The world’s most famous Great Dane may be a cartoon, and they may not be orange in real life, but Great Danes are nonetheless some of the best friends you can have. At the same time, it takes a very special individual to take care of them, and this is where the problem comes in.
Let’s face the facts – Great Danes are called ‘great’ not because they are such wonderful companions, although I feel this to be accurate. They are very, very big, and all of that bigness is pure muscle. When Doberman’s were bred, Great Danes were used in the mix because of their strength and intelligence. It’s no lie that, pound for pound, these dogs have an immeasurable amount of power they could unleash.
But Great Danes are gentle giants. I know, I had two of them, both rescued. And they were both (and I’m not being biased because I’ve had other dogs as well) the most intelligent, loving dogs I’ve ever known. My female, Kyra, thought she was a lap dog, and she also slept in my bed, stretching out to take up ¾ of a king-size bed. Go figure. Did I mention she was spoiled rotten? And my male was huge – at one point, he got up to 170 pounds (at which time we put him on a diet). But he truly smiled and had facial expressions that told you EXACTLY what he was thinking at all times.
Great Danes are often used as therapy dogs for the elderly, as well as sick children because of their great personalities. They seem to have healing properties just in their beings. So, why would such wonderful dogs need to be rescued?
People get them as a novelty. They think, “Ooh, I can be cool and have a huge dog.” So, they go buy a puppy, which is about the size of a fully grown Beagle, and two months later, they freak out that the dog is too big and decide to discard it. Do yourself and Great Danes a favor – don’t buy from a breeder. Rescue one. They are easily trained and, if you aren’t intimidated by size, they won’t even realize how big they are.
Things to Consider
Here are some facts to consider, though, because not everyone is a Great Dane sort of person. Yes, they are big dogs, but they don’t eat for their size. They actually only eat about as much as a Lab, which isn’t even that much more than, say, a Beagle or other medium-small breed. They also don’t need a lot of space indoors and can even be apartment dogs (watch out for apartment rules on size and breeds) if they have a play area, like a dog park, and you walk them regularly for exercise. A small house with a decent sized yard is perfect.
Keep in mind that they are great with children. I had six little girls in the family that, as they were 1 and 2 years old, rode my male Dane like a pony. He sighed, and smiled and carried them through the house. They even handle poking and prodding well in moderation. They are very laid back dogs. However, new people tend to excite them, and they like to ‘hug’, so you probably need to teach them when it’s inappropriate to jump up on someone.
Great Danes and Chihuahuas by David Shankbone, Wikimedia Commons
Be aware that lots of people are afraid of large dogs, and some of your friends might be leery of coming over if you have a Great Dane. But once they see how gentle these dogs really are, most people come around. I know, I have a friend frightened of anything bigger than a Chihuahua, and I have a picture of her laying and cuddling with another friend’s Dane.
The larger the dog, the longer the period to reach maturity. Just because you rescue a 1-year-old Dane doesn’t mean you’re out of the puppy phase. Great Danes generally take between 2 and 3 years to fully mature, so you aren’t losing puppy time by not purchasing a 6-week-old from a breeder. At the same time, these large dogs put a lot of strain on their system. The larger the dog, the shorter the lifespan. Great Danes generally live between 7 and 9 years. However, if you take good care of them, they can live a lot longer. Again, I know. We lost our male Dane just short of him turning 13, which is extremely long-lived, but he was healthy and in good condition.
The only two problems Great Danes are prone to is a stomach issue, which can be avoided by not letting them run right after eating or drinking, and hip dysplasia, which is common in lots of breeds, such as German Shepherds.
If you decide to rescue a Great Dane, and you’ve thought it through carefully, it will be the best decision you’ve ever made. And in doing so, you can be part of the solution rather than part of the problem.
Robin Scott is an author of paranormal romance who specializes in SEO and online marketing consulting for authors. She lives in Seattle and has two published works, Hearts in Flight (as Robin Lea) and a novella, Nightkind. Check out Robin’s blog for tips on how to promote yourself and your work as a writer.