Every month, we will highlight a popular dog breed at risk for arthritis. We will talk about what we love about them, as well as reflect on how to keep them healthy. This month, we are focusing on the Great Dane. These dogs are extremely large and strong, but those who know and have them in their homes think of them as “Gentle Giants.” Read on to learn why we love them, examples of the comic relief they give us and key information about how to keep them healthy.
It seems one famous Great Dane recently had a big birthday: Scooby Doo turned 50 this past month! What better way to honor Scooby Doo than by celebrating his breed: Great Danes! Families who love Great Danes know they are simply the best breed to have. Here’s why:
Top 8 Reasons Great Danes are GREAT!
- Big heart, big personality. These large dogs are exactly that in size, but also in charisma. And of course, they are the cutest puppies with love and adorableness overload!
- Big, soulful eyes. The Great Dane’s eyes are quite extraordinary. Just as these dogs are big, so are the eyes. They look right through you at times with those big brown eyes. Sometimes they look sad as if to say, “Please share your sandwich with me.” Other times they seek our approval as if to say, “I did good, right?!” Either way, it’s hard to resist those big eyes.
- Great family dogs. Danes are known for being gentle and with tolerant personalities, despite their intimidating size. There are lots of pictures out there of Great Danes loving on “their smalls.”
- Gentle giants. They are truly the gentlest of the giant breeds. They are great snugglers and just being a part of your daily life. They most likely greet your friends at the door and later want to sit in their laps. They love the attention of strangers and are very affectionate dogs.
- Adaptable to any environment. Despite their size, Great Danes are excellent dogs for big or small living. They are fine living with apartment dwellers or out in the suburbs with plenty of space. While they enjoy frolicking and being rambunctious, they also really enjoy relaxing with you on the couch.
- Long legs, long strides. If you are a runner, your Great Dane will be a fantastic running partner. They have solid strength and have no problems keeping up on the longest runs.
- Super smarts. A Great Dane is wickedly intelligent and they take to training easily.
- Serious goofs. As smart as they are, the expressions on their faces is always somewhat comical. Like some adults, they never outgrow their goofiness or willingness to photo bomb any picture you are trying to take in the most awkward way. They are always good for laughs.
Great Dane Owners Appreciate humor
AKC said it best: “The breed is indeed Great, but not a Dane.” Turns out, Great Danes are from Germany, not a Danish colony. Most likely this belief came from the fact the name “Dane” is associated with Scandinavian countries. We think it was just a part of the humor that comes with the Great Dane this mistaken identity happened. Here some other funny things about Great Danes.
These dogs give us lots of great things to laugh at. Their inquisitive looks are priceless. They are large enough to be a member of the conga line dance and they seem to enjoy stomping on sunlight. And, you get these great nuggets:
- Relaxing in the most unusual positions.
- Plenty of Great Dane photo bombs.
- They know where you are at every move because they watch every move you make.
- They can be frightened at silly things.
- They make the best cartoon dogs!
- AKC Breed Popularity: Ranks 16 of 193
- Height: 30-32 inches (male), 28-30 inches (female)
- Weight: 140-175 pounds (male), 110-140 pounds (female)
- Life Expectancy: 7-10 years
- Group: Working Group
Surprisingly, this breed comes in 7 colors. The most common color is Fawn. Here are the AKC-approved colors you might see on a Dane:
- Fawn (or a yellow gold)
- Brindle (base color is yellow gold brindled with black cross stripes)
- Blue (pure steel-blue)
- Harlequin (white base color with black patches distributed)
- Black (glossy solid)
- Mantle (black and white)
- Merle (pale to dark gray with black patches)
Top Health Problems of Great Danes
Giant dogs sometimes have giant health problems. The Great Dane’s main health issues are in part due to their size.
The unfortunate fact is that really no dog lives nearly long enough. The Great Dane’s lifespan is even shorter than an average sized dog. According the AKC, Great Danes live between 8 – 10 years. It is very important to be sure that you keep your Great Dane as healthy as possible with key preventative measures. But first, here are the key health problems to know about when it comes to your Great Dane:
- Bloat. Unfortunately, Great Danes and other giant breed dogs are 5 – 8 times more likely to suffer from bloat because they have a high height-to-width ratio. Bloat is a complex, gastric issue and is a medical and surgical emergency. Hopefully this never happens to your Great Dane, but here is information about the disease from AKC to know just in case.
- Musculoskeletal Diseases. Great Danes often grow too quickly, which makes them susceptible to diseases such as hypertrophic osteodystrophyand osteochondrosis. Breeds at greatest risk for hypertrophic osteodystrophy include Boxers, Great Danes, Irish setters and Weimaraners.
- Canine Hip Dysplasia. With most Giant breeds, there are a variety of joint issues. The Great Dane is no different. There will be joint problems arise, especially in the hip joints. This causes pain and impacts their mobility.
- Osteoarthritis, or arthritis. Because of the joint problems already mentioned, Great Danes are at high risk for osteoarthritis. Arthritis is as painful for dogs as it is for humans. And just like humans, there is something you can do about it. Learn more about arthritis in dogs and check out all the risk factors.
Keys to Dane’s Great Health
The health problems most encounter with a Great Dane can be protected against just by planning. Here are the top ways to keep your Great Dane healthy:
This is said for all dogs, but is certainly true for giant breeds. Great Danes grow fast but their metabolism slows more than most breeds, even other giant breed dogs. Feeding your dog an appropriate diet is very important. Obesity is a serious health risk for giant breed dogs.
Regular exercise will help keep your Great Dane happy and healthy and living longer. Because of their size, they need to be able to move around and go for occasional walks. Of course, they have nice long legs which are perfect for the runners out there.
As most of the Great Dane’s health problems are joint-related, plan to do what you can to protect and strengthen their joints safely and naturally by adding a joint supplement to their diet. Most dogs need joint supplements by age 8. But since the Great Dane’s life expectancy is much shorter, they should begin taking joint supplements even earlier, by age 4 or earlier. Joint supplements can promote joint health and cartilage development which keep dogs active and youthful, longer.
Unfortunately, there is nothing that can prevent bloat as scientists still do not know exactly what causes it.
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Famous Great Danes
There is a reason there are so many famous Great Danes that became beloved canine comic heroes: they are so lovable! Here are our favorite celebrity Great Danes:
Scooby Doo. Jinkies! Sccooby Doo turned 50 this year! The famous canine detective debuted on CBS on September 13, 1969 with the Mystery Machine gang and has been developed into a successful franchise. Do you remember this classic intro?
Astro from the Jetsons. Even in the year 2062, Great Danes are popular because the Jetsons had a lovely blue Dane named Astro! Interestingly, Astro and Scooby Doo were both voiced by Don Messick, a veteran voice actor. There were only 24 episodes of the Jetsons when it aired in primetime on ABC from September 1962 - March 1963. Syndication resurrected the series and it was revived to add an additional 51 episodes from 1985 - 1987.
Marmaduke. A messy but lovable Great Dane, Marmaduke was introduced to the world in 1954 in the Sunday comic strips in newspaper syndicates. Marmaduke is still in some newspapers to this day. Marmaduke came to life in 2010 as a motion picture with the comical life of his family, the Winslows, as they moved across the country.
Great Dane Meet-ups
The Great Dane Lovers community is simply GREAT! There are many dog-appreciation groups, but the Great Dane groups are a very involved group. In Australia, the group Great Dane Lovers meet up on a regular basis. Great Danes love to socialize and so do their pet parents. This very active group is based in Melbourne, Australia and they encourage getting together to help their dogs get exercise, educate the pet owners on their breed and enjoy each other's company. You do not have to live in Australia to be a member: just have a Great Dane!
No matter where you live, be sure to get out with your Great Dane and enjoy quality time together. These adorable breeds have a fun personality and everyone falls in love with their easy-going demeanor. Every day is a GREAT day with a Great Dane! Now just be sure to keep them protected, happy and healthy as you go through life with the laughs they provide.