Great Dane

This popular gentle giant will eat you out of house and home but repay you with endless loyalty and love.

The enormous Great Dane is affectionate and gentle. They can be an excellent family companion for older kids, but require a significant financial outlay and a firm hand. Great Danes age quickly, usually only living to only 8 years of age. They can be mischievous when puppies, but transition into a quieter, calm stage as they mature.

WHAT DOES THE GREAT DANE WANT IN THEIR PERFECT LIFE PARTNER/FAMILY?

I love family life, attention and long regular walks. I’m looking for an active family, but one that is happy to also spend some quality loafing around time with me at home. I don’t need a lot of space and can happily live in a small home so long as I have a nice big bed to stretch out on and call my own.

AT A GLANCE

Lifespan 6-8 years
Weight 45-55 kg
Height (at shoulder) 71-76 cm

 

PERSONALITY

Affectionate – Great Danes love absolutely everyone and thrive in a family where they get lots of attention. They love cuddles, brushing and play and need to be with another dog or their family rather than being left alone for long periods.

Gentle – the gentle Great Dane loves to cuddle up on the couch and be with the family. They are lovable, sweet and kind and despite their enormous size they would never (deliberately) hurt a fly.

EXERCISE & TRAINING

Exercise Requirements Medium – 0.5-1.0 hours per day
Training Requirements High – 1-2 hours per day
Apartment Friendly? No

 

Great Danes are big gentle giants, but as with all dogs they need to be well socialised when they are puppies (under 12 weeks of age) to ensure they are confident. A nervous, poorly socialised dog can easily become a fear-biter so caution should be taken to make sure they are socialised and trained early.

While Great Danes are big dogs, they can also be lazy and do not require hours of exercise daily. They do need a good hour-long walk every day and significant training to ensure their large size does not get the better of their owners. Teaching a Great Dane how to walk on the leash is essential, as they will otherwise win that tug-of-war!

There are many cities in the world where Great Danes are kept in apartments and certainly this is possible. Make sure you have plenty of space, not too many ornaments for that long tail to knock over and plenty of time for exercise.

GROOMING

Trips to the Groomer No- easy care at home
Tick Friendly? Yes
Hypoallergenic No
Brushing Low – Little to no brushing required
Hair fall Moderate Shed- will drop some hair, but not excessive
Coat Type Short

 

Great Danes are fairly low maintenance in the grooming department. They have a short, easy to maintain coat and while they do shed, they don’t tend to do so excessively. They can be difficult to bathe and certainly don’t need a bath or much in the way of grooming.

FAMILY SITUATION

Good With Kids Good – okay with older kids, but maybe not those under 5.
Good With Other Small Pets Medium – Ok with other pets, supervision advised.
Sociability Medium – Can live alone or with others.

 

Great Danes are extremely loyal, gentle and loveable dogs. They can easily bowl over younger children unintentionally, so are better suited to families with teenage children. They also require consistent training and strict ground rules to ensure they don’t over step boundaries. Although they were originally bred as hunting dogs, they don’t have a strong prey drive, but should be supervised around smaller pets just in case.

Great Danes love to spend time with their families, so are not suited to long periods of solitude, particularly when puppies. They can often become destructive if bored, so will require lots of play, training and mental stimulation to keep them occupied.

EXPENSES

Overall Expenses (Annual) High $2000+
Veterinary Expenses (Annual) High – $300-$500+
Food Expenses (Weekly) High (large and giant) – $20-$30+

 

Owning a Great Dane, you will need a significantly large budget and pet insurance. They are prone to a number of health conditions and age quickly, so often require frequent visits to the vet. A Great Dane will also need good quality food and lots of it to keep him healthy.

HEALTH & WELLBEING

MAJOR HEALTH CONCERNS

Orthopedic diseases- Great Danes are prone to hip dysplasia, hypertrophic osteodystrophy, panosteitis and osteochondrosis dissecans (OCD). Selective breeding has meant hip dysplasia is rare, but the other bone disorders are more difficult to prevent. Avoiding overfeeding and overexercising when growing is essential for a Great Dane.

Bloat and Gastric Volvulus– Large deep-chested breeds like the Great Dane are prone to bloat, which is where the stomach rapidly expands with gas and fluid. Bloat can often then lead to torsion or twisting of the stomach, which is rapidly fatal if not treated immediately.

Dilated Cardiomyopathy – DCM leads to heart failure in middle aged (3-7 years) to older dogs and is more common in large breeds.

PREVENTATIVE CARE & WHAT TO LOOK FOR:

Avoid feeding too much, overexercising and do not supplement with calcium in growing dogs due to risk of orthopaedic defects like hip dysplasia or OCD.

To reduce the risk of bloat, Great Danes should be fed two smaller meals rather than one big meal and they should not be allowed to exercise within an hour of feeding. Also ask your vet about prophylactic gastropexy (a simple specialist surgery involving tacking the stomach in its correct position) when your pet is desexed to reduce the risk of bloat.

Ask your vet to check your dog’s hips regularly for hip dysplasia and make sure the parents of your pup were hip scored by the breeder.

Ask your breeder whether they have undertaken any screening for heart disease in their breeding dogs, this should ideally be done every 2 years, as DCM is thought to be an inherited condition and one that develops with age, rather than being born with it.

Also ask your vet to regularly check your dog’s heart and let you know what signs to look out for, such as increasing respiratory rate, exercise intolerance and coughing.

BREED ORIGIN AND INTERESTING FACTS

Great Danes were originally German hunting dogs, bred for their speed and strength as early as the 18th Century. They were used to hunt bear and wild boar and were originally a mix of Greyhounds, Mastiffs and Irish Wolfhounds.

The Guinness Book of World Records has had a number of Great Danes holding the record for the largest dog, the tallest was Giant George, who was 99cm high at the shoulders and made appearances on the Oprah Winfrey Show in 2010. He was reported to sleep on a double bed at home and loved to ride around his neighbourhood in Tucson Arizona on a golf cart.

The most famous cartoon Great Dane was the lovable goofball Scooby Doo who was drawn by Iwao Takamoto, inspired by his friend who described to him the perfect pedigree dog. The chicken-hearted Scooby Doo character was central to the mystery-solving group of Shaggy, Fred, Daphne and Velma, which was televised from 1969 by Hanna-Barbera Productions and has inspired many spin-offs.

RESCUE A GREAT DAN

Petfinder lists all types of dogs who need homes, both purebred and mixed breeds, adults and puppies.

Great Dane Rescue has Great Danes across most of the US needing new homes.

Great Dane Club of America also coordinates fostering and rescue of Danes US-wide.

The ASPCA often has Great Danes for adoption, just do an advanced search on their adoption page.