So You're Thinking About Getting a Great Dane?

Please Read This First!

Great Danes are marvelous, amazing dogs. They are friendly, even-tempered sweethearts who love children and adults and other pets alike. They are easily trained and given to obedience. They are excellent watchdogs. They are gorgeous, impressive animals, the Apollo of dogs.  

In fact, often, people are so struck by them that they think about getting one after spending just a few minutes with a Dane.

If you are one of those people or have ever considered owning a Great Dane, then this page is for you. 

Read this before you even think about buying a Great Dane.

Having owned three Great Danes over the years, weíve learned that there are several important considerations for anyone who contemplates acquiring a Great Dane. People who know and love Great Danes implore you to take these things seriously. Of course, Great Danes are no better than any other dogs. (Although some Dane owners may disagree with that!) As with all dogs, Great Danes need lots of love, affection, exercise, a good home and regular veterinary care etc. But there is one difference that sets Danes apart from other dogs and it affects every aspect of their lives and their needs.

There is a large difference between Great Danes and other pets. That difference is their size!

Female Danes typically run anywhere from 110 pounds to 150 pounds. And male Danes will commonly tip the scales at 170 or more. The record Dane was 225 pounds! Further, Danes are the tallest of the giant breeds and among the most powerful.

This enormous size affects every aspect of caring for a Great Dane. Unfortunately, many people acquire a Great Dane because they are infatuated with their beauty and temperament. But because they havenít given adequate thought to their size, they quickly find that the dog is more than they can handle. At best, the result is an unhappy dog. At worst, they mistreat the dog. As a result, there is an organization call Great Dane Rescue ( devoted to rescuing Danes from bad environments.

So please, before you acquire a Great Dane, take seriously the following:


"Remo," a beautiful Dane you can learn about at


1) Great Danes must be very well socialized with both people and other dogs from the time they are young puppies.

You know what happens with a dog that isnít well socialized. It may feel stress around people or other dogs and possibly bite if provoked. If that happens with a toy poodle, someone could get their ankle bit, an unfortunate situation to be sure, but one you could possibly live with. But if a giant dog is not well socialized, the result can be very dangerous, even deadly. What this means is that your Great Dane puppy must be introduced to other people and other dogs every day. At the park, in your car, up and down the neighborhood, when the pizza is delivered, in the supermarket parking lot.

Socializing your Great Dane cannot be stressed too much. Fortunately, it is easy to do. Danes are naturally friendly. They love to play with other dogs and children and even get along with cats! (When one of our cats was a kitten he used to sleep curled up between our Daneís paws and even climbed up on the dogís back. Meanwhile, our dog just lay there, happy as can be for the attention.) You need not worry that socializing your dog will make him less of a watchdog! Danes are naturally protective of their home and family. The friendliest and best socialized Dane in the world will still prevent a burglar from entering your house when you are asleep or gone. It is simply in their genes.

2) Great Danes need plenty of room.

Although a Dane could conceivably be raised in an apartment if it is taken out several times a day and given lots of exercise, it is much better if a Dane lives in a good-sized house and given regular access to a large, fenced yard. Please, if you do not have lots of room, consider a smaller dog.

3) You cannot adequately raise a Great Dane puppy if you live alone in an apartment and have a full-time job, unless you make extraordinary arrangements to leave your job in the middle of the day, every day, for an hour or more.

The only exception would be having someone else attend to your Dane during the day. You may think a walk in the morning and another in the evening is enough, but it is not, especially for a puppy.

Once your Great Dane is full grown and he has access to a fenced yard all day long, then you can leave for the whole day. But only then.

4) Great Danes must be well trained.

By this I donít mean that your dog needs to get a blue ribbon at the local dog training school, although that would be nice. What I mean is that you must train your puppy daily until it is proficient at obeying basic commands. "Come," "Sit," "Stay," "Lie Down," "Heel," and "No," etc. Further, your dog must learn never to jump on people. They grow too large to do that!

5) Great Danes are indoor dogs.

Danes have short coats and no body fat. If you take them outside in the winter they feel the same cold air you feel. And unless they are running, they will shiver same as you. You absolutely cannot leave a Dane outside for long periods in cold climates! They are not like long-haired dogs.

Not only do Danes need a warm house to live in, they need a warm bed to sleep in. Further, the bed needs to be very well padded, or their elbows will become as worn out as yours would were you to lie on the floor. (We donít recommend that you let your Dane in your bed, because they may run and jump into bed when you are sound asleep. Not only is a 150 pound surprise unpleasant in the middle of the night, it can be dangerous. And knee surgery to repair torn ligaments is expensive!) But because of their size and weight, a bed for a Dane must be thick and soft and warm enough that you wouldnít mind if you had to sleep in it.

6) Because Great Dane puppies grow so fast, they require a carefully chosen diet, supervised by a veterinarian.

You cannot just feed a Dane generic food from the supermarket. It has to be a premium brand with the correct vitamins etc. Again, veterinary input is essential, or youíll end up with a malnourished dog.

7) You must purchase your Great Dane from a reputable breeder.

Investigate. Research. Ask questions. Get on the Internet. Check references. Look at lots of puppies. Get books on Great Danes and read them.

Unfortunately there are ignorant, disreputable and even unscrupulous breeders out there, and they must not be patronized. Deal only with the best and you will be happy with your dog.

8) Great Danes require a substantial financial commitment.

A quality Great Dane puppy is very expensive to purchase. Their food bills are much higher than those of other dogs. Their vet bills are higher than those of other dogs. Their beds are more expensive than other dogís beds. The nice teak dining room table they decide to eat the legs off of when they are teething is expensive! If you donít have extra funds, please donít buy a Great Dane. 

Still Want A Dane?

If, after long, careful deliberation, you feel a Great Dane is right for you, then proceed carefully and you'll likely end up with the best companion you ever had. Good Luck!

Dead Ponderosa pine with Freel Peak (at 10,881', Tahoe's highest mountain) in the background. The climax of TAHOE AVALANCHE takes place on the shoulder of Freel Peak.

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