What Is The Average Lifespan Of A Great Dane?
[Our Detailed Guide]

Aaron Rice Expert Dog Trainer
Written: January 17, 2022

The German dog or Great Dane that most people saw in the Scooby Doo series as children—and that few have had the chance to meet in real life—is the huge dog, giant of the dog world. 

Great Danes are famous for their imposing size, but in all reality, they are one of the gentlest breeds that you will ever encounter. They have a docile nature and a great personality.

Whenever you decide to buy a dog, one of the first questions you ask yourself is how much time they live. In this case, we will talk about the average life expectancy of Great Danes.

Although they are the tallest dog breed, these giant canines do not live long; large dogs appear to age faster than small dogs. It seems to be that the bigger the dog, the shorter their lives are.

To know what to expect—especially if you are looking to buy or adopt a Great Dane—let’s take a look at some important facts that every buyer of a Great Dane should consider before getting one.

Personality Of Great Danes

Great Danes are very affectionate and enjoy being all over you at all times. So when having a Great Dane, expect to have drool and slobber on your clothes. It gets all over you no matter what you do; just a little fact there for you to start embracing if you’re thinking about becoming a Great Dane owner.

They are family members, though, which is great; they love children and have gentle, tolerant personalities. This makes them good playmates; they tend to be friendly, outgoing, and non-aggressive as well. But sometimes, they may forget how big they are, so it’s essential to keep an eye on them—especially with small children in the house.

Great Danes puppies, like any other puppy, need to be taught to be careful. 

These dogs won’t ever leave you alone. No matter what you are doing, they will constantly press their bodies or bump their noses against you for attention. For some, that could get annoying, although they like to spend lots of time lying around like giant couch potatoes.

Great Danes also bark a lot, but their trainability is excellent, and you can get great results if you start training them when they are still puppies.

They can be very active, energetic—a little destructive—and playful. Great Danes may seem sedate, but they require daily exercise appropriate to their age. A quick walk two or three times a day can be enough.

They can also make good companions on jogs or hikes, but you must wait until the dog is 2 years old to avoid damage to growing joints.

What Is The Cost Of Owning A Great Dane?

The size of the vet bills can sometimes match the size of the dog—everything is more expensive with Danes or big dogs—for example, the costs are more for anesthesia and medicine, not to mention dog food, cause dear lord, they can eat!

Their diet and health issues can scare off many potential owners. It’s important to consider how much you can expect to pay out in annual ownership costs before deciding to have a Great Dane as a pet. 

For example, surgery and post-op for bloat/GDV in Great Dane dogs can easily reach $5000. 

Another example is the cost of vet and medication needed for heart diseases like DCM—which Great Danes might need to take in the course of their lives and can become pricey. Something you should also consider.

Great Danes can cost between $1,500 to $4,500 to buy. And their ownership each year in vet bills, food, grooming, and overall care can cost around $2,200, at least. So keep that in mind.

How To Take Care Of An Old Great Dane?

Given that Great Danes live up to 6.5 to 7 years on average, they are considered senior dogs when they reach five. At this point, you can expect the signs of old age to begin showing up. There are important special aspects to take into account when your dog hits the five-year mark:

The main one is diet, for it plays a crucial role in the dog’s health and in the prevention of large breeds’ common health issues such as bloating, which can lead to death if not treated.

So, What Should A Senior Great Dane’s Diet Be Like?

As this beautiful dog grows, its calorie intake gets slightly lower, ranging between 3000 calories a day for a puppy and 2.500 calories for an adult. By the time your Great Dane has reached its old age, its calorie requirements will go down to 2000 calories per day.

Another essential aspect to consider is the quality of the dog food. Your dog should be getting 12% fat and 23% protein. Consider switching to a brand or product specially formulated for older dogs.

Additionally, the feeding frequency and food availability play a crucial role in your dog’s overall health. Feed your dog 2 to 3 times a day instead of giving full access to their food all day long. 

By doing this, you might prevent any bloating or digestive discomfort as well as obesity, which is especially detrimental for larger breeds’ health and lifespan.

Exercise Is Also Key

Great Danes benefit so much from physical activity. Not only is it terrific for preventing obesity, but it also helps reduce joint pain and prevent arthritis which is a highly common health condition in giant breed dogs. 

And obviously, bonding with your dog while doing physical activity is a big bonus, beneficial not only for your dog but for you as well. Having a Great Dane as your jogging pal will keep you and them active and healthy! 

Make The Vet Your BF

Having regular appointments with a vet is crucial for anyone who wants to keep their dog in optimal health condition. But this is a golden rule for any Great Dane’s owner who wishes to prevent and early detect some of the most common diseases these beautiful giants are prone to suffer. 

Doing this may prevent cancer early on, as well as other health conditions such as hip dysplasia or bumps, which may require surgery.

How To Keep A Great Dane Healthy?

The first thing you must consider is diet. Puppies need to be restrained in their diet to avoid accelerated growth, which can cause many health problems at an early age if you want to help your dogs live longer.

Great Danes dogs eat a lot. A four-year-old dog can eat two cups of food two times a day, plus one cup in the middle of the day. On average, they can weigh up to 155 pounds and typically demand 400 to 450 pounds of dog food per year for the dog.

As we mentioned above, exercising your dog responsibly can also help your Great Dane avoid some joint and hip issues.

This breed has a fair number of health problems like eye or heart failure, musculoskeletal diseases, and arthritis—a common problem in giant breeds—just to mention some of the health issues to have in mind.

What Do Great Danes Usually Die From?

As previously mentioned, some of the most common health issues that Great Danes suffer from are hip dysplasia, arthritis, joint problems, thyroid, etc. However, the most frequent known causes of death are the following:

Cancer, stomach torsion, and heart disease.

Many Great Dane owners here in the US are aware of the conditions of the breed, and most of them provide good medical care to their dogs, but still, many of them die early from health complications common to their breed. If you have taken note of all the tips in this guide, you are off for a good start to help your dog live a long and happy life!

What Is The Lifespan Of A Great Dane?

Regardless of how good you take care of your beautiful giant, the short life expectancy of this breed is something to consider because it is very painful to lose a dog. The average life expectancy of Great Danes is only around 6,5 years. So that is one thing to keep in mind and prepare for.

Great Danes that luckily tend to live more make it to 9 or 10 years of age, but many of them die far before their maximum age. The oldest ever recorded Great Dane lived to be about 15 years old!

Such is the case of Pirate, a senior Great Dane that reached the golden age of 11 and a half years old before passing on in November 2020. According to Sara, the owner, the diet was a huge component of Pirate’s healthy long life.

All of these aspects will help you expand your Great Dane’s lifespan—or prepare if you are looking to own one.