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The Great Dane: What you need to know as an owner!

6 min read 0 Comments

Black and white great dane walking on a grassy cliff next to the coast

The Great Dane is one of the most recognizable dogs in the world. These huge pups are big, powerful, and immensely strong. While their size has made them famous, their friendly nature has also given the status as one of the more popular family dogs in America. The dog has been bred to show a variety of different colors in their fur, ranging from a beautiful brindle to a gorgeous blue, a sleek black, and even a white with black patches that are known as “harlequin.”

What was the Great Dane bred for?

While their name might make you think that these dogs come from Denmark, they’re actually from Germany! Known as the Deutsche Dogge, the puppers were originally bred for hunting wild boar. Since they needed to combat enormous weights, sharp tusks and strong fighters the Great Dane was originally very fierce. They were later incorporated into expensive estates as guardians and adopting a Great Dane into the family as a guard dog is still popular. These pups are thought to have been around for 400 years, maybe even more! Giant dogs, similar in looks to the Great Dane, have appeared on monuments and in artwork from ancient Egypt, Tibet, Greece, and China. There’s a long, rich history behind this wonderful breed!

Fun Facts

Excited looking black great Dane with fall trees in the background

Did you know Scooby-Doo is a Great Dane? During the show’s production history he was originally named “Too Much.” When deciding on a breed, showrunners Joe Ruby and Ken Spears were stuck between creating a very brave but tiny pup or a large cowardly one. They chose the second option, renaming the character “Scooby-Doo,” and decided on a Great Dane. This is especially fitting as Great Danes were thought to ward away ghosts and evil spirits during the Middle Ages. Scooby-Doo was drawn with several odd physical characteristics to make him funnier and he even plays the bongos!

Great Danes are also known as the tallest dog in the world! Most of the pups measure at 2.5 to 2.8 feet tall, making them one massive member of the family. There’s a bit of debate about their status as the tallest since the Irish Wolfhound can grow a tiny bit taller depending on the breeder, but the tallest dog on record was a Great Dane named Zeus and for most this has settled the debate.


Your furry friend is going to need a lot of room to exercise! If you’re an apartment dweller you need to be prepared to take these big pups out for a long walk a few times per day so they can blow off some steam. Make sure you stay with them and make them part of the family! A big yard can be a fun space for the Great Dane, but these are indoor dogs that are excellent with families and other pets.

Another reason to keep these pups indoors is that they don’t have a subcutaneous fat layer or the skin and fur combo that would help them with the weather. They aren’t built for cold temperatures or extreme heat, so they shouldn’t live outdoors!

Training and Exercise

Brown Great Dane on the top of a mountain scene

Socialization, obedience training, 2-3 walks daily, puppies need 90 minutes daily, easy to train Great Danes are massive and loud, so obedience training to keep them in line is going to be a must. Like most dogs, they can be destructive if bored and untrained. To prevent this, you should keep consistent and steady with your furry friend. Great Danes are known to be easy to train, though stubborn individuals exist within all breeds.

Socializing your puppy early can help them grow into a calm, well-adjusted adult. Slowly introducing them to your friends and family, as well as other pets, will help them to know how to behave around others and make for a friendly pup!

Adult Great Danes can be relaxed and calm, but they need to get their exercise. A few quick walks per day, 2 to 3 should do, and they’ll be content and healthy. With puppies, it’s recommended that you should exercise them at least 90 minutes a day to promote healthy growth and development.


While their short, shiny coat might lead you to believe they won’t shed much, the Great Dane is considered a “moderate” shedder. You’ll need to brush your friend once a week to prevent excess hair in your carpet. Be prepared for the “blowout,” a huge shedding that will occur in the spring and fall each year. You’ll need to be ready to brush more often during these times. Other than that it is relatively easy to care for a Great Dane. They can be bathed as often as you like without damaging their coat. Keep their nails trimmed every few weeks and brush their teeth regularly to keep their chompers sparkling.


Grey Great Dane Standing in a farm field next to a fence

These pups grow fast and can reach their full height within a year, though most take between 2 and 3 years. This quick growth pattern comes with an unfortunate side effect - the Great Dane only lives 6 and 8 years. Their lives are quite brief, and anyone looking to adopt one needs to be aware of this.

Besides their short life-span, the Great Dane has a few health issues to deal with. Hip dysplasia, which is an occurrence when the ball and socket of a joint don’t fit together properly, this can develop into an issue for some of these dogs. It’s important to have your companion checked regularly. To completely avoid the issue is to check with the breeder to make sure that both parents are free of hip dysplasia.

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Great Danes can also suffer from bloat, an expansion of the stomach with air. This can be dangerous, as the pup’s stomach has the potential to twist. This is a life-threatening issue and will need to be surgically taken care of immediately to save the dog’s life. Your veterinarian can also tack their stomach to prevent twisting in the future. Keep a serious eye on this, as bloat is the number one killer of Great Danes!

Heart disease is a potential issue, and you should regularly have them checked for a few issues. The most important thing to look out for is cardiomyopathy, which is an enlargement of the heart. This is easily managed with medication if it occurs later in their lives. The biggest issue to look out for is bone cancer. Great Danes, like all large dogs, can have skeletal issues. Cancer, however, is quite common in this breed and should be checked regularly. This is one of the leading causes of death in these pups and needs to be watched for.

Big dogs often mean big veterinarian bills, and the Great Dane is no exception. Be prepared to regularly have your pup tested for these potential issues and to have money set aside to pay for any medications or surgeries that might be required.


White and Black Great Dane with an ear flopped back playing in a yard

Great Danes make wonderful family pets! They’re playful and energetic as puppies but grow into calm and loving dogs as adults. They are wonderful with children but should be supervised when playing with smaller kids. One quick sweep of that big tail can knock a toddler to the floor. These puppers are also great with other pets, and if properly socialized from a young age will be outgoing and happy to meet new furry friends.

These pups also make wonderful family guard dogs. Their size and loud bark are intimidating, and their loyalty to their family will be important in training them to watch over your home. These dogs aren’t aggressive and do not attack unprovoked, so they’ll fit in fine with your family while easily being trained to protect them as well.

Loyal, striking, and loving, the Great Dane will make a wonderful addition to any family up to the task of living with such a large companion. They’re sweet, fun, and easy to live with. With the proper knowledge beforehand, living with one of these puppers will be a joy in your life!

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clint westbrook author at sitstay.com

Clint Westbrook
A lifelong writer and lover of dogs! Clint can be found at either running around with his furry friends like skittles in his picture or at his computer writing everything and anything about dogs.

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