Sad news has reached the Guinness World Records offices, with confirmation that Zeus, the record holder for the world's tallest dog, had passed away at the age of 5.

Measuring an incredible 111.8 cm (44 in) from foot to withers, the Great Dane from Otsego, Michigan, USA was the same size as an average donkey.

Standing on hind legs, he stretched to 7 ft 4 in and towered over his owners Kevin and Denise Doorlag.

The huge hound weighed 70.3 kg (155 pounds or 11 stone) and would eat around 12 cups of food a day (equivalent to one whole 30-lb bag of food).

Zeus, who was set to celebrate his sixth birthday in November, is said to have died last week from symptoms of old age (the average lifespan for the breed is just six to eight years).

Speaking to local news site Michigan Live, Kevin Doorlag said he would remember Zeus as a "wonderful dog" and that he and his wife would especially miss letting Zeus sit on their laps while the family would grill on their deck.

"We'll really miss him," he added.

Michael Whitty, Guinness World Records picture editor, who met “Zeus was the gentlest giant you could ever wish to meet. He had such a mild temperament that even the family cat ran rings around him! A fabulously loving and friendly dog who wouldn’t hurt a fly and loved having his photo taken. He will be greatly missed by his lovely owners and will live on in Guinness World Records history as the Tallest Dog we ever measured.”

Guinness World Records would like to extend our condolences to the Doorlag family during this sad time.