The Magnificent (But Goofy) Great Dane

According to the AKC Great Danes should be friendly, courageous, and powerful dogs. Ask any Great Dane owner and they are likely to add goofy, needy, and stubborn.

Great Dane Size

If you have never seen a Great Dane in real life, prepare to be impressed. These are magnificent dogs, with males topping 30 inches and averaging 120 lbs (54 kgs) and females topping 28 inches and 100 lbs (46 kgs).

As imposing and powerful as the Great Dane is, it’s also known to be friendly and good-natured. In fact, one of the terms often used to describe Great Danes is … goofy. Despite their size, they are just as prone to zoomies as any other dog. Unless you’ve ever been in the same house as a Dane-size zoomy, you have no idea of the absolute chaos that can ensue. 
Suffice it to say that the day you get a Great Dane, all your precious crystal, antique furniture, and heirloom china will get stored in the attic and will never see the light of day again. 
goofy great dane

What are Danes Like With Other Dogs and Pets?

Great Danes are generally good with other pets too. If not socialized as puppies, some Danes can exhibit situational aggression toward other dogs but taking steps to expose your young Great Dane to other dogs under controlled circumstances makes this much less likely.
Interestingly, Great Dane owners sometimes report that though their own dogs are pacific, other dogs seem to target them at dog parks or on walks. This is likely due to the size of the Dane making the other dogs nervous. Again, early socializing equips dogs with the life skills to de-escalate situations like this more often than not.
Even the tiniest of kittens will find no intended threat from their enormous pack mate. However, an exuberant Great Dane puppy can easily forget his size and trample on fragile smaller pets so always supervise playtime and ensure that your smaller pets have an escape hatch to slip through if they are feeling overwhelmed.  That can be as simple as a cat-wide grill on a window or door. 
When they are raised around other pets, Great Danes are good with them too. You can find many videos on Youtube of Great Danes with kittens. In the video below an adult Dane is playing very gently with a tiny Yorkie. A Great Dane puppy would likely be less careful, as they don’t seem to realize just how big they are.

Do Great Danes Make Good Family Dogs?

While yes, these gentle giants make excellent family companions, you must always take into account the Dane size. They’re usually patient and good with children, but they’re also big clumsy lugs a lot of the time. So supervision, especially around little kids and the elderly is always going to be necessary.
The sweetest Great Dane can easily knock a child or pensioner over completely by accident. Speaking of potential accidents, a Great Dane’s strong, whippy tail is about the same level as a grown man’s family jewels. You have been warned.
It’s not only the tail you have to watch out for either. Those feet are huge. You’ll know if your Dane steps on your toes. And if you get a rambunctious head butt in the shin, you will have a bruise for days.
Great Dane Puppy

Do Great Danes Need A Large Backyard?

A large house with a big, walled garden is the ideal scenario for any of the large dog breeds, but Great Danes do surprisingly well in apartments. They do need daily exercise but two good walks for a total of around an hour a day, with additional play and training time for physical and mental stimulation would be enough. There will always be the occasional energy hound who needs more but these dogs are usually considered to require moderate activity.
What they need more than a large backyard is you. Danes are very attached to their people so a small apartment is just fine as long as they get plenty of exercise and attention from their human family. 

The Drawbacks of Living with a Great Dane

great dane mom and pup

You’d probably be surprised how many dane owners decide that one is just not enough. This dog breed is so addictive it should come with a warning.  Once you share your life with a Great Dane, you’ll be surprised how easily you will convince yourself to add another to the family. Before you know it you are the local crazy Dane dad.

You might not find it written in any list of Great Dane breed characteristics and traits, but it has to be said that they are farty dogs. And oh, the slobber! Just like with the Dogue de Bordeaux, another of the Big Doggos, with a Great Dane in the house, you’ll get in the habit of having slobber cloths handy at strategic points throughout your home.


They are also part velcro. Wherever you are in the house,  there’s a Dane-shaped shadow right next to you. Once you get your Dane, you will never be alone again. And that means not on the sofa, not in your bed, and not in the toilet.

And did we mention goofy? There’s a good reason that Scooby Doo was based on a Great Dane. They are Scooby silly, scatty, and they can be skittish too – scared of a lollipop stick

Tips for first-time Great Dane owners:

GreatbDane in Fall leaves

Training and socialization:

Great Danes are quite sensitive and emotional and they do better with positive training. Start socializing Great Dane pups as early as possible. Be consistent, and gently firm with the training. Danes are intelligent and eager to please, but they can also be stubborn if not properly trained.


Great Danes have a lot of energy and need plenty of exercise to stay healthy and happy. A daily walk and playtime in a securely fenced yard will help them burn off energy and avoid destructive behavior.


Great Danes have a high metabolism. They do well on a high-quality dog food that is appropriate for their size and energy level. They also grow very quickly when they are pups, so need food formulated for large-breed puppies. Note that you can use a portion of your dog’s daily food portion for training treats.

Great Dane Health Issues:

One big drawback of the Great Dane that all owners will agree on, is they have too short lifespan. Great Danes have a lifespan of only around 7-10 years.

They are prone to bloat, (Gastric Dilation – Volvulus) a painful and potentially fatal condition that requires immediate surgical intervention.

Other conditions affecting Great Danes, include dilated cardiomyopathy, hip dysplasia, osteoarthritis and thyroid conditions.

When ready to buy your big doggo, check that the Great Dane breeder you have chosen is doing pre-breeding genetic health tests on prospective breeding pairs.

Although that is no guarantee that your dog will not develop any of these conditions, it reduces the likelihood that they will develop.


Great Danes have a short, shiny coat that requires a brush once a week or so, to keep it in top condition. use over them for hints.

Finding Your Great Dane

If you are not set on getting a puppy, you can research Great Dane rescue shelters in your area. If you are not quite ready for a lifetime commitment to your own Great Dane but have some space, time and love to spare, you might also consider fostering a dog from a breed rescue.

Don’t expect either the shelters or breeders to make it easy for you to adopt. If they do not ask you a ton of questions about your fitness and ability to look after one of their dogs, they are not a good place to find your four-legged friend. These people are rescuing or breeding Great Danes because they love the breed. They are likely tired to the back teeth of stories about bad owners, and they will vet you because they want their dogs to go to a good forever home.

Great Dane Breed History

The Great Dane originated in Germany during the 1600s. They were originally bred from Mastiff-type dogs to hunt wild boar as well as other big game. Over time, the breed was bred for size and strength, eventually leading to what we would now recognize as the modern Great Dane.