What You Need to Know about Great Danes

Great Danes are amazing and wonderful companions, and just like children, they all have their own personalities.  There are a number of things you should consider to know if a Great Dane is the right breed for you:


Despite their size, Great Danes are really house dogs. Once they were working dogs, but are now companion dogs. They want only to be with you. They do not respond well to being left out in the yard when everyone else is inside. They will become depressed, bored, and surly. Believe us, a bored Great Dane can damage your yard to a much greater extent than a surly Chihuahua. There are breeds who are more solitary in nature, and if your white carpet is more important than your dog, a Great Dane is not the choice for you! Great Danes should be kept as house pets in close companionship with their families; they should never be allowed to run loose or left outdoors unsupervised. All dogs are spayed or neutered before they leave us.


Adult Great Danes are 28″ to 38″ tall at the withers (top of the shoulder). Think about that for a moment. That’s 2’4″ to 3’2″ tall-before you add the neck and head. Do you really think food is safe on your kitchen countertops? Lifestyle changes may be in order!


Great Danes are active, fun-loving dogs that make great companions! Although they are large dogs, their average lifespan is from 8 to 12 years of age.


The leading causes of death in Great Danes are heart problems, bloat and cancer. Predominately white Danes are typically deaf and may have eye anomalies including blindness. Potential adopters should be alert to these health problems and the increased costs of medical treatment for dogs the size of Great Danes.  Some of the common health concerns are as follows: Orthopaedic problems such as Hypertrophic Osteodystrophy (HOD), Panosteitis, Osteochrondritis Dissecans (OCD), Hip Dysplasia (much less commonly seen now) and often Arthritis due to age or injury. Gastric Dilation and Volvulus, known as Bloat Cancer, particularly Osteosarcomas Heart problems and most specifically Cardio Myopathy generally in older age.


Great Danes eat a lot of food. If you feed a quality kibble, you will be giving your dog between 4 and 12 cups per day, depending on age, build, and activity level. Those 40 lb. bags of large breed premium kibble disappear very quickly. Be aware of the quality - feeding foods with high protein levels can cause overgrowth or HOD.  Danes do have a higher metabolism than most other breeds – so the best food that fits them is one which falls into the 23%-25% protein rance. The type and quality are just as essential – SWGDR is happy to offer tips and advice for choosing the right food for your Great Dane.
Great Danes can grow upwards of 6 feet in height when standing on their hind legs, consider too that their great size and their happy disposition make that wagging tail a weapon! Be wary of what you put on shelves and table tops and be especially considerate of the Great Dane around children – where the happy tail is perfect neck height for toddlers.
All Danes slobber – some more than others! Typically exercise and overheating are the two main culprits – but every dane will slobber!
Exercise for your Great Dane is very important.  They will need more exercise as growing pups and moderate exercise when adults. Every Dane is different when it comes to their needs and limitations regarding exercise.


Do you have room for a Great Dane? Do you have a fenced in yard for them to romp in? Do you have space for them in your home where he can spend time with you and your family? Have you considered the size of your vehicle for transporting him?
Obedience classes are invaluable! Training and socializing your Great Dane is critical to the safety of both you, your Great Dane, your family, and outsiders! Obedience is critical to developing proper play manners, and good interactive skills.
Your vet will tell you that bigger dogs require bigger vet bills. Many veterinarian service costs are weight based, such as the anesthesia needed for surgery, and antibiotics or other medications. Great Danes are more expensive to care for than smaller dogs.  Treating one Great Dane at the veterinarian can be as costly as treating 2 Golden Retrievers.  Have you considered the financial impact of caring for a dog the size of a Great Dane?


Most Danes come into rescue at 18 months of age because they are no longer cute puppies; they are large dogs, expensive to maintain and need more training and attention than many people are prepared to give. It is important to realize that most Danes are not couch potatoes and need more than a walk around the block twice a day.  We urge our interested adopters to please consider the outlined costs and commitments required prior to becoming a Great Dane owner.  Consider spending time with Great Danes and their owners and get to know the breed.  Great Danes are definitely not for everyone and there are several issues that you should give thought to prior to adopting one.

Please contact us with additional questions and we would be happy to spend time going over your questions and concerns about Great Danes!