is dirty.
Background & Pricing for a Puppy
Ancient Egyptian temples are decorated with men walking Great Dane-like dogs on heavy leashes. The Assyrians used them as dogs of war and traded them with Greeks and Romans who bred them with English mastiffs. The Germans perfected these “boar hounds” in the 1700’s using them to hunt wild boar, pig, and stags. They were primarily used to protect the aristocracy from assassins. They slept on magnificent furs in their master’s bedrooms and wore gold collars encrusted with jewels. Otto von Bismarck had two Danes, Tyras II and Rebecca.
When German “Deutsche Dogge” was crossed with the Pitbull, known for its prowess in bull-baiting and dog pits, their fearsome fighting genes had been softened. This produced the tenacious and athletic dogs which evolved into the “nanny type” bossy dog that protected the farmsteads in England and America.
It is difficult to find a reputable Great Dane Pitbull (aka Great Danebull) breeder, although the mix is growing in popularity as a companion dog. If the Pitbull parent has been vetted for aggression and reliability, it produces an affectionate dog that enjoys being part of a family.
Price for a Puppy
A puppy from a reputable breeder costs $600 – $800. Because of its size, this will be an expensive dog to maintain. With patience, you will find a perfect, cheaper dog in a rescue or shelter. Please consider this option. You will then have an assessment of the temperament.
There are health concerns with this mix. You can minimize them by carefully choosing the breeder. He/she must be prepared to issue acknowledged clearances for breeding the parents. In addition to the conditions below, the puppy can develop too quickly, there may be hereditary bone cancer, thyroidism, and cataracts.
Bloat or Gastric Torsion
Deep-chested dogs are at risk, often after eating. The stomach fills with air, and pressure builds, stopping blood returning to the heart and causing the stomach to twist. Signs are retching, salivating, hard abdomen, and restlessness. This is an emergency, usually requiring surgery and gastropexy. Go to the vet immediately.
Causes are unknown. A first-degree relative that bloated increases likelihood. Agreed upon preventative strategies: feed smaller meals more frequently; use a bowl, on the floor, designed to slow down eating; avoid food that is high in fat or citric acid; ensure the dog is not stressed while it eats.
This mix can inherit genetic conditions from either or both parents. It is often enlargement of the heart or tricuspid and mitral valve malfunctions. You should request a breeding clearance certificate from a certified cardiologist. Indications of cardiac disease are shortness of breath, fatigue, loss of appetite, and weight fluctuations.
Heart problems usually manifest in middle age. The best preventative measure is to have regular, overall health check-ups at least once a year. Feed high-quality food specifically formulated for large dogs, exercise regularly, and keep the correct weight. You should also learn and practice CPR for pets.
Hip & Elbow Dysplasia
Both parents are prone to dysplasia. It occurs more often in larger dogs, especially if they are overweight or if the puppy’s bones have developed too quickly. Keep your growing dog on the lean side. Making sure the food you buy is formulated for a large breed is important.
The BVA/KC in the U.K. and the OFA in America perform an evaluation at one year and at 18 months in a large type of dog. To be safe when buying a puppy, you should insist on a breeding clearance certificate, minimally an x-ray report from a certified orthopedic veterinarian.
Brandon Miller has a B.A. from the University of Texas at Austin. He is a seasoned writer who has written over one hundred articles, which have been read by over 500,000 people. If you have any comments or concerns about this blog post, then please contact the Green Garage team here.