Whether your dog is a purebred Great Dane, or a Great Dane mix, learning about their breed can explain a lot about your pet’s personality, habits and overall health. Or maybe you're looking to adopt a Great Dane and want to do a bit of research first — we can help with that.
Great Danes are known for being gentle giants (emphasis on their extra large size) — they grow quickly and require a lot of room to roam. But, their large size is just one interesting trait of this breed.
Even as puppies, Great Danes are often taller and weigh more than other breeds. They usually experience growth spurts every couple of months until they're full grown, Dr. Aliya McCullough, Fetch by The Dodo's on-staff veterinarian, says. At 3 months old, they often weigh about 25 to 45 pounds and are around 17 to 23 inches tall. Fast forward 3 months, and they'll probably weigh about 65 to 100 pounds and can be up to 33 inches tall. At 9 months, the average Great Dane is between 85 to 125 pounds and up to 35 inches tall.
It takes Great Danes between 18 to 24 months to reach full maturity — and as adults, they end up to be around 28 to 32 inches tall and weigh between 110 to 175 pounds.
This dog breed comes in many different color combinations, including black, black and white, blue, brindle, fawn, harlequin, merle, silver, white and mantle, Dr. McCullough explains. Even though Great Danes' fur is short, smooth and shiny, the breed does shed.
Fun fact: No dog breed is completely hypoallergenic. So, if you struggle with pet-related allergies, you'll want to talk to your doctor before snuggling up with a Great Dane.
According to Dr. McCullough, Great Danes are known for being gentle, playful and affectionate. So if you’re a parent to multiple pets or have a busier social life, a Great Dane would be a great addition to your family (especially if they’re well-socialized). And when it comes to socializing this dog breed, it’s a plus if that time includes exercise.
“Great Danes require enough space to move around and a moderate level of exercise,” Dr. McCullough shares.
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Great Danes are susceptible to gastric dilatation and volvulus (GDV), hip dysplasia, hypothyroidism, dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) and cancer called osteosarcoma, Dr. McCullough explains. But knowing more about these conditions (including their symptoms) can help you have an informed conversation about prevention at your Great Dane’s first vet visit.
GDV, also called bloat, happens when a dog’s stomach fills with air and twists on itself. “Symptoms of GDV include abdominal pain, profound lethargy, decreased appetite, retching, weakness and collapse,” Dr. McCullough shares.
If your pet has GDV, treatment often includes surgery, followed by intensive nursing care.
When one (or both) of a dog’s hip joints becomes loose, they are struggling with hip dysplasia, Dr. McCullough explains. You can spot this condition when a dog limps, has a swaying or bunny-hopping gait, has deterioration in their rear leg muscles, has difficulty lying down or getting up and has a reluctance to jump or use the stairs, she adds. However, not all dogs show apparent signs of hip dysplasia.
Treatment for this condition depends on the severity of your pup’s condition. Some common treatment methods include pain medications, joint supplements, steroids, acupuncture, surgery and physical or laser therapy.
“Hypothyroidism is a condition in which there isn’t enough thyroid hormone due to destruction of the thyroid gland by the immune system or for unknown reasons,” Dr. McCullough says. “The thyroid hormones control the body’s metabolism.”
Common signs of a pup struggling with hypothyroidism are weight gain, lethargy, decreased appetite, hair loss, skin darkening, weakness or upset stomach. This condition is often treated with a synthetic thyroid hormone medication, Dr. McCullough adds.
“DCM is a heart condition in which the heart muscle is abnormally leading to heart dysfunction and failure,” Dr. McCullough explains. “Symptoms include cough, rapid or difficulty breathing, weakness, decreased appetite, weight loss, syncope, which is a temporary loss of consciousness or fainting and, in some cases, sudden death may be the only sign.”
Heart medications can help manage this condition by lessening symptoms and decreasing arrhythmias, which are dangerous abnormal heart rhythms.
Osteosarcoma is a type of bone cancer that can cause sudden or slow progression of limping and firm swelling in the affected areas. This cancer is usually treated by amputating the affected body part coupled with chemotherapy, Dr. McCullough shares.
Great Danes (and Great Dane mixes) are commonly found in animal shelters, Dr. McCullough says. We think every pet deserves a home and encourage you to check out our shelter partners if you’d like to welcome a Great Dane into your home.
The Dig, Fetch by The Dodo’s expert-backed editorial, answers all of the questions you forget to ask your vet or are too embarrassed to ask at the dog park. We help make sure you and your best friend have more good days, but we’re there on bad days, too. Fetch provides the most comprehensive pet insurance and is the only provider recommended by the #1 animal brand in the world, The Dodo.
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