Choosing between the Great Dane and the Giant Schnauzer

Choosing between the Great Dane and the Giant Schnauzer

Breed Facts

If you have decided that you want a really large dog as your next pet but one that it tall rather than wide, you have likely already looked into both the Great Dane and the Giant Schnauzer. While these two breeds are similar in size, other than that they have very little in common, and each needs rather different types of care and fits well into different types of environments.

If you are trying to decide between the two breeds and are looking for a basic side by side comparison of both their similarities and differences, this article should help you. Read on to learn more about the similarities and differences between the Great Dane and the Giant Schnauzer.


There is no upper height limit for a breed standard Great Dane, but they should stand at least 30” tall at the shoulder for males, and 28” for females. The Giant Schnauzer is generally ever so slightly smaller, with males standing up to 27.5” tall, and females at 25.5” maximum. The Great Dane is also a deep-chested dog that can weight up to 175lb or even more, while the Giant Schnauzer is a lot lighter, up to 90lb for males and a maximum of 85lb for females.

Coat type and colour

The Great Dane can be seen in a lot of different coat colours, including fawn, blue, black, brindle, and harlequin (black on white). Less commonly, Great Danes may also have a tuxedo pattern of mainly black, with white points.

The Giant Schnauzer, like the other two smaller Schnauzer varieties, allows for less variance in coat colour. Steel grey, silver, salt and pepper or black are the usual coat colours, and while it is possible to see all or mainly white Schnauzers, this is not very common.

In terms of the texture and type of coat that the two breeds have, these too are rather different to each other. The Great Dane’s coat is single layered and short, making it very easy to care for and not requiring much grooming. However, they do tend to shed their hair around the house, particularly at the change of seasons.

The Giant Schnauzer, however, naturally grows a long coat that can be up to 4” long, and which is double-layered and thick. Feathering is present on the legs and belly, and the face of the dog is also very hairy, with heavy, long eyebrows and often, a long beard. Giant Schnauzers require daily grooming when their coat is in its natural state, and due to the size of the dog, this can take up quite a lot of time! It is common to have the Giant Schnauzer’s coat clipped off and the facial hair trimmed, to make it easier to care for on a day-to-day basis.

Temperament and personality

The core temperament traits of the two breeds are rather different, and this is one of the areas that you should look into carefully when trying to make a decision between the two breeds.

While the Great Dane is large and can be physically intimidating due to this, they are very gentle, calm dogs, and the greatest danger that comes from them is being knocked off your feet during over exuberant play! The Great Dane is also very tolerant of children, other pets and strange people, and generally has a kind and laid back personality. Their size and intimidating bark may mean that they are good watchdogs in that respect, but if someone broke into your home in your absence, the Great Dane is more likely to offer to hold the burglar’s torch for them than try to see them off!

The Giant Schnauzer fits well into a family that has older children that know how to behave around dogs, but may not be a good pick for families with younger children. They are watchful and protective of their families and properties, and will certainly see it as their job to take care of your home! The Giant Schnauzer is an active, intelligent dog that needs lots of running around time and exercise, and a reasonably large garden coupled with long daily walks. Unlike the Great Dane, the Giant Schnauzer has a very strong hunting instinct, and can be challenging to keep with other, smaller pets such as cats, as well as being potentially wary and defensive around other dogs.

Housing and exercise

While the Great Dane of course needs room to stretch out and move around comfortably without constantly running into furniture and obstacles, they can also live happily in medium sized houses in suburban areas without running out of space. While they do need sufficient walks to keep them fit and healthy, they tend to lope along and not spend hours and hours running around without ever getting out of puff.

The Giant Schnauzer, for all that they are rather smaller than the Great Dane, need to have a roomy home and garden in order to thrive, and need plenty of long, challenging walks and chances to go running around. They need plenty of mental stimulation as well as training, and will soon get bored and destructive if left alone for long periods of time.

While a giant dog of any breed can of course prove challenging, the Great Dane is rather less complex in terms of their care requirements than the Giant Schnauzer, and if you are a first time dog owner or have a young family, the Great Dane would generally be advised as the better choice.



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