The Great Dane’s origin is up for debate. Some say the breed originated in Denmark but most think it was Germany. It is believed that they are a cross between the English mastiff and the Irish wolfhound and were bred to hunt wild boar but later for guarding estates. In Germany the Great Dane was called Grand Deutsche Dogge (German dog). Noble and imposing in their appearance, they are one of the largest canine breed.
Great Danes are full of personality, loving, loyal and make great companion dogs. They are very social and love to hang with their humans. My boy Riley (who I often call “glue”) is always nearby. Danes give a lot of love and attention to their humans and do best when their humans give the same in return. Great Danes are truly part of the family
Great Danes put on 15-20 lbs and get 3-4 inches taller per month for the first 6 months; this will slow as they approach their adult weight. In a year, a Great Dane will grow as much as a child grows in fourteen or fifteen years. Our first Great Dane Abby came to us at 8 weeks weighing 28lbs, the size of a fully grown Cocker Spaniel. She was 110lbs at 12 months and at 18 months 120lbs, and was actually small for a girl. Our boy, a rescue, came to us at 8 months at 90 lbs and by 18 months was 125lbs, which is also small for a male Dane. Even thought they are both on the small side, it’s still a lot of dog.
The downside of having Danes is they have a short life of 8 to 10 years and they can have some difficult health problems. Two that I’ve had experience with are Bloat-Gastric Torsion Bloat & Wobblers syndrome.
• Bloat (or Gastric Torsion Bloat) is the number one killer of Great Danes, and they are the #1 breed at risk for bloat. There is a surgery that can be done to help prevent the occurrence of bloat, and is recommended. Both of our Danes had it and it is totally worth the peace of mind.
• Wobblers syndrome is a caused by pressure on the spinal cord in the neck region. This results in a “drunken” gait, increasing instability, and potential paralysis.
We lost Abby in 2014 from spinal issues when she was only six, but so enriched my life. Even though she had a short life, she gave me a lifetime.
Like with all dogs, training should begin the day they come into your life. But because of their size and strength it is even more important that they are well trained. They are gentle and loving, but they should be supervised around young children. So train, train, train, should be the theme with your Dane. The best advice I got from a friend was “you don’t want your full grown Dane doing what a puppy does; if you do you’ll be in BIG trouble”. You need to start with house rules, and everyone in the house must follow them. You don’t want any dog-d-trainers in the house! Here are a few of ours.
• Calm and gentle in the house. Danes get the zoomies, which is the age old tradition of running around the house uncontrollably. So imagine your very large puppy running really fast through your house over furniture or toward you. It can have an unpleasant end – when they’re small it’s cute, when they get bigger, not so much.
• Jumping. You need to work on jumping right off the bat. They need to understand it’s always four (paws) on the floor.
• No mouthing or puppy biting on human parts. Danes can be really gentle but letting your Dane mouth can lead to problems with strangers and even some behavior problems.
• No mugs on the counter. Only a few months in and your Dane can be tall enough to snatch things off the counter, so they need to know that the counters are off limits.
• Off the furniture. I think it’s genetic that Danes LOVE the furniture, if you let them on even once they will be on the furniture for life.
My Danes were both loving but one smart and willful and the other smart and wanting to please so training was different for each of them. Needless to say my willful girl required a lot In addition to training. Once your Dane has their shots the next order of business is socialization, both human and dog alike. Take your pup to any place dogs are allowed. Pet stores, boutiques, and Home Depot is often a good time as Danes are celebrities wherever they go. Even now we take Riley anywhere dogs are allowed. Home Depot and our community bank (they have dog cookies!) are our regular stops.
One blogger ‘The spotty dog’ said “Great Danes are like potato chips…you can’t have just one!” and she is spot on. I can’t imagine having any other breed.