The Great Dane

descriptive textGreat Dane
Weight: 110 — 180 lbs
Height: 30” — 35”
AKC Rank 2008 #22
Life Span: 7—10 yrs
Group Working
Origin Germany

Dog Breed Info - The Great Dane

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Breed Overview

Original function - Guardian and hunting large game. Today, Companion dog. They can drool.

This regal breed combines size with elegance. Colors— Brindle, black-masked fawn, white w/irregular black patches, black w/white collar, chest, tail tip.

The Great Dane is probably the product of the ancient Molossus war dog and maybe the Greyhound. By the fourteenth century, these dogs were proving themselves as able hunters in Germany.

The British referred to the Dane as German Bore Hounds. Exactly when and why the breed was dubbed the Great Dane is not known because, undeniably great, these dogs are not at all Danish. By the late 1800’s, the Great Dane had arrived in America and this dog became somewhat popular here, particularly among the wealthy, mostly as a status symbol.


Somewhat. It takes time. They are trainable but lack of socialization and puppy training can cause difficulties. The best way is with clicker training and positive reinforcement. That method works best with difficult dogs and they enjoy the system.

Crate Training

Want to crate train your Great Dane puppy? It's easy and if you're interested, take a look and you'll see what to do. Crate training your puppy will save many headaches and problems.

Potty Training

Some Great Dane puppies can be a bit difficult to house train, potty train, toilet train, housebreak or whatever you want to call it. If you have a puppy, decide if you want to crate or paper potty train it. For the best results, we have a page at Crate vs Paper Potty Training which will help you decide and from there you can get all the information you need to get the job done. Always praise the pup profusely when she goes potty in the RIGHT PLACE so she knows she has done a good thing. Either method will work for this breed.

If you have an older dog, take the dog outside every two hours until she gets the idea which door leads to her potty area. Older dogs catch on to the potty or housebreaking pretty fast once they are shown what to do.

Big Dane and friends
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The Dane is spirited, friendly, courageous, dependable and alert. It is generally good with children. Be careful though, this dog can easily overwhelm a child. It is usually friendly toward other household dogs and pets, but like all large dogs, needs to be supervised closely. With the proper training, the Great Dane makes a pleasant, well-mannered family pet.

If you happen to get a Great Dane with a separation anxiety problem, that can be dealt with by investing a few hours of work on your part and some "tough love."

Friendly Toward Other Dogs

Gets along fairly well with other dogs. If Danes are socialized properly as puppies, they have a good adult life. However, they will find some dogs not to their liking.

Friendly Toward Other Pets

Every Dane is different. Most get along fine with other dogs and cats, some don’t.

Friendly Toward Strangers

Yes, likes people. Bring in the relatives.


A little bit. Great Danes will catch a ball or chew on a toy but not much more.


Very affectionate dog. Stands by his human family and guards them well. The Great Dane is even-tempered and devoted to his family.

Good with children

Yes. The Great Dane is quite tolerant of kids. Due to it's large size, she can accidentally cause injury to small children so must be supervised closely.

Good with Seniors over 65?

No. Not my first choice!

Living environment

Large house with fenced back yard. Needs lots of room to stretch out in the house and a SOFT bed to do it on. Like the Greyhound and Whippet, the Great Dane has no “cushion” of fat over his skin so needs soft bed cushioning.

Dane playing in the snow
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Energy level


Exercise needs, daily

Low. A quiet walk will suffice.


Yes. Good watchdog.

Guard dog

Yes. Has a strong bark and his great size and giant 42 teeth make him quite intimidating to an intruder!




Brush the your dog every other day,. He has a naturally shiny, thick coat that needs constant brushing to stay beautiful.

Want more information?
The site below is owned by a Great Dane owner and expert. Take a look:

Great Dane Dogs Great Dane dogs are one of the largest breeds of dogs. This website is about this Gentle Giant and your life with them.

Great Dane Breeders

In the event you decide to go looking for Great Dane puppies, be SURE to find reputable breeders that really know what they are doing. Be sure the puppy has been well socialized and started in obedience training.
Great Dane Breeders with puppies for sale.

Great Dane Rescue

In the event you are seriously considering the adoption of a Dane and are looking for a Great Dane rescue group or groups in your state, here are several links that might help:
Petfinder - Great Dane Rescue - (Nationwide)
Adopt A Pet You may find Great Dane rescue groups here. They do tend to be a bit scarce and you can keep surfing the web for more possibilities. Check locally for kennels and breed rescue groups.

Health Issues For The Great Dane
Below are the illnesses or medical problems listed for the Great Dane by various vets.

This is basically a healthy breed. Don’t let the list below scare you! Your own dog will probably never have ANY of these problems. These are medical issues this breed is prone to that have been listed by various veterinarians at different times over the past decade or so and some pertain to puppies and very young dogs that a breeder would deal with.

The information contained herein has been gathered from numerous books by veterinarians and is intended as general information only. Every dog and situation is different. You must see your vet. Our information is for general interest only and not intended to replace the advice provided by your own veterinarian.

  • Gastric Torsion—Sometimes called Bloat or “Twisted stomach.” Mainly in larger, deep-cheated dogs. Here's a brief description of the problem.
    Symptoms include excessive drooling, nervous pacing, agitation, weakness, attempt to vomit, bulging stomach area, heavy breathing, retching and gagging, shock or total collapse.

  • Aortic stenosis—Hereditary heart defect. A narrowing of the aorta inhibiting blood flow in the heart, causing the heart to work harder If the condition is mild, the dog may never show symptoms and live a long life. If severe, the dog will object to exercise, possibly faint at times or experience sudden death. In 90% of the affected dogs, the condition of the heart would not change from around 1 to 2 years on through it’s life. The dog’s most affected by this condition are the Newfoundland, Rottweiler, Boxer, and Golden Retriever.

  • Mitral stenosis (Mitral valve insufficiency)—Hereditary heart problem in the Great Dane but not common. A weak mitral valve allows blood to flow backwards and to simplify this, the net result is an enlarged heart and when the heart can no longer compensate, look for a loss of desire for exercise, trouble breathing, coughing at night and liquid in the lungs. As this progresses, the dog may collapse. There is no cure... but if you act quickly, the vet may be able to make the dog more comfortable with medication and diet.

  • Dilated cardiomyopathy—(DCM) A serious heart disease. The muscle of the heart loses it’s ability to pump blood properly causing a backup of blood, an enlarged heart, and an improperly functioning heart. Prognosis is generally 4 weeks to 2 years, depending on the dog and how advanced the problem is. The vet may try medications to alter the heart function, but this one is a killer.

  • Osteosarcoma—A leg bone cancer in large breed dogs of any age but usually in large, older dogs. Osteosarcoma in the limbs is “appendicular osteosarcoma.” The Great Dane will be in great pain as the disease destroys the bone from the inside out. The dog’s inability to walk will progress over only about 3 months time as the bone is destroyed by the tumor. Unfortunately, surgery to remove the leg is the only way to give your dog the only total relief needed.

  • Hip dysplasia - Hind end limping, back leg acts lame. Wear and time causes the femur to fit poorly into the pelvic socket with improper rotation causing great pain and difficulty walking. You may notice the dog “hopping”” like a rabbit when running plus hesitating to climb stairs, all due to pain in the hind quarters. The problem actually starts as a very young puppy with an abnormal formation of the hip joint and grows progressively. A vet can locate this with a diagnostics test.

  • Elbow Dysplasia—This, as with hip dysplasia, is something the dog is born with. Wear and time in the front legs (elbow joints) cause lameness by the time the dog is roughly a year old. If you have a dog prone to this disease, have an early x-ray to see if surgery to the joints will stave off further damage to the joints. Typically, there has been no cure, but recently doctors have come up with some ideas. 1) Keep the weight of your dog down. 2) Use anti-inflammatory medication. 3) Look into injections of stem-cells to help regenerate bone-covering cartilage to cause the bones to line up properly again. (This is new research and some vets may not know about it so ask around.)

  • Hypertrophic osteodystrophy—Orthopedic bone disease in large dogs, 2 to 6 months old. Very painful and possibly caused by poor nutrition. There will be pain and swelling in the affected legs. Look for lameness or a desire not to move at all, and loss of appetite plus a high fever may also occur. Medication, bed rest and a special diet are usually given. The disease can be fatal.

  • Cervical Vertebral Instability—A narrowing of the cervical vertebrae, also known as Wobblers Syndrome and found in large dogs like the Great Dane and is linked to heredity and possibly nutrition. The dog will have trouble standing, as the rear legs will be affected first with lack of coordination and will have neck pain. Then the front legs will weaken, spread a bit and the dog’s walk will be “wobbly.” The disease is noticed at about 3 to 5 years of age in the Dobie,. Treatment comes by medicine and as a last resort for severe cases, specialized surgery.

  • Interdigital dermatitis - An infection occurs between the "toes" of the dog and sacs fill with pus which bothers the dog. She licks and bites at the bothersome infections and after a few days, they break open and drain, giving relief to the dog. Al;l you will see is the dog limping around. Clean and cleanse the infected feet well, see a vet for medication to prevent returning infections and that should do it.

  • Osteochondritis dissecans—A common type of elbow dysplasia except it can occur in any joint. Flaps of cartilage run against tissue causing irritation, pain, lameness and in time, joint degeneration disease. Pieces can break loose and float around limiting movement, or getting lodged or wedged inside the joint itself. Look for lameness, pain and swelling in joints of the Great Dane. Treatments include Non-steroid anti-inflammatory meds, weight loss, confinement to rest the joints, and dietary supplements for joint health. Surgery is the last option for very severe cases.

  • Valvular heart disease—Usually older dogs. A progressive disease. Heart valves thicken and degenerate. Symptoms include difficulty breathing, reluctance to exercise, fainting, excessive coughing, no appetite, constant fatigue. Can lead to heart murmurs and heart failure. See vet immediately for treatment program!

  • Tricuspid valve dysplasia—Hereditary. Malformation of the tricuspid valve in the heart allowing a backflow of blood, or “tricuspid regurgitation. Narrowing of the valve is also possible. The heart is working inefficiently. The dog may have cold limbs, no tolerance for exercise and a distended abdomen as the liver enlarges and may collapse. In severe cases, the dog may develop right-sided heart failure. The disease is more common in males than females. Mainly a problem for the breeder.

  • Hypertrophic osteodystrophy—Orthopedic bone disease in large dogs like the Great Dane, 2 to 6 months old. Very painful and possibly caused by poor nutrition. There will be pain and swelling in the affected legs. Look for lameness or a desire not to move at all, and loss of appetite plus a high fever may also occur. Medication, bed rest and a special diet are usually given. The disease can be fatal.

  • Demodicosis—Demodectic mange—A skin disease known as “Red Mange.” Loss of hair, itching, reddening of skin and areas can become crusty. Sometimes cured with topical creams. May spread. Treatment is in the form of medications.

  • Megaesophagus—Incomplete nerve development of the esophagus in dogs 5 to 12 years old causing regurgitation of food. Since food is collecting in the esophagus and not the stomach, the dog feels hungry and keeps eating. Food collects for up to a day or two and finally vomits back out, having never reached the stomach. A dangerous side effect of the disease is pneumonia. The only solution is getting the dog to drink and eat in a position where he has to reach his mouth way up high, like on a step ladder with his paws elevated where he can barely reach the food with his whole body elevated nearly vertical. There is no other cure.

  • Hypothyroidism—An underactive thyroid gland produces too little thyroid hormone which reduces the Great Dane's metabolism level. Hypothyroidism stems from the dog’s immune system attacking the tissues of the thyroid gland. Bottom line is the dog becomes symptomatic. The cause can be a predisposition for thyroid problems, air pollution and allergies. A FEW symptoms of the disorder include lethargy, weight gain, skin infections, dry skin, hair loss, slow heart rate, ear infections, depression. See your set right away.

  • Von Willebrand"s Disease—A deficiency in clotting factor in the blood. The affected dog does not properly utilize the blood-platelets for blood-clotting. Thus, the dog is prone to excessive bleeding if in an accident or surgery.

  • Cataracts—Hazy vision can cause blindness if not corrected.

  • Entropion—Eye irritation caused by the eyelids and lashes rolling inward. The problem is usually inherited and found in young, adult dogs. It can come from an eyelid spasm. Affected eyes will be held partially shut and tear excessively. Both eyes will usually be affected the same. Treatment for the condition requires eye surgery.

  • Glaucoma - Eye problem - Painful pressure builds in the eyes and eventually causes total blindness.

  • Deafness—Hereditary or caused by: Excessive loud noise, Intolerance to anesthesia, drug toxicity, and Otitis (middle ear infection), In some cases, one ear can have no hearing from birth and the other ear can be losing the ability to hear over time, undetected, then suddenly one morning the hearing is totally gone. There is no reversing once that happens.

Other problems could occur with your Great Dane. If you notice any problems with your dog, take it to the vet immediately. This website is for general information only and is not intended to, in any way, be a medical guide.

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