Brittany Davis of Fort Worth always wanted a Great Dane for the breed’s lovable, laid-back personality and lack of awareness for how large they are. She got that with Zeus — and quite a bit more.
Zeus, Davis’ pure-bred American Great Dane, is officially the Guinness World Record holder for the world’s tallest-living dog. His official height came in at a whopping 3 feet, 5.18 inches, as reported by Guinness.
Zeus is actually even taller – he measures about 43 inches tall, or 3 feet, 7 inches, according to Brittany and Donnie Davis. Zeus was scared of the special tool they used to officially measure him, and he’s a bit taller now, said Donnie Davis, Brittany Davis’ father and Zeus’ “human grandfather.”
Zeus, just under 3 years old, stands over 7 feet tall on his hind legs and weighs between 175 and 185 pounds, although it is difficult to get him onto a scale, Davis said.
Davis’ family and Zeus live in north Fort Worth. Zeus was a gift from Garrett Davis, Brittany’s brother.
Brittany Davis remembers when the family suspected Zeus could be the tallest dog back in July of 2020.
“We had a family gathering for the Fourth of July, and my cousins kept following Zeus around,” she said. “They looked up the height of the world’s tallest dog, whipped out a tape measure and thought Zeus was taller.”
After that, Donnie Davis took Zeus to his veterinarian to obtain the official measurements. Zeus’ vet, who sent the official measurements to Guinness, is in Bedford, Davis said.
The measurement for this record title is taken from the base of the foot of the front leg, vertically in a line to the top of the withers while the dog is fully standing, said Noel Hampton, a public relations executive for TrizCom, a firm that works with Guinness World Records. The “withers” describe the area above the shoulder of a dog, and is used by professionals when measuring a dog’s height from the ground.
Three measurements were taken professionally by Zeus’ veterinarian, in accordance with Guinness World Records’ guidelines, Hampton said.
The Davis family submitted the official paperwork in January 2021. Zeus was declared the world’s tallest dog by September that year, when he was almost 2 years old. He will hold the record until another dog measures taller.
Since Zeus has entered stardom, he gets a lot of attention. His favorite thing to do is go to the Dallas Farmers Market, Davis said. The vendors give him treats and lots of love – he’s great with all the attention.
The most popular reaction to Zeus’ size? “That’s a horse!”
“One time at the farmers market we counted how many times people said, ‘That’s a horse’ when looking at Zeus,” she said. “We counted 80 times in about two hours.”
The occasional passerby will ask if he has a saddle, or if Davis’ youngest child, Kingston, 1, rides him. One time Davis had to break the news that Zeus is neutered to someone offering to pay a lot of money for a “baby Zeus.”
Coincidentally, the tallest dog ever was also an American Great Dane named Zeus that lived in Otsego, Michigan, reported by Guinness. He measured at 44 inches, or 3 feet, 8 inches tall.
Sadly, that Zeus passed away at the age of five in 2014. Davis said that her Zeus and the previous record holder are not related.
A day in the life
Although Zeus is a world record holder, he still loves the comforts of home. He has free range of the house, but he spends most of his time lounging, sleeping or playing with his best friend, Zeb, one of Davis’ three miniature Australian shepherds, Davis said.
His favorite food is peanut butter, he loves to drink out of the sink – because it’s easier than bending over – and his favorite toy is a small, squishy hedgehog. Zeus loves to lounge on his king-size Lovesac chair in the living room, Davis said.
Zeus’ sleeping arrangements are hard to beat. He shares a queen-size bed with Davis’ 15-year-old son, Jamison, but Zeus tends to push him off the bed.
“Even though he’s almost 3, he still doesn’t know how big he is, or how big his paws are,” Davis said. “He loves to sit in laps, and he’s still very uncoordinated.”
Zeus’ lack of coordination doesn’t stop him from staying active, even if it’s only for 10 to 15 minutes a day.
“He sleeps for about two days after we go to the farmers market,” Davis added.
Zeus can also be stubborn. If he does not want to do something, he won’t – and he’s big enough that he does what he wants, Davis said. He can tend to make Zoom meetings a bit difficult by peeking his head in, she added.
Despite being the tallest dog in the world, he is still terrified of cats and small dogs – go figure. He is also scared of thunderstorms and water, but he loves to ride Donnie’s boat at Eagle Mountain Lake, Davis said.
Zeus stands to benefit from good genetics as well. A Great Dane’s average lifespan ranges from 8 to 10 years, according to the American Kennel Club, but both of Zeus’ parents are alive and healthy at 12 years old, Davis said. He is fed Gentle Giants Dog food, formulated specifically for big dogs.
Zeus’ day-to-day is documented on his own Instagram account, with just under 5,000 followers. He also wears a personalized vest that displays his account on the side.
For his upcoming third birthday on Nov. 2, the family plans to fulfill Zeus’ not-so-tall order: a “pupcake” from Three Dog Bakery. Zeus prefers the ice cream cake, Davis said, because it has a better peanut butter flavor.
Izzy Acheson is a reporting fellow for the Fort Worth Report. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org. At the Fort Worth Report, news decisions are made independently of our board members and financial supporters. Read more about our editorial independence policy here.