What Does Euro Mean in Great Danes?

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I'm a dog training, nutrition, and science fanatic that believes in ethical breeders, responsible rescue practices, veterinarians, and modern balanced LIMA dog training. Love the dog in front of you.

If you are looking for a Great Dane puppy, or are just interested in the breed, you may be curious about a lot of things. A very common question that we get is “What does Euro mean in Great Danes?”

There are actually a lot of misunderstandings about ‘Euro’ vs. ‘American’ Danes, and we’re going to clear that up. Fair warning, we like science and the written standard.

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What Does Euro Mean in Great Danes?

There are many Great Dane breeders in the U.S. who breed ‘Euro’ Great Danes. Occasionally they come from European lineage, however, more often they are simply dogs who have the ‘Euro’ look.

In other words, being ‘Euro’ and ‘European’ is not necessarily the same thing.

Common features of the ‘Euro’ type Great Dane include:

  • Shorter, bulkier, and stockier structure
  • Heavier weight
  • Slower movement, less athletic
  • Larger, more dome-shaped or apple-shaped head
  • Bigger jowls
  • Heavy ears that may be long and set low on the head
  • Larger feet
  • Mastiff-like features
  • Wide-set eyes that are often droopy and may have red haw showing

Euro is a look, produced by breeders who intentionally breed for these traits.
Many of these traits, especially those related to heft, movement, eyes, ears, jowls, and head shape are considered faults in the written standards for Great Danes.

No matter what you think about the different, heftier look of ‘Euro’ Great Danes, it’s important to note that many FCI European Great Dane breeders are actually pretty frustrated that so many people think all European Danes are droopy and heavy. Interested in more information about ‘EURO’ Dane breeders? Read here.

This ‘Euro’ Great Dane below is suffering from poor structure related to breeding for size, heft, and the ‘Euro’ look.

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Euro vs. American Great Danes

Every purebred dog has a written standard. The idea that there is a huge difference between American and European Great Danes is a myth.

The U.S. follows the standard written by the Great Dane Club of America, while Europe uses the standard written by the FCI.

According to these standards, a Great Dane from Europe should look very much the same as a Great Dane from the U.S., as both standards are nearly identical on paper. A Great Dane is a Great Dane.

Below is a well-bred European Great Dane (used with permission).

Screen Shot 2021 05 11 at 10.25.22 AM

Well-bred dogs have good structure, health and type (they look like the breed standard)

Just as ‘Euro’ might imply that a dog is heavier and drooper, many use the word ‘American’ to imply that a dog is lighter and more ‘greyhound’ like.

Neither the ‘Euro’ nor the ‘American’ type dog meets the gold standard or goals for the breed as a whole.

To compare, here is a well-bred Great Dane from the U.S., bred with the standard in mind. He is neither too refined, nor is he droopy and heavy. He is still a large, well-built dog.

Bruce and the European-bred dog above are nearly the same.

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What does Ethical Great Dane Breeding Look Like?

In many ways, the deliberate pursuit of some exaggerated ‘Euro’ traits is unethical and problematic.

Great Danes are already huge dogs and should not be intentionally bred for larger and stockier frames, droopier eyes, and larger jowls, especially if structural health, eye health, heart health, and longevity are casually ignored as a result.

If you are looking for a Great Dane breeder, Euro or not, verify the following: 

It’s ok to prefer a Great Dane with larger stature. Unethical backyard breeding practices, however, have led many to believe that all ‘American’ Danes are ‘refined’, which is just as unfortunate as the practice of intentionally breeding for size and droop, regardless of health.

To put it simply, the word ‘EURO’ is a term associated largely with ‘friendly backyard breeding’ . Many of those breeders are more focused on size, heft, and profits than they are on robust health and breed standards.

Use the slider below to toggle between a poorly bred EURO (hyper type) and a poorly bred AMERICAN (hypo type) Great Dane. Neither of these dogs meets the breed standard.

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What does EURO mean in great danes 1

For comparison, below are some very well-bred Great Danes that could fit any proper written standard (GDCA/U.S., GDCC/Canada, FCI/Europe).

(Most of these photos are credited to Tina.)

Screen Shot 2022 03 30 at 2.11.34 PM

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