Although they're both large breeds, Great Danes and Doberman pinschers have little else in common, other than short coats. The Dane's a fairly mellow fellow, while the Dobie is alert and active. Your own personality and lifestyle helps you decide which breed best suits your situation.
The Great Dane matures at a minimum of 28 inches high at the shoulder, weighing between 100 and 120 pounds. Males are larger than females. Dane coat colors include black, fawn and dark gray. Variations include brindle, a patterned mix of brown and black hairs; Harlequin, a black and white pattern; and mantle, which is basically a black body with white on the face, legs, chest and tip of the tail.
The adult Dobie matures between 24 and 28 inches tall at the shoulder, weighing between 65 and 90 pounds. Again, males are larger than females. Although the classic Doberman is black and rust, other acceptable colors by American Kennel Club standards are red, fawn and the slate-gray known as blue, with rust markings.
Great Danes are good-natured, known as the gentle giants of the canine world. Although they make good family pets, the sheer size might be too much if you have small children or little kids visit a lot. Dobies become very bonded to their families, although they're not always so friendly to strangers. If you're looking for protection, the Dobie is your dog. No one will hurt you and yours while the Dobie is around. While both dogs respond well to training, the Dane is the average pupil while the Dobie is at the head of the class.
If you live in an apartment and want a big dog, the Dane is a good bet. Although large, he doesn't require a great deal of exercise. In fact, because his bones don't mature until age 2, he shouldn't accompany you on any long hikes or runs until that age. The Dobie is much more active, both physically and mentally. He needs lots of exercise, so he's a good choice for an active, athletic individual. Without adequate exercise, the Dobie might find an outlet for his energy that wreaks havoc on your home.
All purebred dogs are prone to health problems specific to the breed. Both Dobies and Danes might suffer from hip dysplasia, a malformation of the hip joint leading to lameness. Both are also prone to cardiomyopathy, diseases of the heart muscle. In Danes, bloat, formally known as gastric torsion, is a serious problem resulting from twisting of the stomach, leading to death without emergency surgery. It's the No. 1 cause of death for the breed. Danes are subject to cancers of the bone and lymphoma. Progressive retinal atrophy, an eye disease leading to complete vision loss, also is found in Dobies.
Jane Meggitt has been a writer for more than 20 years. In addition to reporting for a major newspaper chain, she has been published in "Horse News," "Suburban Classic," "Hoof Beats," "Equine Journal" and other publications. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English from New York University and an Associate of Arts from the American Academy of Dramatics Arts, New York City.