March 30, 2020

Great Dane – The heartbreak kid

When you want a big dog, with a big heart, an affectionate personality and a friendliness that keeps you smiling even on those bad days, the Great Dane is that dog.  Origins date back a long time, some evidence suggests as far back as 3000BC however over the millennia and century’s, in particular the 1800’s clever and devoted German breeders refined this dog from a ferocious wild boar hunting beast into the gentle giant we know today. The breed is said to have originated from the Mastiff with suggestions of breeding with wolfhounds and greyhounds to produce the size, frame and temperament we have the joy of encountering now.  They’re big, no doubt, but also very sleek and muscular without the clumsiness or goofy traits that other giant breeds tend to have.  This sleekness and muscular physique have created a nobility and elegance giving the dog a regal aura true to their 1800’s lifestyle as chamber dogs for the German aristocracy.

The Great Dane temperament is somewhat of a dichotomy to their imposing statue.  Gentle and more of a lap dog than a fierce hunter the Great Dane loves to lounge around on the couch or lay by your feet.  When trained well and socialised from a young age they cope well with other dogs and pets including cats. Defensive of the family, when they feel threatened, however when a family welcomes a stranger they too quickly pick up on the vibe and welcome strangers with a gentle nudge and soft eyed expression. They’re fantastic with kids although owners must consider their size when children are around and they do have a loud deep bark that would scare the wits out of anybody, however the bark does not intimate aggressiveness.

They need space obviously and are better suited to larger homes than an apartment.  Their tail can be a destructive whip around delicate objects on coffee tables.  Keep in mind their height and kitchen benches and tables are no issue for a quick snack. A good hour exercise a day is needed and having a backyard will be helpful although don’t leave them on their own outside all the time; they need their human family and consider themselves part of the family.  Be prepared to scoop large amounts of poop these guys can and do unload. Having said that they have a nature for pleasing their owners which makes them easy to house train.

They’re are a hardy and healthy dog however do face the same issues as most large and giant breeds.

Great Dane growth patterns mean their bones require time to catch up with their body.  You should not run or over exercise your Great Dane until at least 18 months old.  They’re bones will not be fully formed until this age; there is evidence suggesting that a Great Dane should be 2 years old before more rigorous exercise is introduced.  This is one for your vet to guide you on with your particular dog.

Hip Dysplasia can be problematic with any large breed and can cause arthritis.  Even if your dog is not displaying any signs of lameness an X-Ray should be done periodically to ensure the dogs health.

Gastric torsion is nasty and can affect large dogs with deep chests, just like the Great Dane. Gastric torsion is also known as Bloat. When dogs, gorge their food, drink heavily straight afterwards and exercise after food they become dangerously exposed to bloat. More common in older dogs and happens when the dog is unable to burp or vomit out the excess air in its stomach. The stomach becomes distended with air or gas and twists (torsion). The normal flow of blood to the heart is compromised, the dogs blood pressure drops, and the dog will go into shock. The dog must be taken for immediate medical attention or it can die. Other signs of bloat include restlessness, lethargic, weak and depressed.

Bone Cancer can be called osteosarcoma. Any dog can contract bone cancer and those that do tend to be older dogs.  The Great Dane along with other larger and giant breed canines can develop tumours at an early age. Osteosarcoma is an aggressive form of cancer and can result in amputation and chemotherapy.

Heart Disease is another issue for large and giant breed dogs.  New owners of Great Danes or any larger breed should know in advance that their dog may well develop and be susceptible to heart disease which may require surgery or shorten an already short life span.

We’ve mentioned throughout the impressive statue of the Great Dane.  A male will generally stand 76cm – 86cm paw to shoulder and weigh anywhere between 55kg – 90kg.  When standing on their back legs they can be 6ft tall.  This is a big big dog.  The female will generally stand a little shorter 71cm – 82cm and weigh between 45kg – 58kg.

For such a large dog, the feeding profile is not as horrifying as one might think. During the puppy stage what and how much you feed your Great Dane is very important. They must have a high quality food and we recommend balanced LiFE Rehydrate. For a female pup 3-6 months old 150grams – 250grams per day spread over 3 meals. For the same aged male pup 250 – 300grams per day spread over 3 meals
From 8months to 1year old increase to 300grams for a female and 400grams for a male increase again by a further 50-80grams when in adolescents.  As an adult; feeding 300grams for a female and 400grams for a male should be satisfactory.  The additional water in balanced LiFE Rehydrate will be very beneficial for this dog. Remember every dog is different and their exercise regime and other environmental factors will impact feeding.  Always consult your vet for guidance on what is best for your Great Dane.

The heartbreak kid?

The Great Dane is known as the heartbreak kid because of their short life span. Large and giant breeds don’t have the same longevity as smaller dogs and in the case of the Great Dane 8-10years is the norm.  For such an affectionate, beautiful and close companion it is never long enough however having a Great Dane is the best years of your life.

The Great Dane Club of NSW
Great Dane Society of QLD
The Great Dane Club of VIC

Great Dane Rescue & Re-homing
Great Dane Rescue VIC
Great Dane Lovers Association of WA

Other Breeds 
Afghan Hound 
Bernese Mountain Dog 
Cocker Spaniel 
French Bulldog 


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Great Dane - The heartbreak kid - Balanced Life