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As the tallest dog breed, Great Danes are arguably the largest lap dogs. They can make a great addition to most families, even those that live in apartments.
Sadly, large breed dogs have shorter lifespans than small breeds and the Great Dane lifespan is, unfortunately, one of the shortest.
What is the average lifespan of a Great Dane?
Let’s talk about that and ways that you can help your Great Dane live longer.
According to the American Kennel Club (AKC), the average life expectancy of a Great Dane is 7 to 10 years.
Scientists believe that large dog breeds have shorter lives than small dogs because they age so much faster.
Additionally, large dog breeds are more prone to certain health conditions that can shorten a dog’s life or lessen their quality of life as they age.
The number one killer of Great Danes is bloat, a condition where the stomach fills with air and rotates on its axis, cutting off the blood supply to a dog’s intestines.
Half of all dogs who get bloat will die from it, and even if you get your dog to the vet quickly, only 1 out of 3 dogs will survive emergency surgery and recover from bloat.
Other factors that can shorten the Great Dane lifespan include:
- Hip dysplasia
- Heart disease/dilated cardiomyopathy
Officially called gastric dilation and volvulus syndrome (GDV), bloat usually affects dogs with deep chests and is the number one cause of death for Great Danes.
If your Great Dane displays any of the following symptoms, get them to the vet immediately:
- Abdominal pain or swelling
- Excessive drooling
- Anxious behavior
- Repetitive vomiting
- Fast heartbeat
- Difficulty breathing
- Weak pulse
- Pale gums
While Great Danes are genetically predisposed to bloat, there are several things you can do to help prevent your dog from developing bloat, like:
- Feed 2-3 smaller meals per day
- Slow down your Great Dane’s eating with a slow feeder bowl
- Limit exercise after meals
- Make sure fat isn’t one of the first 4 ingredients of your dog’s food
- Reduce stress
- Surgery to tack the stomach to the dog’s belly
Apart from doing your best to help prevent your Great Dane from developing bloat, there are some other things you can do to help your Great Dane live a long and happy life.
Great Danes who have a first-degree relative who gets bloat (like a parent) are more likely to have bloat themselves. Additionally, Great Danes are prone to genetic problems like heart disease and hip dysplasia.
That’s why finding a reputable breeder is crucial. Some breeders are only concerned with making money or producing Great Danes who look nice with no concern for the overall health of the animals.
Good breeders test their dogs for genetic problems before breeding them and work hard to produce the healthiest puppies possible. Finding a breeder who is actively trying to improve the breed can help reduce the odds of your Great Dane having genetic health problems that could shorten their lifespan.
Here are some tips for finding a reputable breeder:
- Never buy a puppy from a pet store or puppy mill
- You should be able to visit puppies on site
- You should be allowed to meet the mother and maybe the father
- The breeder should answer all your questions and ask plenty of their own to make sure you will be a good pet parent
- The breeder should do health tests on prospective breeding dogs
- They should be willing to take your dog back if you can’t keep them
Obesity causes many of the same health problems in dogs as it does in humans. This is especially important for Great Danes since carrying extra weight puts more strain on their joints and can cause or worsen mobility issues like arthritis and hip dysplasia.
A few problems associated with obesity in dogs include:
- Breathing problems
- Heat intolerance
- High blood pressure
- Liver disease
- Increased cancer risk
- Reduced immune system function
- Increased anesthesia risk
As you can imagine, most of these problems can shorten the Great Dane lifespan.
How can you tell if your Great Dane is overweight? They should have an obvious tucked in waist when viewed from the side and from above, and you should be able to feel their ribs and spine.
If your Great Dane is overweight, you should talk to your vet about the best way to help them lose weight. Sometimes simply reducing their current amount of food intake can cause nutrient deficiencies.
Just like with humans, staying fit helps increase your dog’s lifespan and improve their quality of life. While Great Danes are often happy to be giant lap dogs, they should still get 30 to 60 minutes of exercise per day.
Long walks are a great gentle form of exercise that won’t strain your Great Dane’s joints, but a Great Dane who is at least 18 months old can also go for a run or enjoy an intense game of fetch. Great Dane puppies who are still growing should not run because it can put too much strain on their developing bones and joints.
Many health conditions in dogs are treatable if you catch them early enough, so it’s important to take your Great Dane to the vet at least once a year when they are young and twice a year as they near their senior years.
Since Great Danes are so prone to killer bloat, it’s also important to take your dog to the vet if they are displaying any unusual symptoms – it’s better to go to the vet for nothing than risk your Great Dane dying from bloat because you didn’t take their symptoms seriously.
Great Danes have very specific dietary needs. Did you know they shouldn’t have food that’s too high in protein?
To learn more about feeding your Great Dane, check out the Best Dog Food for Great Danes.
How you feed your Great Dane is just as important as what you feed them. Dogs that eat only one meal per day are more likely to get bloat, so feed your Great Dane 2 to 3 times per day and prevent them from being too active after they eat to help prevent your dog from getting bloat.
Did you know that your Great Dane’s overall health can be affected by their dental health? It’s true. Without proper dental care, bacteria that lurks under your dog’s gum line can enter their bloodstream and affect their organs, including their heart.
Ideally, you should brush your Great Dane’s teeth every day with a toothpaste made for dogs. Barring that, make sure they have plenty of appropriate things to chew on and get a dental cleaning done by the vet when they suggest it.
Want more information about things your Great Dane can safely chew on? Check out the 10 Best Dog Bones for Big Dogs or 5 Best Indestructible Dog Toys for Aggressive Chewers for more information.
Being a large breed dog, Great Danes are prone to hip dysplasia and arthritis. Hip and joint supplements can reduce inflammation and relieve pain, even before your Great Dane starts showing symptoms (dogs tend to hide their pain).
Your Great Dane may also benefit from a fish oil supplement. Fish oil can help improve your dog’s skin and coat and may also help reduce joint inflammation. You can learn more about the benefits of fish oil here.
While we’ll never have as much time with our fur children as we would like, there are some things you can do to help increase the Great Dane lifespan and quality of life.
The most important thing is just to enjoy your time with your dog while you can and never take them for granted because you never know when they may be yanked out of your life.