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!

    • says

      Another not so great is Great Danes have short life spanes. My beautiful sweet Chaya, passed away after she turned a tender age of 6. She suffered from horrible seizures from the tender age of barely 4mos.
      She was on strong meds, all her short life. She’s been gone almost 3yrs.its been really hard without her. So just a warning Danes also have a lot of health issues.
      But they will be your loyal,companoin, and give lots and lots of love.to you. I wouldn’t trade 1minute with her. I will always cherish our time together.❤❤

  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?


        • Shelby says

          She’s a merle Great Dane. They’re the result of ANY harlequin breeding. With all harl breeding, you will get a couple merles. Merle is considered an off color, but it doesn’t change the breed at all.

  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.

    • Maritia Hall says

      We have had both!
      Get the retriever!!
      So much work and I’m a stay at home mom and he’s still crazy!!

  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.

    • Aprile says

      She’s over feeding. Our puppy, who was malnourished when we got her, is only on 6 cops a day and she’s being fed extra. Great Dane puppies need to have their food and protein intact limited and controlled GREATLY because showing then to grow too fast can cause major health problems later that are irreversible. Just like great dane puppies should NOT be given puppy food after 6-8 weeks, using the feeding recommendations on the dog food bag is not recommended either.

        • Joy says

          I have a Dane, Gus. He’s a fawn. I used to feed him 8 cups a day, but cut him back to 6. Why? Because I don’t want extra food sitting around for him to graze all day. 6 cups keeps him happy and healthy. Now, he’s older, puppies need a Lil more. The vet said 8 was fine up till a certain age start reducing because you will notice that they eat less. So I think it’s what you think is good for your Dane. Not every dog is the same. Gus is 4 and half. :( I dread the day he’s no longer with us. Definitely a diva, even though he’s a male. Haha. I love their personalities, just awesome dogs. My mom doesn’t like him because of the size, but my dad loves it. Haha thanks for sharing.

  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:)

  24. Sami says

    Love this! My dream dog is a Great Dane for when I’m married and living in my own house. Currently living with my parents we have a Saint Bernard and so much of what you said reigns true for them too. Big dogs are the best dogs!!

  25. Donna says

    This is a perfect article for anyone thinking of getting such a big dog!!!
    I have a male blue Merle mantel dane named Chester and he’s my world…he only eats 5 cups a day and a can of wet expensive canned food.
    My husband is freaked out about the slobber issue he’s 2 1/2 and still my husband yells “he’s drinking, He’s drinking!!!” Even though there is a drool dish towel on every arm of the furniture…you’d think he thinks it’s acid rain!
    But we love him (the dane) in spite of the slobber!!
    Thanks for this article I personally know of several people who got Danes and couldn’t handle them and had to re home them.
    They are everything you said and just a joy to love!!!

      • Niki says

        I just have to reply to the “he’s drinking, he’s drinking” comment. We had a small, Croatian Sheepdog named Noelle who used to slobber her drinking water far more than our well-manered Great Dane Nidjy. We got him when he was 2 and we are very grateful to whomever trained him to be so dainty and proper :)

  26. Maureen Swint says

    Great words of wisdom for anyone owning a great dane. Our girl Poppy is our 4th Great Dane, and we love her to death. She is a very affectionate girl, and most people are truly intimidated with a dog that wants to greet you with all her weight. (She leans, her way of hugging). Her “hugging” can knock small children over. Being aware of what is going on with other people when they are around Danes is also essential. Unfortunately, not all people are as in love with big dogs as I am. So a well trained Dane is a must, if you want your friends to visit and bring their children to your house! When people as me about owning a Great Dane, I will be referring them to your blog. Thanks.

  27. Kris S. says

    Your advice and experience is very true! We’ve had our dane, Barley for two years. He too is very slobbery, a diva, a lapdog and has separation anxiety. But he has also become the center of attention and joy at our house.

  28. says

    I love this. I am a first time dane owner. Nothing can ever truly prepare you for owning a dane but this article is a great place to start. I always emphasize to new owners “you’re not getting a dog… You’re getting a dane” completely different! I lucked out with my girl. She’s not much of drooler *I say this and she’ll randomly become the messiest drowler ever tomorrow…just watch* she is the messiest thing ever! Nothing is safe. The one thing you can’t truly prepare for is the massive amount of love you feel for the dog. It’s indescribable!

  29. Jenn says

    I loved this article and I have recently, last week, got my first Dane puppy. We also got a labradoodle puppy. Lol we know. But we are experienced dog owners. I love my Dane. But I did a lot of research before getting him. I just hope I can do him justice and he lives a long happy life with us.

  30. Brenda Rusay says

    We adopted a pup…led to believe he was was a black lab retriever mix….to our baby to vet. She laughed at me telling us he is a great dane mix. Everything in this story is true…he hates when we leave. He cries. Whines… He is stuck to me like glue….I love this guy and would never let him go…he is eight months and still has a lot of puppy in him. I don’t care what he is mixed with….he is my drooling..crying … Heavy baby. His name is Zeus

    • Colleen says

      Oh my gosh, you didn’t know you were getting a Dane mix?! LOL! They become like family so fast, don’t they?!

  31. Kathy says

    Yeah, I’ve always wanted a Great Dane. Now we have FOUR! Three of them are rescues- the most recent was picked up by the dog catcher as a badly malnourished stray one county over from us. They do require hard work to make them good family members, but they are loyal beyond belief. My “puppy”– now almost 2, has been with me (as a rescue) since he was 5 weeks old. NO ONE is allowed to bother HIS Mommy! He’s a 75 pound lap dog (part Boxer) that insists on his daily snuggle time. My house is never spotless (6 dogs total live in) and I know I’ll never have any nice furniture, but they bring a comfortably insane peace to my life. When we take them out in public, people make jokes. Ha ha. But no one is crazy enough to even consider breaking into our house! Danes are wonderful security systems.

    • Colleen says

      FOUR?! WOW! I’m so jealous! And yes, every time UPS or FedEx delivers a package, I have to go outside to meet them because they’re so scared of the barking (little do they know, she would just lick them to death.)

      And this is a weird question, but did you stumble upon this post via Facebook? I’m getting a lot of comments today on this old post and now I’m curious! :)

      • Kathy says

        Our delivery people all KNOW our house- LOL! And most of the time I go out and get the package or they leave in on the doorstep and run. Mine would mostly lick you to death, and with having close to 500 pounds of dogs in the house, you get bum-rushed every time you come in the door- no matter how long you were gone.

        Yes, picked this up on FB, think it was one of the GD pages. Always curious to hear what others think of this giant breed. We have: Star ( Mantle Mastidane), Link (Brindle Boxing Dane- puppy rescue) Pocket (Harley purebred – former puppy mill momma), and Ninja (Mantle purebred rescued stray) along with a Pit X and a Weimaraner (also a rescue) in the house. Our Danes only eat 4c/day and are in great shape. They have the XL dog door in the storm door and still have to duck when they go out. They adore lounging around the wood stove and love long runs when it snows (wearing their orange Weatherbeeta blankets of course). We have a 100 ac farm, so they have plenty of room.

  32. Debbie says

    You nailed it! I have 2 Danes. Not related. About 3 months apart. They love us dearly but these 2 love each other also yes they are love bugs and very protective of us and their other pack members. Everyone has a comment about them can I ride them, do they bite I love them more each day they are very comical dogs have great personalities everyone should have a Dane to know the true meaning of love!

  33. JENNIFER says

    I have 3 great danes and love them all to pieces. One thing though; if they ever get out while you are not home, they are like pack animals. Ours busted our fence and got out 10/30/15 while we were grocery shopping. Scariest thing ever since the animal control met us at the house, having not yet located our dogs. I got to them before she did but still issued a $150 fine.

    Even if they had gotten them first I wanted my babies back. I love them like they were my children.

  34. Krista says

    Oh my goodness, this just makes me want one even more. However I think I want to adopt. So many get left behind because they’re too much dog! Breaks my heart!! Uh I can’t wait till I find the right one for my and my girls!!!

  35. Greg says

    What a great post! Thank you so much for providing a great starting point for people considering a Dane as a new family member. It so heartbreaking when you see them abandoned because people didn’t fully realize the commitment they were taking on.
    Our family has been lucky enough to have 14 Great Danes choose to spend their lives with us over the years. We are soon going to add number 15 to the list.
    We couldn’t imagine having another breed of dog.

  36. says

    Such a great article on Danes. One thing I would like to add is that as fast as they win your heart, they will break your heart. We lost our Gracie Lou in July to spontaneous pnemothorax (common in deep chested dogs) and i still mourn for her every day. Everything you said is so true and so worth any of the inconveniences.

  37. Margie says

    I love my Great Dane, Carmella. All of my dogs have been medium-sized to Great Dane-sized. I wish I could have more than one but I don’t have another King-sized bed and Carmella takes a large portion of it. I have gone through a couch, love seat and many leather shoes…she doesn’t like the pleather ones plus one part of my carpet. I still would never trade her for any other breed. She celebrated her 9th birthday but still has a lot of spunk. Good luck and 💘 love your Dane everyday!

  38. Tiffany Crews says

    What a great article!!!! I have 3 Danes. I got my boy, Dexter aka Boog (the love of my life) on 2/3/13 when he was 7 weeks old. And then we added two adoptions this year. Mya is a very small blue Merle adopted in March at 2 years old and Gypsy aka Big Girl is a white Dane and was 1.5 when we got her in May. Gypsy is my deaf Dane and all 3 are just so dang amazing!!!! And like you said, worth every single penny!!!! Btw, Penny is a stunning girl!!!!

  39. Kay says

    I have 2 sister great danes (lost the 3rd sister to cancer last year). Great article, made me giggle with the memories of puppy life. One thing you missed and I think any potential GD owner should try it for at least a week…..POOP patrol ! No delicate little scented bags for our girls/boys…..some days you just pray for a JCB to follow you on the daily walk. At the very least be prepared with a shovel and industrial strength bin bags !!! Having said that, I wouldnt change a thing.

  40. sandy says

    I have two great danes we just bought a house in gulf shores the main think we looked for was a back yard with a 8 foot fence wood. one is blue the other is fown in color.they were abandoned one because of baby on way the other because of size not sure what they were thinking almost never got them to get along the blue one came at 8 Months other came at 2 years old now they love each other but it took 3 months and a lot of patience it was hard but I would not give up. The one that was older when he came has a baby which he sucks on all the time. A stuffed toy. I assume this is abanament issues but we love them both they come first. They are the joy in our life.

  41. Lauren says

    Oh gosh YES! I have owned 3 Great Danes. I’m a huge animal lover and it kills me to see people get this breed and then discard them because they “didn’t know they would be so big.” Breaks my heart. As soon as people see my Danes and say they want one, I’m quick to tell them how difficult it is to raise one. It’s DEFINITELY worth it, but dang…it’s really hard. Love this article you wrote! :)


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *