Loyal, friendly and easygoing, a Great Dane is nothing more than a gentle giant - despite its imposing stature.
Learn more about this loving, affectionate and protective pooch, from its health concerns, grooming and exercise, to the things that you are able to do to keep it healthy and content with its life.
About the Breed
Possibly the most well-known fact about the Great Dane regards its size. However, what may surprise you is finding out that these dogs have long-standing roots dating all the way back to Egyptian times, approximately around 3,000 B.C.
Considered a hybrid between the English Mastiff and Irish Wolfhound, this old breed’s origins can lead to confusion, as some speak of their birthplace actually being Germany or Denmark.
Bred as a “Boarhound” meant to hunt the imposing European wild boar, this breed allowed hunters to have a unique combination of speed and unmatched size. Speaking of size, the Great Dane is one of the tallest dog breeds.
In fact, the record holder for the Great Dane with the most considerable height was named Zeus. Although the pooch died prematurely at only five years old, he measured 111.8 cm (or 44.0 inches) from paw to shoulder.
Of course, it’s also important to take into consideration a Great Dane’s weight. In particular, the minimum size for a pooch over 18 months is approximately 54 kilograms for males (120 pounds), while females can reach up to 45 kilograms (100 pounds).
In other words, there is little surprise that the male appears bigger and more muscular than the females – boasting a larger frame and much more massive bones.
Great Dane Treatment Insurance
Daily life can already demand so much from us financially and the fact that your well-loved Great Dane is prone to health risks doesn’t help. As a matter of fact, treating your dog can cost quite a lot and it might get too much.
For instance, getting your Great Dane treated for Dilated Cardiomyopathy can cost as low as $10,000 to as high as $20,000. The least expensive condition would probably be Entropion, which costs around $300 to $1,500. However, for many people, that is already too expensive.
However, undoubtedly, we want the best for our pets and this is why it might benefit you to consider getting your Great Dane insured. Pet insurance will help cover your veterinary bills and so much more, which will aid you financially and emotionally in the long run.
Of course, prices for pet insurance depends on where you live. However, to give you an idea, it will more or less than $51 per month.
While it’s undeniable that Great Danes are incredibly charming and beautiful, there is much more to this description than meets the eye. The breed is renowned for its large and rectangular head shape, while their jaws tend to be square in nature and finely chiseled.
Their big and round eyes are deep set and medium in size, commonly brown, black, but sometimes also blue and everything in between. A lively expression is just one of the things that you are able to expect when looking this pooch in the eyes.
The Dane's ears are usually set high or folded when disinterested. Their floppy and triangular ears are big and help the Great Dane in appreciating distances and hearing the lowest of sounds, which came in handy since they were initially used for hunting.
However, once upon a time, Great Dane owners often had their dog's ears cropped, but that had less to do with their visual appearance and more with minimizing the risk of injuries during hunts.
Since then, Danes have become loyal home companions, although cropping is more seen as a fashion staple – thankfully, that’s not the norm. Regarding other appearance traits, their noses are black, except for the blue Great Dane, where its wet nose tends to be blue-black colored.
Other characteristics worth mentioning are the muscular body and the high definition of the tuck, while the ribs are commonly quick to spring out and reveal the dog’s athletic nature.
Moving on to their coats, Great Danes have short yet thick layers of hair which typically have a glossy and well-groomed image. However, don’t expect a one-size-fit when it comes to these adorable and friendly giants' coat.
Among some of the most desired and unique colorations you will find the brindle and harlequin patterns.
Health Concerns of a Great Dane
Great Danes are typically healthy dogs, but like all breeds, there are individual health concerns which require regular check-ups and vaccinations.
Also, there are some conditions that these gentle giants may be prone to and it’s worth being informed what could go wrong before welcoming this pooch into your home.
With a life expectancy of seven to eight years, we have put together a short list of the most common problems that a Great Dane might face during its life. However, many of these dogs have been known to live as long as twelve years.
In the end, their quality of life is just as important as their age when departing from your world. To feel even more informed, ensure that you ask the breeder about the potential problems they test for, asking for certificates or vet notes.
That being said, it’s still better to be safe than sorry and this is where pet insurance comes in handy. Having insurance for your furry friend is a great way to ensure that your Great Dane’s health concerns will be well taken care of without having to empty out your savings.
However, most pet insurance companies don’t include pre-existing conditions in their policies. That’s why it’s best for you to enroll your Great Dane while it is still young, before any of these health concerns arise.
Similar to humans, Great Danes can either suffer from an under or over-active thyroid, among other health concerns. Understanding the potential symptoms is essential and regular blood checks will help examine for any thyroid efficiency.
As a general rule, the OFA (The Orthopedic Foundation for Animals) will only certify dogs with a healthy thyroid. Should there be a problem relating to thyroid functioning, you will notice skin conditions (i.e., sparse hair growth, dry and itchy skin, rashes).
At the same time, autoimmune problems are common too for Great Danes, which can sometimes make their presence known by causing sterility in the reproductive system.
Von Willebrand's Disease
Commonly known as an inherited disorder that prevents blood from clotting, Von Willebrand’s disease will have different grades of exposure. Although genetic concerns are possible as well, you may get ahead of this illness through screening.
A typical occurrence in deep-chested and large-sized breeds is torsion, bloating and other similar conditions. Unfortunately, as you might expect, Great Danes are increasingly susceptible to developing these issues due to their size.
This means you will need to keep a close eye on their eating, drinking and exercising habits, maybe even keeping a diary and observing any potential changes in behavior.
Concerning bloating, this occurs due to the stomach filling with food, air, or gas, which subsequently places more pressure on the dog’s nearby organs.
One way to spot the problem is by observing any breathing difficulties, or during medical exams – which can show tearing within the stomach walls, or limited blood flow within the body.
The more severe and rare cases include the stomach twisting, a condition that is called Gastric Dilatation-Volvulus, or GDV. The twisting of the stomach doesn’t allow the dog to pass on gas, meaning that vomiting and belching will occur as a way that the body combats the restriction.
A critical precautionary measure is to not take your Great Dane out for walks after a meal, in addition to ensuring that he or she ingests food at a steady and reasonable speed.
Another problem encountered by multiple breeds, including the Great Dane, is cataracts. There are numerous reasons which may lead to the condition, including nutrition, genetics, injuries, or congenital diseases.
Although there are preventive measures you are able to take for some of the factors mentioned above (i.e., nutrition and exercise), it’s essential to discuss inherited cataracts.
As a rule of thumb, not enough breeders screen for this disease in Great Danes and it can be nearly impossible to determine its onset with the naked eye. Found in the lens of the eye, cataracts are the clear body behind the iris.
The dilation of the iris is typically a necessity for identifying cataracts and a yearly or every six-month check-up conducted by a certified ophthalmologist veterinarian can help with an accurate diagnosis.
Should your Dane pass the test, a CERF (Canine Eye Registration Foundation) number will be awarded - valid for one year.
It’s noteworthy that additional research into the condition is needed for drawing definitive conclusions. That being said, their short lives do not always allow for cataracts to genuinely become a problem.
Similar to the thyroid issues previously discussed, dogs can sometimes develop heart conditions too. As a general rule, the two common types of heart disease a dog could be diagnosed with are congenital heart disease (rare) and acquired heart disease (common).
There are multiple reasons for it, including injury, age and infections. While there is no list of guaranteed symptoms relating to heart disease, there are many signs that you are able to keep an eye out for.
These include appetite loss, shortness of breath, coughing as well as sudden weakness or fainting. In fact, any change in behavior should be a cause for concern – meaning that a ride to the vet is necessary.
The best way of preventing heart disease is feeding your pooch a nutritious and vitamin-packed diet, in addition to a regular exercise routine. Regular check-ups with your local vet will help prevent the onset of heart conditions.
That said, spotting it in the early stages will also allow you to have access to the right information and how you are able to minimize the risks.
Although most issues related to the Great Dane’s health are thought to be physical, these gentle giants often suffer from psychological problems, where separation anxiety is a leading concern for the pooch.
Highly dependent on the love and attention of their owners, these dogs are not suited for owners who work all day or travel regularly. Otherwise, there is a high risk that your Dane will develop canine separation anxiety – an otherwise preventable mental concern.
Several signs can make you realize whether your pooch might be missing you during the day, including excessive barking, bathroom accidents inside the home, destructive behavior, or even trying to escape.
As with overactive teenagers, these symptoms are a dog’s voiceless way of crying out for attention. Another common reason for mental concerns is with regards to not getting enough exercise.
Your job will then be to ensure that your canine friend gets cuddles and walks on a daily basis. Whether it’s a car journey, a walk to the grocery store, or a 10-minute run to the park, your pooch will thank you for it.
Concerning their grooming habits, the breed has a thick yet short and smooth coat. Shedding is a common occurrence. Nonetheless, little grooming is actually needed, where a weekly brush (i.e., using a soft bristle brush or hound mitt) can do the trick.
A word to the wise: during the fall season, Great Danes tend to shed even more and will need to be brushed more frequently during that time to get rid of all the loose hair. Regarding bathing, we don’t recommend attempting it unless he or she gets dirty.
It’s essential to trim the toenails every few weeks, mainly if your dog doesn't wear them down naturally - preventing painful tears and other issues. That said, if you are able to hear your Dane’s nails clicking on your beautiful wooden floor, chances are, they are already too long.
Due to the blood vessels in them, it’s better to ask an expert to perform the task for you – shying away from the risk of potentially cutting the quick. Alternatively, if you insist on doing it yourself, ask a groomer or veterinarian for pointers.
Brushing your pooch’s teeth is quite a needed task as well – requiring your attention two to three times per week. This is critical for protecting your pet against painful gum disease, bad breath, or removing tartar build-up. Additionally, keep its ears clean and dry and ask your vet for any tips.
Exercise and Nutritional Requirements
In addition to preventing your pooch from gaining unwanted weight, exercise will help prevent muscles from atrophying. Ultimately, constant walking and playtime will help avoid issues, such as hip dysplasia, from developing or potentially worsening.
That being said, even if your Dane doesn’t yet show signs of this condition, it’s still essential for you, as a responsible owner, to give it the exercise it needs and deserves on a daily basis – while strengthening your own physical condition.
Extended walks or even a quick jog alongside his or her favorite human will deter it from leading a sedentary life. However, over-exercising them is also a valid concern for Great Dane owners.
While the daily dose of walking and running are required, particularly when this breed is still in its puppy stages, their joints can get damaged.
While we understand that Great Danes might look like the most physically fit specimens of dogs, these not-so-athletes are quick to grow and aggravate their physical problems without intention.
On top of that, over-exercising can lead to them being underweight or eating more than they should on a daily basis.
You might hear that, at times, Great Danes are described by their owners as clumsy, dumb and big. The clumsiness might ring true, since they have the size of an average piece of furniture, but these pooches are far from stupid.
Although not as witty as a Border Collie or German Shepherd, Great Danes are easy to train and are highly respectful of commands. Because they aim to please their owners and receive as many cuddles as possible, the Dane will be happy to perform whatever task you ask of them.
In this context, positive reinforcement training works best for this breed. There is no need to be harsh or use punishment as a teaching tool. While you will want to maintain your authority as leader of the pack, this dog will need love and attention.
Nonetheless, bear in mind that as puppies, until they get used to their environment, Great Danes tend to knock over furniture, vases, adults, or even children – particularly with their wiggly tails.
Due to this, training is going to drastically improve your life, helping it learn obedience and control from a very young age.
- In spite of their almost gigantic size, Great Danes are surprisingly happy to live in condos or smaller apartments – due to their mostly inactive nature and low exercise requirements.
- According to research, this breed’s height is only surpassed by the Irish Wolfhound. At the same time, the only kind likely to outweigh the Great Dane is a full-grown male Mastiff and its dropping jaws.
- According to the American Kennel Club, Great Danes are considered the 15th most popular dog breed. With nine approved colors separating one from the other, this pooch has style and personality galore.
- It may surprise you to know that in 1967, Pennsylvania named this breed its official state dog.
- In fact, it was believed that the character and physical attributes of the Great Dane were reminiscent of the state of Pennsylvania – faithfulness, stability, courage, intelligence, beauty, strength and tolerance.
- There have been at least three famous cartoon dogs that were created after the adorable Great Danes: Marmaduke the Great Dane detective, the Jetsons’ dog Astro and the children’s favorite: Scooby Doo.
Goofy and sometimes even clumsy, this beautiful breed was first developed as a hunting dog meant to chase after boars, bears, deer and other larger animals.
Nonetheless, despite their imposing stature and physical attributes, Great Danes are incredibly sweet, affectionate and loyal. Appreciative of the mischievous nature of children, you will find this pooch playing gently with young members of your family.
Making a wonderful family pet, Great Danes get along well with children as well as with other dogs, cats and pets. Nonetheless, consider their health problems as well as possibly getting them insured, in order to help them live longer.
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