Great Dane vs. Saint Bernard: Choosing the Right Giant for You

great dane vs saint bernard

The Great Dane and the Saint Bernard are two of the most recognizable giant breeds in the world.

Known for their massive size and affectionate nature, they have captured the hearts of many dog lovers.

But before you bring one of these gentle giants into your home, it’s essential to understand their similarities and differences.

Similarities Between Great Danes and Saint Bernards

Great Danes and Saint Bernards share a number of similarities that make them both unique and endearing additions to any family.

Let’s delve into the details of their temperament, size, grooming needs, and lifespan, highlighting what makes these two breeds special


Both Great Danes and Saint Bernards are renowned for their affectionate and loving nature, particularly with their families.

These gentle giants form strong bonds with their human companions, often becoming deeply attached and loyal.

Their affectionate disposition makes them excellent family pets, as they thrive on human interaction and enjoy being part of family activities.


Great Danes and Saint Bernards are among the largest dog breeds, requiring spacious living environments to accommodate their size.

Great Danes can stand as tall as 32 inches at the shoulder and weigh between 140 to 175 pounds, while Saint Bernards typically reach 30 inches and weigh between 120 to 180 pounds.

Their substantial size necessitates a home with ample space for them to move around comfortably, and a backyard or access to a park is ideal for their exercise needs.


In terms of grooming, both breeds have coats that are relatively easy to maintain.

Great Danes have short, sleek coats that require minimal grooming—a quick brush a couple of times a week is usually sufficient to keep their coat healthy and shiny.

Saint Bernards, while also having short coats, can come in either short-haired or long-haired varieties.

Both types benefit from regular brushing to manage shedding and keep their coat free of dirt and debris.


Great Danes and Saint Bernards have similar lifespans, typically ranging from 8 to 11 years.

Their large size contributes to a shorter lifespan compared to smaller breeds, and they are prone to certain health issues that can impact their longevity.

Common health concerns for both breeds include hip dysplasia, heart conditions, and bloat (gastric dilatation-volvulus).

Regular veterinary check-ups, a balanced diet, and proper exercise are crucial in managing their health and ensuring they live a full, happy life.

great dane

Key Differences Between Great Danes vs Saint Bernards


Great Dane

Great Danes are often referred to as the “Apollo of dogs” due to their remarkable height and elegant build.

These dogs can stand as tall as 32 inches at the shoulder, making them one of the tallest dog breeds. Despite their height, they have a lean, muscular physique that exudes both grace and power. 

Saint Bernard

Saint Bernards, on the other hand, are known for their massive and stocky build.

They average around 28 inches at the shoulder, but their robust, muscular bodies make them look even more imposing.

Their broad chest and sturdy legs are built for strength and endurance, traits that were essential for their historical role in mountain rescues. 

Exercise needs

Great Dane

Great Danes are energetic dogs that require regular exercise to keep them healthy and happy.

They need daily walks and enjoy activities that allow them to stretch their long legs, such as running and playing fetch.

Their playful nature means they thrive on interaction and mental stimulation.

Saint Bernard

Saint Bernards have more moderate exercise needs compared to Great Danes.

While they still need daily exercise, they are content with shorter, less intense activities.

A couple of walks a day and some playtime are usually sufficient to keep them happy.

Their calm demeanor means they enjoy lounging around the house or yard, making them well-suited for a more relaxed lifestyle.


Great Dane

Great Danes are generally eager to please, making them relatively easy to train.

They respond well to positive reinforcement methods such as treats, praise, and affection.

Their intelligence and willingness to learn enable them to master basic commands and more complex tasks. 

Saint Bernard

Saint Bernards can be a bit more stubborn than Great Danes.

While they are intelligent and capable of learning, they may require more patience and persistence during training.

Positive reinforcement is crucial, as they respond best to rewards and gentle encouragement. 

History and coat

Great Dane

Great Danes have a rich history that dates back to Germany, where they were bred for hunting wild boar.

Their sleek, short coat comes in various colors, including fawn, brindle, blue, black, and harlequin.

The short coat is easy to maintain, requiring only regular brushing to keep it in good condition. 

Saint Bernard

Saint Bernards originate from the Swiss Alps, where they were bred for mountain rescue missions.

Their thick double coat is designed to withstand cold weather, providing insulation and protection in harsh conditions.

They can have either short-haired or long-haired coats, both of which require regular grooming to manage shedding and keep the coat healthy.


Choosing Your Perfect Gentle Giant

When making the decision between a Great Dane and a Saint Bernard, there are several important factors to take into consideration:

Living space

Great Danes are known for their need for plenty of room to move around and stretch their legs.

They thrive in homes with spacious yards where they can enjoy outdoor activities and playtime.

Saint Bernards, on the other hand, are more adaptable when it comes to living space.

While they also appreciate access to outdoor areas, they can comfortably adjust to smaller living spaces such as apartments or homes with limited outdoor areas. 

Activity level

If you lead an active lifestyle and enjoy spending time outdoors, a Great Dane may be the ideal companion for you.

These energetic dogs thrive on physical activity and require daily exercise to keep them happy and healthy.

Saint Bernards, while still needing regular exercise, have a more moderate activity level compared to Great Danes.

They are content with shorter walks and play sessions, making them suitable for individuals or families who prefer a more relaxed approach to exercise.


For those who are new to dog ownership or have limited experience with large breeds, a Saint Bernard may be a more manageable option.

Their moderate exercise needs and gentle temperament make them easier to handle for novice owners.

Great Danes, while incredibly loving and loyal companions, may require a bit more experience and commitment due to their larger size and higher energy levels.

Proper training and socialization are essential to ensure they develop into well-behaved and well-adjusted adult dogs. 


Consider the climate of your area when deciding between a Great Dane and a Saint Bernard.

Saint Bernards have a thick double coat that provides insulation against cold weather, making them well-suited for cooler climates. 

Great Danes, with their shorter coat, are more adaptable to various climates but may still require protection from extreme temperatures.

Providing them with access to shade, plenty of water, and appropriate shelter during inclement weather will help ensure their well-being and comfort throughout the year.



Both Great Danes and Saint Bernards are fantastic breeds that can make wonderful family pets.

However, it’s crucial to consider your lifestyle, living space, and experience with large dogs before deciding which breed is right for you.

By understanding their unique traits and differences, you can find the perfect gentle giant to suit your family’s needs and bring joy to your home.


How much exercise do Great Danes and Saint Bernards need?

Great Danes require daily walks and playtime, while Saint Bernards are more moderate in their exercise needs and are content with shorter walks.

Are Great Danes and Saint Bernards easy to train?

Great Danes are generally eager to please and trainable, while Saint Bernards can be stubborn at times but respond well to positive reinforcement and consistent training.

What are the main differences between the Great Dane and the Saint Bernard?

The main differences are their size, exercise needs, trainability, and history and coat.

Can Great Danes and Saint Bernards be good with children?

Yes, both breeds are known for their gentle nature and can be great with children when properly supervised.

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