Get to know the Great Dane
All you need to know about the breed
Great Danes are quite simply huge: a sweet, friendly and affectionate character wrapped in outsize packaging.
They have maintained the stature and strength needed for their original mission, hunting wild boar, but over the centuries the aggressiveness has been bred out of them, giving way to gentleness. Great Danes are handsome hounds, with a majestic demeanour, alert expression and dense glossy coat in one of three evocative colour combinations: fawn and brindle, black and harlequin or blue.
Once trained – and this should be relatively straightforward – Great Danes get on well with children and can make lovely family pets, with the caveat that they do require a level of commitment that’s a notch above a smaller dog. If you’re pushed for space or a collector of valuable china ornaments – one swipe of that solid Great Dane tail at tabletop height can have devastating consequences – you might want to reconsider.
Great Danes require a decent amount of exercise, although despite their size they are not the most energetic breed around. Once fully grown they enjoy a variety of exercise – walks, runs and the chance to potter around in an enclosed space (luckily they can’t jump so you won’t need to supersize your fence). One thing to bear in mind is that because of their enormous size, Great Danes’ average lifespan is short.
On a day-to-day basis, the only real downside to having a Great Dane as a pet is the slobber. Great Danes drool a considerable amount. But these affable, larger-than-life characters more than make up for that in the pleasure they bring their human companions.
2 facts about Great Danes
Things to look out for
From specific breed traits to a general health overview, here are some interesting facts about your Great Dane
Beware of bloat
Gastric dilatation and volvulus (GDV), more commonly known as bloat, affects many large breeds but is the number-one problem associated with Great Danes. Owners need to know the signs to look out for – bloated abdomen, restlessness, retching, salivation and whining or abnormal stillness – and what to do: seek immediate help from a veterinarian. Some owners opt for preventive surgery which can protect their dogs, partially at least. The procedure, called gastropexy, involves stitching the walls of the stomach in place and should prevent the life-threatening torsion (volvulus) of the stomach, although not the dilatation (bloating). It’s a good start.
As a tall breed, the Great Dane can be prone to osteoarticular diseases – or diseases of the bones and joints. In particular, the Great Dane breed can suffer from antebrachial growth deformities. These deformities of the dogs’ forelegs can lead to limited movement and pain. To avoid conditions such as these, feeding Great Danes the correct food from puppyhood is important, as is avoiding calcium supplements.
Caring for your Great Dane
Grooming, training and exercise tips
Making sure your Great Dane remains in good health and enjoys life requires a certain amount of effort in grooming, exercise and training. The Great Dane’s short, smooth coat isn’t too high maintenance, except during its shedding season once or twice a year, when the usual weekly brushing will need to be stepped up to a daily tackling of the fluff. Great Danes need regular exercise – multiple daily walks are ideal. Once their joints are fully grown, at around two years, they can also enjoy jogs or hikes. Off-the-lead exercise sessions need to be in a secure, enclosed space: Great Danes like following their noses. With this much dog on your hands, you’ll need to make sure your Great Dane is well trained and socialised early. Firm, consistent training methods will bring rewards in the form of an affectionate, sociable and eager-to-please mega-dog.