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When people think about the Great Dane vs German Shepherd battle of who’s a better family pet, perhaps the majority will say it’s definitely the German Shepherd. 

After all… they are so clever and calm, and they are very popular among families all around the world.

But, is this entirely true? Would you leave your small child with a GSD or a Great Dane without fearing for its safety? 

There has been some talk about GSD aggression and them biting people. Have you ever heard such stories about Great Danes?

Should we believe the stories or check the facts?

Well, we are here for the facts.

So, let’s find out which dog is actually a better family dog – is it the giant Great Dane or the intelligent German Shepherd?

Great Dane Vs German Shepherd

great dane and german shepherd on the fildgreat dane and german shepherd on the fild

There are many things that set apart these two dog breeds, but one thing is certain – neither of these two dogs is little. These are large guard dogs that have proven their place as man’s best friend.

However, when you take a look at them, you will notice one thing for sure – Great Danes are much taller than GSDs. As a matter of fact, according to the Guinness World Records, a Great Dane named Zeus is the world’s tallest dog (check him out on this link: Great Dane World’s Tallest Dog).

He is 3 feet 8 inches tall! (1.2m)

But, it’s not the size that divides them, it’s their entire looks. From ears to tail, here’s the Great Dane vs German Shepherd chart 1 and 2.

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Great Dane German Shepherd
Height 28-32 inches 22-26 inches
Weight 110-175 lbs 50-90 lbs
Lifespan 7-10 years 7-10 years
Price $1200-3000 $450-1900
Great Dane German Shepherd
Affectionate Affectionate
Great with children Great with children
Not so good with other dogs Not so good with other dogs
Not so open to strangers Not so open to strangers
Excellent watchdog Excellent watchdog
Less playful Very playful
Less adaptable Highly adaptable
Trainable Highly trainable
Moderate barking Moderate barking
Moderate shedding Sheds a lot
Lots of drooling No drooling

Physical Appearance

german shepherd puppy and adult great dane playing togethergerman shepherd puppy and adult great dane playing together

We will start with the obvious differences between the Great Dane and the German Shepherd dogs – their physical characteristics.

Yes, you can set them apart quite easily, but did you know how many beautiful coat colors these dogs can have?

Or, if there are any miniature versions of these dog breeds?

Let’s find out.

Great Dane

The usual height of this dog breed is up to 32 inches, and their usual weight is from 110 to 135 pounds.

The size of this dog is something to absolutely take into consideration if you plan on getting a Great Dane puppy. You will need a lot more food to feed this dog than most other dog breeds. 

But, if you do want to get a Great Dane, you will also find out that there are a lot of coat colors and patterns of this dog that make them even more beautiful.

Great Danes have a smooth and short coat that doesn’t need any special type of grooming. However, they do shed quite a lot, so you will have to brush them at least once a week to keep their hair out of your coffee mug.

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You can use a hound glove or a middle-bristle brush. Of course, during the shedding season, you will need to brush your Great Dane more often.

German Shepherd

The GSD doesn’t need a lot of introduction. It is one of those dog breeds that everyone’s familiar with. However, let’s talk about facts: they can weigh up to 90 pounds, and can grow up to 26 inches tall.

They have a medium-length, double coat that comes in a lot of different colors. The most common is black and tan, but you can see silver GSDs and white GSDs as well.

Also, there is a long-haired version. It’s not a separate breed… it is just one variation of the standard GSD.

The German Shepherd is not just a herding dog as the name suggests. They do lots of other jobs, like being therapy dogs, search and rescue dogs, guard dogs, etc.

They shed a lot as well, and they will need weekly brushing just like Great Danes. The good thing is they also don’t require special grooming techniques – just more frequent brushing during shedding seasons.

Personality Traits

great dane dog lying on the grassgreat dane dog lying on the grass

It is the Great Dane vs German Shepherd – who is a better choice for a family with young children? Now, I’ll just leave this video here: Puppy Great Dane & Giggles.

I might be a bit biased, but it is because German Shepherds are number 4 on the list of dog breeds that are most likely to bite.

According to this study, out of all dog breeds, Great Danes are at the bottom of this list.

You derive your own conclusion from the information presented to you.

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Great Dane

Even though these giant dogs are considered to be one of the gentlest dog breeds, they still have some traits that can be considered cons.

I say ‘considered’ because it all depends on what you want your dog to be, and what your lifestyle is. If you have a big yard where a Great Dane can enjoy the free space, then the size and drooling won’t matter.

Also, if you are not thinking about the budget, then the feeding plan for your Great Dane also won’t be a problem (remember, they can eat a lot!).

However, even though I say that Great Danes are excellent family dogs that will be gentle to your children, they still need proper socialization.

All dogs need it no matter if they are big, small, purebred, or mixed dogs.

Another fact – most Great Dane owners consider their dogs to be the laziest dogs in the world. This might be true, but they still need a daily exercise routine to keep them healthy and happy!

German Shepherd

This dog has incredible traits: loyal, calm, intelligent, and affectionate. People think they are great doggy nannies as well. And, in most cases… they are. 

However, because of their popularity, and the immense amount of unregulated breeding programs where it seems everyone has decided to breed GSDs, their temperament has changed quite a lot over the years.

This leads to the question of whether GSDs are aggressive or not. We saw the statistics from the study. Sometimes, studies do not support the real picture, but we cannot discard it.

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So, I’ll say this: GSDs are affectionate family pets that need a lot more socialization than Great Danes in order to be great with small children.

But, once you do teach your dog how to behave with children, they will give their life to the little ones. You will rarely find a better protector than a well-socialized German Shepherd.

Socialization is also a must if you plan on having or if you already have more than one dog or pet. 

Read Next: Are German Shepherds Good With Cats?

Health Issues

sick german shepherd lying on the floorsick german shepherd lying on the floor

Even though both dog breeds are considered to be generally healthy breeds, they still have some health issues you should be aware of.

Great Danes and German Shepherds are especially prone to a very serious health condition called bloat (Gastric dilatation and volvulus). This is a health issue common to all large dog breeds.

Other than that, GSDs also suffer from:

  • Hip dysplasia
  • Elbow dysplasia

The Great Danes have a little bit more problems on their list:

  • Hip Dysplasia
  • Heart problems
  • Eye problems
  • Thyroid problems

The important thing is to get the puppy from a responsible breeder. Such dog breeders would never breed dogs that have any one of these health issues. That’s why breeding dog pairs should be tested and cleared of these health conditions in order to produce offspring.

You have the right to ask both Great Dane and GSD breeders for proof that the puppy’s parents are healthy.

The Conclusion

What can we conclude from the Great Dane vs German Shepherd charts? We can see that both dogs can be excellent family dogs. They are both considered dog nannies, which proves that people trust them, and often leave their children with these dogs.

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However, if you are asking for my opinion, I’d say Great Danes are better family dogs than GSDs. 

I say Great Danes are better, but they need socialization, too. Your children also need to learn how to behave with dogs no matter the size of the dog (or the child).

The same goes for German Shepherds. If you train them and socialize them well, they will become the most loyal protectors of you and your family.

You’ve got the charts, the videos, and the information – now it’s your turn to choose who’s a better family dog.

By Andy Marcus

Hello, my name is Andy Marcus, and I am a passionate dog lover and enthusiast. For me, there is nothing quite like the joy and love that a furry friend can bring into our lives. I have spent years studying and learning about dogs, and have made it my mission to share my knowledge and expertise with others through my website. Through my website, I aim to provide comprehensive information and resources for dog owners and enthusiasts. Whether it's training tips, health and nutrition advice, or insights into dog behavior, I strive to create a platform that is accessible and useful to everyone who loves dogs.

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