History of the breed: Germany is credited with refining the breed, although it was seen in various parts of Europe in the 1700’s. Great Dane enthusiasts will tell you that there are 2 types of Danes, Danes that were bred to be estate Guard Dogs, and Danes that were bred to be hunting dogs.
A Dane that is meant to guard large estates has the job of being an imposing presence on the property. The Dane’s ears traditionally are cropped to give them an alert look, but at Westgate Pet Clinic we love the natural long ear. Because Danes were bred to relax around their owner’s property, they can make very good house dogs, even in apartments. They tend to sleep throughout the day, thus earning them the nickname, the “Gentle Giant”.
Danes were also bred to be used as boar hunters. Some Dane’s show more of this predatory drive and will sometimes tackle and pin smaller dogs. It is very important that your Dane be well trained and obedient because of its large size.
Health Concerns: As with many large breed dogs, Danes tend to have a shorter life expectancy. Problems known to arise in this breed are:
- Osteosarcoma (tumors of bones)
- Bloat and gastric torsion (twisting of the stomach)
- Panosteitis (growing pains)
- Dilated Cardiomyopathy (enlarged heart)
- Torn anterior cruciate ligaments
- Osteochondrosis Dissecans
- Hypertrophic Osteodystrophy
- Wobbler’s Syndrome (neck vertebrae instability)
- Hip Dysplasia
Preventative Care for your Dane
- We recommend that all Great Dane’s have their stomach “tacked” to prevent gastric torsion. (This technique is called a gastropexy and can be done laparoscopically at Westgate Pet Clinic)
- We recommend that male Great Danes wait to be neutered until they are 18-24 months old, when their skeleton is fully developed. If your male dog is showing behavioral problems, then neutering sooner will be recommended.
- In general, we recommend that female Great Danes be spayed before their first heat to help reduce the chance of mammary cancer. Typically we recommend this surgery at about 8-9 months of age in the Dane. If your pet is having orthopedic problems, your veterinarian may recommend delaying the spay procedure until her skeleton is fully mature.
- We recommend that your Dane be fed a puppy food that is formulated for large breed dogs until he or she is 18 months old. We do not recommend feeding adult dog food to your puppy during the fast growing phase. Careful monitoring of your Dane’s growth rate is important. If your puppy is growing too quickly, or is overweight, then your veterinarian may recommend reducing the volume of food you feed your puppy.
- If your Dane is experiencing lameness, please bring him or her in for a check-up. Great Danes are prone to many orthopedic problems. Likely we will want to take x-rays to evaluate the source of your Dane’s lameness.
- All Danes should be well trained because of their size. If you are getting a puppy, socialization classes when they are young is very important. Formal obedience training should start at 6 months of age.
Thinking about adopting a Great Dane? Why not consider Upper Midwest Great Dane Rescue www.thegreatdanerescue.com or Great Dane Rescue of Minnesota and Wisconsin www.gdromn.org Both organizations not only adopt out Great Danes, but are a great resource for Dane related questions.