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Meet Zeus, the world's tallest dog

This lovable giant is almost four feet tall at the shoulder.

The Guinness Book of World Records has officially crowned the World's Tallest Living Dog, a Great Dane named Zeus. Zeus stands 44 inches tall at the shoulder, and is over 7 feet tall when he stands up on his hind legs to give his owner a hug. This makes him a full inch taller than the previous World's Tallest Living Dog, a Great Dane named George.

Denise and Kevin Doorlag bought Zeus almost four years ago as a puppy. They had hopes that he would grow into a big dog, but they could never have guessed that one day he would clock in at a world record 150 pounds and 3 feet 6 inches tall.
 
Zeus, like many big dogs, does not seem to realize how big he really is. His owner Denise Doorlag reports that Zeus is a bit of a pushover. "Even the smaller dogs will start sniffing, and if they bark, he'll run behind you." Zeus is a lover, not a fighter: Doorlag describes him as "a leaner" who loves to sit in laps and give kisses. Like many Great Danes, Zeus loves human contact.

In his spare time, Zeus volunteers as a therapy dog in a local hospital. Zeus's great size means that he cannot lie in bed with the hospital patients. However, he is tall enough to visit with patients while standing at their bedsides. And upright patients don't have to bend over to pet him, because he is already at eye level.
 
Zeus lives in Michigan, where his owners have discovered that there are some down sides to owning the world's tallest dog. The cost, for one thing. "Everything costs more," Doorlag said, "the food, medicines, transport. We had to get a van to be able to transport him."
 
Not to mention the clever comments from bystanders whenever Zeus goes out in public. Whether it's "Where's his saddle?" or "Who's walking who?" trust me, the owners have heard it a thousand times before.
 
The Great Dane was originally bred to hunt deer and wild boar. But despite its hunting origins, Great Danes are typically extremely friendly and outgoing, with a very low prey drive. Often dubbed a "gentle giant," the Great Dane is excellent with other dogs and small children. 
 
Sadly, the combination of this breed's great size and common genetic diseases means that they tend to be short-lived dogs. The average lifespan of a Great Dane is between 6 and 8 years.