8 Things to Consider Before Owning a Great Dane

As most of you know, I am over-the-moon in love with my Great Dane, Penny. What you might not know is that 92.7% of everyone who sees her says, “I’VE ALWAYS WANTED A GREAT DANE!!”

Which brings me to this post.

A shocking thing I’ve come to learn is that so many Great Danes are abandoned because their owners didn’t know what they were getting into (cue: weeping)

SO, if you think you want a Great Dane, here are some things to consider.*


1. Size Matters: Obviously, Danes are ginormous dogs. On average, male Danes measure anywhere from 32″ – 36″ at the shoulder and weigh anywhere from 140 – 180 pounds. Females, on average, stand between 28″ and 32″ at the shoulder and weigh around 110 – 140 pounds. While it may look neat, you really need to consider if owning a dog that big is right for you.

baby penny

2. You’re ready for a financial investment: Great Danes are not inexpensive dogs to own. From vet bills to foods costs, you need to be ready to shell out a pretty penny for your Great Dane. Penny eats 8 cups of food per day, and we’ve yet to have a vet visit under $150. FYI: Big things (beds, collars, toys, etc.) cost more than “average sized” things.

Screen Shot 2014-06-02 at 6.01.12 PM3. The struggle Slobber is real: Holy shit. If you’re a neat freak or extremely attached to your clean wood floors, just go with another breed. So. much. drool. 

Screen Shot 2014-06-02 at 6.00.17 PM

4. If personal space is your thing: Go with another breed. I didn’t know the true meaning of velcro until we got Penny. I absolutely love this about Great Danes, but most people don’t realize that these giants are actually fierce lap dogs ;)


5. Great Dane? More like, Great Diva: Penny is the biggest diva I’ve ever met. When I read that Danes are “strong willed” I couldn’t even begin to comprehend the truth. Then, we got Penny. She moans if you try to get her to move and she doesn’t want to. She groans if you move and she doesn’t want to you. Danes do what Danes want to do. (Proof)Screen Shot 2014-06-02 at 6.00.25 PM6. Separation anxiety: Danes are not dogs you can leave alone for 10 hours a day. Most Danes are prone to separation anxiety, and can become destructive and depressed when left alone for too long. (Velcro, remember? ;) )

Screen Shot 2014-06-02 at 6.35.19 PM

7. Training, training, training: If you do not want to invest your time and money into training, a Great Dane might not be the best breed for you. It’s not realistic to think you can have a dog this size and not have them obey you. A Great Dane pulling on the leash is quite terrifying. A Great Dane chewing on your couch is quite devastating. A Great Dane jumping on you when you walk in the door is quite painful. You get the picture…you need to be in charge. (We owe so much to the fantastic people at 2 Speak Dog!)

2 speak dog

8. You’re ready for your heart to explode with love: Yes, Penny is expensive. She’s going to be freakin’ huge. She’s slobbery. She’s needy. She’s more work than smaller dog might be.

But, in my experience, she’s worth all of that and more. She’s a gentle giant. She’s a love bug. She’s  funny. She’s fantastic. Penny has easily become the third member of our family and I love her tremendously!


*I am not a dog expert, duh. This is just my experience. There is so much information out there about owning Great Danes – please do your research before owning this breed!




  1. says

    This is an awesome article for anyone wanting a Great Dane but also good for anyone thinking about getting a dog! I wish we had researched Beagle before getting our Gemma. I mean I love her to bits but hard work! She pulls so much on a lead – can’t even begin to imagine how Penny would be!

  2. says

    I LOVE PENNY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! And I also love this post. I feel like you wrote it in a way that was fun an accessible but still cautionary. Dogs are a HUGE commitment. They’re pretty much the best thing ever, but it’s hard to know what you’re getting into if you’re a first-time dog owner and you’re simply wooed by the cute face of a puppy. I think vizslas are amazing dogs, but whenever people ask me about owning one, I react similarly to the way you wrote this post. Vizslas are amazing but you HAVE to be ready to give them so much attention and exercise… basically take your expectations and triple it. Like danes, vizslas are Velcro dogs which I think is the best thing ever, but if you’re not into smothering and having a dog follow you into the bathroom to watch you pee, another breed might be a better fit. :) P.S. That last pic of you and Penny melts my heart!

      • Jessica says

        Hi Colleen,
        Penny is absolutely adorable. I have not seen a great dane with her coloring… typically a harlequin is black and white and she looks almost like a blue harlequin. Do you mind emailing me back the name of her breed and if possible the information to her breeder?


  3. says

    I love this post (especially all the pictures!) I also think this needs to be shared, like, everywhere. It makes me so sad to see rescues that are just FULL of young dogs because people can’t handle them once they are past cute little puppy phase.

    Side note: I was running yesterday and coming up behind a lady that was training her great dane to sit and stay. I remember thinking that her training that dog not to chase after me when I ran by was probably going to save her a lot of scrapes and bruises! It was also the cutest thing ever.

  4. says

    This is such a great post – so informative! We have a pug, and can definitely relate to the separation anxiety thing…he hates being left alone. We did do some research on them before we got Atticus, so it helped us to know what to expect.

  5. says

    Love this… I don’t have a great dane… I have a… well, I don’t know what he is other than awesome but this is great for anyone looking to own a dog. I think people get wrapped up in the cuteness factor and forget that it comes with a lot of work and responsibility [while also huge hugs, kisses, and moments of deep belly laughter]. :)

  6. says

    Big dogs are seriously the best! I feel like I could have written this exact same post about my newfoundland, though I’d have to add #9 about the fur, so much fur!!

  7. Katie says

    Thank you so much for this post! I’ve been looking into various types of dog breads and this was helpful. Also, Penny is beautiful!

  8. says

    We’ve always said that if we get a dog it will be either a Great Dane or Golden Retriever. One reason we haven’t is cost. We want to make sure we have the time, are financially stable and ability to care for a dog. It isn’t like a houseplant and god knows we are not ready for any babies.

  9. Jamie says

    Great insight and some of it it true for any dog. They require not just financial investments but also investments of time,etc. I love my dog to pieces and would get another in a heartbeat but I also know the commitment it takes and will not do it until I can be all in…..:)

  10. Colette says

    Holy shit – 8 cups of food a day? EIGHT?!? My little guy eats 3/4 a cup a day. The huge 50lb bags take us months to get through.

  11. Sarah says

    Not only do I love your Penny posts (I pet her through my screen-sorry), but this was informative as well. While I have experience with “bigger” dogs, sounds like Great Danes are different (but sooooo cute).

    Just curious, can you run with her? I love running with my dogs (80lb boxer/rottie mix and the slightly plump 30lb puggle) and want this in any future doggies we may welcome into our family.

  12. Rachel says

    Hi Collen!! Penny is absolutely adorable :) Did you guys rescue her or buy her from a breeder? If the later, I would encourage you to consider breed-specific rescue groups in the future for Danes or whatever breed you might be looking for. 4 million animals will be euthanized this year alone for lack of good homes and buying from breeders perpetuates this needless suffering and euthanasia of healthy animals. I’m happy to answer any questions, just some food for thought!!

  13. Margaret says

    Not to be dreary, but you forgot to mention heartbreak in a shorter time since their life expectancy is shorter. You try to prep yourself, but it hurts much more when they leave you since they have such HUGE personalities. You have to be one of the people who believe it’s better to have loved and lost then to have never loved at all…..

      • Janel says

        I love this post. Definitely spot on. I have 3 danes, 2 merles like Penny and 1 harl. Unfortunately, 2 of mine are elderly, 11.5 yo. We are at the point of end of Life decisions. I wouldn’t have changed a thing.

        • Colleen says

          Three?! That’s so great. And 11.5 year old, that’s old for a Great Dane – that gives me hope :) Best wishes for this time of making difficult decisions. I’m going to go give Penny a tight hug right now <3

  14. says

    I think anyone considering a Great Dane should read this. Actually, on my street alone, there are two different homes that own Great Danes. I should be all, ‘You should check out this blog post!’ I definitely couldn’t do it, so at least I know this and didn’t just rush out and get a dog not knowing the responsibilities (oh wait, that’s exactly what my neighbors did!)

  15. says

    She is beautiful!
    This is a great post. Both my boyfriend and I would like a dog but not until one of us is able to stay at home during the day. It upsets me when dogs are left in crates for 15+ hours a day because their owners are both out at work.
    My boyfriend has always wanted a bigger dog but realistically, I know a smaller terrier-sized dog would suit us a lot better for all the reasons you mentioned above!

  16. Gina says

    I love your article! We have two Great Danes that stay inside with us and everything in your article is so true! We have a lot of hair having two of them so I sweep twice a day. Great Danes are fabulous but they aren’t for everyone. You brought up super good points and I hope people take them to heart before they purchase one.

  17. Flora says

    i agree with 1-10. Especially 10. My heart explodes for my Sasha. I would add somewhere between expense and separation anxiety the issue of traveling and leaving your Dane behind. I am blessed to have a house sitter, since kennels are expensive for a dog this size and it multiples the separation anxiety to take her unknown place. While I would like everyone to adopt a Dane, it is not the right dog for frequent traveler.

    • Colleen says

      Such a good point, Flora! Yeah, someone who travels often would not be a good fit for a Dane. And even if you have someone to watch your Dane while you’re gone (as opposed to a kennel) not everyone is comfortable handling a Great Dane, you know? So, knowing how often you’ll need a dog sitting is certainly something to consider before brining a Great Dane into your life. Thanks for the input! :)

  18. Megan says

    I love your post and it is completely accurate!! I wasn’t aware of some of these things before we got a Dane, but after we got one…we loved her so much, we had to get another. Two Danes later, our hearts and our home are full! Your Penny is absolutely beautiful, her personality shines through in your pictures. Thanks for sharing these wonderful points!

    • Colleen says

      Oh that is so fun that you have two!! I told my husband I wanted a second one…while I was pregnant with our first baby. He was like “Are you out of your mind?! No way.” LOL! We got Penny as a puppy, which was great, but next time around, we’ll definitely adopt one. At the time, I had no idea how many amazing Dane rescues there are!

      • Janel says

        I love this post. Definitely spot on. I have 3 danes, 2 merles like Penny and 1 harl. Unfortunately, 2 of mine are elderly, 11.5 yo. We are at the point of end of Life decisions. I wouldn’t have changed a thing. A great rescue is big dogs huge pass. We got our 3rd from them and will get any future danes.

  19. Lauren says

    I love this post!! I too have a Dane who is the exact coloring like your penny! Her name is Farrah and she’s 2 years old :) I am so in love with my baby that and Great Danes are hands down the best dogs I’ve ever owned, but they are a lot of work. She has definitely been a handful but if anyone is ready to be a mom a Dane is the best way to start! Thank you for sharing your wisdom on these big babies!

    P.s. My Farrah is just like your penny when it comes to being a DIVA …. She definitely gets it from her momma ;)

  20. Candie Netherland says

    Love this pin!! I am on my 3rd Great Dane, and I love them so much . Everything you said was spot on! That’s Excactly the way Danes are. People have to be Aware of the expense. I am a Professional dog groomer and have been for over 30 years, so I know what goes on, keep up your good work .

  21. A Inzer says

    Wonderfully written and spot on article about Great Danes. I currently own my 2nd rescued Great Dane. The comment I hear is ” I didn’t know they would get that big!” People please do your research, there is so much information to help you be informed before you bring one of these needy giants into your home. After you research and are well informed and still think a Great Dane is right for you I couldn’t recommend a better fur kid to have!
    P.S. Penny is just beautiful love the pictures!

  22. Courtney says

    Hi Colleen,

    It’s nice to see posts like yours helping to raise awareness of the requirements of owning a giant breed dog like a Dane as well as the rewards.

    I’ve shared my life and home with Danes for the better part of two decades now, and I’ve been teaching puppy and obedience classes and showing in AKC obedience competitions almost as long. I have to disagree with your claim that Danes are prone to separation anxiety. No well balanced dog is prone to separation anxiety. With that said, no dog should be left alone in a house for 10 hours with nothing to do. With all of the Danes I know and have known that were mine or those of my friends who bred and showed, I’ve known one who had true separation anxiety, and she had hypothyroidism that was difficult to control, causing mood swings and her anxiety.

    Danes are very people dependent, so it is important for people who work to crate train puppies when they are baby puppies (starting as soon as they come home) so that they are not shocked by suddenly being put into a crate when they are 6 months old. A lot of people mistake a puppy’s temper tantrum over the crate and sudden restriction at this point for separation anxiety.

    Penny is such a cutie! It seems like an eternity since any of mine were that little, but my youngest (Dean) is only 14 months! My older 2 are 5 yrs (Ishtar) and 9 yrs (Hazzard), so them I understand…I guess Dean has just run me that ragged. :-)


    • Colleen says

      Hi, Courtney! Thanks so much for your knowledgable feedback. That’s amazing that you’ve shared your life with Danes for 2 decades now. How wonderful! All the training we’ve been through with Penny, and from the research I did, I learned that Danes were prone to separation anxiety, and Penny certainly displays it; but, I am certainly not an expert! I agree, no dog should be left for 10+ hours a day (it’s so unfortunate that that’s a reality for some dogs!) and that Danes are velcro in the canine form :) I think Danes are just more sensitive than other breeds and really do need their “people” more so than other dogs.
      I bet your Danes are just wonderful! I wish we could have more than one, but it’s just not in the cards right now.
      Thanks again, Courtney! :)

  23. Stefanie Morgan says

    I love this post about all the “dangers” of owning a Dane.:) I had one for 12 1/2 years and she was a true love bug lap Dane. I would like to mention one thing. If you consider getting a Dane please have their stomach tacked ( gastropexy ) to help prevent gastric dilation ( bloat ). My Maggie’s mom died of bloat at age 6, a Dane I rescued bloated 7 days after I got him. I was very fortunate to get him to the vet in time for life saving surgery, most are not that fortunate. My bosses’ Boxer died of bloat and she said it was a horrible death.
    Thanks again for all the insightful things to consider before getting a Dane:)


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