Regardless of whether or not you’ve owned a dog before, caring for a giant breed dog like a Great Dane requires some special knowledge! In this article, we’ll step through all of the things that one should consider when it comes to properly caring for their Great Dane.
While most of these items are fairly simple and straightforward, skipping out on them could impact your Great Dane’s health and cost you money! With that, let’s jump in and take a look at how to take care of a Great Dane.
Please note that while each of these is numbered, this is not the order in which you should approach them. All of these are important and should be addressed early in your Great Dane’s life.
Step 1: Feed them a high-quality diet
The old saying “you are what you eat” applies to our canine friends as well! While many are quick to look for a magic pill to cure health issues when they come up, the truth is that a healthy and nutritious diet is often the fix.
By feeding your Great Dane a healthy and properly balanced diet, you can avoid nutrient imbalances that are often the source of growth-related issues in Great Danes.
Furthermore, a high-quality diet will provide their bodies with the necessary micronutrients to boost their immune systems, have healthy skin and coats, and grow and develop at a healthy pace.
Better yet – feeding them quality food typically results in less poop because their bodies are better able to digest and absorb the nutrients.
Talk about an unexpected win!
As a side note, the dreaded Great Dane farts also typically subside, or at least lessen with an improved diet 😉
In addition to feeding your Great Dane quality food, the amount of food given is also important to take into consideration. Overfeeding them could result in unnecessary weight gain and obesity.
Due to their already large (giant) size, this is not a good thing! The extra weight often results in accelerated wear and tear on their joints, as well as increases the likelihood of heart disease, cancer, and other diseases.
Step 2: Great Dane Grooming
Thankfully, Great Danes are not a breed that requires intensive grooming. However, there are some basic grooming steps that are still important for their health!
The good news for you is that all of these can be done at home, using supplies that are relatively inexpensive!
While you certainly could pay a groomer to take care of several of these, it’s usually not worth the time and money.
Grooming Habit #1 – Teeth cleaning
Similar to eating good food, we all know that brushing our teeth is important. While a few cavities may not seem like a big deal for your dog, it goes much further than that!
Bad bacteria from diseased teeth and gums can migrate to your dog’s kidneys, liver, heart, and even their joints.
While that may sound extreme, it’s worth pointing out that the American Veterinary Association found that 80% of dogs show signs of oral disease by age 3.
The most obvious way to prevent this from happening is by giving your Dane’s teeth a quick brushing each day using a dog-specific
But if that’s not up your alley, you can also use a variety of other approaches to help keep their teeth and gums healthy.
- Sprays and gels
- Tooth wipes
- Enzymatic solutions
- Dental chews
- Raw meaty bones
Examples of these options can be found on my page here.
Grooming Habit #2 – Nail trimming
Unlike humans, cutting your Great Dane’s nails is more than a matter of appearances! Letting their nails grow out too long could actually lead to tendon and ligament damage!
Think about it – all of their weight and force is driven through their paws into the ground when they walk or run. When their nails are too long, they press back into their paws.
Over time, this can lead to long-term damage to these supporting ligaments. They could also develop other orthopedic issues as a result of altering their gait to lessen the pain of these nails pressing in.
The good news for you is that all of this can be avoided by spending 5-10 minutes trimming their nails every couple of weeks!
Trimming their nails on a frequent basis also ensures that they get used to the process. I can assure you that dealing with a 100+ pound dog that’s afraid of having its nails trimmed is quite a handful!
While there are different styles of clippers out there, I’d recommend picking up a decent pair of scissor-style. They make the trimming process very quick and easy and have the strongest cutting power to cut through a Dane’s tough nails.
Grooming Habit #3 – Ear cleaning
Whether your Great Dane’s ears are cropped or natural, they’re going to pick up a lot of gunk!
What most owners don’t realize is just how fast this gunk can accumulate. When left uncleaned, this can result in your Great Dane developing painful ear infections.
Similar to nail cleaning, it’s best to clean their ears on a weekly basis. This not only gets them used to the process of having their ears cleaned but also prevents buildup from occurring.
We all have busy lives, so it’s better to clean them often and not risk forgetting it!
The most efficient approach is to use some basic cotton balls and an ear cleaning solution like the one shown below.
A well-tolerated, efficient ear cleanser that facilitates the removal of cellular debris and excessive wax, as well as the drying of the ear canal. The inclusion of monosaccharides has a soothing effect, as well as, limiting the bonding of microorganisms to the skin surface.
Grooming Habit #4 – Bathing & brushing
Last but not least for when it comes to Great Dane grooming is bathing and brushing. While this can be quite a task for longer-haired breeds, Great Danes are quite simple when it comes to coat maintenance.
Most are quite fine with a quick bath once per month to keep them smelling fresh and clean. The mistake that most owners make here is by actually bathing their Great Dane too often!
Doing so can dry out their skin and result in other issues, as can using cheap shampoos. For this reason, I recommend using a high-quality shampoo like the one below.
While it may be surprising to many, brushing is often more important for a Great Dane’s coat than bathes!
While they still need to be kept clean from baths, brushing produces better results when it comes to reducing shedding and giving their coat a nice sheen.
The key here is to use a soft-bristled brush that pulls out dead hairs and spreads their natural coat oils, and not the metal-tipped varieties that can dig into their skin.
Funny enough, my absolute favorite brush is also one of the cheapest on the market! It’s called the Kong ZoomGroom and is linked below.
This little brush may be some of the best money you’ll ever spend on your Dane 😉
Step 3: Veterinary Due Diligence
Hopefully, this doesn’t come as a surprise, but you’ll want to keep up a regular cadence with visiting your veterinarian. If you’re bringing your Great Dane home as a puppy, they will need to get a variety of vaccines.
Once they’re past their basic vaccines, they’ll still need updated rabies shots every couple of years as well as heartworm prevention.
Heartworms are a devastating condition that could kill your Great Dane, so lapsing in their medication in this department is not a smart idea!
Based on where you live and what you intend to do with your Great Dane, your veterinarian may also make recommendations for flea and tick prevention as well.
While you should be continuously monitoring your dog’s health at home, plan on taking them to the vet at least once a year for an annual check-up.
Step 4: Exercising your Great Dane
As a giant breed, most Great Danes have moderate to low energy levels. Naturally, they will have more energy as puppies, but many taper off around the two-year mark.
As a result of their low-to-moderate energy, they don’t need an excessive amount of exercise to stay happy and fit. Most are content with a daily walk or playing in your yard or home with various toys.
This is not to say that you can neglect to spend time ensuring that they get exercise, just that you should not expect to spend hours a day exercising them.
One thing to note is that as puppies, you should avoid forced exercise via runs with them. While it’s fine to let them run around and play on their own, they shouldn’t be taken on runs with you until they are 18-months old.
Doing so at an earlier age could risk damage to their joints as well as orthopedic issues.
Because walks are a much lower impact form of exercise, this is the recommended approach for getting out excess puppy energy until they reach an appropriate age.
If you plan on running with them once they’re older, make sure that you slowly increase the mileage. Much like yourself, their bodies will need time to adapt to the new form of exercise.
For more information about exercising your Great Dane, make sure to also take a look at my articles linked below.
In addition to the type of exercise, another area of caution for Great Danes is the timing of it. While it’s not fully understood, many believe that heavy exercise around mealtime is a contributing factor to bloat.
As a precautionary measure, I like to limit food and water to within one hour before or after heavy exercise.
Step 5: Proper Socialization
Caring for a 100+ pound dog means that special consideration will need to be taken when it comes to socialization. Having a terrified or aggressive Great Dane dragging you by their leash is not fun!
To avoid this from happening, it’s important that you expose your Great Dane to a wide variety of situations, people, and places from a young age.
Doing so teaches them to react in a calm and positive manner, instead of being timid and scared of new things!
Note, that simply taking your Great Dane to play with other dogs is not enough. You need to proactively let them meet different people, walk on different surfaces, touch their paws and faces, practice car rides, and many other things!
While this topic is extremely important, I don’t want to belabor it here. Instead, I will highly suggest that you also read and review my dedicated article on Great Dane socialization.
Step 6: Don’t Forget About Training!
Training may seem like a funny thing to include in an article about caring for a Great Dane but it’s incredibly important!
As a giant breed, the likelihood of a Great Dane injuring themselves or others increases exponentially when they’re untrained.
All it takes is darting across the street or dragging someone down on a leash to result in expensive medical bills.
Whether you follow an online course or work with a trainer in-person, make sure to include training as part of your daily schedule with your Great Dane.
Training is the process of teaching your dog new skills, and the best way to do this is with repetition! Spending just 5-10 minutes working with your Great Dane every single day can produce amazing results.
Focus on the basic commands first such as sit, come (recall), and down. Once they’ve got these mastered you can move onto more advanced commands like place, off, and heel.
Conclusion On Caring For A Great Dane
By following every step in this article you will be well on your way to properly caring for your Great Dane. While it doesn’t cover every single aspect of care, it touches upon the most important topics as well as areas where owners commonly make mistakes.
If you’re looking for the ultimate guide to caring for Great Danes and want to have everything buttoned up in a single resource, then I’d highly recommend you take a look at my book.
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