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Great Dane Health Care & Feeding

By Michele Welton, Dog Trainer, Breed Selection Consultant, Author of 15 Dog Books

Great Dane

Start your Great Dane off on the right foot by feeding the right food, giving the right vaccinations, finding the right vet, and if you're going to spay or neuter, don't do it too early.

Jump down to this list of
Great Dane Health Problems

Or check out my advice for raising a healthy Great Dane puppy or adult dog:

Obedience instructor and author Michele Welton Dog Health Care – The Sensible Way
Read my advice on daily health care so your Great Dane lives a long, healthy life and seldom needs to see the vet... [read more]

numeral 33 Best Ways To Feed Your Dog Healthy Food
You can dramatically increase your dog's chances of living a long, healthy life by feeding the right food. Cutting right to the chase, the best foods for your Great Dane are... [read more]

Real homemade dog food A Quick Way To Make Homemade Dog Food
Your Great Dane will love real chicken, turkey, beef, fish, eggs, yogurt, broccoli.... this is not just "people food" and I'll tell you why... [read more]

Dry kibble and canned dog food 5 Best Kibble and Canned Dog Foods
Some are better than others, but I must be honest – I'm not a huge fan of dry or canned dog food. Here are my concerns... [read more]

Information on booster shots for your German Shepherd. Vaccinations and Booster Shots: Needed or Not?
How many vaccinations does your Great Dane puppy really need? Does your adult dog need yearly booster shots? The vaccination guidelines have changed! Find out what some vets aren't telling you... [read more]

Information on spaying Spaying Your Female Dog: Pros and Cons
Should your female Great Dane be spayed? Current research says, "The AGE at which you spay can be vitally important to your dog's future health." So what's the best age? [read more]

Information on neutering your male dog. Neutering Your Male Dog: Pros and Cons
Have you been told that you must neuter your male Great Dane? Current research shows that the issue is not so simple. Pet owners are not being told about some risks associated with neutering male dogs, especially neutering too early... [read more]

Information on choosing the best vet Make Sure Your Vet is the Best!
Is your current veterinarian really the best choice for your dog? Here's how to tell... [read more]

Assisi Loop Assisi Loop Review
Does your Great Dane suffer from arthritis, hip dysplasia, disk disease, colitis? My honest review of a veterinary device you can use at home to reduce inflammation and pain. [read more]

Great Dane

Complete list of Great Dane health problems

This gentle giant is prone to so many health problems it's hard to know where to begin.

Three Top Killers of Great Danes

Here are the three health issues that are responsible for the most deaths in Great Danes:

  • Bloat (or gastric torsion) is the number one killer of Great Danes. In fact, of all breeds, the Great Dane is the most likely breed to develop this deadly gastrointestinal syndrome – 1 of every 2 Great Danes is expected to suffer bloat during its lifetime. About half of those dogs will die within just a few hours.
  • Of all breeds, the Great Dane is the second most likely to develop a deadly heart disease called cardiomyopathy. Other life-threatening (or life-shortening) heart diseases in Danes include subaortic stenosis, valve diseases, patent ductus arteriosus, and others.
  • The third deadly disease that claims the lives of many Great Danes is cancer, especially osteosarcoma (bone cancer). Many, many Great Danes suffer bone cancer and require a leg amputation, which only slows the cancer for awhile.

Orthopedic diseases in Great Danes

As you might expect from looking at the big rectangular head perched on the l-o-o-o-ng neck, and the heavy body supported by relatively skinny legs and knobby knees, orthopedic problems are common in Great Danes.

  • Of all breeds, the Great Dane is the most likely to develop a serious disease of their neck vertebrae with the odd but descriptive name of Wobbler's syndrome.
  • The Orthopedic Foundation of America evaluated the hip X-rays of over 14,000 Great Danes and found 13% with hip dysplasia. Of 3000 elbow X-rays, 4% had elbow dysplasia. On the plus side, that rate of elbow dysplasia is not bad for a large dog.
  • Young  Great Danes are susceptible to two syndromes that cause pain and lameness. The milder one is called panosteitis and is usually self-limiting. The other is called hypertrophic osteodystrophy (HOD), which ranges from moderate to severe.

Eye diseases in Great Danes

The most serious eye disease is cataracts, which can appear before 2 years old and can result in blindness.

Eyelid abnormalities (ectropion and entropion) and cherry eye are fairly common in Great Danes.

Glaucoma and progressive retinal atrophy (PRA) can also occur.

Hormonal/endocrine system diseases

Hypothyroidism and Addison's disease are the two main concerns. According to the Michigan State University Thyroid Database, up to 20% of Great Danes have low thyroid levels.

Skin diseases in Great Danes

Skin diseases include allergies (which cause itchy skin), pyoderma (folliculitis and the more severe furunculosis), zinc-responsive dermatosis, and lick granuloma.

A skin disease called color dilution alopecia is common in blue (gray) Great Danes. It causes patchy hair loss resulting in a moth-eaten look, along with chronic skin infections that require medicated baths.

Demodectic mange is regularly seen in Great Dane puppies and adolescents.

In addition to cancerous growths, non-tumorous skin growths occur regularly on Great Danes.

Miscellaneous health problems

Other serious health issues in Great Danes include epilepsy, blood-clotting disease (von Willebrand's), megaesophagus, and cystinuria (urinary disease).

Some harlequin Danes are born partially or completely deaf.

Preventing health problems

Some health problems are inherited. For example, if your dog inherits from his parents the genes for an eye disease called PRA, he will go blind and there's nothing anyone can do about it.

Dog feeding and health book by Michele Welton But most health problems can be prevented by the ways you raise your dog.

FREE eBOOK! My free online health care program, 11 Things You Must Do Right To Keep Your Dog Healthy and Happy shows you how to raise your Great Dane in all the right ways that help prevent health problems. Become your dog's health care champion!

Michele Welton with BuffyAbout the author: Michele Welton has over 40 years of experience as a Dog Trainer, Dog Breed Consultant, and founder of three Dog Training Centers. An expert researcher and author of 15 books about dogs, she loves helping people choose, train, and care for their dogs.

My best-selling books – now available  FREE  on my website

book coverRespect Training For Puppies: 30 seconds to a calm, polite, well-behaved puppy is for puppies 2 to 18 months old. Your puppy will learn the 21 skills that all family dogs need to know. Click here to read for free.
book coverTeach Your Dog 100 English Words is a unique Vocabulary and Respect Training Program that will teach your adult dog to listen to you and do what you say. Click here to read for free.
book cover11 Things You Must Do Right To Keep Your Dog Healthy and Happy helps your dog live a longer, healthier life. Get my honest advice about all 11 Things before you bring home your new puppy, because some mistakes with early health care cannot be undone. Click here to read for free.