Great Dane

Lifestyle Needs

Great Dane

The Great Dane is a giant of a dog who needs a large house with a large garden.  He loves his family, typically gentle and dignified in his manner and also an excellent guard dog.  He requires more than two hours exercise every day and does not like to be left alone.  His short coat is easy to groom and keep clean.  Needless to say, he is expensive to keep.  His average lifespan is under 10 years.

Inbreeding Coefficient - COI
(Should be as low as possible)

The UK Kennel Club breed average COI is 5.2% - see 'A Beginners Guide to COI'

Effective Population Size - EPS


EPS is a measure of how many individuals are contributing genetically to a breed population. It is a measure of the size of the gene pool in a breed. Lower than 100 is considered critical by conservationists and below 50 brings a breed close to extinction. For more information see the Kennel Club article.

Health and Welfare Problems due to Conformation
(Body shape and physical characteristics)

  • Gastric dilatation volvulus (Bloat/torsion) (stomach swollen with gas will twist – intensely painful – urgent treatment required.  Very common is this breed due to selection for large size and deep-chested conformation.  Prevalence 42%)
  • Medial canthal pocket syndrome (upper and lower eyelids in inside corner of the eye roll outwards creating a ‘pocket’ in which irritating substances such as dirt and dust can collect – due to head shape)

BVA/KC Health Schemes:

  • Hip dysplasia (malformation of the hip joints causing pain and disability):  breed mean score 10.3 (parents should be lower)
  • Elbow dysplasia (malformation of the elbow joint causing pain and disabilty):  ideally O:O
  • Eye disease:  Goniodysgenisis / Primary glaucoma (annual testing)

Estimated Breeding Values (EBVs) are now available for Hip Dysplasia and Elbow Dysplasia:

DNA Tests Available

Centronuclear Myopathy (CNM)

Unofficial (Breed Club) Schemes

  • Heart testing (Cardiomyopathy) (heart chambers enlarge, heart muscle weakens and gradually fails)
  • Bitches not to produce a litter under two years of age

Ask the breeder to show you the certificates for the above tests/screening for both parents. If any of the above tests have not been considered necessary by the breeder (and there may be good reasons), ask her to explain why.

Other Diseases Reported
(For which there are currently no genetic or screening tests for sire or dam)

  • Heart disease:  Dilated cardiomyopathy (leads to heart failure);  Aortic stenosis (narrowing of artery); Persistent right aortic arch (causing compression of the trachea and oesophagus); Tricuspid valve dysplasia (causing regurgitant blood flow)
  • Cancer: osteosarcoma (bone)
  • Generalised demodicosis (mange)
  • Acral lick dermatitis
  • Shoulder and Stifle (hind limb joint) osteochondrosis (abnormalities of bone and cartilege, causing pain and lameness)
  • Panosteitis (bone inflammation)
  • Osteosarcoma (bone cancer)
  • Cervical vertebral malformation syndrome (Wobbler syndrome) (results from compression of spinal cord in neck – causes loss of co-ordination in hind limbs)  4% affected
  • Ectropion/Entropion (turning out/turning in of eyelids, causes irritation and discomfort)
  • Glaucoma
  • Hypothyroidism (lethargy, changes in coat, obesity)
  • Chronic hepatitis (autoimmune liver disease)
  • Central core myopathy (exercise intolerance and muscle weakness)
  • Myotonia (persistent muscle contraction)
  • Hypertropic osteodystrophy (developmental bone disease causing painful swelling in all four limbs)
  • Deafness
  • Myasthenia gravis (weakness and neuromuscular signs in older dogs)

Ask the breeder about the medical history of the parents, grandparents and great grandparents.  Consider carefully whether to purchase a puppy if some of these or other diseases are in the family line.

Ask about the breeder’s policy in cases of serious genetic diseases occurring to your puppy in later life. Good breeders will request to be informed of such events in order to improve future breeding decisions. Some breeders will also agree to contribute towards medical costs or refund purchase price.

You are strongly advised to buy from a breeder who uses (or is prepared to use) the RSPCA / BVA AWF Puppy Contract and Puppy Information Pack (PIP):

You are also advised to buy from a breeder who follows the Dog Breeding Reform Group’s (DBRG) Standard for Dog Breeding:

Or the Kennel Club’s Assured Breeders Scheme Standard and Guidance:
Standard PDF | Guidance PDF

List of Dog Breeds