How to Raise a Great Dane

Socialization is important with Great Danes.
Socialization is important with Great Danes. (Image: Jupiterimages/Polka Dot/Getty Images)

The giant Great Dane is a short-haired dog that can reach about 36 inches tall at the shoulders. Great Danes descend from a mixture of English mastiff and Irish wolfhound bloodstock, according to the American Kennel Club. Despite their hunting origins, Great Danes are now more of a family companion that serve as effective guard dogs.

Things You'll Need

  • Large yard
  • Fencing
  • Raised food and water bowls
  • Crate
  • Leash

Ask the breeder to show you the parents of the puppy. Potential health problems of the Great Dane include heart problems, hip issues, endocrine diseases and a form of paralysis called Wobblers Syndrome. Many of these diseases are heritable, and a reputable breeder should be able to show you the results of the tests on the parent breeding stock.

Fence off your backyard for the animal to exercise in. According to the Great Dane Club of America (GDCA), a Great Dane is an affectionate family pet that prefers to live inside with humans than living outside in the yard all day, but you will need a large and secure yard for it to run around in. A fence six feet in height is sufficient, according to the GDCA, as the dogs generally do not jump fences. Until the pup is a year old, do not let it exercise all day, as this may cause damage to joints and growing bones. Older dogs can take more exercise, but will also require more food to keep up their energy.

Socialize your new pup with humans and with other dogs if possible. The GDCA recommends that you bring your Great Dane to kindergarten puppy classes when the pup is between three and six months of age. It is important that a Great Dane pup is obedient as it quickly grows into a large dog and aggression can be dangerous. Do not leave the dog alone with children.

Feed the pup three to four times a day. The GDCA recommends you give the pup the last meal of the day about two hours before it goes to bed. When the pup grows into an adult, you can change the meal routine to two meals a day.

As a Great Dane is so tall, you can reduce the stress on its neck and shoulders if you place the food and water bowls on a rack at chest height.

Ensure it has clean water all day, but do not leave out food as it may become overfed and become more at risk of a dangerous medical condition known as Gastric Dilatation and Volvulus, which twists and bloats the stomach.

Let the pup out regularly for bathroom breaks. Important times for a bathroom break include after it wakes up in the morning, after a nap, after it eats and after it plays. It should get one last chance to relieve itself before it goes to bed. Praise the pup each time it goes outside successfully.

Crate-train the pup if you must leave it alone in a room. This will help the pup become house-trained and will also protect soft furnishing from destruction if the pup chews on them. When you transport the dog in the car, you can keep it in the crate or you can opt for a seat harness.

Neuter the dog before it reaches puberty if you do not wish to breed from it. The GDCA says that neutering the dog can reduce the risk of unwanted behaviors and also help protect it from reproductive cancers.

Keep the dog on a leash when out in public as Great Danes are intimidating to other people, especially if it is not well-trained. Consider an adult obedience class if necessary to keep it well-behaved.

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