5 Things I Wish I’d Known Before Owning a Great Dane

What is the first thing that attracts you to the Great Dane breed?

Most of the time it’s the animal’s grand size that turns heads.

The size of a Great Dane is the first thing people will see when one is being walked down a street. If you are brave enough to approach this brilliant, lanky looking dog, you will soon realize that the personality of a Great Dane matches their size.

Owning a Dane is as rewarding an experience as having a child. They are goofy, generally happy, playful creatures that thrive on the attention of their humans. Though they have another side. When needed, they can seem powerful, prideful and elegant.

A Great Dane will make you feel loved and needed. Generally, their owners cannot help but love them back. Partly due to their insistence on having your eyes and hand on them. Partly because they take up half of any room they stand in. It’s hard to go unnoticed with such a large body!

While this breed is sure to please anyone willing to make the effort to incorporate them into a loving home, they can also be a handful in a few different ways.

Knowing a few things about them can save thousands (and I seriously mean THOUSANDS) of dollars in the long run.

black and white photo of great dane
Even as puppies, Great Danes are much larger than full grown dogs of other breeds

Why was the Great Dane Bred in the First Place?

This long-legged companion was not always considered a loving snuggle buddy. In fact, they were bred in Germany as fierce hunters, taking down boar, bear and deer for their masters.

For this reason, left to their own devices, your best friend can fall back to their natural hunter’s instinct on occasion. Say you are walking through the woods with your Dane one morning and a deer jumps out in front of you. If your pup is not on a leash, it’s possible that he will chase the deer until the deer stops or he has pounced on it.

Always, safety first. This can do several things for you.

One, it can save you hours that you do not have trying to find your buddy who is probably just as lost as you think he is. Which means, to some degree, he is not safe. Especially where hunters may be on the lookout for deer, which your pup resembles very closely when running through the woods.

Second, it can save your guy from getting hit by a car when he chases a wild animal across a busy road.

Make sure your Dane’s collar is secure and the leash in completely intact. A great, humane collar I would recommend for high spirited pups is the Starmark Collar. It uses a link design that makes it easy to custom fit your Dane’s neck. I found this convenient to use while my Great Dane’s were growing.

Size and Strength

At the beginning of their breeding when they were known as the Boarhound, the Great Dane was shorter, stockier and adapted to a working lifestyle.

Today, the breed has become taller and much thinner. While there is a difference in the European vs American blood lines, the sheer size of this breed is breath taking.

The European Great Dane holds to the old standards, somewhat. Overall, they are much larger than the American version and have features that resemble their mastiff lineage. Typical weight of a Euro bred Dane averages between 200-240 pounds.

The American Great Dane is slightly sleeker and can seem a bit taller. The features of an American bred Dane seem to be dainty in comparison to their European counterpart. The average weight for this line of breeding is between 99-200 pounds.

At these sizes, one does not have to image their strength very hard.

Being as large and strong as they are, they do not always know how to control it all, especially in the puppy and teenage stage. Not only are all your knickknacks in possible peril, your small children may be as well.

When training is started at a young age, life in the future can go a whole lot smoother, and a whole lot less messy!

Especially when small children are living in the home, teaching your Great Dane pup is important to prevent injuries.

Remind yourself that everything that you have experienced with puppies in the past, applies tenfold to the Great Dane puppy you will soon be taking care of.

I highly recommend crate training early on. This is an effective management system when necessary and gives your new puppy a sense of security in having his own space.


I’m sure you are aware, by now of how much a Great Danes eat. At least you may have some idea.

But it isn’t how much they eat that should be the biggest concern when considering bringing one into your life. It is what they eat that is so important. As with any puppy, nutrition should always be of primary concern. But in terms of feeding a Dane, quality is of upmost importance for many reasons.

A Dane’s system is sensitive. Very sensitive. When a pup is fed incorrectly at various stages in its life, major health problems can arise in the future. One of which is abnormal bone growth and hip dysplasia.

Fed inappropriately, your Great Dane puppy can grow too fast for his system to keep up with. This forces the bone to grow in a way that weakens the integrity of your animal’s limbs, playing him in possible danger of fractures later.

When considering what to feed your Great Dane, ensure you are properly educated on protein percentages for various stages of growth. Do your best to stick with this as closely as possible.

Whether you allow your pup to grow naturally or you force him to grow quickly, he will reach the size he was genetically coded to reach.


This malfunction of the digestive system has its own section due to the high risk your Great Dane is at of acquiring it. This deadly condition happens quickly and without warning. It can cost you anywhere from $1500 – $5000, depending on the severity and procedure that needs to be performed.

All dogs are susceptible to bloat, but Danes are 42% more likely to have it happen to them! There are several causes that are believed to be associated with it:

  • Eating from a raised food bowl
  • Eating only once a day
  • Eating to quickly
  • Drinking too much water too fast
  • Playing hard right after eating

The symptoms include:

  • Restlessness
  • Swollen stomach
  • Pacing
  • Trying to vomit but can’t seem to do it
  • Collapsing
  • Pale gums
  • Shortness of breath
  • Weakness

If you should notice any of these symptoms, call your vet right away. Immediate care must be taken to prevent the death of your dog.


The fifth aspect of the great Dane breed I wish I had known ahead of time is how destructive these dogs can truly be. I found out the hard way when I left my two Danes at my parents’ house for 3 hours.

Before I got to the front door I could see feathers floating through the air. Reluctantly, I walked in and found my two giant babies in the center of the living room, rolling in a mountain of goose feathers that had come from my parents sparkling new goose feather couch.

I reiterate, crate training is an amazing little management tool. Proper use can ensure that you will come back to an intact home!

A protip would be to make sure they have their own spot in the house for eating. Slobber will fly, water will fall from their sloppy mouth all over the floor to make a lake and bits of food will be found in places that baffle you.

Great Danes make outstanding dumpster divers! Being as intelligent as they are, they can do this quietly while you relax in the next room. If you don’t want last night’s left overs all over your new white carpet, secure your trash can. As a rule, chicken bones are always thrown out immediately, separate from the rest of the trash, where there is no possible way for a dog to get it.

Owning one of these majestic creatures will give you a lifetime of memories to cherish. They become a part of your heart that sticks around long after they are gone. Nurture your Dane, make sure to love him and treat him well and he will make sure to give it all back to you.

For more information on Great Dane diet and training, please visit these links:









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