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Miniature Great Dane: A Guide to the Smaller Version of the Popular Breed - PawSafe

Miniature Great Dane: A Guide to the Smaller Version of the Popular Breed

Photo of Tamsin De La Harpe

Written by Tamsin De La Harpe

miniature Great Dane

Some breeders have started selectively breeding smaller versions of the Great Dane, resulting in a new variation they may call the miniature Great Dane. These dogs are similar in appearance to their larger counterparts but significantly smaller.

Despite their smaller stature, miniature Great Danes still possess many of the same characteristics as their larger counterparts. They will also need to invest in Great Dane maintenance, like joint support from a young age, with joint supplement chews to support their long limbs.

However, selectively breeding Great Danes for smaller sizes is controversial, so if you happen to come across one in your shelter, they’ll make fantastic pets. We have compiled a comprehensive Miniature Great Dane manual with professional sources like George Hoppendale’s Great Dane Book.

The Great Dane is a beloved breed of dog known for its large size and kind nature. These regal, gentle giants are well-deserving of their nickname, the Apollo of dogs, with their handsome, tall physiques. 

Still, Miniature Great Danes may end up being bigger than your fully-grown average-sized breed will ever be. Sometimes, Miniature Great Danes simply refer to Great Danes under the standard 28 inches, and that’s still an awfully lot of inches for any dog. This means that any Great Dane that is just smaller than the minimum height requirement in the breed standard could be called a miniature or mini Great Dane.

Now, to be clear, some breeds have recognized official miniature versions. For example, you can get a purebred, registered miniature Schnauzer or miniature Poodle (also see the Moyen Poodle). Many designer breeds also have miniature or smaller versions like the Petite Goldendoodle. But the Great Dane does not have a recognized smaller version. 

After all, the main characteristic of a Great Dane is their size. That’s what they’re famous for. Breeding a Great Dane the size of a regular dog would sort of defeat the purpose.

So, unfortunately, the Miniature Great Dane is not a recognized breed by the American Kennel Club or any other major kennel club. You can read our article on the Great Dane Chihuahua Mix, which would ideally be the perfect Miniature Great Dane, but are they possible?

While some breeders claim to produce Miniature Great Danes, these dogs are often just smaller-than-average Great Danes or mixed-breed dogs that resemble Great Danes.

It’s important to note that selective breeding for smaller sizes can come with health risks, such as joint problems and respiratory issues. Additionally, purchasing from unscrupulous breeders can result in supporting puppy mills and contributing to the mistreatment of animals.

In short, while dogs may be marketed as Mini Great Danes, there is no official breed standard for this size variation. Potential dog owners should prioritize the health and well-being of their future pets and consider adopting from a reputable shelter or rescue organization.

A true Miniature Great Dane that’s actually small will probably look like a puppy. However, such isn’t purebred.

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Harlequin Great Dane

What is a Dwarf Great Dane, and How is it Different from a Miniature Great Dane?

The term “Dwarf Great Dane” is often used interchangeably with “Miniature Great Dane,” but the two have some differences. Both are smaller versions of the Great Dane breed, but the Dwarf Great Dane is typically smaller than the Miniature Great Dane. A dwarf Great Dane is also not a “pocket” “mini” “teacup” or “micro” great dane.

Dwarfism in Great Danes isn’t about being “miniature” but is instead related to specific medical conditions that affect the dog’s growth and development. Let’s look at the medical conditions that may cause a dwarf Great Dane.

1. Pituitary Dwarfism in Great Danes

Pituitary dwarfism results from a deficiency in the growth hormone due to a pituitary gland malfunction. This form of dwarfism can cause stunted growth in Great Danes.


  • Retention of a soft “puppy” coat without guard hairs.
  • Enlarged, protruding tongue.
  • Mental dullness.
  • Reduced growth, resulting in a smaller stature.

Health Issues:

  • The condition can lead to a host of related health problems. As mentioned in an article from ScienceDirect, pituitary deficiencies can result in various complications that can affect a dog’s overall health and quality of life.

2. Chondrodysplasia and Chondrodystrophy

These conditions are genetic disorders affecting the development and growth of cartilage and bone.

Chondrodysplasia: This is a bone growth disorder causing the dog to have a short, stocky appearance. More information can be found in a study published on Taylor & Francis Online.

Chondrodystrophy: It is often associated with dogs that have shortened legs in proportion to their bodies. This is due to abnormal cartilage development and bone growth.

Health Issues:

  • Pain due to abnormal bone growth.
  • Mobility issues and joint problems.
  • Susceptibility to specific spinal problems.

3. Juvenile-onset Hypothyroidism in Great Danes

As described in a study found on PubMed, juvenile-onset hypothyroidism can lead to symptoms like:

  • Disproportionate dwarfism.
  • An enlarged, protruding tongue.
  • Mental dullness.
  • Retention of a soft, fluffy “puppy” coat without guard hairs.

Health Issues:

  • Metabolic disturbances.
  • Cardiovascular problems.
  • Skin issues.

In conclusion, while there’s a charm in using terms like “miniature Great Dane,” it’s essential to understand the underlying medical conditions that might cause a Great Dane or any other breed to appear smaller or differently proportioned. It’s always advisable to consult with a veterinarian for a thorough understanding of any dog’s health and needs.

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History of Great Danes

The Great Dane, as we know it, emerged in Germany in the 19th century through a deliberate crossbreeding of larger mastiff-type dogs with sleeker and more agile breeds. They were initially employed for boar hunting and later gained popularity as estate guards. These dogs were refined over generations to achieve their distinctive size, strength, and elegance. 

The history of Miniature Great Danes is still being written. Still, the breed has already gained a loyal following of enthusiasts who appreciate their unique blend of Great Dane characteristics in a smaller package.

Miniature Great Danes are not recognized by major kennel clubs such as the American Kennel Club (AKC) or the United Kennel Club (UKC). However, several breeders specialize in breeding Miniature Great Danes and have developed their own standards for the breed.

How Do You Get Miniature Great Danes?

Cross-Breeding with Smaller Breeds

These smaller breeds are often medium-sized, for example, Dobermans, Boxers, Rottweilers, Labradors, Goldens, and Huskies. As you can tell, the resulting Miniature Great Danes won’t turn out that mini.

Breeding Runts

This is a horrible way of getting Miniature Great Danes because they pass down health issues. It can even cause fading puppy syndrome in the litter, where puppies just slowly wither and die.

Dwarfism Gene

Though uncommon in Great Danes, dwarfism can result in miniature Great Danes. This is also a bad breeding practice. Studies also show that a condition called Mucopolysaccharidosis (metabolic issue) can also cause stunted growth in Great Danes.

Physical Characteristics of Miniature Great Danes

Mini Great Danes possess a well-muscled and athletic body. Their muscles are evident in their strong legs, broad chest, and well-defined shoulders. Though a bit smaller, they still have long legs that are straight and sturdy. 

The Mini Great Dane’s head is large and square-shaped, with a deep, powerful muzzle. The forehead is usually flat, and the cheeks are well-muscled. The breed’s expressive eyes are round and dark, exuding intelligence and curiosity.

Traditionally, Miniature  Great Danes had their ears cropped for a more alert and imposing appearance. But, in many regions, ear cropping is now considered unnecessary and is often prohibited. Uncropped ears are medium-sized and fold forward.

How Big is a Full-Grown Miniature Great Dane?

Miniature Great Danes are smaller in size compared to their standard counterparts. They typically grow up to 18-27 inches (45 to 68 cm) in height and weigh between 50-90 pounds (22 to 40 kg). 


Miniature Great Danes come in a variety of colors, including:

  • Black;
  • Blue;
  • Fawn;
  • Brindle;
  • Harlequin;
  • Mantle;
  • Chocolate and white; 
  • Brindle and chocolate; 
  • Silver; and 
  • Merle.

Some of these colors may have white markings on their chest, feet, and faces.


The coat of a miniature Great Dane is short and smooth, requiring minimal grooming. They shed moderately and may require occasional brushing to keep their coat healthy and shiny.

Behavior and Temperament of Mini Great Danes

Miniature Great Danes are known for their intelligent, friendly, affectionate, and very gentle nature. They are gentle giants that love to be around people. They are loyal and protective of their family, making them excellent watchdogs. It’s important to remember that miniature Great Danes that are really mixed breeds can have more variable temperaments depending on what kind of dog the other parent is.

Further, Great Danes with pituitary dwarfism may have behavioral issues such as being lethargic or anxious.

These dogs are also known for their playful and energetic behavior. They love to play and run around, making them great companions for families with children. However, they can also be calm and relaxed, making them suitable for apartment living.

Mini Great Danes are intelligent dogs that are easy to train. They respond well to positive reinforcement and are eager to please their owners. They are also known for their obedience and loyalty.

Suitability with Kids & Other Pets

Mini Great Danes are generally friendly and outgoing. They are not aggressive dogs and are known to get along well with other pets and kids but never leave them with small kids unsupervised. However, it is essential to socialize them from a young age to ensure they develop good social skills.

Health Concerns of Mini Great Danes

Common Health Issues

As per studies, Miniature Great Danes are prone to certain health issues, just like their larger counterparts. Here are some of the most common health issues that mini Great Danes may face:

  • Musculoskeletal issues like Hip Dysplasia: This is a genetic condition where the hip joint doesn’t develop properly, causing arthritis and pain. It’s important to get your mini Great Dane’s hips checked regularly by a veterinarian.
  • Bloat: This is a severe condition where the stomach fills with gas and twists on itself, cutting off blood flow. Research shows that a whopping 37% of Great Danes experience bloat at some point. 
  • Heart Disease: Mini Great Danes are prone to certain heart conditions, such as dilated cardiomyopathy (large heart) and mitral valve disease. Regular check-ups with a veterinarian can help catch these conditions early.
  • Congenital Hypothyroidism: Congenital hypothyroidism results from aplasia (missing) or hypoplasia (underdeveloped) of the thyroid gland.
  • Wobbler Syndrome: Mini Cervical vertebral instability can cause spinal cord compression leading to neurological issues.
  • Eye issues: Mini Great Danes may be more prone to eye problems like entropion (inward turning of the eyelid), PRA (progressive retinal atrophy), cherry eye (protrusion of the third eyelid), and other issues.
  • Skin issues: Their sensitive skin can be prone to various skin conditions, allergies, and irritations.
  • Growth Issues: Rapid growth in Mini Great Dane puppies can lead to bone and joint problems, so proper nutrition and growth monitoring are crucial.
  • Osteosarcoma: A type of bone cancer that is more prevalent in large and giant breeds like Great Danes and other cancers.
  • Moderate issues like ear infections, allergies, dental issues, and stomach problems.

How Long Do Mini Great Danes Live?

On average, mini Great Danes have a lifespan of 8-10 years. However, with proper care and attention to their health, some mini Great Danes have been known to live up to 12 years or more. 


How Long Do Great Danes Live?

Care and Maintenance of Miniature Great Danes


Miniature Great Danes have a high metabolism and require a diet rich in nutrients. It is important to feed them a balanced diet that contains the necessary protein(30%), vitamins, and minerals to maintain their health. 

Feed them high-quality dog food specifically for their size and age. Strictly give puppies only puppy food. This is because research shows that improper nutrition may cause large-breed puppies to grow too fast, causing bone and joint issues like arthritis. 


Miniature Great Danes are active and require regular exercise for 2 hours daily to maintain their health and happiness. Take them for daily walks or runs to keep them physically fit and mentally stimulated. 


Miniature Great Danes have a short, smooth coat that requires minimal grooming. 

  • Brush them twice a week to remove loose hair and prevent matting.
  • It is also essential to clean their ears with canine wipes twice a month.
  • Trim their nails with a pet clipper every two weeks.
  • Bathing should be done monthly or only when necessary with a gentle shampoo, as frequent bathing can strip their coat of its natural oils.
  • Brush their teeth twice a week and also use a dog mouthwash.

Training and Socialization of Miniature Great Danes

Miniature Great Danes are intelligent and highly trainable dogs. Early and consistent training ensures they grow into well-behaved and obedient dogs. Positive reinforcement techniques, such as treats and praise, work best when training Miniature Great Danes.

Socialization is also an essential aspect of training for Miniature Great Danes. Exposing them to different people, animals, and environments from a young age can help prevent fear and aggression issues later in life. Taking them to puppy classes, dog parks, and on walks can help them become well-adjusted and confident dogs.

When training Miniature Great Danes, it’s essential to remember that they are sensitive dogs and can be easily discouraged by harsh training methods. Patience and consistency are key when training these dogs.

Where to Get a Miniature Great Dane


Adopting a Miniature Great Dane is a great way to give a loving home to a dog in need. Here are some places to look for Miniature Great Danes for adoption:

  • Great Dane Rescues: Look for Great Dane rescues in your area. They may have Miniature Great Danes available for adoption.
  • Animal shelters: Check out local animal shelters to see if they have any Miniature Great Danes available for adoption.
  • Petfinder: Petfinder is an online database that lists adoptable pets from shelters and rescues nationwide. You can search for Miniature Great Danes in your area.

Here are some Great Dane rescues that may have Miniature Great Danes available for adoption:

Rescue NameLocationWebsite
Great Dane Rescue of the CarolinasNorth
Rocky Mountain Great Dane
Great Dane Rescue of Northern California
White Kisses Great Dane Rescue
Great Dane Friends

North Texas
New York and So


Adoption is the best way to go with Miniature Great Danes. This is because their breeding has several ethical concerns, like health issues associated with breeding extreme sizes for the miniature size.

Miniature Great Dane Ethical Considerations

There are ethical considerations to keep in mind when getting a miniature Great Dane. The breeding of miniature Great Danes is controversial, as it involves selectively breeding for smaller sizes which can lead to health issues in the dog.

It is essential to only purchase a miniature Great Dane from a breeder who prioritizes the health and well-being of their dogs. This may involve genetic testing and careful breeding practices to minimize the risk of health issues.

Overall, it is important to approach getting a miniature Great Dane cautiously and prioritize legal and ethical considerations. Doing so can help ensure your dog is healthy, happy, and well-cared for.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is the average weight of a Miniature Great Dane?

The average weight of a Miniature Great Dane is around 50-90 pounds. However, it is essential to note that weight can vary depending on the individual dog and genetics.

Where can I find Mini Great Dane puppies for sale?

Mini Great Dane puppies can be found through reputable breeders or adoption agencies. It is important to do research and ensure that the breeder or agency is reputable and follows ethical breeding practices. However, it’s best to rescue Miniature Great Danes to reduce their breeding.

What is the lifespan of a Mini Great Dane?

The lifespan of a Mini Great Dane is typically around 8-10 years. However, with proper care and attention, some Mini Great Danes have been known to live longer (12 years).

Is a Great Dane a good indoor dog?

Great Danes, including Miniature Great Danes, can make good indoor dogs as long as they receive enough exercise and mental stimulation. They are known for being gentle and affectionate with their families.

What is a Harlequin Great Dane puppy?

A Harlequin Great Dane puppy is a Great Dane with a white base coat and black spots. They are a popular color variation among Great Dane enthusiasts.

Final Thoughts

Miniature Great Danes are a unique and adorable breed that can make excellent pets for the right owner. However, potential owners should consider the responsibilities and challenges of owning a small Great Dane. We recommend rescue instead of buying and increasing their breeding rate.

Meet Your Experts

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Tamsin De La Harpe


Tamsin de la Harpe has nearly two decades of experience with dogs in rescue, training, and behavior modification with fearful and aggressive dogs. She has worked closely with veterinarians and various kennels, building up extensive medical knowledge and an understanding of canine health and physiology. She also spent two years in the animal sciences as a canine nutrition researcher, focusing on longevity and holistic healthcare for our four-legged companions. Tamsin currently keeps a busy homestead with an assortment of rescue dogs and three Bullmastiffs.

Tamsin de la Harpe has nearly two decades of experience with dogs in rescue, training, and behavior modification with fearful and aggressive dogs. She has worked closely with veterinarians and various kennels, building up extensive medical knowledge and an understanding of canine health and physiology. She also spent two years in the animal sciences as a canine nutrition researcher, focusing on longevity and holistic healthcare for our four-legged companions. Tamsin currently keeps a busy homestead with an assortment of rescue dogs and three Bullmastiffs.