Caring for a Great Dane brings a whole lot of slobber, bad breath and chew toys. But along with that you’re going to be gaining one drooly, messy family member. We promise: it is worth it!
Great Danes are some of the most fascinating of any dog breed. Their size, colors, and even their personalities are all things that make them an amazing dog to have. But, as with any large breed, there are some special considerations you need to take into account when caring for a Great Dane.
Here are 10 Steps to Caring for Great Danes:
TRAINING: ARE GREAT DANES EASY TO TRAIN?
Giant breeds are not harder to train than any other dog. However, large breeds grow much faster at a young age than other animals, so it is very important to have consistent training from a young age.
While with other breeds you can get away with waiting to train your puppy, you do not want to delay with a big dog like Great Dane puppies.
One of the most common questions we get asked is if Great Danes are easy to train.
The answer is that they can be, but it really depends on the dog’s individual personality.
We’ve found that the best way to train a Great Dane is with positive reinforcement methods such as treats, and praise as well as utilizing the e collar.
FOOD: HOW MUCH SHOULD I FEED MY GREAT DANE?
Great Danes need a lot of food! They are a giant breed and have very high metabolisms. The amount of food you will need to feed your Great Dane will depend on their age, weight, and activity level.
HOW MUCH SHOULD A GREAT DANE PUPPY EAT?
A good rule of thumb is to feed according to the following chart if you have a Great Dane puppy.
To see a more comprehension feeding chart, check out this post: Great Dane Feeding Chart
All dog food is different, including each formula of puppy food. If you have a Great Dane puppy, they should be eating dog food specifically made for giant breed puppies. You should not feed your Great Dane puppy adult food until they are 24 months.
It is so important that your Great Dane puppy is receiving a proper diet of properly formulated puppy food. Feeding your Great Dane the wrong diet can result in joint problems like Knuckling.
Puppies need food that is high in calories and protein to help them grow properly. If you feed your Great Dane puppy adult food, they will not get the proper nutrition they need and could end up with health concerns later in life.
HOW MUCH SHOULD MY ADULT GREAT DANE EAT?
An adult Great Dane will typically eat LESS than a puppy. During your Great Dane’s life, you will monitor them for how they look, how much they weigh, and how much activity they are getting.
|Adult Great Dane Weight||Adult Great Dane Cups of Food|
|60-80 lbs||four to five cups|
|80-100 lbs||five to six cups|
|100-120 lbs||six to seven cups|
|120-140 lbs||seven to eight cups|
|140-160 lbs||seven to eight cups|
|160-180 lbs||eight to nine cups|
Choose a high quality food that will support your gentle giant and keep them at a healthy weight.
- Purina Pro Plan Sensitive Skin and Stomach Large Breed (Salmon)
- Purina Pro Plan Large Breed Shredded Chicken & Rice (Large Pieces & Chicken Shreds!)
- Purina Pro Plan Large Breed Weight Management (Get the weight off)
- Purina Pro Plan Large Breed Bright Mind Age 7+ (for Senior Great Danes)
- Purina Pro Plan Giant Breed (Hard to find, my be discontinued)
- Royal Canin Giant Breed (Amazing for dogs with chronic loose stools)
- Eukanuba Large Breed
- Hill’s Large Breed
- Iam’s Large Breed
- Purina One Smart Blend Large Breed (Fantastic budget-friendly option)
With a formula that is not made for large dogs, your Great Dane can have unpredictable health problems.
EXERCISE: WHAT DOES A GREAT DANE NEED IN REGARDS TO EXERCISE?
There are some debates on how much exercise a Great Dane dog really needs.
First and foremost, exercise is key for Great Danes. They need at least 30 minutes of vigorous exercise every day, whether it’s a walk around the block or playing at the park. If they don’t get enough exercise, they can become destructive and bored.
Great Danes are not all ‘couch potatoes’ like some people imply.
Yes, not all Great Danes and large breeds are high energy dogs like other dogs can be, but that does not mean they don’t love to get out and about and spend their time outside.
You don’t have to frequent dog parks to get your Great Dane the exercise that they need. Great Danes do not NORMALLY need intense exercise. They are usually happy to go for a walk, play off leash at an open space, or visit a dog friendly shop.
HEALTH ISSUES: WHAT SHOULD EVERY GREAT DANE OWNER KNOW IN REGARDS TO HEALTH?
Unfortunately, Great Danes are predisposed to some health problems that other dogs are not as prone.
The most common health problems for Great Danes are:
- Hip Dysplasia
- Elbow Dysplasia
- Gastric Torsion (Bloat)
Bloat is one of a few life threatening health conditions that impacts a Great Dane. Bloat happens when too much air fills up the stomach of your gentle giant and leads to torsion, which is a deadly condition that Great Danes are predisposed to.
Torsion occurs when the stomach twists on itself and cuts off blood flow. Great Dane owners can prevent Torsion with the ‘Gastropexy’ surgery, which can be done when they get their Great Dane spayed or neutered. They cannot, however, prevent Bloat from happening.
So, any owner of Great Danes should always be aware of Bloat AND Torsion as it can cause serious issues, even death, and early detection is the only hope for survival.
HIP DYSPLASIA AND OTHER JOINT ISSUES
A Great Dane’s joints are constantly carrying around a lot of weight. Because of this, they are prone to joint problems such as Hip Dysplasia.
Dysplasia is when the ball and socket of the hip joint do not fit together properly and leads to arthritis later in life. It is a very painful condition that can be prevented with proper nutrition and exercise. There are also surgeries that can help correct Hip Dysplasia, but it’s best to prevent it if possible.
Arthritis can be prevented with joint supplements, weight management, and the proper exercise. We highly recommend starting Great Dane puppies out on a Big Barker bed, as it is the best bed on the market for a Great Dane’s health and can help prevent joint disease.
Using CBD for any joint disease is encouraged.
Cancer is unfortunately common in Great Danes, as it is in all breeds of dogs. The most common bone tumor that Great Danes get is Osteosarcoma.
Osteosarcoma is a cancer of the bone and is very aggressive. It is most commonly found in the legs, but can be found anywhere in the body.
There are many treatment options for osteosarcoma, but unfortunately prevention has really not been proven in Great Danes at this time.
Hypothyroidism is a condition where the thyroid gland does not produce enough hormones. This can lead to weight gain, hair loss and other lethargy.
Hypothyroidism can be treated with daily medication and a high quality diet.
Cardiomyopathy is a heart condition that Great Danes are predisposed. It is a leading cause of death in Great Danes, so it is important to get your dog checked out by a veterinarian if you suspect any heart issues. Your vet can do annual heart scans to check for heart disease.
While there is no guarantee that your Great Dane will not get any of these issues, you can take steps to help prevent them.
First and foremost, make sure you are feeding your dog a high quality food that is specifically made for large breeds. This will help support their joint health as they grow.
Secondly, make sure you are exercising your dog regularly. This will also help support their joint health as well as keeping their weight at a healthy level.
Lastly, stay up to date on their vaccinations and routine vet check-ups. This will help catch any health problems early on so that they can be treated.
GROOMING: ARE GREAT DANES HIGH MAINTENANCE?
Grooming a Great Dane’s coat is not very complicated at all.
BRUSHING A GREAT DANE
Since a Great Dane has a short coat compared to other dogs, they do not require ‘groomings’. Rather, they just need regular brushings.
They do, however, shed QUITE A LOT. (GREAT DANES SHEDDING)
If your Great Dane is shedding endlessly they could be blowing their coat, having allergies, need more fatty acids in their diet, or just need a really good brushing.
GREAT DANE’S NAILS
Since they are so large, it is so important to frequently participate in Great Dane grooming of your dog’s nails.
If your Great Dane dog has nails that touch the floor, this could lead to joint problems later on in their life.
Keep an eye on them and trim them when necessary. You can either do this yourself or take them to a groomer or vet to get it done.
GREAT DANE’S TEETH
Just like humans, Great Danes need to have their teeth brushed regularly to prevent plaque buildup, tartar, and gum disease.
The best way to brush your Great Dane’s teeth is with a dog toothbrush and toothpaste made specifically for dogs. You can also use water and a soft cloth if you don’t have dog toothpaste handy.
Start brushing your Great Dane’s teeth when they are puppies so that they get used to it and it becomes part of their daily routine.
YOUR DOG’S EARS
Some people report that the dog breed is relatively known for having ear infections.
If you notice your Great Dane dog having itchy ears, or having an excess of ear wax, they might be having a yeast infection in their ears.
Use Xymox to try and treat your Great Dane at home first, as it is very effective.
Long term yeast infection in the dog breed might be indicative of an allergy and feeding your Great Dane a new food might be merited.
Xymox is our absolute FAVORITE cleanser if your Great Dane has yeast or inflammation in its ears.
ANXIETY: CAN GREAT DANES BE LEFT ALONE ALL DAY?
Great Danes are ‘velcrow dogs’ which means sometimes they struggle with separation anxiety.
If you have a puppy, you will not be able to leave them at home all day without bathroom breaks.
However, as your Great Dane grows up, you should be able to leave them at home for extended periods.
When your Great Dane is little, practice leaving them at home safely in a crate.
This will help your Great Dane pup get used to being left alone and not feel anxious.
As they get older, you can leave them out of the crate and give them a comfy bed to lay on while you’re gone.
Make sure you leave them with plenty of food and water so that they don’t have to worry about being hungry or thirsty.
You should also leave them with some toys to keep them occupied while you’re gone.
If your Great Dane does suffer from separation anxiety, there are many things you can do to help ease their anxiety such as: dog pheromone diffusers, anti-anxiety medication, training, and more.
SOCIALIZATION: DO GREAT DANES REQUIRE SPECIAL CARE?
Great Dane socialization is VERY important.
Without both physical and mental stimulation throughout your dog’s life, they can become bored and destructive.
Here are a few ideas to get your Great Dane socialized:
- Take your Great Dane to a park that is full of kids, but just sit back on a park bench and let your Great Dane watch the kids.
- Sign up for a Good Citizens Training Class with your Great Dane dog. Depending on your dog’s age, there are different classes that will suit them and provide incredible socialization.
- Take your pup to parking lots and walk with them up and down the rows of cars, making sure NOT to let other people pet or interact with them.
- Walk between the shopping carts in parking lots, exposing them to new sounds and items.
- You can also sign up for dog sports such as agility, dock diving, flyball, etc. Not only will this give your Great Dane something to do, but it will also be a great bonding experience for the two of you.
CRATES: DO GREAT DANES REQUIRE SPECIAL CARE AND PRODUCTS?
Crate training is a huge plus for not only a Great Dane puppy, but all Great Danes.
Great Danes LOVE to feel safe and secure and crate training helps them feel just that.
Crate training is not evil or mean. It is just the opposite of that!
Crate training gives your Great Dane their own space that is just for them. If you have young kids, it can also be a safe place for your Great Dane to relax away from the chaos of children.
A place where they can go to relax and feel safe.
PUPPIES: IS IT HARD TO TAKE CARE OF A GREAT DANE PUPPY?
From protecting their joints with unique puppy food to making sure they are properly socialized, the short answer is yes. Taking care of a Great Dane puppy has its challenges.
Here are a few things you need to do to make sure your Great Dane puppy is healthy and happy:
- Make sure they are on a high-quality puppy food that will help protect their joints. Read more about Great Dane puppy food here.
- Start socialization early and often! The more people, animals, and experiences your Great Dane pup is exposed to, the better.
- Make sure they get plenty of exercise, but not too much! Too much exercise can be hard on their joints.
- Take them to the vet for regular check-ups and vaccinations.
- Look into crate training and e collar training, both of which can set up your puppy for success.
- Get lots of chew toys to protect your house!
- Invest in spending the time to find a good breeder who is going to not only produce a healthy puppy but provide you with support that you need to raise your pup. (Scam Breeders: What to Look For)
LIFESPAN: HOW LONG IS THE AVERAGE LIFESPAN?
Great Danes make a wonderful family companion, and you do not have to live under the assumption that they have a ‘short lifespan’.
The average lifespan for a Great Dane is between nine and ten years.
While this may seem short when compared to other breeds, it is actually a long life for a dog of their size.
The lifespan of Great Danes is also increasing every year with education and resources that pet parents need to keep life threatening diseases at bay.
The best thing that you can do to help your Great Dane live a long life is avoid backyard breeders and support breeders who are ethical in their health testing.
Great Danes are some of the best dogs in the entire world. The breed comes with a lot of responsibility, but the rewards are more than worth it.
I hope this article has helped you better understand what goes into taking care of a Great Dane.