Being a Great Dane owner is not a decision to be taken lightly. A Great Dane is known as the Gentle Giant. The key word here is GIANT. A Great Dane is not the right dog for every home.
The Great Dane was created in Germany to hunt wild boars. Over the past 100 years breeders have made the Dane's temperament what it is today - sweet, friendly, steady, fearless, sensitive, protective but not aggressive. It is the perfect companion dog for those wanting a house pet.The Dane has to be with his family. He is not a kennel dog. He is also the perfect dog for protection. His massive size deters even the biggest of men. He does excellent with children and other pets, many times adopting a kitten as his own. He is extremely intelligent and needs to be trained with positive reinforcement.
Due to his massive size, the Great Danes life span averages 7-10 years. There have been many cases of this dog reaching to age 12 up to 15 years old.
The Great Dane comes in many colors - some recognized by the AKC and some not. To be recognized by the AKC, the color needs to be pure color bred for four generations.AKC Recognized Colors: Fawn - a golden yellow with black mask, Brindle - a light gold with continuous black streaks, Harlequin - a white with irregular black markings over its entire body - neck preferably pure white, Mantle (formerly known as Boston) - Black with white collar and white forehead line, Black, and Blue. Common Colors not recognized by AKC: Merle - a gray with black patches, White - Albino (usually partially or totally deaf, possible partially or totally blind).
The Great Dane is a Giant dog. Minimum height is 30 inches for males, 28 inches for bitches.The Great Dane can be as tall as 3 feet. Weight averages 135 pounds, even though males as big as 170 - 190 are not uncommon.
The Great Dane is best known for his classic cropped ears standing straight on top of his head. This was done 400 years ago to prevent the ears from being mutilated while hunting wild boar. Cropped ears are not naturally occurring on Great Danes. It is done between 6 - 8 weeks of age by a veterinarian. The dog is sedated then approximately 1/2 of his ear is cut off. His ears are taped up using popsicle sticks or a cup sitting in the middle of his head. He then needs frequent tape changes. His ears are usually taped 6-12 weeks until his ears are trained to stand tall, erect, and pointed.Cropping ears and tails in dogs has become controversial. Many veterinarians hesitate or flat outright refuse to crop or dock. The AKC accepts cropped and natural ears.
The Great Dane's ears naturally fall down around his face like a Labrador Retrievers.
The Great Dane with its short, thick and smooth coat requires only minimum bathing (when dirty) and once a week brushing.
Many people find it hard to believe but the Great Dane is most definitely a house dog. He does not do well as an outside pet. He needs human companionship.He has no realization of his size - he thinks he is a lap dog. It is a common Great Dane trait to try to sit in your lap or to sit on the couch with his front legs on the floor.He is a quiet inside dog - not nervous or "hyper". People who work all day must realize that Great Danes suffer from separation anxiety and must have a plan to deal with it so that the Dane does not destroy their house. A crate usually makes the Dane feel safe and secure while you are gone.
Great Danes easily become couch potatoes. Long daily walks are best for him. However, Great Danes do very well in agility training when given the opportunity.There is nothing more beautiful than a finely tuned Great Dane in full gallop.Do not exercise a Great Dane for at least one hour after he has eaten to prevent bloat.
Great Danes are very intelligent and highly trainable. They need to be trained with positive reinforcement and a gentle hand. They are extremely sensitive and do not do well with rougher training methods. It is very important to start their training early. They need to be obedient on command in order not to frighten strangers or knock over someone.
Due to his large size, everything with a Great Dane costs more.Vet bills are more because everything is charged by the pound. A spay/neuter procedure can cost up to $250. Heartworm medication can cost up to $150/year. He eats a large amount of food. A quality food usually costs $32 for a 40 pound bag lasting 2-5 weeks depending on age and size of Dane. An extra large crate can cost $100-$270.
It is important not to overfeed a Great Dane puppy. He cannot have just any food. He needs a special low protein, low calcium, low fat diet his first 2 years of life to slow down his growth rate to protect his joints.Regular puppy food is too high in fat, protein and calcium to feed to any Giant Breed dog and could lead to brittle bones and hip displasia later in life. Between 4 to 6 months of age, you might want to consider giving your puppy adult maintenance dog food. A giant dog does best if he eats in a standing position to aid in proper digestion and lessen bloat. This means you need to provide his food and water on a raised platform at shoulder level. There are several quality food stands on the market that help to accomplish this. Or you could simply put his food at the proper height on a chair or table. Feed your Dane 2 -3 small meals a day and do not exercise your dog or let him run around for around an hour after eating to lessen the risk for bloat.
Linda Arndt, a noted Author, Nutritional Consultant, and owner of Blackwatch Great Danes Kennels has graciously agreed to allow us to share her feeding guide along with other nutritional articles she has published. Please feel free to print out any information for future use and share it with a friend.`
Giant dogs can get a condition known as "bloat". This usually occurs when a dog is fed one big meal a day and allowed to run around afterwards. His full stomach is being bounced around in his large chest cavity and can turn around on itself or become twisted. This is a life threatening situation! The blood supply to his stomach and intestines is compromised and even cut off. He will suddenly become lethargic and try to vomit unsuccessfully. His stomach will bloat - meaning fill with gas and enlarge. A dog with this condition needs immediate veterinary assistance. The veterinarian will try to release the gas in the stomach to make the dog more comfortable. Then he will perform a surgery where he will open the chest cavity, empty the stomach contents, untwist the stomach, sew the stomach in place so it can no longer twist, and look for black (dead) stomach and intestine tissue. If the blood path has been compromised too much where there is a large part of dead intestine and stomach tissue, the dog will have to be euthanized.If the condition is caught early enough, the dog can survive and return to normal. This surgery usually costs $1000-$1500. Prevention is best! Large dogs also are genetically predisposed to hip displasia and bone and joint problems.
This article is to bring awareness to first time Great Dane owners of Stomach Torsion, which is the number one killer of Great Danes.