I absolutely love Great Danes! As a former dog trainer and breeder, I've worked with a lot of dog breeds. There's no doubt in my mind that the Dane is the best breed on the planet. Over the last four decades, my family and I have owned numerous Great Danes. Some were purchased as puppies, and some were born to our females. They are amazing dogs. I often say they're like golden retrievers with watchdog potential. If you're considering adding a Great Dane puppy to your household, you might find the following information helpful. Please note, however, what I share here is based on our years of experience. You could have a different experience.
Great Dane Puppy Personality
Like most puppies, Dane pups are very playful. They enjoy running, playing, and chewing. We have noticed, though, that Danes fall into one of two camps: goofy or noble. None of our Danes have fallen in-between. About two-thirds of our dogs could be described as “goofy,” while the remainder were “noble.”
Goofy Danes are hilarious. They make funny facial expressions and often do silly things. This is strange, I know, but the goofy ones also enjoy sleeping in humorous positions. These dogs actually seem to pick up on laughter from humans and will do things to make people laugh. For example, Brutus, our 245lb male, used to dance when I'd sing to him. Grendel used to sit on the couch just like a human and watch TV. Ebony would “pet” herself by rubbing against the branches of a large houseplant. Gandalf often sleeps on his back, with all four long legs stretched straight up.
Then there are the noble dogs, for lack of a better word. These dogs are more serious in nature. They're more reserved. They're calmer. My daughter has always referred to such Danes as “snooty.” Noble Danes carry themselves differently, usually walking and standing with head erect. My best dog ever, Hamlet, used to prance when he knew a passerby was admiring him. Our new pup, Strider, does the same thing.
Great Danes are very affectionate, including those of the noble type. They just show their adoration differently, usually in a more subdued way. While a goofy dog might jump all over you and cover you in kisses, a noble dog might simply lie its head on your lap or rest its head on your shoulder.
We can already tell that Strider is growing up to be in the noble category. He's calm and quiet, and he's pretty bold. He's not afraid of anything. He never gets into silly positions. He sleeps in dignified positions – never on his back with rear legs spread or all four legs in the air. If you watch closely, you can often see hints as to how puppies will turn out.
Of course, there are many personality traits that practically all Great Dane puppies have in common. They can be extremely playful and active – for short periods. They can run around in circles or chase balls for fifteen or twenty minutes, and then they plop down to take a nap. It's like they suddenly just run out of gas.
Danes are people-pleasers, so they're easy to train. They're also very sensitive, so training methods should always be gentle. They like being clean, but most do not like water. Ours don't even like walking on the grass in the early morning when there's dew.
A typical Dane pup fully believes it is part of the family. It wants to be near its humans at all times. It loves children, and it gets along well with other dogs and with cats. It enjoys meeting new people and is happy to help welcome them into your home. On rare occasions, however, you might find a pup that is very shy and is afraid of strangers. We've had just one shy Dane.
How to Treat Your Great Dane Puppy
Please DO NOT get a Dane just to leave in the yard by itself. The breed suffers from heat in the summer and from cold in the winter. Even though they're huge dogs, they actually do much better indoors. They love their creature comforts, including heat and air conditioning.
They also need a comfy place to sleep. Because of the weight on their joints, Danes need a good bed or couch. Ours prefer sleeping on the bed with me.
If you leave your Dane pup alone for long periods of time, it will not be happy. This will likely lead to frustration and destructive behaviors. It's best to have a suitable canine pal for your pup. If this isn't possible, it should at least have a cat – not a small kitten - as a companion. The big puppy could accidentally injure a very small pet while playing.
Make sure your puppy has lots of toys and chews to keep it busy. We rotate the toys so our puppy doesn't get bored. Your puppy will also need and crave plenty of human interaction, with you, with other family members, with your friends, and with total strangers.
Your pup should be allowed and encouraged to experience and explore lots of new things and situations: people, places, objects, noises, and activities. Take it for car rides. Take it to stores and restaurants that allow dogs. Take it to the dog park. Take it for walks in a lot of different areas.
Your puppy will grow at an alarming rate, so it's important to feed it the right food. Experts differ on which dog food is the best for giant breed puppies, so it's best to consult your veterinarian. Hopefully, your vet has experience with giant breeds. We feed our pup canned puppy food three times a day and allow him access to puppy kibble at all times. He likes to snack on the kibble here and there, a few morsels at a time. The puppy will also need plenty of clean water, of course.
Exercising Your Dane Puppy
Dane puppies will meet most of their exercise requirements through play. Exercise builds strong bones and joints, along with enough muscle to be supportive. You can, however, exercise your pup too much. Jogging or running with your puppy might seem like a great idea, but it's not. It can actually damage the joints. Wait until your Dane is full grown – at about eighteen months – before doing any serious running or jogging with it.
In the meantime, allow the puppy to play in a fenced area with another playful puppy or dog. If you don't have such a playmate, schedule a play date with a friend or visit a dog park. Outdoor games can provide fun ways to exercise, too, like fetch, chase, and tug-o-war. Some of dogs have been very adept at catching balls, too, so that's another option. Once your puppy gets tired, allow it to rest. Don't push it to do more when it's tired.
Why I Think Great Danes Are So...Great
Great Danes are the most human-like dogs I've ever encountered. They make wonderful companions, and it's almost like having a hairy human in the house. They have an incredible sense of their humans' emotions. If you're sad or upset, your Dane will comfort you. A good Dane will adore you, unconditionally, and will want to stick to you like Velcro. It will want to do its best to please you. They are gentle and patient, especially with children. Some of ours have also been protective when they thought we were in danger or were being threatened. These dogs would stand between us and the danger and often growl or bark. Not a single one of our Danes has ever bitten or attempted to bite a human, however. Even if your Dane isn't especially protective, it can be a great deterrent simply because of its size and deep, loud bark.
Great Danes are super easy to groom and to keep clean. Our house-trained dogs would rupture a bladder or intestine before making a mess in the house. As for drooling, only two of ours drooled, and that was only when we ate in front of them. While puppies can be clumsy, not quite in full control of those big paws, adult Danes are not. None of ours has ever broken anything in the house or accidentally turned over anything. Of course, Great Danes are beautiful, too, no matter which color you choose: fawn, black, blue, mantle, harlequin, brindle, or one of the newer coat colors. For me, they make the perfect all-around family pet and canine companion!
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.
liataylor on August 20, 2021:
Very descriptive article about Great Danes. Helpful if you're thinking about adopting one.