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Great Dane with Harlequin coloring sitting on a mat

Tips for adopting a Great Dane

If you’ve ever wanted your own Scooby-Doo or Marmaduke, you’re not alone. As the 15th most popular dog breed, there is never a shortage of interest in Great Danes. While these regal, friendly dogs can be irresistible, there are a few things you should know if you are considering adopting a Great Dane.

1. Great Danes get big. Really big. If you’re looking at adopting a puppy, it’s important to remember that he will quickly grow into a 150+ pound dog. Even more, expect the shoulders to be around 30 inches from the ground and the head to easily reach your kitchen sink. A Great Dane might just turn your sink into a self-serving water bowl!

2. They were originally bred to hunt wild boars. Great Danes may have been bred from an English Mastiff and an Irish Wolfhound, and their resulting strength made them an ideal boar hunter. They are protective, but not aggressive, as well as sweet and friendly—making them an ideal family dog. Their massive size serves as an excellent deterrent from predators, but most are excellent with children and other pets.

3. Mental maturity and physical maturity don’t correlate. At a year of age, a Great Dane can easily top 100 pounds but still have the brain of a puppy. This massive, gangly, 100-pound puppy can accidentally knock someone over with their excitement. It takes approximately three years for Great Danes to achieve adult maturity, so don’t neglect obedience training from a young age.

4. There are several AKC recognized colors. Great Danes can be found in a variety of colors; Fawn, Brindle, Harlequin, Mantle, Merle, White, Black, and Blue are the standard AKC accepted colors. 

5. Great Danes have happy tails. Although Great Danes are typically good with children, they should always be supervised when together. A happy, wagging tail will likely clear your coffee table or knock over a toddler. More importantly, their thin tails are likely to become injured with vigorous wagging, resulting in happy tail syndrome.

6. Nutrition is highly important. While Great Danes need a large amount of food as they grow, it’s important not to overfeed them and encourage rapid growth. By growing too fast, Great Danes are at a higher risk for Wobbler Syndrome, which is a disease of the cervical spine that results in neurological issues and pain.

7. Grooming needs are minimal. Great Danes have short hair that only requires one or two brushing sessions per week. Bathing once per month is usually sufficient as well.

8. Everything is more expensive. Between vet visits, the high volume of food, and extra-large toys, the cost of a Great Dane can quickly add up. Knowing this beforehand, will save a lot of stress after adoption.

9. Their lifespan is short. Unfortunately, the Great Dane lifespan is only 7-10 years. They are also prone to several health problems, such as dilated cardiomyopathy, bloat, hip dysplasia, and hypertrophic osteodystrophy.

10. Time is more important than space. Great Danes are typically couch potatoes inside, which means they don’t need a lot of room. However, they are very people-oriented and need to be part of the family. Before adopting, time should be examined to determine if your availability is enough to keep a Great Dane happy.

If you think a Great Dane is the dog for you, contact your local Great Dane rescue to find your perfect match! For those of you with Great Danes, what information should potential adopters know before adding a Great Dane to their family?


Kelsie McKenzie is the owner and fur-covered girl behind the scenes of It's Dog or Nothing, a resource for ‘all things Pyrenees.’ She currently lives near Seattle with her Air Force husband and two Great Pyrenees, Mauja and Atka. Kelsie is also a content creator, social media manager, and an avid animal lover.

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