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.
– 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 sight, and could result in you and/or the animal getting injured.
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 on food.
You’ll also need to ensure that your Great Dane is taking heartworm 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 heartbreaking 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 on board 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 someday. 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. This 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 is 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!
5 thoughts on “Are Great Danes Good Dogs For First Time Owners”
When we were looking at getting our Dane, we did our research but the only thing that we did not find was how quickly they get big. When they are 8-10 months old, they are bigger and taller than most breeds. That was a shock to us. Great article. Well done and thank you.
Great Danes are the best, but be prepared to loose your couch or buy a bigger couch.
Well, I have to admit that having a GD as my first dog was quite fast decision 😀 My parents have got their GD for over 7 years now and I thought that “Yeah, they managed, so I will manage too”, but boy was I silly 😀
My puppy has almost 3 months now, it’s the most adorable thing I could possibly find, but it’s very tough jump from the peaceful full-night sleep I had with my cat, into waking up at 3-4 AM with a loud BAM coming somewhere from the kitchen (for example). You open the door to check what is it and first thing you do is to step into a LAKE of pee followed by a lovely pile of poop made by this mini-horse… So after cleaning this mess you continue the discovery mission. You find the cat toilet upside down, cat on the top of the cat tree with a tail in a shape of a toilet brush and a mohawk on her back, and the dog lies under, chewing the whole construction made for the poor cat with a face like she (it) has nothing to do with any of that 😀
I have never EVER realised that the small cute puppy can be such a bulldozer, especially when she gets her “evening click” and starts running here and there through the flat, smashing everything what comes in her way, sometimes even me included, followed by her tripping over her own legs and making the most hilarious somersault you can imagine.
Danes are incredibly clumsy, good-hearted and loving, on the other hand they are very stubborn and touchy so you have to find your way how to deal with the puppy. I am still somehow trying to find the best possible way how to manage mine, since I brought her two weeks ago, but I would say that even though there are some minor difficulties, I’m doing good 🙂 WE are doing good, the bond is being made and slowly slowly we are both learning eachother. Certainly I don’t regret that I decided to have a GD as my first dog!
We rescued a 2yo GD in 2020. It was our first time being dog parents to a giant breed. We have learned so many things over this past year that I think it’s worth sharing for potential first timers:
Yes, they do get big! If you have never had a giant breed dog before, first try volunteering with a rescue group specializing in GD. Often times people relinquish their dogs just as they hit their teenage years because they underestimated the size they will eventually become. It’s no joke! Weighing more than my teenage son, he takes up the entire couch and is a lap dog.
You may love the size, but people in your neighborhood may not. So when your boy is naughty and learning leash manners, people do not take their lunging or big dog bark the same as if it was a terrier the same age pulling and barking on the leash. Be prepared to get dirty looks, free advice on how to punish them to make them behave. We have taken training classes and worked with a private trainer to help with this. As he is now getting closer to 3 he’s learning self control
Can’t forget drooling, shedding and large dirty paw prints in the house that are never ending. Although our guy doesn’t drool a lot, he does splash his drinking water and dribble it after he’s done all over the floor. After lots of research we knew this going in. We don’t mind, but let’s just say my sister would never be able to handle it ! Our guy is also my shadow. I love it, but be prepared that you will have this large being EVERYWHERE you go.
Overall, we are completely in love with our GD and he’s brought lots of joy to our family. I think GD can be great first time dogs, but you have to be flexible to what your dog needs and can’t rely on what worked for your smaller dog.
All these are so true, I’ve had St. Bernard’s so I thought I was use to the Gentle Giant, but GreatDanes are so different from Saints. Very stubborn but very lovable, seemed very difficult at first but learning so well now. Wouldn’t trade her for anything, she just turned 1.