Great Dane

19 January 2023 - 9 min read
Great Dane

Vital stats

  • Breed type: Working
  • Size: 65 - 90 cm
  • Weight: 44 - 92 kg
  • Lifespan: 7 - 10 years


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The Great Dane also known as the “Apollo of Dogs” — is an energetic dog with a larger-than-life personality. Commonly referred to as a gentle giant, the Great Dane originates from Germany and not Denmark, as some may think and is believed to have been around for over 400 years. The Great Dane descends from Mastiff-like dogs originally bred by German nobles to protect country estates and hunt wild boar.

Despite their towering size, this breed is popular amongst families due to their affectionate and sociable personalities.

How much does Great Dane insurance cost?

How much is a Great Dane?

If you’re planning on welcoming a new Great Dane puppy into your home, it will cost on average between £1,000-£2,000 in the UK. In rare cases, Great Danes can fetch much higher prices, with some listed upwards of £25,000!

How much is a Great Dane to insure?

In 2022, the average cost to insure a Great Dane with ManyPets was £905.79, with their average vet visit costing around £X making them one of the pricer breeds to insure.

In 2022, the average cost to insure a Great Danes with ManyPets was £811.55. Our average dog insurance cost for all our breeds was £412.25, so Great Danes cost almost double to insure.

Great Dane sitting

Great Dane training

Gentle, sweet and affectionate, Great Danes love to play. Because of their desire to please, they can be quite easy to train, but they need early socialisation with people, sights, sounds and experiences to become well-adjusted adult dogs.

The Great Dane loves to be where family is and will bond with everyone — they’ll even get on with strangers. Despite their large stature, Great Danes get along well with small children; they’re gentle and more patient than some smaller breeds. They will generally get along with other animals especially if they’ve been raised together.

Because of their size, Great Danes are best suited for people who have a spacious house and large garden — enough for them to freely move around without knocking anything over.

Breed bad habits

One of the main issues that Great Dane owners face is destructive chewing. Lack of exercise or proper mental stimulation can lead to them becoming bored and looking for ways to entertain themselves; chewing is one option. The best way to combat this is to redirect them from an early age to chew toys and treats and let them know that these are the only items they can chew on.

Great Danes also tend to pull on their lead which can cause a little bit of difficulty. Since they’re such a big dog, Great Danes can often outweigh their owners and pull them over. Because of this, it’s important to teach your puppy proper lead-walking behaviour and that not pulling is the fastest way to get to where they want to go. While training is essential for all dogs, proper lead training is even more crucial when your dog has the potential to outweigh you.

Training tips

Great Danes are big dogs that need a moderate amount of physical exercise despite their size. Proper lead training is essential as these gentle giants often won’t comprehend their size, so a quick pull on a lead can be extremely dangerous to an owner.

They also make great guard dogs, and while they’re considered a very friendly breed, they’re more than adept at protecting your home.

Great Dane gender differences


Like most dogs, female Great Danes mature faster than males and are thought to be easier to train. They’re also much better at concentrating, and their attention span lasts longer during training sessions. Females like their alone time and will often seek out places to relax by themselves. However, they do still enjoy spending time with their owners and are known to cuddle up and enjoy bonding with them.

Female Great Danes also respond well to positive reinforcement, but they can be more serious than males and will listen closely to their owner's commands.

Female size information

  • Height: 71-84 cm

  • Weight: 45-59 kg

  • Size: Large


Male Great Danes can be extremely affectionate and clingy. They constantly seek validation from their owner and crave human companionship throughout the day. Male Great Danes can sometimes play rough because they aren’t fully aware of their size, but overall they’re quite easy-going dogs that love to be a part of the family.

Similarly to females, males are also eager to please, and training won’t be difficult when using rewards and treats as favourable reinforcement. Male Great Danes are very social dogs and will usually be happy to meet new people and other dogs.

Male size information

  • Height: 76-90 cm

  • Weight: 45-59 kg

  • Size: Large

Great Dane breed health

Great Danes can be relatively healthy dogs with the proper amount of exercise and diet.

Life expectancy

Great Danes have a shorter lifespan in comparison to medium and smaller-sized dogs. The average lifespan of a Great Dane is typically between 8-10 years old, however, some will only live to around 6 or 7.

Common health problems

Because of their size, Great Danes can be prone to quite a few health conditions that can shorten their lifespan. Some of the most common health problems that they face include:

  • Bloat (Gastric Torsion, Gastric Dilatation & Volvulus, GDV) — Great Danes are particularly susceptible to bloat. This dangerous and often fatal condition results in the stomach distending to a dangerous level, and in some cases twisting and cutting off the blood supply. While veterinarians are still unsure of the primary cause, potential risk factors include feeding one large meal a day, eating rapidly, drinking large volumes of water after eating or exercising vigorously around eating. If a dog suffers from bloat once, it’s more likely to get it again. Because a GDV can be fatal if not addressed as soon as possible, it’s important owners recognize signs and seek veterinary care immediately. Retching (acting as though they are coughing/vomiting but nothing comes up), panting, pacing, inability to settle, and even unwillingness to rise may indicate a problem. In cases of full GDV, surgery is required to fix the twist in the stomach and then stitch it to the abdominal wall to prevent repeat episodes. The sooner a GDV is seen for treatment, the higher likelihood of a successful outcome.

  • Bone Cancer — Sometimes known as osteosarcoma, it’s the most common type of bone tumour found in dogs. Although it’s usually found in middle-aged or elderly dogs, due to their size, a Great Dane can develop this condition when they’re younger. The first sign of bone cancer is often lameness, but your furry friend will need an X-ray to determine if cancer is strongly suspected. Osteosarcoma is usually treated aggressively, with the amputation of the limb and chemotherapy.

  • Hip Dysplasia — This genetic condition is where the femur doesn’t fit properly into the hip bone. Because of this, it makes it hard for dogs to walk, so they’ll show signs of lameness in one or both of their rear legs. X-ray screening is the best way to diagnose the problem. These pets may be managed medically, but in some severe cases surgery may be an option.

  • Dilated Cardiomyopathy — With this progressive disease, the heart muscle gradually stretches and becomes weak, slowly losing the ability to pump blood efficiently. While genetics does play a big part in the risk of a Great Dane developing this, nutrition can also be a factor. Regular vet visits are helpful in picking up early changes such as a heart murmur that may suggest further testing as well as a visit to a veterinary cardiologist is warranted. Watching your pup for signs of cough, weakness, lethargy or exercise intolerance may indicate a heart issue.

  • Cervical myelopathy — Also known as Wobblers Syndrome, this neurological disease of the neck is usually seen in large and giant dog breeds, like the Great Dane. This condition affects the cervical spine and the term ‘wobbler’ is used as it describes the way in which these dogs will walk. They may walk with their head down, which is usually a sign that they’re in pain. In more advanced stages of the disease, the problem becomes obvious in all four legs, they may appear weak and even buckle over with their front legs. Dogs who have Wobblers Syndrome can be treated medically — with anti-inflammatory drugs — or surgically.

Vet tips

“Admittedly, Great Danes are one of my favorite breeds. They have the loveliest personalities and are incredibly fun to work with,” says Dr Kirsten Ronngren DVM MRCVS.

“We adore these gentle giants and want them around as long as possible. Great Danes have some extremely serious conditions they are prone to, so I encourage owners to become familiar with signs of issues like bloat (GDV), heart disease, and lameness or limping so that if a problem does arise they know when to seek care.”

Great Dane colours and variants

Colours and breed variants

The gentle giant of the canine world, the Great Dane is actually a mix of three other breeds; the Mastiff, the Greyhound and the Irish Wolfhound.

The breed standard colours for the Great Dane are:

  • Black

  • Black & White

  • Blue

  • Brindle

  • Fawn

  • Harlequin

  • Merle

  • Silver

  • White

  • Mantle

Caring for a Great Dane

Great Danes are large but loyal dogs who love to have their family around for company. Like most dogs, they’ll get upset if they’re left alone for an extended period of time.


Great Danes are very active and playful dogs who need plenty of exercise to keep them fit and healthy. Since they’re such large dogs, they need a lot of space both inside and outside the house.

To burn off all of their excess energy and help keep them in shape, Great Danes need at least one to two hours of exercise daily. It’s best to spread this out over the day and combine walks with off-lead exercise in a secure area.


The right amount of food for your Great Dane will depend on various factors such as their dietary requirements, health issues and how active they are. To keep them healthy, it’s best to consult a vet to ensure they get the necessary nutrients.

Remember that Great Danes will eat more than a smaller dog would due to their size.

They’ll continue to grow physically as a puppy until they’re around 18-24 months old. You’ll need to adjust their diet progressively to accommodate their changing needs. It’s important to divide their meals into manageable portions throughout the day rather than feeding them as one big meal.

For adult Great Danes, it’s recommended to split their food into at least two feedings per day, as opting for one large meal isn’t ideal for big dogs. Always make sure to measure out your dog's food and do not free-feed. Stick to set feeding times so their digestive system falls into a natural feeding routine.


Great Danes are notoriously avid sleepers, with puppies sleeping up to 18-20 hours a day. As for adults, they’ll spend around around 12-14 hours of the day snoozing. For elderly Great Danes, it’s not unusual for them to sleep for 16-18 hours every single day.

Healthcare tips

“Great Danes need a structured diet and exercise plan,” says Dr. Kirsten. “Since they’re a giant breed, it’s crucial that they keep a healthy body condition to avoid excessive undue stress on their joints.”

Great Dane temperament

Despite their large frame, the Great Dane is one of the most affectionate, kind and playful dogs in the canine world. Because they have a protective nature when it comes to their family, it’s vital that your Great Dane is taught not to be aggressive. Good early socialisation and training will help them develop a well mannered and gentle temperament.

How good are Great Danes with kids?

Great Danes know it’s important to be cautious around small children. But, because of their large stature, they may unintentionally swing their tail and hurt children who may be too close to them.

Because of this, Great Danes should be socialised from an early age with older children who can properly understand that the Dane isn’t purposefully trying to hurt them — but that it’s something that isn’t under the breed's control. Getting everyone used to their mighty size is a must!

How affectionate are Great Danes?

Danes are highly affectionate dogs and at times, will consider themselves to be ‘lap dogs’ despite their size!

They can show their affection in many ways, but mostly they’ll:

  • Wag their tail

  • Indicate they want belly rubs

  • Lean against you

  • Follow you around

  • Bring you their favourite toys

  • Lick you

  • ‘Smile’ at you

How territorial are Great Danes?

Since they were originally bred to be hunting dogs, the Great Dane has a high guarding instinct. They can be highly protective of their property, and if a person or animal they don’t recognise threatens their home or space, they’ll defend themselves.

How friendly are Great Danes with other dogs?

Great Danes have a reputation for being friendly with other dog breeds. This is true regardless of the size of the other dog.

In most cases, it’s best to keep your Great Dane on a lead when interacting with other dogs, as they could accidentally injure them due to their size. Most Danes don’t recognise their size and strength, which can sometimes result in accidents.

How much will Great Danes tolerate other pets?

When properly introduced or raised alongside, a Great Dane can get on quite well with other pets in the household.

Small dogs or other pets should be introduced with care and proper supervision, as the Dane can unintentionally hurt it when they’re trying to play.

How much attention do Great Danes need?

Great Danes form such a strong bond with their owners that they may not cope with being alone for periods of time.

You should never leave a Great Dane alone for more than four hours since they crave attention and human interaction. This breed won’t do very well with owners who work long hours and may be out of the house for a large period of the day.

Great Dane coat and grooming

Great Danes require a bit of grooming but are generally clean and easy to care for.

Coat type

The Great Dane has a short, smooth coat that doesn’t do well in cold weather.

Since they can spend a lot of their day outside, they can get dirty quite quickly, so making sure their coat is clean after every adventure is important.

Shedding levels

Even though they only have a single coat, the Dane is considered to be a moderate to heavy shedder. Part of the reason for this is their sheer size.

During shedding season twice a year, their hair loss will be more profuse, so daily brushing is recommended.

How often do I need to groom a Great Dane?

Great Danes require regular bathing and grooming; however, this can change depending on how active they are.

They can be washed as frequently as every week up to no longer than every 6 weeks, depending on their activity levels. With this smooth coat breed, regular bathing is essential to minimise shedding and help maintain a healthy coat and skin.

Are Great Danes hypoallergenic?

No, Great Danes are not considered a hypoallergenic dog breed. However, their short coat may cause fewer allergic reactions.

Great Dane bark sound

The Great Dane has a very loud, deep, far-carrying bark and is considered a very vocal breed.

Barking habits

The Great Dane isn’t afraid to use his bark to communicate and will do so for just about any reason. They’ve been known to bark when they’re hungry, bored, lonely, want to exercise or if they spot something out of the ordinary outside.

The breed is naturally communicative and boisterous in their youth, meaning that they can sometimes become easily excited and show this with sharp yaps or a loud bark.

Frequently asked questions about Great Danes

How fast can a Great Dane run?

Great Danes are known to push their bodies but aren’t very good at running long distances. A fully grown Great Dane can reach top speeds of 30 mph.

Are Great Danes smart dogs?

Great Danes can be stubborn, but they are an intelligent breed who learn quickly.