The Great Dane’s Origins and History Source: Wikipedia. Country/Region of Origin: Germany Original purpose: hunting boar Name: The "Dane" name's origin is unclear. It is almost certain the breed did not originate in Denmark. In German and French, the breed is called "German mastiff." Nicknamed, "Gentle Giant," "Apollo of Dogs." Historical notes: In North America, the Great Dane has had two famous cartoon incarnations: the characters Scooby Doo by Hanna-Barbera and Marmaduke by Brad Anderson.