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Are Great Danes Good Dogs For First Time Owners

If you’re considering getting a Great Dane but are new to dogs, then you may find yourself wondering if Great Danes are good for first-time owners. Given the Great Danes are a giant breed dog, you certainly don’t want to find yourself in over your head!

According to a survey of Great Dane owners, 57.5% responded that they believed that Great Danes are a good fit for a first-time dog owner. The most common reasons that may make Great Danes a bad fit for a first-time owner include their large size and strength, high cost of care, and shorter lifespan.

While those in favor of Great Danes for first-time owners were in the majority, it’s clear that a significant number of people do not recommend them!

Now it’s worth pointing out that this survey included all Great Danes lovers, so it’s not as if the odds were stacked against our gentle giants. Let’s take a look at the survey results more closely to see what we can take away from them.

Survey: Are Great Danes Good First Dogs?

As the creator of a website dedicated to caring for Great Danes, it’s fair to say that I am biased when it comes to this topic!

Rather than put together an article based solely on my opinion, I decided to enlist the help of the Great Dane Care family (join here!) to get their opinion on whether or not they thought that Great Danes were a good breed for first-time owners.

Needless to say, after surveying thousands of Great Dane owners, I was excited to see the results!

Instead of just writing about the outcome, I decided to also create a fun graphic showing the results below.

Survey results from the question "Are Great Danes good dogs for first time owners"

Survey Results:
– 57.5% DO recommend (289 respondents)
– 42.5% DO NOT recommend (214 respondents)

Note: Naturally, I would have loved to see more people respond to the survey to get an even more accurate picture. But in an age where our inboxes are quite literally under siege, I’m extremely grateful to the 503 people who did participate!

While it’s clear that more people did recommend Great Danes as a first dog, a difference of 15% is not what I’d call an overwhelming majority. Unlike political elections where the margin of victory may be within a couple of percent, this type of survey often produces more skewed results!

Before conducting the survey, my initial guess was that the final results were going to be in the range of 65-70% in favor to 35-30% against, but clearly I was off the mark.

After further considering that this is not a survey of the general population, but one of Great Dane fans, I think it raises an even more telling point!

Even amongst Great Dane lovers, there is a clear split between whether or not this breed is a good fit for first-time dog owners.

The important thing to call out here is that everyone who responded is a fan of Great Danes. Otherwise they would never have taken the time to join this community, read the newsletter, and even participate in a 100% voluntary survey!

My takeaway from this division is that while all of these people love Great Danes, they also recognize that they are not the easiest dog for a first-time owner. This isn’t to say that it’s not possible, just that there are other (smaller) breeds that would make for a smoother transition into life with dogs.

Given how loved Great Danes are by so many, I won’t belabor the point why so many voted in their favor. Instead, I’ll turn the discussion to see why a significant number voted against Great Danes as being good first dogs.

Top Reasons Great Danes Aren’t Good First Dogs

Let’s take a look at the top reasons that Great Danes may not be considered an ideal dog breed for a first-time owner.

Keep in mind that each of these reasons can be individually addressed, but it’s better to be informed upfront if this is a decision that you’ll be making!

Reason #1 – Large Size & Strength

Learning to care for a dog is just like anything else in the world – it’s a skill that takes time and patience to master. For those dealing with puppies, you’re going to need an abundance of patience!

From hygiene and walks, to trips to the veterinarian and obedience training, all of these require you to guide and teach your dog how to behave. As a first-time owner, you’ll have to quite literally learn all of these on the go!

While that may not pose a big problem for small or even average sized dogs, it can become a BIG problem with a giant breed like a Great Dane. Even as puppies, their size and strength can rival that of many adult humans.

Learning from a dog trainer is a great way to accelerate your own learning curve and enable you to better handle these types of situations. Having an unruly and un-trained Great Dane is a scary site, and could result in you and/or the animal getting injured.

Great dane at veterinary.

Reason #2 – High Cost of Care

While many people will be quick to assume veterinary care, this isn’t the only high potential cost when it comes to having a Great Dane. Their larger size means that they’re also going to eat more!

How much more you ask?

Well, if we’re talking about a kibble, you can expect to feed a fully-grown adult anywhere from 6-10 cups of food per day!

In the event that you’re not a fan of kibble, then you could also consider going RAW as well. In either case, you’re probably going to spend $70 – $100 per month just in food.

You’ll also need to ensure that your Great Dane is taking heart worm medicine at a minimum, and most likely some form of flea and tick treatment as well.

While most dogs are given this type of preventative medicine, a Great Dane’s large size means that they need to take more of it to reach an effective dose size.

Which as you have probably already guessed, means a higher cost to you!

Once you’re past the basics of care, you’d then start to bridge into the unexpected health concerns that could arise. Bloat, wobbler’s syndrome, ectropion, and cancer are just a few that can occur.

Reason #3 – Shorter Lifespan

Losing any loved one is a tragic event, but those who have experienced the heart breaking loss of a Great Dane will be able to tell you just how truly painful it is.

While the oldest known Great Dane lived to be 15 years in age, the average life expectancy for this giant breed is 7-10 years. Before jumping onboard with Great Danes as a breed, you’ll need to seriously consider whether or not you’re ok with accepting a shorter than average lifespan.

Yes, every dog dies some day. But there’s no debating the fact that smaller breeds can live almost twice as long as Great Danes on average.

While you can’t prevent everything, good general care does go a long way in keeping your Great Dane healthy. Which is why it’s so important to not undervalue the investments that you’ll need to make in their health as discussed above in reason number two.

Keep in mind that these are just some of the reasons that Great Danes may not be a good fit for a first-time owner. While I provided examples for ways to accommodate these situations in some regards, they are clearly not all-encompassing.

Make sure to take a look at my full article on reasons to not get a Great Dane if you’d like more information on this topic!

Alternative Breeds to Consider for First Dogs

Just because a Great Dane may not be the right fit for you as a first dog, that doesn’t mean that another dog breed may not work! From labradors to poodles, there are all kinds of dog breeds to consider!

In recent years, I’ve also noticed an explosion of mixed breeds. From goldendoodles to labradoodles, there are many new breeds look into.

The upside to a “normal” breed is that they’re likely much smaller. Not only does this mean that they’ll be easier to handle and correct during training, but also that they’re going to eat at a LOT less!

The likelihood of finding good breeders near you as well as veterinary staff that are experienced with these more common dog breeds may also help to ease you into the process of caring for your new dog.

Last but not least, don’t forget that adopting a dog shouldn’t be left out as an option to consider as well!


There’s no doubt that Great Danes are a wonderful dog breed. Although they have many positive qualities, there’s no doubt that they may also be a handful for a first-time pet owner.

However, with proper preparation, due diligence, and patience, there’s no doubt in my mind that anyone can be a fantastic Great Dane parent!

While there will certainly be challenges, those who stick with the breed grow to love them immensely and often swear off all other dog breeds!

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