Great Danes are, well, great. They’re big dogs with big hearts and a kind of charming nature that just can’t be resisted. But what’s it like to have one in your life? Here are 10 truths to owning a Great Dane.
1. They’re Gentle Giants
Although they can be a little imposing by sheer virtue of their size, Great Danes are sweet and docile creatures, at least the vast majority of the time. Despite what you might infer from their stature, they’re sweet, lazy cuddle dogs most of the time and they love strangers, kids, most other animals, and especially their owner. A well-trained Dane just wants to please their owner and snuggle up right by their side.
2. Apartments May Be OK
There are conflicting opinions on this one, but a lot of people indicate that, as long as they get the right amount of exercise (which is fairly moderate for a Great Dane), they can thrive in an apartment setting. Having easy access to a yard or off-leash park for them to roam makes it more likely for them to be able to adjust to living in a smaller dwelling. That said, they love to counter surf, they’re tall enough to access to just about anything, and they’re constantly bumping into things. More room in the home means more sparse spaces and less likelihood of destruction.
3. You Can Find Them In Rescues
Great Danes are a very particular breed, which often means that they’re impossible to find without a reputable breeder. Unfortunately, Great Danes are sometimes surrendered through no fault of their own. Not everyone knows what they’re getting into when they adopt, especially with larger breeds. The bright side is that a prospective owner might find the perfect Dane at one of the many breed-specific rescues or even at a local shelter.
4. They Don’t Know How Big They Are
Lap dog alert! Despite weighing anywhere from 100 to 200 pounds, a fully-grown Great Dane may want to sit on your lap like a teacup Yorkie. They just don’t know how big they are! A common breed behavior is to lean against your leg and sit on your feet. They can be trained out of this, but you’re likely to still get crushed by an errant paw at least some of the time. And then there’s extreme tail wagging near breakable items! At least they probably won’t try to climb into your purse to be carried around.
5. Grooming is Minimal
A Great Dane coat is short, smooth and easy to maintain. Set it and forget it! Give them a regular brushing with a good bristle brush and it should be able to manage their shedding. Of course, you can never get all of the fur under wraps, but throwing something down on the couch is easy enough, and it’s good motivation to dust, sweep, and vacuum on a regular basis! However, if they need a bath, good luck managing a pup that big in the tub.
6. They Can Be Kinda Gross
Let’s face it: we love our dogs, but they can be kind of disgusting sometimes. Great Danes have a tendency to be gassy, so owners need to crack a window on a regular basis. If you’re thinking about bringing one into your life, practice politely holding your breath now. Speaking of breath, big dogs have big mouths, which means lots of hot, stinky dog breath in your face. Regular tooth brushing combats the worst of halitosis, but there’s still going to be a whiff from time to time. Then there’s the drooling. Not all Danes drool substantially, but quite a lot of them have looser jowls, which lead to slobbery moments. You may want to have a rag handy. Still, it’s a small price to pay for puppy love.
7. Their Life Span is On the Short Side
This is just sad. Larger dogs tend to have shorter life spans, and Great Danes are among the largest dogs. Some experts say six to eight years is average, while others say you can expect up to 10 or even 12 years. There are outliers who live to be old timers, but that’s not always the case. The best message to take from this (which is applicable to all dogs, really) is to cherish every moment with them and give them the best care possible so they can have not only the longest life possible, but the best one.
8. Separation Anxiety is Likely
As stated, Great Danes are highly social and want to do right by their owner. If they’re spending a lot of their lives alone, they don’t get to spend it being sociable and interacting with the people they love. More so than many breeds, Danes can become very anxious when left by themselves for extended periods. If you have a busy schedule, this may not be the best dog for you. Even if they’re only alone during work hours, owners should consider at least one daily visit with a walker or doggie daycare so that their dog gets the stimulation and attention it needs.
9. Start Saving Because Great Danes Are Expensive
Caring for dogs is expensive. Food, vets, training, walkers, boarding… it all adds up. Great Danes tend to eat more food than smaller dogs, require more vet care, and need more interventions for their separation anxiety. This isn’t necessarily a deterrent, but it’s something to keep in mind when getting ready to bring a Great Dane into your life. Providing a great life for a dog includes being able to meet its needs.
10. They’ll Light Up Your Life
You can read over this list countless times, weighing the pros and cons, but the most important think to know is that a Great Dane will absolutely light up your life. They’re good souls with quirky personalities and so much love to give. From the people who stop you in the park to the fellow owners who share tales of their giant babies, everyone will understand that there’s just something special about Great Danes.