There’s nothing “little” about the Great Dane, but a little detail makes all the difference in breed type, and that’s the ear set.
So that we’re all on the same page, we regard ear set as where the ears are attached to the skull. If ears are attached below eye level, they’re called “low set,” while ears that are set above eye level are…. (say it with us) “high set.”
Whether a Great Dane’s ears are cropped or left natural (and both are acceptable per the AKC breed standard), the ear set impacts the outline of the breed’s noble head. High set ears (which is desired in the breed standard) create the breed’s wonderfully alert appearance and regal appearance, but low set ears on dog with cropped ears detracts from the smooth lines of the skull. On a Dane with natural ears, low set ears tend to give the dog a round, “houndy” look.
Ear size and thickness are additional factors to consider, but neither is as important as the set of the ear. What is desired is a high set with the break being at the top of the skull.
As an aside, in the course of doing our homework for this article, we came across sources that talked about different Great Dane ear crops which may come as news to anyone who never gave the topic much thought (and please note that this is not the place to express your feelings about ear cropping): The “Pet Crop” is also referred to as the more descriptive “Medium Crop,” while the “Long Show Crop” (a taller ear) may be preferred by fanciers who show their dogs. The difference between the “Long” crop and the “Medium Long Crop” is the length of the tip of the Great Dane ear.
Regardless of the ear set, did you know that Great Danes were once thought to ward off ghosts, nightmares, and evil spirits?