Although the giant schnauzer and the Great Dane are both very large dogs, that's about all they have in common. The giant schnauzer is a working dog, while the Great Dane, for all his size, is a canine couch potato. His short hair requires relatively little grooming, while the giant schnauzer's grooming and cleanliness needs are considerable, including regular washing of his trademark beard.
The American Kennel Club breed standard states that mature male Great Danes must stand at least 30 inches tall at the shoulders, with no maximum height listed. Female Great Danes must stand at least 28 inches tall when full-grown, again with no height maximum. They might weigh as much as 175 pounds. The giant schnauzer is somewhat smaller, with males standing between 25.5 and 27.5 inches at maturity, and females standing between 23.5 to 25.5 inches. The giant schnauzer weighs considerably less than the Great Dane, with males ranging 70 to 90 pounds and females from 65 to 85 pounds.
Coat and Color Differences
The Great Dane's short coat appears in various colors and combinations, including black, blue, fawn and the striped brindling pattern. Other acceptable patterns include harlequin, a base white coat with black patches, and mantle, a black-and-white pattern similar to tuxedo coloration. The giant schnauzer appears in the same colors as his smaller standard and miniature schnauzer cousins, and sports the same wiry coat. Approved colors include pure black, and salt and pepper. The latter consists of an outercoat that appears gray from the mix of black and white banded hairs, with a gray undercoat.
At heart, the Great Dane is a family dog. His sheer size can knock over little kids, but he's not acting out of malice. The giant schnauzer can make a good dog for the active family with older kids. Accent on active, this breed is demanding and requires a lot of attention. If you have other pets, the Great Dane may be the better choice. Giant schnauzers often don't get along well with other canines and cats. Both breeds make good watchdogs, but the giant schnauzer has strong protective instincts. Like other schnauzers, the giant version stays on the alert, while the Great Dane is far more laid-back.
If you love big dogs but live in a relatively small place or in an urban area, the Great Dane can suit your needs. His exercise needs are fairly minimal, and once he's grown out of puppyhood he's usually a calm canine. Keeping a giant schnauzer in an apartment probably would result in disaster. He needs a great deal of exercise, as well as a job. If he can't perform the tasks he was bred to do, such as herding cattle, he needs training to occupy his time and channel his tremendous energy. He's not a dog for the novice, while a Great Dane can make a good companion for knowledgeable new dog owners.
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.