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Great Danes: The Good, the Bad, the Ugly

Great Danes are an awesome breed for those who love large dogs with friendly, affectionate personalities. If these big socializers sound like your kind of pup, here's what you need to know about this gentle giant.

Smiling woman playing with her Great Dane outdoors


Great Danes are a working breed originating in Germany. They were bred for hunting and later for guarding estates as their average size grew.

The most famous Great Dane of them all is none other than Scooby-Doo. Though these curious copilots can have animated personalities, you shouldn’t expect yours to be a bonafide mystery-solving detective.

A distinctive feature of Great Danes is their massive stature, with males often reaching over 30 inches tall. Guinness World Records confirmed this, naming Zeus, a two-year-old Great Dane, the tallest dog in the world.

With an adult weight that can rival many humans (reaching as much as 140 to 175 pounds) these dogs are better suited for those with lots of space at home and a backyard to run in.

Similar breeds

If you're looking for other dogs with similar traits to Great Danes, consider the Mastiff, Boxer, or Saint Bernard.


Great Danes are known for their loyal, friendly, and intelligent nature. They’re easy-going, affectionate, social creatures, so make sure to give yours lots of love — they don’t handle being alone very well.

Great Danes are often considered gentle giants and require moderate exercise, especially in wide areas where they can safely run off-leash.

Are Great Danes hypoallergenic?

Great Danes are not hypoallergenic dogs. Those who are sensitive to dog allergies may experience some discomfort when interacting with this breed.

They’re moderate shedders, so it’s best to be consistent with grooming to keep them healthy and your allergies in check.

Looking for an allergy-friendly dog? We've got you covered with our guide to hypoallergenic breeds.

Illness/health concerns

Due to their size, Great Danes can have joint and bone issues that many smaller dogs are less prone to. Otherwise, they require the care any other dog does to stay happy and healthy. Some common health concerns include bloat, orthopedic problems, heart disease, eye problems, and dilated cardiomyopathy.

Make sure to get regular veterinary checkups to keep your Great Dane in tip-top shape.

How big do Great Danes get?

Great Danes can reach up to 34 inches in height and weigh between 110 and 175 pounds.

The size of a dog in adulthood can be affected by factors such as age, gender, and activity levels, and it can be more difficult to estimate if the dog is a mixed breed.

Life expectancy

The average life expectancy of a Great Dane is on the shorter side, about 7 to 10 years.

Keep up with vet visits and preventative care to help your Great Dane live a long and healthy life.

Expected lifetime cost

The lifetime cost of a Great Dane can vary, but you can expect to spend around $20,000 throughout your dog's life. On average, that’s about $2,300 per year.

As you can imagine, Great Danes will eat much more than your average dog. Expect other expenses like routine vet visits, preventative medications, grooming, and other standard pet care.

Estimated cost to insure

Pet insurance is a great way to manage unexpected medical expenses. The cost of insuring a Great Dane can vary based on age, health, and location. You can expect to pay around $40-$80 per month for their coverage.

The good, the bad, the ugly

Are you considering getting a Great Dane? Here are some traits and health factors to keep in mind:

  1. Orthopedic Problems: Great Danes can be prone to joint and bone diseases such as osteoarthritis due to their large size. This can lead to pain, stiffness, and decreased mobility. They may benefit from supplements such as glucosamine and chondroitin to support joint health.

  2. Bloat: Great Danes can experience bloat, a life-threatening condition where the stomach fills with gas and twists. They should be fed smaller, more frequent meals and avoid exercise before and after meals.

  3. Megaesophagus: Great Danes are also prone to megaesophagus, a condition where the esophagus loses its ability to move food down to the stomach. Symptoms include regurgitation, weight loss, and coughing. Treatment options may include medication, dietary changes, elevated feeding stations, and surgery in severe cases.

  4. Walking and Playtime: Due to their size and strength, Great Danes may unintentionally knock over small children or other pets while playing. They may also prove challenging when it comes to leash pulling. Training and socializing your Great Dane from an early age is important to ensure they are well-behaved and manageable in these situations.

With these unique traits and characteristics in mind, plus appropriate training and care, a Great Dane can be a great addition to your life.

So you want a Great Dane...

Before bringing one of these gentle giants home, consider their unique needs and any characteristics that may present themselves when raising a Great Dane.

If you're looking for a loyal, friendly, and fun-loving dog, a Great Dane might be the right breed for you and your family.

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