Basic Information About Great Danes

Danes are very extra large dogs, often referred to as "Gentle Giants".

  • Males, on average, stand from 32" to 36" at the shoulder and can weigh from 140 to 180 pounds.
  • Females typically stand 28" to 33" tall at the shoulder and weigh from 110 to 140 pounds.
  • Danes do not usually reach full maturity until they are 18 to 24 months of age.

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Cost of Owning A Great Dane

Danes eat a lot. Males typically consume 7 to 10 cups of food daily and females typically consume 6 to 8 cups of high-quality food daily. Meals must be served in two sittings (usually breakfast and dinner) rather than all at once to help prevent bloat (see Great Dane Health below). In addition to high food bills, you can expect higher veterinary costs for your Dane. Most medications, heartworm preventative, flea control, etc. are sold based on the weight of the dog. The more the dog weighs, the more of the medication you will need and the more expensive it will be. In addition, surgery, x-rays, and other medical services are often more expensive for these very large dogs. Boarding large dogs is typically also more expensive. The cost of owning a Dane is a definite factor you must consider carefully before you adopt one.


Danes have very short hair and need minimal grooming. A good brushing once or twice a week in the winter months is sufficient for most Danes, while you may need to give them a good brushing daily during the warmer months when they shed more. A vigorous brushing should take no more than 20 minutes. Danes do not require baths often. If kept as a house pet, your Dane should require bathing no more than once a month. You may have to wipe muddy paws in between baths.

Great Dane Health

Like all pure-bred dogs, Danes are susceptible to a variety of health problems. These range from the life-threatening to conditions easily controlled with daily medication. Bloat (or gastric torsion), is a life-threatening condition in which air gets trapped in the stomach and/or intestines and the stomach (or intestines) can literally turn on its axis. Symptoms include a swollen abdomen, retching (without being able to actually throw up), restlessness, excessive salivation, and a painful abdomen. If you see any of these symptoms in your Dane, get to a vet immediately. A surgical procedure, called a gastropexy, can prevent bloat in 99 percent of cases. However, this procedure is expensive (usually between $400 and $600). Cardiomyopathy is a form of heart disease. More common in older Danes, cardiomyopathy can be helped a great deal with medication. However, this is a life-threatening disease, particularly if left untreated or undiagnosed. Symptoms include exercise intolerance. Osteosarcoma, or bone cancer, is another life-threatening disease. Almost all dogs who develop bone cancer will die within a year. Symptoms include limping and a painful lump felt on a bone (usually an extremity). Treatment includes radiation and possibly chemotherapy as well as amputation. In addition, there is exciting new research using the drug Fosamex that shows promising results. You may wish to visit the Irish Wolfhound Club of America's Osteosarcoma Study page to learn more. While this study deals with Irish Wolfhounds, the results will apply to Danes as well. Hypothroidism seems to affect females more than males. In this disorder, the thyroid does not secrete enough hormone. The symptoms include dull coat, weight gain, and dry, flaky skin. This disease is easily treated with medication and the dog can live a long, normal life. Wobbler's Syndrome and Von Willebrand's Disease (VWD) are both fairly rare. Wobbler's is a lesion in the neck which affects the dog's ability to walk and the dog seems "wobbly" (hence its name). Wobbler's can be treated surgically, although surgery is expensive and often does not help. Acupuncture can help make the dog more comfortable and prolong his or her life. In addition, some exciting new alternative treatments, such as gold bead implantation are on the horizon. VWD is a rare blood disorder that sometimes affects Danes and is much like Hemophilia in humans. As with Hemophilia, VWD can be controlled but may require big changes in the dog's normal routines. In addition, blood transfusions may be necessary. Hip Displaysia is a disease common in many large and giant breed dogs. To oversimplify, it occurs when the hip joint doesn't fit well in the socket. Symptoms include painful hips and limping. Today, with medication and surgery, dogs with hip displaysia can be helped and displastic dogs are no longer routinely put to sleep. Epilepsy (seizure disorder) can occur in Danes. This disease is characterized by grand mal or petit mal seizures. The grand mal seizures can be quite frightening to observe, although they usually are not life-threatening (they just look that way!). Petit mal seizures may look only like the dog "spaces" or "blanks" out. Seizures can also be caused by toxins, electric shock, as well as damage to the kidney and/or liver. If your dog has a seizure, take him or her to the vet immediately to determine its cause. If your dog has a seizure make sure that if you have other dogs, get them away from the dog having the seizure. Also make sure you stay well clear of the dog's head and mouth (or you be accidentally bitten). Also be very careful until you know your dog's reaction as he/she comes out of the seizure. Some dogs can become aggressive when coming out of a seizure. The dog does NOT recognize you or his/her surroundings. They are frightened and confused and may bite in fear. So be careful about approaching your dog until you are certain of her/his reaction to you. Once the dog has "come out of" the seizure, her or his personality will return to normal.

A Dane has a short life span, Normally 8-10 years. Just remember the saying the larger they are (most likely) the less time you will have with them.

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