Great Dane

Recommended for: Families (with lots of room!)
Maintenance Level: Medium
Lifespan: 6-8 years
Gentle, friendly
Health Risk:
High probability of health issues during its lifetime, hence it is one of the more expensive breeds to insure.
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Breed Overview

The Great Dane is one of the largest dog breeds, classified as “giant”. They are known for not only their huge size but also their gentle, friendly nature. They are often referred to as “gentle giants”.

Great Danes are square-shaped in the body and head and have floppy, triangular ears. They have a short, thick coat which comes in a variety of colours including fawn, brindle, black, harlequin, mantle and blue.

They are average shedders and do not require much grooming. A brush and bath whenever necessary should be sufficient, though bathing a Great Dane can be a challenge. Be sure to keep the dog’s nails trimmed to a reasonable length.

Male Great Danes stand between 76 and 86 cm tall and weigh between 54 and 91 kg, while females stand around 71-81 cm tall and weigh in at 45-59 kg. For Great Dane enthusiasts, the motto is “the bigger the better”. The lifespan of a Great Dane is usually under 10 years.

Despite their size, Great Danes only need moderate exercise. Especially Great Dane puppies should not be over exercised as their soft growing bones, joints, and ligaments become over-stressed and damaged. If kept in an apartment, it is essential that your Great Dane gets a walk every day, but generally Danes do best with a large yard to run around and play in.

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Personality and Temperament

Don’t let its enormous size fool you – the Great Dane is a gentle giant. Danes are incredibly affectionate, sweet and patient dogs who are great with children. They don’t bark unless they feel the need to alert their family, and are rarely aggressive.

You may be tempted to let a little Great Dane puppy jump on you and sit on your lap, but it is important to establish rules early because before long, the puppy will be almost as big as you!

The Great Dane is an intelligent dog who is eager to please. If given lots of early training and socialisation, the Great Dane can be a good companion for other dogs, though it should not live in the same household as smaller pets such as rabbits and mice.

Common Great Dane Diseases & Conditions

Symptoms, diagnosis and treatment

  • Development Issues. Because they grow so quickly from so small to so big, it is important to give Great Danes a proper diet so they can develop normally. Be sure not to give them too much protein or calcium, as this can increase the dog’s growth rate.
  • Hip dysplasia is a condition where the thighbone and hip joint do not fit together properly, causing pain and lameness. Less severe cases can be treated with anti-inflammatory medications, but surgery may be required for serious cases.
  • Gastric Torsion. Also known as bloat, gastric torsion is a deadly condition affecting large dogs such as the Great Dane. Risk is increased if the dog is fed one large meal a day, eats quickly, drinks large amounts of water or exercises after eating. The stomach twists, making the dog unable to belch or vomit to get rid of excess air, and as a result the blood supply to the heart is impaired. Unless immediately attended to, the dog may die. Symptoms of bloat include a distended belly, excessive drooling, dry having, restlessness, exhaustion, weakness and a quick heart rate. There is evidence that bloat is linked to anxiety, so keep this in mind when choosing a puppy.
  • Bone Cancer. Osteosarcoma, an aggressive bone cancer, is one of the most common cancers in Great Danes. The first sign is lameness, but x-rays are needed to determine if the cause is cancer. It is treated aggressively, often with chemotherapy and amputation. Fortunately, dog amputees adapt quite easily to life with a missing limb.
  • Heart Disease. Great Danes may be prone to dilated cardiomyopathy, mitral valve defects, tricuspid valve dysplasia, subaortic stenosis, patent ductus arteriosus and persistent right aortic arch. Symptoms to look out for include: coughing, lethargic behaviour, excessive weight loss or weight gain and distressed breathing. See a vet for assistance if you are observing any of these signs.

Not all conditions are covered by Pet Insurance. For details of Bow Wow Meow Pet Insurance cover, refer to the Product Disclosure Statement.

What do Great Dane owners claim for the most?

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    Great Danes are considered to be one of the oldest breeds of dogs – their ancestors have been depicted on 5,000-year-old Egyptian monuments, ancient Greek frescoes and more.

    It is probable that the Great Dane we see today descended from crossbreeding the English Mastiff and Irish Wolfhound in Europe. Focused breeding of Great Danes arose in early 17th century Germany, where they were known as “Kammerhunde” (chamber dogs) and “Englischer Hund” (referring to its ancestors’ English roots).

    The name was changed in the 19th century from “German boarhound” to “Great Dane” after the “grand danois” in Histoire naturelle, générale et particulière by Buffon in 1755.

    The Great Dane was officially recognised by the AKC in the late 19th century and as of 2013 is the 16th most popular breed in the US.

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    Great Dane Facts!

    • The tallest dog recorded was a Great Dane named Zeus, who stood at 112 cm tall on all fours and 2.2 metres on his hind legs. He died in September 2014 at the age of 5.
    • Jayne Mansfield, Adam West, Kelsey Grammer, Olivia Newton-John, William Shatner and Bruce Lee have all owned Great Danes.
    • Hagrid’s dog Fang in the Harry Potter series is a boarhound (a.k.a. Great Dane). In the films, however, he was played by a Neapolitan Mastiff.
    • Scooby-Doo was based on a Great Dane.
    • The famous newspaper comic strip Marmaduke and its film adaptation of the same name feature a Great Dane.
    • Even though Zeus the Great Dane was the tallest dog, the title for the tallest dog breed goes to the Irish Wolfhound.
    • Lady Gaga used Great Danes in a few of her music videos, including “Poker Face” and “Paparazzi”.

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