Great Danes are one of the largest and kindest dog breeds in the world. Although they may not initially come to your mind when you think of service dogs, Great Danes are a great option!
Are Great Danes Good Service Dogs? The short answer is, yes!
Their large size and gentle personality are two traits that make Great Danes great service dogs. They are an intelligent breed with minimal exercise requirements, making it easy for someone who may have limited mobility to keep the pet happy and healthy. Their tall height allows them to perform certain activities that smaller breeds may not be able to do.
Although German Shepherds and Golden Retrievers are the most popular breeds for service dogs, Great Danes are starting to gain more traction in the community. Let’s talk more about what makes them so great, and if one is right for yourself or a loved one.
Are Great Danes Good Service Dogs?
When considering a service dog, it is important to know what the individual needs of the dog. Not everyone who needs a service dog needs the same support that a pet offers.
A service dog not only has to have great behavioral traits, but they also undergo additional training in order to provide the support and assistance the owner needs.
One of the best aspects of a Great Dane as a service dog is their height. This extra height is perfect for someone who may have issues with their balance, as well as someone who may have overall limited mobility.
They can reach higher heights and have more strength to pull wheelchairs or push open doors for the owner. The massive size of the animal can also draw attention away from the owner, which is sometimes a huge asset for the dog.
Great Danes are a very mild-tempered dog. Although they are large, they are commonly referred to as gentle giants. Their patient and understanding nature makes them particularly well suited to assist others.
While most Great Danes are calm, a dog that was taken from the mother too early or had poor training may not have the right temperament to be a service dog.
Before choosing any service dog, you want to find out more information about the breeder as well as the individual or group who trained the service dog. One organization that we highly recommend taking a look at is the Service Dog Project. They specialize in raising and training Great Danes to be service dogs.
In addition to these positive qualities, Great Danes are also a relatively easy breed to care for. Although they are large, they do not require an excessive amount of exercise. Their low energy makes them perfect for someone who has limited mobility.
Their short coat also does not require too much grooming, and it does not shed which keeps down on any mess. The dog is also not one who constantly needs to be bathed or brushed.
What Exactly Can Service Dogs Do?
Most of us have a pretty clear vision of what we think service dogs are. According to government data from 2016, there are approximately 500,000 service dogs in the United States alone.
While that number is a couple of years old at this point, we know that it has only continued to grow since then. Depending on the disability of the individual, they will have a dog that is trained just for them.
More breeds are being trained each year to provide support to its owner. With any service dog, it is more important to focus on your need, rather than the breed.
Most of the common types of service dogs are not only different in the breed, but they are very different in the actions they can perform. Great Danes are most often used as mobility dogs because of their size.
Here are some of the most common types of service dogs:
- Guide dogs help those who are visually impaired navigate their daily life. These dogs are able to help the individual walk around their house or even town. Some dogs wear a specialized vest that allows the owner to hold on to the animal, and some tend to just use a regular leash.
- Hearing dogs are for those who have difficulty hearing sounds, and helps to alert them if there is something they need to know about. Some of these sounds can include babies crying, doorbells, or alarms. They notify the owner by guiding it toward the sound.
- Mobility dogs are perfect for those who experience limited mobility and utilize wheelchairs or external walking devices. These dogs can also help to bring items to people, help the individual remain balanced, and can even help pull wheelchairs up an incline. Mobility dogs tend to be larger and stronger breeds, hence the natural fit for Great Danes.
- Medical alert dogs are used for a wide variety of different disabilities. Canine can detect a change in blood sugar for those with diabetes with a specific scent that changes. For those who suffer from seizures, there are pets who can help someone who is having a seizure by sounding an alarm or barking to get attention and help. For those with allergies, their service dogs can be trained to detect certain scents.
- Psychiatric service dogs are for those who experience disorders such as PTSD, OCD, or various complications. Service dogs are a great way to make the individual feel safer and more secure in their everyday lives. They can also act as a physical barrier to protect their owners in public areas.
It is important to note that service dogs are not the same as therapy or emotional support animals. Service pets are trained to perform specific tasks for their owners.
Therapy and emotional support animals are often not considered working animals. Service animals are allowed most places while there are restrictions for therapy and emotional support animals.
Why Great Danes Make Great Service Dogs
In addition to being one of the most popular breeds in the United States, Great Danes have grown in popularity as service dogs as well!
With a ton of great benefits as a service dog and as a companion to the owner, let’s talk about what makes them a potential ideal choice.
Size Plays a Huge Role
With only one other breed larger than the Great Dane, it quite literally makes them stand out amongst other dogs. Great Danes are often used as mobility pets for their size.
The average size of most mobility dog is around 22” tall, and a minimum weight of 55 pounds. However, larger i.e. taller or heavier individuals will require a correspondingly larger service dog.
Ideally, a service dog will be at least 45% of the person’s height, and a minimum of 65% of the person’s weight.
To get an understanding of just how physically large Great Danes are, the chart below depicts a height and weight range that can be expected for full-grown adults.
|Height||28-32 inches||30-34 inches|
|Weight||110-140 pounds||140-175 pounds|
While their size has its advantages, it can sometimes be a disadvantage for some people to handle. Unless you have the space to accommodate a dog this large, they can be difficult to manage.
While the dog does not need an excessive amount of energy, their size makes them almost like living with another individual.
They Have a Calm Disposition
Great Danes are often referred to as gentle giants, and they usually live up to the name! Although their size may intimidate some people, they are great service dogs as well as pets.
They will protect their owners if need be but do not tend to be an aggressive breed. Great Danes are also good with children, other animals, and in most public areas.
Great Danes are very social animals. They enjoy the company of their owner or family and are very kind and patient. This breed is also easy to train and is not as stubborn as other large breeds can be.
Many people with Great Danes also say the bond between them and their service animal has had benefits in dealing with depression as well.
As with any breed, there are certain situations where the dog may become aggressive in certain situations or may become more aggressive as they get older. If this happens, the Great Dane can join behavior courses through a service dog program to see if this is a trait that can be trained out of the dog.
It is also important to know information about the breeder and the group who trained the service dog. This can tell you a lot about the health of the service dog, as well as the actual abilities before you connect with your service dog.
They Are a Low Maintenance Dog
Many people with service dogs are restricted in what they can do. Great Danes are one of the lowest maintenance service dogs there is. As mentioned earlier, they do not have a high need for exercise.
Performing the daily duties with their owner is more than enough for this animal since they do not have a high level of energy.
Since they have a short coat, there is not an excessive amount of grooming or shedding involved in them. The typical maintenance for a Great Dane includes occasional brushing, bathing only when needed, and cleaning the face and mouth.
There Are Some Negatives to Great Danes As Well
Now that we know what makes Great Danes great as service dogs, there are some negative aspects to consider as well. This can include care cost, lack of space, and the longevity of them as a service dog.
While none of these are necessarily deal-breakers for most owners, they are some things to consider before you select a certain breed.
They Can Cost More to Take Care Of
With bigger breeds comes a higher cost of care. Feeding a Great Dane is going to be much higher than a medium or small breed service dog.
The dietary needs for a Great Dane are also different since they grow at such a rapid rate. Not only are they going to eat more often, but they will also just naturally eat more!
The breed is also prone to diseases such as bone cancer, bloat, heart disease, and joint issues, as well. This can lead to extreme veterinary bills, or even the dog not being able to perform up to what it needs to do.
Even if you had a Great Dane with no service dog training, you would still be paying anywhere between $3,000 to $10,000 for the first two years of the service dog’s life.
Some of the biggest costs come from actually purchasing the pet, which is often more expensive, as well as for the animal to receive the training that they need in order to become a service animal.
Adoption fees are going to be much less expensive than breeder fees, but you do run the risk of not knowing much about the history of your dog with adoption from shelters or rescue centers.
Great Danes Do Not Have a Long-Life Span
If you ask any Great Dane owner, they will tell you that the longevity of a Great Dane is a huge drawback. The historical average lifespan has been between seven and ten years.
However, with the progress made in food and care, this number is slowly increasing. This can cause issues in having to replace a service dog sooner than others, not to mention the loss of a bond you have with your service dog.
Although service dogs are not considered pets, many individuals with service dogs see them as part of their family.
Considering that most Great Danes are not able to begin training until they are around the age of two, you will have even less time with them than you may originally think.
This breed also has increased health risks, the most severe of which may render them unable to train or provide you with assistance.
Their Size Can Be a Negative as Well
Due to the rapid growth that you will experience with a Great Dane, many cannot start training for mobility until they are over a year and a half. If you get your Great Dane at a young age, you are not able to tell how large your pet is going to be.
The size can also be a problem if you live in a city. The dog will take up a lot of room on the sidewalk and in your apartment.
Their large size also means that in many circumstances, the dog is stronger than the owner. Without proper training, this could become a serious issue since the owner will not be able to handle the animal.
If the dog has aggressive tendencies, this could be an even great issuer. With any large breed, training is essential to a long and healthy bond between the owner and the dog.
Their Breed Can Draw Attention
While most owners do not mind the attention being off them for a second, Great Danes can cause a lot of interest from others. Their size often causes people to come up and ask questions about the dog or if they can pet it.
While Great Danes are friendly animals who do not mind the attention, this can cause them to lose focus, which is not ideal for someone who is relying on their service dog to work.
The other side of the coin is that it could also be an issue for the owner of the Great Dane.
Not only are they going to have to worry about their companion being distracted, but this also may draw unwanted attention from those who are suffering from a psychological or mobility concern.
What Is the Final Verdict?
When selecting a breed for a service dog, it is important to know what you or the intended owner actually need from the pet. While most breeds will suffice for service dogs, Great Danes cater to a specific market.
Not only are they one of the most popular breeds in the United States, but they also are one of the largest breeds that are actually used for service dogs.
The size of a Great Dane makes them a great choice for individuals who suffer from mobility complications. Not only are they often beyond the requirements for most individuals, but they also are incredibly strong.
Great Danes can reach great heights, which helps the owner negotiate their daily life, and they have immense strength, which can be useful to open doors or pull wheelchairs up ramps.
Often called “gentle giants,” Great Danes have one of the best attitudes of any breed. They are incredibly calm and patient which helps them not only train well but also to be very patient with their owners.
Most Great Danes remain calm in social situations, which is a key factor when considering a breed for a service dog. Great Danes also have very low maintenance needs, which makes them the perfect animal for a service dog.
The short and sleek coat of a Great Dane keeps shedding, and grooming needs down as well!
Like all breeds, Great Danes have their downside. Knowing what you or someone else needs assistance with will cut down on costs as well as possibly having to cut off a relationship formed with an animal.
Size, costs, and life expectancy are all real factors to think about before choosing the breed of your service dog.