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Great Dane FAQ 2

http://www.ces.clemson.edu/~jshea/faq2.html

edited for html by John Shea (jshea@eng.clemson.edu)

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Disclaimers General Description How big is a Great Dane really? When is a Dane full grown? How much does a Dane eat? What kind of diet is required? How much exercise does a Dane need? What are the grooming requirements? How much room does a Dane need? Where should I keep a Dane? Are Danes good with children? Are they good watchdogs? What is the average lifespan of a Dane? What are the common health problems with Danes? General Health Mainenance History of the Great Dane What colors do Danes come in?

Disclaimers
The following information is intended to provide answers to some of the common questions typically asked about the Great Dane. It is based largely on my own personal experience of owning a Great Dane (two years so far) as well as comments from others who have been involved in the breed for far longer. I have also referred to the following books: The Complete Dog Book Publication of the American Kennel Club The Great Dane by Anna Katharine Nichols. Please remember that the information contained herin is general and based upon personal experiences. There are always exceptions. While I have attempted to remain objective it will probably become obvious that I greatly admire and love this breed. (Return to Table of Contents)

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Great Dane FAQ 2

http://www.ces.clemson.edu/~jshea/faq2.html

General Description
The Great Dane is one of the giant breed of dogs. They are tall and well muscled without being heavy. Their appearance is often described as aristocratic or majestic. Part of the AKC standard reads as follows: "The Great Dane combines in its distinguished appearance dignity, strength and elegance with great size and a powerful, well-formed, smoothly muscled body. He ... must be well balanced ... and is always a unit - the Apollo of dogs. He must be spirited and courageous - never timid. He is friendly and dependable." (Return to Table of Contents)

How big is a Great Dane really? When is a Dane full grown?


According to the AKC standard the male Great Dane should not be less than 30 inches at the shoulder and is preferable that he be 32 inches or more. The female should not be less than 28 inches and is preferable to be 30 inches or more. From what I have seen in the show ring a very correct male of 34 inches can win but most people like larger dogs (a height of 36 inches is an advertising point in the breed magazines). How long it takes a Great Dane to become full grown depends on the breeding with some pedigree lines maturing at about 1 year of age for females and some (many) not maturing until 3 years for males. Full height is often achieved by 18-24 months and weight/musculature by 3 years. The "puppyhood" of a Great Dane usually lasts at least 18 months. They usually settle down from frantic puppy activity levels about 9 months to 1 year and are mentally mature (out of adolescense) between 18 - 28 months. The size of a Great Dane is a two edged sword. Being so big certainly allows you to romp with them to your hearts content and people think twice (or more) before entering the house uninvited. However it does take more effort to travel with a Great Dane and to feed and care for them. Great Danes are easily trainable so obedience and control should never be an issue as long as you are willing to do your part (a personal observation: obedience classes are to train the *people* and to socialize the dog not vice versa). It is up to each person to assess the benefit vs. work equation for this breed (as for any breed.) Except for the travelling point Danes are wonderfully easy to care for in my opinion. (Some males which have very full flews (lips) may be prone to slobber. This is individual dependent and not necessarily characteristic of the breed.) (Return to Table of Contents)

How much does a Dane eat? What kind of diet is required?


This really depends on the type of food you choose to feed (how concentrated it is). Follow the directions on the bag for the weight and condition of your dog. However it is generally recommended that puppy food NOT be fed to this breed. Usually a good quality dog food that is 22-25% protein and 15-18% fat is good. My male was eating 8 cups of food per day from puppy to 2 years of age (in fact a little more from 18 -24 months to get him in show ring condition). This will decrease as they age and the diet may also need to change if needed to keep them in appropriate condition. From what I have been told they feed a lot of raw meat in Europe and some are also doing that in the US. The whole debate on canine diet is ongoing and could cover a FAQ in itself therefore I will not go into it further. If anyone wants they can e-mail me for further discussion. It is important however to feed a Great Dane multiple times a day throughout their life. Danes are susecptible to bloat and torsion so the less stress on the gastrointenstinal tract the better. Puppies are usually fed 4 times a day gradually decreasing to twice

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Great Dane FAQ 2

http://www.ces.clemson.edu/~jshea/faq2.html

a day between 4 to 6 months. For much more information on feeding considerations for Great Danes, see the (Return to Table of Contents)

How much excercise does a Dane need?


A Great Dane needs only a moderate amount of exercise. This amount is less than breeds such as German Sheperd Dogs, Dobermans, Dalmations, and the other active sporting and herding breeds. Usually a walk on a long lead (then they get more exercise than you do by running from here to there smelling everything) or 10 - 15 minutes of chasing a ball, frisbee, or stick per day are sufficient. Of course the more the better. However, it is recommended that you do NOT jog with a Great Dane until they are at least 18 months old (they grow so much so fast that continued strain of this kind could lead to development problems). (Return to Table of Contents)

What are the grooming requirements?


Very minimal grooming is needed. Danes are short haired dogs so there is no required daily brushing, trimming, stripping etc. A bath, nail trim, and teeth cleaning when necessary are all that are needed although a brush will be appreciated especially when doing what little shedding they do. (Return to Table of Contents)

How much room does a Dane need? Where should I keep a Dane?
It is recommended that Great Danes be kept indoors. This is both because of their short hair coat and their disposition. Danes can handle a kennel situation if it is run right and they receive enough attention but really thrive indoors with the family. A Dane should never be left continually outside in the yard (you will have a sick, neurotic dog). Danes are definately part of the family. This does not mean that Danes need constant attention. They can be left in a fenced yard for a sunny afternoon, will curl up at your feet at night, or can be crated at night just as long as they are with you. Many Danes will sleep in another room, especially if there are more than one of them, but of course prefer to be with a member of the family. (I am sure there are many experiences which will prove exceptions to these statements from others but this is my opinion as to what makes a happy Dane!) By the way the crate size for a male Great Dane is 28 inches wide by 36 inches tall by 48 inches long and this is not too big! One other point about this breed is that some individuals do drool (like any giant breed). This is usually only when they are exercising or otherwise overheated. (Return to Table of Contents)

Are Danes good with children? Are Danes good watchdogs?


Danes are very good with children. I would caution that you watch Danes and children when they are together just because a Dane is so big that even just licking a child may knock them over (of course some kids think this is great). Danes are also good watchdogs (even if they can't tell the difference

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Great Dane FAQ 2

http://www.ces.clemson.edu/~jshea/faq2.html

between a doorbell on TV and a real one -grin- ). Of course people think twice before entering a house where the dog is looking back through the peephole at them - grin again-. The Danes I have known also seem to be able to easily distinguish between those you readily accept into the house and those you don't. And if you have done your job and trained them to leave people alone they are more than happy to lay down somewhere in the room and leave your guests alone AFTER they have said hello! (and provided the person is not a previous wrestling buddy!). (Return to Table of Contents)

What is the average lifespan of a Dane?


The average lifespan of most giant breeds is about 8 years. I know of Danes living to 10-12 years but 8 is average. (Return to Table of Contents)

What are the common health problems with Danes?


There are two main health problems which afflict the Great Dane breed: hip dysplasia and bloat/torsion. Wobblers, thyroid problems, and eyes (CERF approval) also appear in the breed in some bloodlines. For information on hip dysplasia and bloat see the Canine Medical Information FAQ. Thryoid problems can be detected by a simple blood test and treated with medication. Eyes can be checked by someone certified to do so by the CERF organization (you vet can probably locate the nearest person). I have included excerpts from a article on Wobblers. The following on Wobblers is from an article written by Andy Shores, DVM, Ph.D which appeared as a reprint in the Great Dane Journal, May/June 1988 but first appearid in the AKC Gazette, June 1986). Wobblers (technical term Canine Cervical Vertebral Malformation/Malarticulation Syndrome - CVMMS) occurs primarily in Great Danes and Doberman Pinschers. Other breeds in which it has been reported include the Dalmation, Rhodesian Ridgeback, Old English Sheepdog, German Shepherd Dog, Irish Wolfhound, Weimaraner, Saint Bernard, Labrador Retriever, Boxer, Coonhound, Bullmastiff, Rottweiler, and Bassett Hound. The prevalence of CVMMS in certain breeding lines of Great Danes and Doberman Pinschers suggests a genetic basis for the syndrome, although one study suggests a higher incidence with overnutrition. Weakness or a slight loss of motor function in the hind limbs are the most common signs in dogs with CVMMS. The signs usually develop slowly and owners describe clumsiness, "wobbling" or "swaying" if the hind-quarters, difficulty in walking on slick floors, dragging the toes, crossing over of the front limbs, falling when attempting to turn, or difficulty in standing up. The majority of reported cases of CVMMS are in Great Danes four to 18 months of age and Doberman Pinschers five to seven years of age; however the syndrome has been recognized with reverse age prevalenc ein both breeds. There are an enormous number of conditions that affect the spinal cord in large breed dogs, and each of these may appear similar to CVMMS. Because of this, it is necessary to perform several tests to determine what is causing the problem. It is clear that a myelogram (injecting a dye around the spinal cord), which outlines the spinal cord on the radiographs, is an essential in the diagnosis of CVMMS. No therapy is universally successful in the treatment of CVMMS. Mild cases may respond to cage rest, steroids, and neck braces. More advanced cases probably require

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Great Dane FAQ 2

http://www.ces.clemson.edu/~jshea/faq2.html

surgery. (I have kept out the rest of the treatment section because of the age of this article. If you need more information I suggest you contact your vet to get the latest research results). In the conclustion the author states that CVMMS is not a hopeless condition as some have thought but all of the treatments are not successful. Selective breeding is strongly encouraged and oversupplementation (overfeeding) is strongly discouraged. Vitamin and mineral supplementation is "okay" but should be on the advice of a veterinarian. Additional calcium and phosphorus supplementation, except in the lactating bitch, is also strongly discouraged. (Return to Table of Contents)

General Health Maintenance


Great Danes will cost more for maintanance than smaller dogs. Their shots will cost more, their heartworm medicine will definately cost more, and you need to find a vet with a FLOOR SCALE THAT IS BIG ENOUGH :-) ! (Return to Table of Contents)

History of the Great Dane


The Great Dane was developed to hunt the wild boar of Europe (and hence the cropped ears typically seen on Danes in the US). The Germans are generally credited with developing the Dane as it exists today. It is generally accepted that the Great Dane is descended from some type of mastiff and wolfhound. The Great Dane breed is at least 400 years old but there are drawings of a dog which resemble the Great Dane on Egyption monuments of 3000 B.C. and the earliest written description of a dog resembling a Great Dane is found in Chinese Literature of 1121 B.C. There is no reason anyone has been able to determine for connecting Denmark (Dane) with this dog. It was "made in Germany" and the breed standard of all countries is based on the german Deutsche Doggen Club standard. (Return to Table of Contents)

What colors do Danes come in?


The AKC recognized Fawn, Brindle, Black, Blue, and Harlequin. Merle (gray) is also a color that is not AKC recognized (there has been discussion/flames about this and merle has been correlated to genetic defects). [John Shea notes: Merle is not actually gray. Merle consists of a gray field with black spots and speckels. Merles come from Harlequin breedings. Merles themselves have no higher incidence of genetic defects than any other color of Great Danes. However, breeding Merle Danes may result in mostly or all deaf or blind pups, due to a double recessive gene, which is a "semi-lethal" combination. ] There is also a color *pattern* called Boston (like the Boston Terrier with a mostly dark body but white front and sometimes neck) but this is really a pattern and not a color as you can have black bostons, blue bostons, etc.

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Great Dane FAQ 2

http://www.ces.clemson.edu/~jshea/faq2.html

(Return to Table of Contents)

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