So, like me, you’ve done all the research, watched all of the tutorials, and you’ve found yourself wanting a Great Dane puppy; now what?
I had spent my childhood around larger dogs, as my family had always had Golden Retrievers. I was looking for something that was, like me, a little on the quirkier side. Great Danes are known for their massive size, mine being only sixteen weeks old and already over fifty pounds (to put this in perspective, he already weighs more than half of me). However, the Apollo of the dogs is probably best known for their gentle nature and sweet disposition. So, in February of my senior year in college, I threw my best friend in the car and drove over an hour to a breeder to check out his pups. When I first saw the whelping box full of thirtten (yes, THIRTEEN) little black puppies, there was Hank, only three weeks old, already seven pounds, and sitting on his sister’s head. Yep, that one would end up coming home with me just three weeks later.
Now, I know many experts recommend keeping pups with their mother and litter mates until at least eight weeks of age, but bringing Hank home at six weeks was arguably the best decision I’ve made so far. As it turned out, his six week birthday and my spring break coincided perfectly, so I was able to bring him home with me and spent my entire week long break training and bonding with him. By the time I brought him back to school with me, he was completely potty trained. For those of you that struggle with math, yes, he was potty trained before he was eight weeks old.
While bringing him home at six weeks was the best decision I made, giving up on crate training after he was potty trained was the worst. None of my childhood dogs were crate trained, so I didn’t think it was all that important. Well, as per breed standard, Hank has terrible separation anxiety. No crate + separation anxiety = four pairs of my underwear, and one pair of bikini bottoms completely destroyed. Only dirty underwear though, apparently clean underwear isn’t as fun. I get that they will cry, and I know it hurts to hear your baby cry when you leave them, but you will be so glad you stuck with the crate in the long run. Since he was not crate trained, he slept in bed with me from eight weeks of age to sixteen weeks of age. Unless you want to share your bed with a massive lap dog forever, just don’t go there.
Those are my two biggest recommendations, get your pup as early as possible to ensure proper bonding, and keep up with crate training. One of the other things I wish I would have known, Great Danes are so sensitive in every aspect of life. It took Hank a very long time to warm up to playing with other dogs at the park. He was afraid of anyone and everyone, as Danes the biggest babies. DO NOT give up, your Great Dane will weigh up to 200 pounds one day, so they need to be socialized. Period. They also have the most sensitive tummies, so do your research and don’t cut corners on their food. I had Hank on a regular puppy food with premium protein, and I was told to switch him to large breed food immediately. Well, Hank wasn’t about it and his stomach would not hold onto any food that was put in it. So, Hank was on boiled chicken and rice for three agonizing weeks before finally being put on a (very expensive) prescription Royal Canin GI food to help with his tummy. After that whole ordeal, I switched him to the Royal Canin Giant Breed puppy food. THERE IS A HUGE DIFFERENCE between a large breed and a giant breed dog, so I would stick with Giant breed food. It’s expensive, but he loves it and it sets well on his tummy. He also has the most sensitive skin EVER. In fact, he currently has to wear a shirt to keep him from scratching a rash that covers his entire stomach. The vet claims it was something that he picked up in the environment, which means that he’s just hyper-sensitive, like every other Dane. My point is, Great Danes are very high maintenance, but worth every penny!
So, think twice before getting a Great Dane. You will never experience a love like you will get from your Great Dane, but be prepared to spend a lot of money on veterinary care and food. They will love you with all they have, but be wary, they can develop severe separation anxiety because of this. Stay strong in your crate training, and you will thank me that you have your own space. In the end, though they have a short life span, a Great Dane is for life. They will get VERY big. They eat A LOT of food. They are prone to health issues. But, you will never find a love like you’ll get from a Dane.