Great Dane Care

The Great Dane is quite an interesting composite: while enormous and imposing in stature, the breed is good-natured, intelligent, and affectionate in temperament. And though these iconic, lovable dogs are popular across the globe, it's surprising how little owners actually know about caring for Great Danes.

Not to worry--that's what this Great Dane Care page is for! Below you'll find plenty of details on raising a Great Dane: puppy care and development, exercise needs, diet and nutrition, and more are covered here. If you know of a Great Dane that needs a home, by all means adopt the gentle giant--and keep reading!

Great Dane Exercise Needs

Because they're athletic and muscular, Great Dane exercise needs are pretty high--but the breed is not super-energetic, so they won't need an extraordinary amount. GDs will need a variety of activities that condition them physically (walking, fetch) and stimulate them mentally (games, canine sports). Adults 18 months or older make great jogging and bicycling companions as well.

Specifically how much exercise does a Great Dane need each day? Adults will require about an hour of proper exercise on a daily basis. You can start exercising your GD puppy at about four months old by taking it on short walks, then increasing the walks' length as the puppy grows.

It should be noted, though, that Great Dane puppy exercise takes some special consideration as the pup reaches adolescence and then adulthood. First, puppies younger than 12 months old shouldn't do much jumping, running, or navigating of stairs, as these can injure their swiftly-growing joints and bones. After a year, adolescents can start doing some jumping and running, but owners should "ease" into those activities until the dog is 18 months. All that said, growing, hyperactive puppies/adolescents will need as much or more exercise than adults get! Perhaps a good routine is to follow walks with some playtime in the yard.

Some other precautions to observe regarding Great Dane exercise requirements: deep-chested dogs like GDs are susceptible to bloat, an often-fatal gastric condition usually caused by a dog "wolfing" its food too quickly. The condition often occurs when the dog eats just before or after exercising, so it's best not to exercise your GD for an hour before or two hours after eating. A leash is also necessary when you take your GD out in public. Though friendly, these dogs will often run off after interesting sights, smells, and sounds unless controlled by a leash. And finally: GDs get cold easily, so it's best not to exercise them in freezing temperatures.

Safeguards aside, owners need to exercise their Great Danes every single day. Without consistent activity these dogs will turn destructive and bark excessively--so regular exercise will be great for both the dog's and your own peace of mind. A few Great Dane exercise ideas:

  • Walking: Two 20-minute walks per day is a good target
  • Jogging/Bicycling: 15 minute jogs or bike rides are great; make sure the GD is at least 18 months old
  • Fetch/Frisbee: Great Danes love chasing a ball, stick, or Frisbee
  • Tug-of-War: Good indoor activity; use a rope or old towel
  • Canine Sports: These dogs can excel in obedience or agility trials, flyball, and other events
  • Hiking: Excellent bonding activity; your GD can even carry the backpack

When indoors, it's good to give your GD access to balls or toys that allow the dog to burn excess energy. It's also recommended that owners have a regular exercise schedule for their GDs, such as walks in the morning and evening and a play period in the afternoon.

Great Dane Maintenance

In terms of shedding and drooling, these dogs need a fairly high amount of care. Great Danes' shedding is moderate, and profuse during shedding season; Great Dane drooling is a moderate issue as well.

Exactly how much does a Great Dane shed? For most of the year, these dogs shed a fair amount--but during the fall and spring shedding seasons, they shed quite a lot. Owners can brush their GDs 2-3 times per week with a bristle brush to minimize the Great Dane shedding problem; hair cleanup--vacuuming the floors and lint rollers on clothes and furniture--will be necessary from time to time. (Brushing and cleanup will obviously be required more often during shedding season.)

And a Great Dane will drool in anticipation of food, after drinking water, and if especially excited or nervous. Owners can keep old rags in rooms where the dog spends time (especially near its food bowl!) to use to clean up that Great Dane slobber--and if the Great Dane is drooling excessively, owners can tie a bandanna or towel around the dog's neck to keep its neck and chest from getting too covered with saliva.

Great Dane Diet

As a giant-sized, fast-growing breed, the Great Dane diet will need to include plenty of animal proteins and carbohydrates for energy, vitamins and minerals for digestive and immune health, and omega fatty acids for coat and skin wellness. This means the best Great Dane dog food is premium dry kibble, as it has balanced portions of the above-listed ingredients. It's also important that owners give their GDs food formulated for giant breeds, especially GD puppies and adolescents. These specific foods are tailored to this breed's dietary needs, and don't affect young GDs' growth processes. (For the same reason, veterinarians advise against giving these dogs dietary supplements like calcium.)

And a couple of premium food brands deserve special mention. One is Gentle Giants Dog Food, which supplies your GD with the perfect balance of nutrients. (The Gentle Giants company, interestingly enough, was started by actor Burt Ward, who played Robin in the original Batman TV series.) There have been many a great Gentle Giant Dog Food review--and for those looking to purchase Gentle Giants Dog Food, Walmart and other superstores carry the products. Another noteworthy brand is Royal Canin, whose Royal Canin Great Dane food line is tailored specifically for this breed.

Regardless of brand, owners will definitely need to stock up on dog food for Great Danes! Just how much do Great Danes eat? An adult GD, depending on its age, size, and activity level, will need as much as eight cups of premium dry food per day, divided into two meals. Portions of food for Great Dane puppy dogs is actually only slightly less: again depending on age, about six cups per day, divided into three meals (not two) until nine months of age.

For more info on feeding a Great Dane puppy through to maturity, see this Great Dane feeding chart:

Great Dane Feeding Chart
Dog AgeDog WeightFood TypeAmountFrequency3 Months20 lbsDry (Puppy formula)1 cup3x/day5 Months40 lbsDry1½ cups3x/day7 Months80 lbsDry2 cups3x/day9 Months110 lbsDry3½ cups2x/day12 Months130 lbsDry* (Puppy/Adult)4 cups2x/day15 Months+150 lbsDry (Adult formula)4 cups2x/day

*--Around this time, transition to adult food by first mixing in a bit of adult formula with the puppy formula. Over the course of a week, with each meal add a bit more adult food to the mixture, until the dog is eating it entirely.

If possible, try and stick to the above-listed portions. Though these dogs don't have a particularly high tendency for obesity, GDs can certainly become overweight if constantly overfed (and under-exercised)--and a fat Great Dane will have numerous health problems and an even shorter lifespan. You can help control your GD's weight by establishing consistent feeding and exercise schedules, by not feeding the dog table scraps (and easy on the Great Dane treats!), and by not leaving food in the dog's bowl all the time, but instead measuring the portions and picking the bowl up after meals.

If you're concerned that your GD is overweight, try reducing the dog's food consumption by one-fourth, and dding an extra walk or play period to its daily exercise schedule.

Living Environment

Technically speaking, the Great Dane is both an indoor and an outdoor dog. While GDs need a good bit of daily outdoor exercise, they'll be much happier living inside with the human family members they love so much. And this means Great Danes in apartments aren't a good idea! Confined to such a small space, a Great Dane in an apartment will be like a bull in a china shop, knocking over and running into everything. For obvious reasons, these dogs are best suited to large homes with fenced yards.

Another consideration for the owner of a Great Dane: temperature. While GDs will be okay in hot weather, Great Danes and cold weather aren't a good match, because these dogs get cold surprisingly easily. Dogs of this breed will be most comfortable live in moderate to warm climates.

Great Dane Grooming

Read the grooming requirements for Great Danes including coat care and other maintenance.

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About this Article

Authored by:Dog-Learn
Updated:May 17, 2019