How Long Do Great Danes Live? Interesting Facts You May Not Know

Oluwatosin Michael
Feb 29, 2024 By Oluwatosin Michael
Originally Published on Nov 21, 2021
Black Great Dane sitting on grass.
Age: 3-18
Read time: 12.5 Min

Great Dane might be one of the largest dog breeds out there, but its life span is surprisingly shorter than most other breeds.

While some feel threatened by its huge size, the Great Dane is a very social dog breed. It bonds wonderfully with families too.

The other common name for Great Dane is German Mastiff. It is one of the tallest dog breeds, known for its muscular build and majestic march. Because of the breed's size, it is not the first choice for many when choosing a dog for the family. The truth is that several breeds of big dogs like the Great Dane are quiet and affectionate with people of all age groups, including kids. Its size might be one of the captivating factors of this breed, but it is also the reason behind its lower life expectancy.

Large dogs like this tend to live shorter. Learning about the life span of such large breed dogs and understanding the common health problems is important before adopting a dog.

Raising a dog is a long-term commitment. As a puppy, most dogs are healthy, playful, and affectionate. But most breed dogs require special attention and healthcare facilities in the later stages of their lives. Great Danes are no exceptions. But the main difference is that, as giant breeds, they tend to age faster and thus live a short life.

You cannot expect these breeds to live for ten years or more like many other, smaller breeds. The connection between size and the duration for which dogs live is one reason here. This breed's vulnerability to various diseases like hip dysplasia during the senior years is another reason behind its short life span.

Once you finish reading this article to understand the life span of a Great Dane, why not get answers to other questions like how long do boxers live and how long do bulldogs live here on Kidadl?

The Average Lifespan Of Great Danes

The average life span of a Great Dane is ideally around 8-10 years. But many dogs live up to 6.5 years of age, and some even die earlier than that.

The actual number of years your dog lives depends on its health condition, its lifestyle, diet, and numerous other factors. Dogs with heart disease and other chronic conditions like hip dysplasia might die sooner, while healthy dogs tend to live longer, up to 8-10 years.

Digestion-related problems like when their stomachs bloat are the most common health concerns in a Great Dane. Its overall health largely depends on its nutrition and physical activities.

Great Danes love to be active during most parts of the day. They also have a rapid metabolism, and their diet patterns tend to be much different from most other giant breed dogs.

The nutritional requirements vary from one dog breed to another. So, knowing what your Great Dane needs would be the best way to prevent heart and kidney problems arising due to nutritional deficiencies during the later stages in its life. Kidney issues can also cause a Great Dane to die early.

Maintaining a healthy diet and taking measures not to let its stomach bloat can help improve the lifespan of your Great Dane significantly. Like most other large breed dogs, this one needs plenty of daily exercise. Your Great Dane needs exercise as an important consideration for its lifespan.

Great Danes die earlier than most breeds mainly because of their rapid aging rate and their large build. Females, however, are slightly smaller in size than males. This is the reason why some female Great Danes live longer than males.

With all that being said, you should understand that it is highly possible to increase the average life expectancy of this dog breed. The oldest Great Dane in the world, as of 2021, is 16-year old Maggie Mae from Southwest Florida.

How To Improve The Life Expectancy Of Great Danes

It all starts with good breeding practices. Cross-breeds in Great Dane do not always have a longer life expectancy than pure dog breeds.

Pet owners must make it a point to understand the breeding lines of their Great Danes. With this, they can better understand any hereditary health issues to look out for. This is why, if you're getting your dog from a breeder instead of adopting from a shelter, you should only get it from a credible breeder who can furnish the details of the puppy's parents at the time of adoption. Issues in genetics can lower the lifespan of a Great Dane.

Though Great Dane is a generally active breed, please avoid strenuous activities when the dog is still a puppy. Till around two years of age, your puppy might not need intense running sessions. Long runs outdoor might lead to bone damage in puppies. This can have a long-term impact on the lifespan of your Great Dane.

From the third year onwards, good physical training can drastically improve the lifespan of your Great Dane. Agility training and a variety of other outdoor dog sports can improve its health and bone strength. It is also great for maintaining a healthy weight.

Large dog breeds like Great Dane require at least an hour of exercise every day. If it is snowing outside and you cannot take your dog out for a long stroll, try to squeeze in some playtime activities indoors to make up for it.

Some of these big dogs love to sit and laze around, especially by the time they are approximately three years old. A sedentary lifestyle often leads to an increased risk of disease.

Good physical exercises can also improve the dog's bone and muscle strength. This will support the healthy diet you plan for your dog and ensure that it does not suffer from digestion problems and stomach discomfort.

Some dogs have longer necks than others noticeably, and they might suffer from Wobbler Syndrome, another inherited disease. You can rule out the possibilities of the short life of your Great Dane by checking your pet's breeding history before bringing the puppy home.

If you suspect such genetic problems, you can always get a preliminary examination done by a credible vet right when your Great Dane is still a puppy. The vet can help you with preventive measures to lower the risk of future health problems.

It would be best if you educated yourself about the symptoms of the typical health troubles in Great Danes so that you can seek medical help in the early stages. Early treatment and preventive care can significantly increase the lifespan of your Great Dane. And especially with conditions like dysplasia, early diagnosis is critical in preventing bone damage due to continued movement after a dislocation.

Understand the common health issues in Great Danes, including the ones that are not connected with genetics. This will help you plan a better diet and exercise routine for your Great Dane and thus increase its life expectancy. You should also make sure that healthcare is accessible to your pet in its senior years.

It is essential to closely watch how much the food portion is in size. Being overweight increases the risk of several diseases in dogs and can lead to short lives. During the regular vet visits, ask for diet advice and understand if your Great Dane needs supplements for enhanced health, weight control, and better lifespan.

Something to learn from the most extended living Great Dane in the world is this - your pet's diet can drastically affect its lifespan.

These giant breeds already age faster than most others, and to prevent rapid growth and aging of the cells, they need a specially formulated diet plan. Too much growth sometimes weakens the musculoskeletal system. Great Danes die early if they have weaker bones that cannot bear their body weight.

Even for a healthy dog, along with the regular food, you might have to start giving health supplements in later stages. Some of these help make up for nutritional deficiencies in food, and some help strengthen the bones and joints to avoid arthritis and other common problems in old age.

Remember, the type of food your dog eats also determines how much at risk it is in developing digestive conditions like having their stomachs bloat, leading to death in some extreme cases.

Finally, the one thing that can make your dog live longer is your care. Stress in dogs can make them more vulnerable to diseases. Dogs need, at the very least, a few hours of undivided attention from their owners, which can then positively influence their physical and mental health.

Great Dane in a park.

Great Dane Old Age Symptoms

Senior years for this breed start roughly by the time it is six years old.

Large dogs like these might display prominent physical and mental symptoms indicating that their body is aging. You might notice that your dog no longer has the same vigor as a puppy though it might still be playful and affectionate with its owners, i.e., you.

Sight problems are common in several large dogs, including Great Dane. This could be due to cloudy eyes. If you notice that your dog bumps onto things, especially in a familiar environment, it would be good to get its eyesight checked by the vet. This will help in ruling out the possibilities of any eye disease like cataract.

Mobility issues are the other common signs that most owners notice in a Great Dane's senior years. Even a healthy dog without diseases might sometimes appear slower. The same dog that used to march around your house with great energy might suddenly appear sluggish, even on the days, it has had healthy food and exercise.

Weight changes are indicative of aging as well as an underlying disease in a Great Dane. Some experience a drop in muscle mass in their senior years, while others might become overweight with reduced movement.

A Great Dane's fur tends to be short, but if you notice a sudden drop in the luster or visible lumps in the skin, these could be signs of aging. Not all of these lumps are benign. Some of these could be malignant tumors, and cancer causes death in a Great Dane as any other animal.

Changes in bowel movements are also indicative of aging. Your Great Dane might have been the most intelligent puppy when it comes to housebreaking, but by the time it is around six or seven years old, if you notice that your dog's bowel movements are irregular, you should not ignore the signs.

While some Great Danes display evident symptoms like constipation, in others, this could be poor control over their bladder activities. These are possible indications of kidney diseases that are common in older dogs.

If your Great Dane's breath is bad, look for gum problems. Dental issues are also common in the later stages of their lives. Leaving them untreated can affect the dog's eating habits significantly, and this, in turn, can affect their weight and overall health as well. Ensure that you check for gum infections and brush your dog's teeth regularly to avoid these problems.

If you don't want to worry about these dogs' short lives, you should look for aging signs and adjust your Great Dane's diet and lifestyle. When you notice any red flags mentioned above, talk to the vet and add suitable supplements to keep your kid happy and healthy.

Common Diseases And Health Issues In Great Danes

Knowing about the common health issues will help you understand a Great Dane's lifespan better. This will also let you plan the vet visits and medical expenses when your pooch enters its senior years.

Given that they are large breeds, you should be ready to make some changes in your house to improve your dog's comfort and wellbeing.

A Great Dane is highly likely to bloat; it is one of the most common yet most ignored health conditions. This is more common in this breed than other breeds because of the size of a Great Dane's stomach and chest cavity. If the dog eats too fast or if it swallows too much air while eating, it could lead to gastric torsion or make them bloat. Exercising immediately after eating can also increase the chances of making it bloated.

Bloating for a Great Dane is not as harmless as it is in human beings. It can sometimes become a life-threatening condition. This is primarily because it leads to the blood circulation in the stomach is affected.

From shallow breathing to a visibly enlarged stomach, there are many warning signs indicating bloat in these dogs. In extreme cases, surgical tacking of the stomach might help prevent the condition from worsening in your Great Dane.

Cardiomyopathy is an extremely common heart disease in a Great Dane. This can lead to severe damage to the heart and circulatory system and heart failure in several cases. It can therefore be a fatal condition for the dog. While most Great Danes do not display any early warning signs, some of them do.

By not skipping regular vet visits, you can detect early symptoms and implement measures to slow down the damage.

Dilated cardiomyopathy in Great Dane is another heart disease causing the thinning of the heart wall. This is followed by heart failure, which can also be slightly delayed when diagnosed on time.

Besides these sudden, unexplained heart issues, sometimes a Great Dane might also carry congenital heart troubles. If you have clarity on the breeding lines of your dog, you can opt for the relevant corrective surgery, and therefore, increase the life span of your dog with timely treatment.

Hip dysplasia is one of the common health problems in Great Danes, like most other large dog breeds. This happens when the femur bone dislocates or does not align in the hip joint. It has a significant impact on the mobility of your Great Dane. Hip dysplasia is a hereditary condition, and it is very little you can do to help your Great Dane once it acquires it. This can also lead to arthritis in some dogs.

A surgery might sometimes help, but it won't provide a permanent solution in this giant breed. Maintaining a healthy weight is a way to lower the risks of this disease in a Great Dane. There is a higher chance of your puppy developing this condition later on if its parent had been diagnosed with it. So look into the health records of parents to understand the risks.

Once the joint dislocates, there is some friction involved when the Great Dane moves, and so the risks of arthritis increase. Even after surgery, your dog might still be at risk of inflamed and sore joints.

Cancer is not very common, but it can also be another issue to look out for as your Great Dane starts aging. Like arthritis, cancer might also be caused due to other health conditions in some cases.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly facts for everyone to enjoy! If you liked our suggestions for how long do Great Danes live, then why not take a look at how long do pugs live or Great Danes Facts.

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Written by Oluwatosin Michael

Bachelor of Science specializing in Microbiology

Oluwatosin Michael picture

Oluwatosin MichaelBachelor of Science specializing in Microbiology

With a Bachelor's in Microbiology from the Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta, Ogun State, Oluwatosin has honed his skills as an SEO content writer, editor, and growth manager. He has written articles, conducted extensive research, and optimized content for search engines. His expertise extends to leading link-building efforts and revising onboarding strategies. 

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