Care

Despite his giant size, a Great Dane is mellow enough to be a good housedog, though he's not well suited to a tiny apartment because he'll knock into everything.

He can get cold in the winter, so he shouldn't be left outside in colder climates — but then no dog should. In fact, he would enjoy having a sweater or fleece coat to keep him toasty warm when you go for a walk in a winter climate.

He's relatively quiet indoors, but he needs a long walk at least once a day, or a large yard to play in. An adult Great Dane needs 30 to 60 minutes of daily exercise, depending on his age and activity level. Puppies and adolescents need about 90 minutes of exercise a day.

If you plan on keeping him in a yard occasionally, he'll need a six-foot fence, though he's not a jumper. If you're a gardening fan understand that he really enjoys destroying the landscaping (just a little safety tip in hopes of preventing human heart attacks).

While you may want a running partner, wait to take your Great Dane jogging until he's at least 18 months old. Before then his bones are still growing, and they're just not up to the task. In fact, he may not be ready to go jogging until he's two.

Crate training benefits every dog and is a kind way to ensure that your Great Dane doesn't have accidents in the house or get into things he shouldn't. A crate (a really big one) is also a place where he can retreat for a nap. Crate training at a young age will help your Dane accept confinement if he ever needs to be boarded or hospitalized.

Never stick your Dane in a crate all day long, however. It's not a jail, and he shouldn't spend more than a few hours at a time in it except when he's sleeping at night. Great Danes are people dogs, and they aren't meant to spend their lives locked up in a crate or kennel.



Health

Great Danes are generally healthy, but like all breeds, they're prone to certain health conditions. Not all Danes will get any or all of these diseases, but it's important to be aware of them if you're considering this breed.

If you're buying a puppy, find a good breeder who will show you health clearances for both your puppy's parents. Health clearances prove that a dog has been tested for and cleared of a particular condition.

  • Development Issues: Growing problems can develop in puppies and young adults. These are sometimes associated with an improper diet — often a diet too high in protein, calcium, or supplements.
  • Hip Dysplasia: This is an inherited condition in which the thighbone doesn't fit snugly into the hip joint. Some dogs show pain and lameness on one or both rear legs, but others don't display outward signs of discomfort. (X-ray screening is the most certain way to diagnose the problem.) Either way, arthritis can develop as the dog ages. Dogs with hip dysplasia should not be bred — so if you're buying a puppy, ask the breeder for proof that the parents have been tested for hip dysplasia and are free of problems.
  • Gastric Torsion: Also called bloat, this is a life-threatening condition that can affect large, deep-chested dogs such as Great Danes. This is especially true if they are fed one large meal a day, eat rapidly, drink large volumes of water after eating, and exercise vigorously after eating. Bloat is more common among older dogs. It occurs when the stomach is distended with gas or air and then twists (torsion). The dog is unable to belch or vomit to rid himself of the excess air in the stomach, and the normal return of blood to the heart is impeded. Blood pressure drops and the dog goes into shock. Without immediate medical attention, the dog can die. Suspect bloat if your dog has a distended abdomen and is salivating excessively and retching without throwing up. He also may be restless, depressed, lethargic, and weak, with a rapid heart rate. It's important to get your dog to the vet as soon as possible if you see these signs.
  • Bone Cancer: Sometimes known as osteosarcoma, this is the most common bone tumor found in dogs. It's usually seen in middle-aged or elderly dogs, but larger breeds such as the Great Dane tend to develop tumors at younger ages. Generally affecting large and giant breeds, osteosarcoma is an aggressive bone cancer. The first sign is lameness, but the dog will need X-rays to determine if the cause is cancer. Osteosarcoma is treated aggressively, usually with the amputation of the limb and chemotherapy. With treatment, dogs can live nine months to two years or more. Luckily, dogs adapt well to life on three legs.
  • Heart Disease: Heart diseases affect Great Danes; varieties include dilated cardiomyopathy, mitral valve defects, tricuspid valve dysplasia, subaortic stenosis, patent ductus arteriosus, and persistent right aortic arch. Prognosis and treatment vary depending on the specific disorder and the dog's age and general health.
  • Surgery: Surgical issues are a bit different for Great Danes than for smaller dogs. For any needed surgery, find a surgeon who is experienced with giant-breed dogs. Ask for a presurgical blood test and ask them to include a clotting profile (this is not part of typical presurgical blood work).

In Great Danes, you should expect to see health clearances from the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) for hip dysplasia (with a score of fair or better), elbow dysplasia, hypothyroidism, and von Willebrand's disease; from Auburn University for thrombopathia; and from the Canine Eye Registry Foundation (CERF) certifying that eyes are normal. You can confirm health clearances by checking the OFA web site (offa.org).


Personality


    • A well-bred Dane is one of the best-natured dogs around. He's a gentle, sweet, affectionate pet who loves to play and is relaxed with children. He has a great desire to please, which makes him easy to train.
    • The Great Dane wants to be where the family is. He likes people a lot, including strangers and children, and will welcome visitors happily, unless he thinks you need defending. Then he can be fiercely protective.
    • Some Danes wish they were (or truly believe they are) lapdogs, and they'll keep trying to get there even if you and your lap mysteriously keep moving.
    • Good-natured as they are, Great Danes definitely need early socialization — exposure to many different people, sights, sounds, and experiences — when they're young. Socialization helps ensure that your Great Dane puppy grows up to be a well-rounded dog.
    • Enrolling him in a puppy kindergarten class is a great start. Inviting visitors over regularly, and taking him to busy parks, stores that allow dogs, and on leisurely strolls to meet neighbors will also help him polish his social skills.
SIZE
Male Great Danes are 30 to 34 inches tall and weigh 120 to 200 pounds. Females are 28 to 32 inches tall and weigh 100 to 130 pounds.



HIGHLIGHTS 

    • The Great Dane is sweet, eager to please, people-oriented, easy to housetrain, and he responds well to training using positive reinforcement.
    • Like many giant dogs, Great Danes are short-lived.
    • Great Danes require a lot of space. Even though they make great housedogs, they need a lot of room just to move around. There's little that they can't reach (kitchen counters and dinner tables are no problem), and their tails can easily sweep your coffee table clean.
    • Everything costs more when you have a big dog — collars, veterinary care,heartworm preventive, food. In addition, you'll need both a crate and a vehicle that are large enough to hold your Great Dane without crumpling him into a pretzel. And let's face it, you'll scoop up a lot of poop.
    • It takes a while for the bones and joints of large dogs such as Great Danes to stop growing and become stable. Don't allow your Great Dane puppy to jump, and don't take him jogging until he's at least 18 months old; this will reduce stress on the growing bones and joints.
    • The Dane's special giant-breed dietary requirements have to be followed, or else orthopedic issues can develop.
    • Great Danes aren't particularly suited to apartments or small houses, simply because they're so big. They're not jumpers, fortunately, so a six-foot fence will contain them.To get a healthy dog, never buy a puppy from an irresponsible breeder, puppy mill, or pet store. Look for a reputable breeder who tests her breeding dogs to make sure they're free of genetic diseases that they might pass onto the puppies, and that they have sound temperaments.


*DogTime is the place for dog breeds, pet adoption, pet insurance and expert pet advice. (n.d.). Retrieved November 10, 2014. www.DogTime.com

Children and other pets

A Great Dane loves children and is gentle with them, especially when raised with them from puppyhood. Keep in mind he doesn't have any idea how big he is compared to a small child, and so can accidentally knock them over quite easily.

As with every breed, you should always teach children how to approach and touch dogs, and always supervise any interactions between dogs and young children to prevent any biting or ear or tail pulling on the part of either party. Teach your child not to approach any dog while he's eating or sleeping or to try to take the dog's food away.

Generally speaking, a Great Dane will get along with other pets in the household, but occasionally some can be aggressive with livestock, or they just may not care for the other pets. It's an individual taste: some won't tolerate another animal in the house, while others will snooze with the cats and other dogs.


A New Generation of Great Danes In Hawaii!

Coat, Color and Grooming

The six usual colors of Great Danes' smooth, short coats are:

  • Fawn (a golden color with a black mask)
  • Brindle (fawn and black intermixed all over the body in a tiger-stripe pattern)
  • Blue (steel blue, which is really a sort of gray)
  • Black
  • Harlequin (white with irregular black patches over the entire body)
  • Mantle (black and white with a solid black blanket over the body)

He sheds a lot, but his coat is easy to keep in top condition with regular brushing. Use a firm bristle brush and shampoo as needed. Regular brushing keeps your Great Dane's coat healthy and clean, and cuts down on the number of baths he needs.

As you might imagine, bathing a Great Dane is a daunting task, particularly if he's not looking forward to it. Hard to imagine him hiding under the kitchen table while trying to escape a bath, but it happens.

Brush your Dane's teeth at least two or three times a week to remove tartar buildup and the bacteria that lurk inside it. Daily brushing is even better if you want to prevent gum disease and bad breath.

Trim his nails once or twice a month if your dog doesn't wear them down naturally to prevent painful tears and other problems. If you can hear them clicking on the floor, they're too long. Dog toenails have blood vessels in them, and if you cut too far you can cause bleeding — and your dog may not cooperate the next time he sees the nail clippers come out. So, if you're not experienced trimming dog nails, ask a vet or groomer for pointers.

His ears should be checked weekly for redness or a bad odor, which can indicate an infection. When you check your dog's ears, wipe them out with a cotton ball dampened with gentle, pH-balanced ear cleaner to help prevent infections. Don't insert anything into the ear canal; just clean the outer ear.

Begin getting your Dane used to being brushed and examined when he's a puppy. Handle his paws frequently — dogs are touchy about their feet — and look inside his mouth. Make grooming a positive experience filled with praise and rewards, and you'll lay the groundwork for easy veterinary exams and other handling when he's an adult.

As you groom, check for sores, rashes, or signs of infection such as redness, tenderness, or inflammation on the skin, in the nose, mouth, and eyes, and on the feet. Eyes should be clear, with no redness or discharge. Your careful weekly exam will help you spot potential health problems early.


Feeding

Diet is important for a rapidly growing giant-breed puppy like a Great Dane, more so than for most breeds. A Great Dane puppy should never eat regular puppy food because it's too rich for him; he needs the puppy food designed for large breeds. It's best not to supplement with anything, especially not with calcium.

Assuming a high-quality food, the amount to give your Great Dane varies greatly with age and gender. However, generalized daily amounts are:

  • Three to six months: females, 3 to 6 cups; males, 4 to 8 cups
  • Eight months to one year: females, 5 to 8 cups; males, 6 to 10 cups
  • Adolescents: females, 8 cups; males, 9 to 15 cups
  • Adults: females, 6 to 8 cups; males 8 to 10 cups

Until the age of four to five months, a Great Dane puppy should have three meals per day. After that, give him two meals per day for life. He should never have only one meal per day.

For more on feeding your Great Dane, see our guidelines for buying the right food,feeding your puppy, and feeding your adult dog.