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All about your Great Dane

Handsome and gallant, while also being a big softie at heart.

Large, elegant and loyal dogs, Great Danes make a fantastic addition to the family. Learn more about this easy-going, gentle giant, from his grooming and exercise needs, to the things you can do to keep him happy and healthy.

A Black Great Dane Stood Side On In A Garden

Breed information & advice

Friendly and affectionate, the Great Dane is from the working breed group and has a relaxed and patient personality that makes him a wonderful family pet. As a large, powerful breed, obedience training is recommended early on to get him into good habits.

  • A Great Dane will need a big living space with access to a large garden, and he will require more than two hours of exercise each day once fully grown.
  • His coat is short, thick and smooth and regular grooming is recommended to keep him in good condition.
  • This dog typically weighs between 45kg and 90kg when fully grown.
  • A healthy Great Dane could live between 6 and 10 years.

Typical size of a Great Dane

Large - 71cm-86cm

Despite his enormous size, the Great Dane is actually much happier as an indoor family pet. He’s easily house-trained and well-behaved if socialised from an early age. Older dogs will be content with one or two walks a day, but puppies tend to be more energetic.

Great Dane puppies will grow for around 18 months, during which time your pet will need special large breed puppy food to help him grow at a healthy pace and allow his bones to form properly. Puppies will need their food split over three meals, while adult dogs will need feeding twice a day. Always consider your dog’s size, age and gender for appropriate measurements and read the packet instructions.

More than two hours of exercise per day

Take care to control your dog’s exercise as a puppy when his bones are growing, but once fully grown this gentle, people-loving pet will need a good amount of exercise to keep him fit and healthy.

Great Dane Running Through a Field
A Great Dane Stood Side On Looking Behind

Common health problems & illnesses

Your Great Dane will need all of the usual vaccinations and check-ups to help protect him against common ailments. There are some conditions which this breed is more prone to though, and you may want to familiarise yourself with the symptoms or signs, so you know what to look out for.

1. Heart disease

From about the age of four, Great Danes have a greater risk of heart disease, specifically canine dilated cardiomyopathy. This is when the chambers of the heart enlarge and the heart muscle thins, reducing the heart’s ability to pump the blood effectively.  This condition often shows no obvious signs initially and if undetected, sadly it can cause sudden death. Signs to be aware of include your dog being reluctant to exercise, experiencing breathlessness and coughing.  Make sure your dog has a heart check-up at least once a year. Heart scans can be performed to check for this condition and if diagnosed, your vet will be able to advise on medications to help treat it.

Heart conditions were responsible for 4% of Tesco Pet Insurance claims for this breed in 2015.

2. Bone tumours

Osteosarcomas, or bone tumours, are often seen in this breed, particularly in older dogs. Lameness, swelling on the affected leg and your dog appearing to be in pain, are the signs to be aware of. These cancerous tumours can spread to other areas of the body, so it is really important to let your vet examine any limb which is swollen or painful, especially if your dog’s leg has been previously injured.

3. Stomach conditions

Deep-chested dogs such as Great Danes can experience gastic torsion – this is sometimes referred to as ‘bloat’.

If this occurs, it is an emergency situation where the dog’s stomach is filled with gas. The condition can cause the stomach to twist and if so, will require immediate surgery. If you notice any bloating around the stomach, dribbling or your dog is anxious, pacing and trying to vomit, then contact your vet. To help prevent this condition, you could split your dog’s food over several servings, raise his dog bowl and avoid any exercise after meals.

4. Lameness

The Great Dane’s imposing stature can put strain on his leg joints, so this breed is susceptible to torn knee ligaments and hip dysplasia, where the hip joints don’t fit together properly. As puppies, some Great Danes experience hypertrophic osteodystrophy, a bone inflammation that affects the front legs during the growth stage. If you spot any unusual changes in your dog’s movement then speak to your vet, who will be able to diagnose the condition and recommend the most appropriate course of treatment.

5. Skin conditions

This breed may experience irritable skin conditions, including acral lick dermatitis – due to excessive licking – and demodicosis, a type of mange triggered by mites.

Great Danes can also develop mast cell tumours – these cancerous tumours are graded depending on their severity and they look like harmless warts. Keep an eye out for any unusual swellings, rashes or changes to the skin when grooming, and your vet will advise you on the most suitable treatment options.

Dog name popularity

If you’re struggling to think of a name for your Great Dane, take a look at the most popular ones at Tesco Pet Insurance for inspiration.

Dog name popularity
Lola
Monty
Ruby
Daisy
George

Average treatment costs

Wondering whether pet insurance for your Great Dane is worth it? We’ve put together the top five conditions claimed for by Tesco Pet Insurance customers in 2015, and the average cost of treatment.

ConditionAverage treatment cost
Arthritis and degenerative joint disease£256.55
Cardiomyopathy£608.62
Heart condition£442.69
Lameness£181.19
Tumour£523.30

Tesco Pet Insurance claims data from paid treatments including excesses from 01/01/15 to 31/12/15.

Considering Great Dane insurance?

We know your dog is an important member of the family, so give them the protection they deserve with Tesco Pet Insurance.

Tesco Bank Pet Insurance is arranged, administered and underwritten by Royal & Sun Alliance Insurance plc.

Grooming advice

A weekly grooming routine, along with a regular bath, is more than enough to keep your Great Dane looking his best. He’ll enjoy the fuss and it’s a fun way to bond.

This breed has a short, thick coat and doesn’t shed much – however, given his size this can still mean a lot of hair on clothes and couches. Using a grooming mitt or soft-bristled brush once a week will usually be enough to keep his hair and skin in good condition. In spring and autumn he’ll have a heavy shed and will need more frequent brushing to get rid of all the excess hair.

Every week check his nails, ears and teeth. Trim his nails as needed to prevent them cracking or snagging. Try to keep his ears clean and dry, and brush his teeth daily to help keep his mouth clean and healthy and to prevent dental problems. After each walk (especially in the winter), clean and dry his feet and check the pads and in between the toes for any problems.

Fun & interesting facts

  • Despite their name, this breed is not from Denmark. They are thought to have been bred for boar-hunting in Germany, from Irish Wolfhounds and English Mastiffs.
  • Although this dog continues growing for a long time, initial growth is very fast, and his weight will go from 45-90g to over 45kg in just six months.
  • The world’s tallest dog was a Great Dane called Zeus from Michigan. He measured 1.12m to his shoulder and stood an astounding 2.24m on his hind legs.
  • Cartoon favourite Scooby Doo was a Great Dane. This might have been because in medieval times, the breed was said to protect homes against ghosts and evil spirits.
  • Great Dane Just Nuisance was a companion of sailors in South Africa during World War II, travelling alongside them. He became the only dog to ever have been enlisted in the Navy.

Important information

KEY INFORMATION

The content on this page aims to offer an informative introduction to pet breeds, but does not constitute expert veterinary advice. If your dog or cat falls ill or has an injury, contact your vet immediately. Tesco Bank Pet Insurance has a partnership with vetfone™ which means that as a customer, you can benefit from their advice as part of your policy.

Tesco Bank Pet Insurance is arranged, administered and underwritten by Royal & Sun Alliance Insurance plc. The vetfone™ service is provided by Vetsdirect Ltd.

All facts and figures were correct at date of publication and were compiled using a range of sources.

WHAT IS VETFONE?

Vetfone™ is a 24/7 helpline that provides expert advice from nurses qualified with the RCVS (Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons). If your pet has a medical emergency, or you need reassurance on grooming, feeding or general advice, vetfone™ is there to help.

As a Tesco Pet Insurance customer, you can access expert veterinary advice provided by RCVS registered vet nurses as a standard benefit with your policy, and the service is provided at no additional cost. A quick call could answer any questions you have about your pet, give you peace of mind and could even save you an expensive trip to the vet.

Tesco Bank Pet Insurance is arranged, administered and underwritten by Royal & Sun Alliance Insurance plc. The vetfone™ service is provided by Vetsdirect Ltd.

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