Vulpine Great Danes

Click here to edit subtitle

Why should you select a Great Dane for your family?  

Frequently Asked Questions:


Q.  How much room does a Great Dane need?  

A.  Great Danes are highly adaptable to many different living situations.  They are capable of living in an apartment in NYC (ask some of our owners!) and also do well on acreage in a farm type environment.  Great Danes need their humans, and time with their people is the most important thing.  They love to run, so if you have access to somewhere that they can play and burn off some of that extra energy, that is the best case scenario.  If their energy builds up without release, you can find this occurs in bursts, that Dane owners call "The Zoomies".  These wild runs through your house, up and around furniture in some cases are quite entertaining to watch!  I have some Great Danes that enjoy a swim in the pond, and others that will not step foot in mud.  Generally if you are happy, and you can get them walks during the day if you can't take them out to play, you will find that your Great Dane adapts very well with your life style.  


Q. Are Great Danes good with small children?

A.  Great Danes are very loyal family dogs.  Their enthusiasm is the only thing that can get in the way of a small child.  They have a tendency to move erratically if something catches their eye or they decide to "Zoomie".  They also do not like to be ridden by small children!  This is not safe, as it can damage their sensitive spines.  As big and as tough as they look, they are really are quite a delicate little Danish. I do not discriminate against families that are planning to have children or have small children in the home.  It is the owner, not the dog, that can make this situation good for all involved.  Breeders do their job by providing dogs with stable and loving temperaments.  


Q.  How fast do Great Danes grow?

A.  Expect your cute "little" puppy to weigh up to 80 lbs or more at 6 months of age.  Feed the food recommended by your breeder, so that you can ensure they grow as slowly as possible.  Since they grow so fast, it is important that they are not made to exercise strenuously before they are 18 months of age.  This can void many health guarantees, and is detrimental to the health of your Dane.  We do not recommend jogging with your Dane puppy until he/she are at least 18 months of age.  


Q.   How much do they eat?

A.   A full grown Great Dane eats surprising less than you would expect.  


Q.  What health problems occur in Great Danes?

A.   Great Danes are prone to bloat, heart disease, hip dysplasia, and mast cell tumors.  Tail problems called "happy tail" can also occur.  


Q.  What is the average life expectancy of Great Danes?

A.  The average is under 10 years of age, although some can live to 12 or 13 years. 


                                   HEIGHT & WEIGHT DATA FOR DANES

When reading the below, remember that all pups follow their own guide, and grow at their own rate--other guides (listed below chart), are better for knowing what is "right" than just ht/wt data. Dane puppies generally should gain 3-5# per week during their rapid growth phase. Weighing puppies regularly can help prevent problems. Here is a general guide:

  • Birth weight: 1-2 lbs
  • Week 1: 2-3 lbs
  • Week 2: 3-5 lbs
  • Week 3: 4-7 lbs
  • Week 4: 5-8 lbs
  • Week 6: 10-20 lbs
  • Month 2: 15-30 lbs (13-17")
  • Month 3: 30-45 lbs (17-22")
  • Month 4: 50-65 lbs (21-25")
  • Month 5: 65-85 lbs (25-30")
  • Month 6: 70-100 lbs (27-32")
  • Month 7: 75-110 lbs (27-33")
  • Month 8: 80-115 lbs. (27-34")
  • Month 9: 85-120 lbs. (28-34")
  • One year: 90-135 lbs (28-36")
  • Full grown: 100-190 lbs (28-38")-->
    For males: 135-170 lbs. & 33-36" is typical. for females: 110-140 lbs. & 30-33" is typical.


Some danes may actually weigh less/be smaller than this chart indicates & a few may weigh more--but more in this case may mean the pup is being overfed &/or growing too fast. If not, he is may be"overboned"--so then he really then needs to stay slim & have his weight gain monitored, as heavier boned dogs can be more prone to joint & bone problems. Remember the only requirement under the standard is 28" for females & 30" for males--and that was generally intended to apply specifically to adult danes, and most AKC Danes achieve that as puppies in the first year. When there was a weight guide in the standard, that 28" adult female was expected to weigh 100 lbs. & that fully mature 30" male would weight around 120 lbs. Balance is what the standard calls for, not just bigness! And (see below) exaggerations in size (height and/or weight) can carry with it costs (even penalties).


Please follow this link to ChromaDanes for more info on the above chart.


HOW TO FEED YOUR DANE?

Trying to figure out how best to feed your dog these days is a trying business. Marketing plays such a large role in in the multi-million dollar pet food industry, owners can end up both frustrated & led astray by various competing claims, nevermind passion & biased positioning by various advocates (many of whom have a strident internet voice), just adds to the confusion. It seems nearly every year there is a new "best" or "worst" ingredient, a "better way" to feed (that is more "natural," more nutritious, less toxic--i.e. uses some fear or "buzz word" to gain consumers). It's important to be a savvy consumer. Scare tactics that make unsupported claims about an ingredient being "good" or "bad" sway many, but claims such as "corn is bad" or "avoid by-products" don't have any legitimate science behind them, & suggesting a consumer is "smart" by concentrating on the ingredient list is simply an advertising ploy (as naturally the company engaging in this tactic always claims it has the best set of ingredients, it's biggest rival has the worst). You cannot check nutrient value by looking at the list of ingredients. And comparisons to human diet & human habits (eating a variety of foods for example) as well as claims about "ancestral" diets for dogs are generally based on little more than speculation & anthropomorphism. So don't let useless comparisons & emotional triggers chose for you what you feed your dog.

Here are five simple steps to help untangle the mystery of what food is best for your dog:

  • (1) Buy a domestic product (manufactured here in the USA) from a company that does not out-source (i.e. has its own manufacturing plant) as this demonstrates a commitment to quality control;
  • (2), Buy from a company that can document it is involved in actual feeding trials--AAFCO isn't enough--the AAFCO portion of the label should declare feeding trials are part of a routine procedure;
  • (3) Buy from a company that has been in business more than a few years (ideally a few decades)--any company not making dog food longer than the length of a dog's life can hardly make reasonable claims it's "better" or "best" for you dog;
  • (4) Buy from a company that can document it has at least one board-certified veterinary nutritionist on its staff who is responsible for the formulation of the products as well as overall quality control;
  • (5) Buy from a company that is invested in research & development (not just using its profits for advertising to increase sales)--these companies will change their formulas when research demands it & maintain a good formula when fads would have ended in changes in a company that is more driven by their advertising & sales divisions.

Add to that the extra steps needed for giant puppies (see links below) to promote slow & even growth, and you can be confident the food you choose is correct for your dog & move on, not worrying about changing foods & ignore the endless dog food advertisements. Consider that the dog food industry is much like the breakfast cereal industry here in the USA: walk down an aisle & see an endless array of choices, turn on the TV & hear ad after ad tell you this product is better than the others. This is an internal war where dozens of manufacturers tap into a "soft" market (where there isn't a single salient choice to suit all laid down by logic or law); and a very rich vein of consumer wealth from their perspective. We all want to feed our children & our pets well; we want to do best by them, and that is a motivating factor the advertising section of any company that produces dog food or breakfast cereal is going to play to. So look for companies not so obviously run by their advertising; those companies quietly in business who sell well by word of mouth & customer satisfaction do not need to pay for in-store advocates or prime time advertising, & may well be making a reasonable profit while concentrating on providing a good quality product.



Keep in mind feeding charts are only "rule of thumb": some pups eat more, some less--feed to the specific puppy's needs. The standard is to use a "23/12" (protein/fat content) meat-based diet. But what is best can vary, depending on the food you're feeding, the exercise the pup is getting and the individual metabolism of the pup. It's a better guide than food amount or looking at the contents on a bag of food to weigh the puppy regularly (looking for a slow, steady weight gain) & watch for even growth, while keeping a puppy "ribby" & slightly "flanky" (a little on the lean side, with the ribs, but not the hip bones, in evidence): Roly-poly puppies are prone to all sorts of growth problems as are pups that gain more than 5# a week. It is generally accepted the usual problems with growing giant puppies revolve around too many calories and too much calcium & growing too fast--these issues can be too commonly seen especially amongst anxious and loving new "parents" trying to give the puppy "everything." Again LESS IS MORE. See the links & below for more information about diet & growth.


ISSUES OF GROWTH: "GROWING PAINS" & GROWTH PROBLEMS (OSTEODYSTROPHIES).

(Note: the following is written in layman's terms to aid the average owner. Several links to more technical articles are offered below.) In the first year, some giant puppies will experience various issues related to rapid growth. These can vary from what is essentially cosmetic (the puppy has the "uglies" for a time) to truly pathological (the puppy has a deforming disease that could have a permanent effect on his structure & health). These conditions & diseases can be labeled using a variety of names (e.g. H.O.D., panosteitis, epyphisitis, early closure) & all fall under the general rubric of osteodystrophies (abnormal growth). Puppies when severely affected typically exhibit lethargy, inappetite (i.e. they are unwilling to move around or eat), lameness, reluctance to move, fever & joint pain/swelling. Most of these conditions began with disturbances of the growth pattern: before the puppy is actually ill s/he may appear "down in the pasterns," "cow-hocked," "knock-kneed," "high in the rear," "easty-westy," and/or "steep crouped." What can be confusing to many owners is some giant pups may appear to have "ungainly" growth without experiencing actual disease. Most of these conditions involve problems with the conversion of cartilage to bone & are related to the astonishing rate of growth that is typical for giant breed dogs.

Expert advice from those experienced with giants (be they veterinarians or breeders/owners) is needed in these situations simply because giant puppies are already outside the "canine norm" so it takes an experienced eye to see what is normal and not for a giant pup. An accurate diagnosis will generally require Xrays (radiographs) & this is always a good first step for the pro-active owner. Typically these growth problems are related to inflammation, so the most important step as to treatment is to see that an appropriate anti-inflammatory (such as Metacam, Zubrin, Deramaxx, Rimadyl) is prescribed immediately. Additional analgesics may be in order (as sometime these conditions are intensely painful). Occasionally the short-term use of corticosteroids are necessary to "shut down" the "runaway" inflammation. Typically a broad spectrum antibiotic is then also prescribed, this mostly just as a preventative to 2ndary infection & is thought part of the "shot-gun" approach thought necessary in situations like this where there is not actual CURE but only supportive treatment. Rest is often prescribed, but puppies should likely be encouraged to exercise according to their comfort zone. Diet is typically reviewed, calcium & calories often reduced to help slow growth.


HYPERTROPHIC OSTEODYSTROPHY is the most serious of all these conditions & the GDCA is sponsoring a study into H.O.D, click here for more info.

All evidence to date suggests that HOD is an autoimmune disease much like juvenile rheumatoid arthritis (JRA) in humans. Autoimmune diseases involve an *over-reaction* of the immune system: the body's own system intended for protection actually attacks a specific tissue, in this case the joints (other such diseases include Addison's disease, lymphocytic hypothyroidism, systemic lupus erythmatosus, etc...) NOTE THEREFORE the proper treatment for autoimmune generated HOD is typically going to involve corticosteriods to "shut down" the "run away train" of an immune system out of control. Antibiotics & analgesics (pain killers) may also be prescribed, diet may be changed to slow growth, but it takes a drug that strongly suppresses the immune system typically to effect a recovery where autoimmune disease is involved. While triggers (immediate causes) for such may vary (such as viruses, vaccines & potentially anything that would stimulate the immune system), autoimmune diseases have as a fundamental cause dysfunctional alleles (mutant genes without which such disease cannot occur) of the MHC (major histocompatibility complex) & associated histocompatibility genes (so there is an underlying inherited tendency towards autoimmune disease). HOD in Danes is normally diagnosed before 6 months & is a disorder of the JOINTS & radiographs (Xrays) normally confirm the diagnosis. Panosteitis normally occurs later & involves the long bone itself (not the joint)--again Xrays are typically definitive. Epyphisitis/physitis is a joint disease similar to HOD but of late onset (after 6 mo) & of lesser severity. If you have a young puppy with swollen joints, a fever, etc., do not delay treatment, as the inflammation that underlies autoimmune diseases like HOD itself can lead to pain, deformity & even death.