Great Dane dog breed information and advice
This dog breed guide will provide you with all the information you need to care for a Great Dane. Find out how much a puppy costs, what they’re like to train, grooming tips and common health issues linked to this breed.
Looking after a Great Dane can be expensive, especially if they need medical treatment. They’re big dogs that will need higher doses of medication and anaesthetic if they become unwell or need surgery. Having dog insurance to cover the costs will give you one less thing to worry about.
Take out puppy insurance and renew it yearly to make sure your dog is covered for any unexpected accidents, injuries or health problems. Sainsbury’s Bank dog insurance will cover your Great Dane from 8 weeks old up to any age. New policies can be taken out any time before your dog’s 5th birthday.
Sainsbury’s Bank Pet Insurance
You can take out Sainsbury’s Bank dog insurance as long as your puppy is over 8 weeks old and your dog is less than 5 years of age. Once you have cover in place with us, you can insure your dog up to any age as long as you keep renewing the policy without a break. For Great Danes, we’re unable to provide our £10,000 lifetime cover.
How to care for a Great Dane
When it comes to Great Dane care it’s simple. If you meet their basic needs, your dog will live a happy, healthy life.
Feeding and nutrition
It’s true that big dogs need more food than smaller dogs but be careful not to overfeed them. Always weigh food to make sure you’re feeding the correct amount - feeding guidelines are on the back of food packaging. Split food into two, or even three, meals to stop your Great Dane from eating too much at once.
It’s also important to make sure your dog is getting the nutrients it needs. Complete dog foods will contain the recommended nutrients, but you should speak to your vet if you’re unsure.
Your Great Dane’s short coat won’t need to be brushed very often as it won’t matt. However, they do shed fur and brushing will help to minimise this, as well as keeping the coat and skin clean and healthy. You’ll need to bath your dog every 6-8 weeks as they’ll start to get that doggy smell. Their size makes them difficult to bath so it may be best to visit a dog groomer.
Young Great Danes will need 90 minutes of exercise per day, including walking and playtime. You can reduce this exercise time to 30-60 minutes as your dog gets older.
Great Danes are easy to train but can have stubborn moments. They have big bodies and can stand their ground when they don’t want to do as they are told. But they are loyal dogs and will want to please you. Clicker training with food rewards is an effective training method and they tend to learn quicker when they know treats are coming.
Puppy toilet training is easy if you give your puppy lots of chances to go to the toilet. With repetition, your dog will be house trained before you know it.
Temperament and behaviour
The Great Dane became a popular breed thanks to Scooby Doo. This cartoon character portrays Great Danes as clumsy, gentle giants, and this is exactly the kind of behaviour you can expect. Despite being a big dog, Great Danes are affectionate and gentle. They’re good with other animals, especially if raised with them.
Common health problems
Some health problems are more common in larger breeds. The Great Dane is no exception to this. Read on to find out what signs to look out for.
Entropion is an inherited condition where the eyelid rolls inwards towards the eye surface, causing the eyelashes to brush against the eye. This results in scratches, ulcers and very painful eyes. If left untreated it can lead to blindness.
You should take your dog to the vet if they are squinting, blinking excessively, pawing at their eyes or have discharge from their eyes. There will also be discolouration to the eye surface and their eyes may be watery.
To treat this condition surgery is needed to remove a small piece of skin from the eyelid, this makes the eyelid roll outwards. Dogs must be at least 6 months old to have the surgery because their face hasn’t fully matured until this age. For young dogs, temporary stitches can be used to prevent the eyelashes rubbing on the eye. Your dog will also need eye drops and pain medication.
Congestive heart failure (CHF)
This condition is a result of an underlying inherited heart disease. This means that it can’t be prevented. CHF is when the heart has difficulty pumping blood around the body. The blood backs up and collects in the chest and abdomen. This also affects the flow of oxygen around the body.
Signs of the condition are often not seen until later in life. They include shortness of breath, increased respiratory and heart rate, weight loss and coughing.
There is no cure for CHF, but you can improve the quality of your dog’s life and hopefully extend it through diet and medication. A low sodium diet will be needed, and your dog’s weight will need to be monitored. Your dog will also need regular vet check-ups to monitor their heart and respiratory rate.
Cervical spondylopathy (Wobbler syndrome)
In this condition, the spinal cord in the neck is compressed by defects in the backbone and tissue. This causes pain and damage to the nerves. The defects range from the shape of the bones to the way they join the ligaments and the discs.
Affected dogs will suffer from stiffness and pain in the neck, lameness, weakness and wobbling whilst walking. It can also cause partial or complete paralysis. First signs of this condition include scuffing nails on the floor when walking, difficulty getting up and hindlimb weakness.
If untreated, the condition will get worse and can cause permanent paralysis. Surgery is needed to improve the quality of life for the dog. But it’s time consuming, difficult and expensive. It’s also not often an option for older dogs because of the associated risks.
How long do Great Danes live?
Great Danes have a shorter lifespan than smaller breeds, with a life expectancy of 8-10 years. If you make sure your dog’s health care needs are met, you’ll give them a better chance of reaching the ripe old age of 10.
How tall is a Great Dane?
A fully-grown Great Dane will be a minimum of 71 cm tall and weigh a minimum of 54 kg. By the time a Great Dane puppy is 2 months old, it will weigh 8-12 kg and be 33-45 cm tall. That’s the same size as some adult dog breeds.
What were Great Danes bred for?
Great Danes were bred in Germany to protect property and hunt wild boar. Their height and weight make them powerful dogs that can be dangerous. But they are gentle giants at heart. With training and socialisation, they’re very unlikely show signs of aggression to people or other animals.
How to train a Great Dane
Like all dogs, Great Dane training takes time and patience. Clicker training and food rewards will help, but repetition is key. Practice commands every day for quick success.
Is a Great Dane right for you?
The gentle, calm personality of a Great Dane makes them an ideal pet. They’ll happily join a family of pets or be your sole companion. But if you’re still not sure, take a look at our frequently asked questions.
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