Great Danes are amongst a group of breeds classed as ‘Category Two’ by The Kennel Club. These are breeds of dog that have been highlighted as having ‘points of concern’ – visible features which, if exaggerated, might potentially affect the breed in the future and cause health and welfare concerns.
Great Danes are a member of the ‘Working’ breed group. Working breed dogs were bred to become guard and search and rescue dogs. Breeds in this group are specialists in their work.
Great Danes are typically very gentle, loving dogs who, given the right socialisation as a puppy, will get on with all those around them, other pets and children included. They need grooming just once a week to keep their coats in good condition.
Breed-related health problems:
Owners are, understandably, upset when their dog develops a health problem linked to its breed. Often they wish they’d known what problems the breed was prone to have. The potential health problems that Great Danes are prone to include:
- Gastric Dilatation Volvulus (GDV) – often known as ‘bloat’, this is a condition where the stomach twists, trapping the contents and gases. This is an emergency and requires urgent veterinary attention. It’s often seen in large, deep-chested breeds.
- Hip dysplasia – hip joint laxity as a result of poor development, which will eventually lead to arthritis.
- Elbow dysplasia - elbow joint laxity as a result of poor development, which will eventually lead to arthritis.
- Cardiomyopathy – enlarged heart due to degeneration of the heart muscle.
- Osteosarcoma – malignant bone cancer.
- Panosteitis – a painful, inflammatory bone disease.
- Wobbler Syndrome (Cervical Spondylopathy) - a deformity or instability of the bones in the neck which results in the compression of the spinal cord and weakness of the hind legs.
- Eyelid problems – such as entropion and ectropion – can occur due to excessive skin over the face and eyes. This skin causes the eyelids to droop either downwards, or in towards the eye, where the skin rubs and irritates the eye, causing problems.
- Hypothyroidism – a condition in which there’s a decrease in thyroid hormone production.
- Hypertrophic osteodystrophy – developmental bone disease causing painful swelling in limbs
For some conditions, there are screening programmes available through the British Veterinary Association (BVA) and the Kennel Club. The Canine Health Schemes allow breeders to screen for a range of inherited diseases, so it’s a good idea to check the parents of any puppy you’re looking to rehome have been screened under these schemes. We’d also recommend discussing the medical history of your potential puppy’s parents and grandparents, and think very carefully before taking on a dog with any of the health conditions listed above evident in the family line.
You can find out more about the Canine Health Schemes on the BVA's website.
Great Danes are giant dogs with moderately high energy levels requiring plenty of exercise – ideally over 2 hours per day. You may have to put in some extra effort to train a Great Dane, but it will be worth it. To learn more about reward-based training for your dog, visit our dog behaviour page where you can pick up plenty of tips to help you and your canine companion better understand each other.
Estimated lifetime cost:
The likely lifetime costs for a Great Dane are based on estimates calculated using current market prices and include:
- Initial costs of the purchase of the pet
- First vaccinations and booster vaccinations
- Pet insurance
- Flea treatments
The list above does not include veterinary costs if your pet becomes sick or injured, so these average lifetime costs could be even higher.
Insure your Great Dane with PDSA:
1 in 3 pets need vet treatment each year and vet bills can come to hundreds of pounds. PDSA Pet Insurance can give you peace of mind when your pet is poorly, especially for breeds like Great Danes that are prone to certain conditions. PDSA Pet Insurance offers:
- 5 Star Pet Insurance* - from the vet experts
- 4 levels of cover to suit you
- Monthly payment at no extra cost
*Defaqto 5 Star rating applies to our Plus and Premier policies only. Defaqto’s Star Ratings provide an independent assessment of the quality of financial products.
By insuring your Great Dane with PDSA you’ll also be helping to provide vet care to some of the UK’s neediest pets.