There are many considerations for owning a Great Dane, and one that many prospective owners may wonder about is their ability to go up and down stairs. While they’re certainly large enough walk up and down steps, you may wonder if there are any special considerations for our gentle giants.
Can Great Danes go up and down stairs?
From a physical standpoint, Great Danes are well equipped to go up and down stairs. However, as puppies they will need additional practice to learn the coordinated movements of going up and down. Doing so will also socialize them to not be afraid of stairs when they are too large to carry.
Maybe a better question isn’t “can they go up and down stairs,” but should they go up and down stairs. There are a few things to think about before you move into a house with stairs or bring a Great Dane puppy home to a house with stairs.
Do Stairs Cause Hip and Back Problems?
There has been some discussion through the years among breeders, vets, and owners about the effect stairs have on the hips and backs of large breed dogs as well as breeds with very long backs, such as corgis and dachshunds.
As far as Danes are concerned, the major question is how stairs affect hips and backs. There are also some people that think it could cause shoulder problems as well because of the sheer weight and pressure put on the joints when going down the stairs.
The truth is that going up and down stairs is no more likely to cause hip and back problems for a Great Dane than any other activity that they partake in.
The sheer size of their body is enough to make going for a run a threat to the dog’s hip and back health. The bigger issue that is a cause of this orthopedic problem is poor breeding.
Even though there is no evidence of stairs causing hip dysplasia or back conditions, there are still beliefs out there regarding Great Danes and stairs.
Should I Carry my Puppy Up and Down Stairs?
When new Great Dane owners are trying to navigate life with a large breed of dog, they are sometimes overly cautious of letting the puppy go up and down stairs.
In addition to worry about a puppy’s clumsiness and the possibility of taking a tumble down the stairs, some are also concerned that using stairs too frequently before their growth plates have closed could lead to increased chances for hip dysplasia.
Unfortunately, there isn’t enough statistical data out there to prove whether or not stair usage at this stage plays a factor in hip dysplasia. But practically speaking, it’s probably not something that you need to worry about for now.
However, as far as safety for the dog as they grow, it is better to expose the puppy to stairs so they can learn to navigate them before they grow bigger.
If they become a full grown dog and have never gone up or down the stairs before, you may end up with a 100+ pound dog that is afraid of stairs!
If you start carrying your Great Dane up stairs as a puppy, it is important to consider what you will do when the dog is much bigger and you can’t carry them.
While it may seem simple, this is yet another good example of why it’s important to expose your Great Dane to a wide variety of conditions from an early age.
We’ve got a list of 11 critical ways to socialize your dog here if you’re interested in learning more about this topic.
Homes with Stairs: Yes or No?
You are absolutely entitled to buy whatever kind of house you want without consideration for your gentle giant. However, if you have an older Great Dane or one with mobility issues then stairs may be something worth considering.
Given their large size, if their mobility decreases they may not be able to go up and down stairs inside your home. Since carrying them isn’t an option, you’ll want to make considerations for the home layout.
Ensuring that they have comfortable areas to live and relax on the main floor, as well as common areas like your primary living room so that they’re able to spend time with you and not feel isolated is critical.
If you’re lucky enough to have a home with an elevator, then this isn’t an issue! However, I’ll assume that most of us don’t have elevators for the sake of this article 😉
While it may not be reasonable to sell your home now based on accommodating your dog, these are simply things to take into consideration for future homes.
When talking about stairs that is all-encompassing. Inside stairs, outside stairs, any stairs other than just one or two for entry into the home.
Carrying a dog that potentially weighs more than some adults up even one flight of stairs is not doable for most people.
It is possible to make Great Dane ownership and care work within a home with stairs. As long as you are okay with your pooch sleeping downstairs if they are unable to walk up the stairs alone.
Training a Great Dane to Go Up and Downstairs
A really great way to prevent any injuries that could be caused by your Great Dane going up and down stairs, is to train them to safely ascend and descend.
This is a preemptive action that will serve you greatly in the long run. That being said, if you don’t want them going up and downstairs, then just keep a baby gate up to keep them off of the stairwell.
The main focus of stair training to teach your puppy or dog to walk up and down the stairs slowly. Because Great Danes grow so fast, they will absolutely be more clumsy during and immediately after big growth spurts.
Make sure to keep an eye on them during these periods as they’re more likely to take a tumble at these times.
To start training them to go safely up and down stairs there are few steps you can take.
Tip 1: Start Young
While some people may tell you not to let your puppy go up and downstairs, it is better to teach them how to safely do it. This will help prevent tumbles that could cause terrible injuries for your Great Dane.
Teaching them to control their speed and bodies early will pay off later when the dog is roughly the size of a small horse trying to go up and down the stairs.
It will be much harder, though not impossible, to teach a full-grown Great Dane how to go up and down stairs safely than a young puppy. Teaching an adult Dane could cause injury to the dog and to you if they pull you down the stairs with them.
Tip 2: Walk Them on a Leash
When you start training the puppy to go up and down the stairs, use a leash. Walk them slowly up the stairs on a tight leash so they learn the correct pace to safely walk up.
Treat the puppy when it is a job well done. Going down the stairs is much more precarious and is the part that can cause injury because gravity wants to drag all of their weight straight down.
Going down, keep a tight leash and encourage the puppy to go slowly by taking one step and pausing to treat. Do this the whole way down the stairs. Once safely at the bottom, give your pup a treat and then repeat these steps several times a few times a day until you think you can remove the leash.
The key to training your dog to give any desired behavior consistently is patience and practice.
Tip 3: Practice Everyday
Having just one or two stair training sessions with your puppy or dog will not be enough to ensure that they can safely and reliably ascend and descend the stairs. The key is to consistently practice.
Anytime you are going up the stairs for any reason go ahead and put a leash on your pup and take them with you. Use the normal rhythms of your day to practice stair climbing with your Great Dane.
Everyday practice is the best way to protect your dog from injuries. Once they have truly learned how to go up and down stairs, you won’t have to worry about them falling and hurting themselves.
Accidents do happen so there is no guarantee, but if they don’t learn it is far more likely that they will sustain a debilitating injury.