I want to start out by saying that this is just MY personal experience with our one Great Dane. As with all “advice”, it depends on the temperament of the dog, attitude of the owner, the training methods and diligence, etc. That being said, I want to provide 5 things I wish I would’ve known before buying our Great Dane.
If you’re reading this, you probably already know the many, many reasons to buy a Great Dane. Great Danes are super smart, totally lovey, think they are giant lap dogs, and make fantastic family dogs. Sadly, there are also many Great Danes up for adoption because their owners don’t know what they are getting into and throw in the towel after a few months. Hopefully the points below will help you make an informed buying decision, because YES you should buy that giant, drooling heap of love!
- Great Danes are supposed to be lazy dogs, but the laziness will likely only come after they’ve grown into adults (which may not happen until a few years old). You should still expect them to behave like puppies…100+ lb puppies. Our Great Dane is very energetic – however, we are a very active family and Axel always wants to be doing what we are doing, so there isn’t a lot of laying around at our house. Also, when they are 6 months old and look like a full grown dog, it can be hard to remember that they are still puppies and you need to have the appropriate expectations for behavior and energy levels. We expected our Great Dane to settle down by 6 months and we were wrong 🙂
- Daily house cleaning will be required if you like cleanliness. Great Danes are short-haired dogs and do shed, and many of them also drool (a lot). We wipe up drool (especially after he drinks water) multiple times a day and we vacuum our wood floors every other day. We also clean the dog hair out of our cars every month or so.
- Even “dog people” will be intimidated by their size. When you see a 150 lb dog barreling at you full speed, you have the right to be afraid. You’ll just have to take my word for it that they won’t run into you or tackle you. Great Danes are very friendly and really just want to say hi to any new face, but it will scare people when they are running or barking. (Be prepared to apologize a lot in the first year for this.) For this reason, training is of the utmost importance. You need to have control of your dog (it is wise to invest in a prong collar) and it can be difficult when your dog weighs more than you and is stronger than you are. Start the training early and stay on it until they are an adult.
- The bigger the dog, the bigger the everything. The food bowls, dog beds, crate, amount of food they eat, amount of meds they are given, the car you transport them in, the vet bills…everything is bigger. We researched the pet supplies we would need and knew that physically everything would be bigger, but we didn’t quite expect our Great Dane to cost as much as he does each month. If you plan on sending your dog to doggy day care for a couple days a week, budget about $300-$400 per month for dog supplies and care. If not, budget $200-300 per month. (*these estimates do not include “start up” vet costs such as vaccines, etc.) Also keep in mind that the bigger the dog, the bigger the teeth/nails/potential for destruction. They can reach anything on countertops without leaving the ground, and boy oh boy are they strong!
- Great Danes need to be full grown before they can be fixed because they need all of the hormones to grow completely and without issue. This means that if you are getting a female Great Dane that she may go into heat before you get her fixed. Also make sure you research doggy daycare facilities to find one that will take dogs that aren’t fixed – some have rules that say any dog over 4/6/X months must be fixed to attend daycare. Speaking of daycare, for longer vacations, keep in mind that you can’t just ask a friend to watch your Great Dane unless they really know what they’re getting into. Our crate is so large that is a giant pain to assemble/disassemble, so we don’t bring it with us when traveling. We also had to get a larger vehicle (a minivan) so we could bring him on roadtrips and still fit all of our family gear. Additionally, we don’t have many people to ask to watch a giant dog because of his size and needs. Plan ahead!
I love our Great Dane Axel with all of my heart, but he has also given me my fair share of grief at times. (I only blame myself…we got a puppy and had a baby at the same time!) He is the biggest lover boy and is the best buddy to our baby Max. He loves to sleep in the nursery with him and lay in front of Max’s swing. We take him on long walks throughout out neighborhood and he trots next to the stroller. He has been a blessing to our family through his companionship and also by helping us grow…all in all I love the breed and hope Great Danes can be the right fit for your family.