Breeds Category IconBreeds

Great Dane Lifespan: How Long Do Great Danes Live?

This giant breed is lovable and popular, and prospective owners often wonder how long their huge doggies will live. Learn all about the Great Dane's expected lifespan, factors that impact it, and how owners can help their pup live the longest, fullest, healthiest life possible.

Danielle DeGroot

Last Updated: February 8, 2023 | 14 min read

old black great dane dog with grey snout walking outside in grass

Great Danes are a remarkable canine breed. They are huge, lovable, and sweet and capture the hearts of anyone they bond with. These big beauties have a huge admirer group and are popular among large-breed fans. Great Danes are recognizable because of their enormous size and handsome faces. These giant dogs take a lot to care for, and owners often have a lot of questions before bringing a new giant puppy home. one area owners often ask about is the expected lifespan of the Great Dane.

A general rule of thumb for canines is that larger breeds do not live as long as small ones. Larger breeds live about 5 to 8 years, while smaller ones can live between 12 and 15 years. Keep in mind that this is just a guideline. Every breed and dog is different. Several distinct factors affect how long a specific dog will live.

Great Danes are a wonderful dog breed and can make amazing companions for the right owners. Knowing how long a dog can be expected to live is part of the decision to adopt a certain breed and can help owners understand what kind of responsibilities they are taking on. In this quick overview, let’s dive in and learn more about the Great Dane’s lifespan.

Great Dane Breed

Little black dog walking under great Dane
These behemoths are one of the largest canines ever to walk the planet.

They have gone by several names throughout history and have been called the “Apollo of Dogs,” German Mastiff, Grand Danois, and German Boarhound. They have been traced back to 16th-century Germany. However, the breed is widely believed to be much older than that. Ancient Egyptian monuments depict images of canines that are quite similar. Some theories support the idea that the Romans bred these huge canines to use as fighting animals.

Regardless of different theories or mentions in history, the Great Dane breed officially got its start in Germany. The ancestors of today’s pups were bred to hunt wild boar and deer and work as guardians and protectors. These pups’ immense size and dramatic profiles made them very intimidating animals. Eventually, they were appreciated for their skill, size, and striking appearance. They started to be bred a bit smaller, making them easier to keep as family companions. Eventually, the breed spread through Europe and then to the United States.

It is a bit of a mystery why this pup is called the Great Dane. That name implies they are Danish, but as we have shared, they come from Germany. In some places, they are referred to as German dogs, but they are most recognizable under the name of Great Dane. Some incredibly famous doggies from this giant breed are the lovable cartoon pooch Scooby-Doo and the giant, mischievous, and lovable pup from the Marmaduke comic strip and film.

Male or female, this breed is huge and fits in the giant category. They can weigh between 110 and 175 pounds or even a little more when fully grown. Along with weighing a significant amount, they are very tall and stand between 28 and 32 inches at the shoulder. In fact, one of these big guys named Zeus holds the Guinness World Record for the world’s tallest living male dog. Zeus is often compared to a horse because he stands a whopping 3 feet 5.18 inches tall. When he stands on his hind legs, Zeus reaches over 7 feet high. To say these pups are large is an understatement.

The Great Dane is tall and slender and can run amazingly fast when they decide they want to. They are muscular but not wide or stocky like other large dog breeds. Their heads are huge and flat, with strong eyebrows and long necks. Many have their ears cropped to stand upright, but when left natural, they will hang forward. They have short, smooth coats that come in various colors, including blue, black, fawn, brindle, harlequin, white, and merle.

Despite their portly size and somewhat intimidating appearance, these generous-bodied canines are known to be giant sweethearts. They are also known to be a bit lazy and love to stretch out on the furniture. Size does not matter to these guys. They think they make the perfect lap dogs and will gladly follow their owners everywhere, wanting to be a part of everything going on. Even though they have a reputation as tough protectors, this huge pooch can be quite clingy and does not always like to be left home alone.

How Long Do Great Danes Live?

Great Danes have an expected lifespan of 7 to 10 years. Most live, on average, for about 6 and a half years. All giant breeds like this have shorter lifespans. This breed does not live much longer than ten years, and many will not live that long. Larger canines grow and age faster than smaller breeds. They are also susceptible to breed and size-related health conditions, which can impact lifespan. Mixed breeds tend to live longer than purebreds. Care, lifestyle, exercise, and nutrition can impact each individual dog’s health and life expectancy.

Health Factors That Impact Great Dane Lifespan

Great Dane In Bed
Environmental and genetic factors impact how long this giant breed lives.

They are susceptible to a few different health conditions that can impact their lifespan. Owners should learn about this before bringing home one of these pups, as some can be quite serious and come on suddenly. Pet insurance is another thing to consider, as it can offset future medical emergency costs, which can add up quickly with this breed.

Bloat & GDV

Gastric dilatation volvulus (GDV), also called bloat, is one of the leading causes of death for Great Danes. This is a very painful and potentially fatal condition. Regrettably, this breed is prone to developing it. This condition occurs when a dog’s stomach becomes filled with liquid, gas, or food and becomes twisted. It can occur very suddenly and become serious remarkably quickly.

Bloat is always an emergency. Simple bloat is the term used to describe a dog who has only a distended stomach. In some cases, simple bloat can resolve without treatment, but it can also become life-threatening if the stomach twists. Both situations are profoundly serious and require emergency and immediate medical care.

Owners will need to take careful care and caution with their dog’s feeding habits to help prevent bloat from happening. One method is to feed them several small meals throughout the day so their stomachs do not become overly full.

Cardiac Conditions

Great Danes are big-hearted, both literally and figuratively, and the generous size of their heart puts them at elevated risk for cardiac conditions. This breed is highly susceptible to heart disease, including cardiomyopathy or DCM. Canines that suffer from this condition have enlarged, weak hearts that cannot pump enough blood to support their large bodies.

Thyroid Malfunction

The giant breed is susceptible to both autoimmune thyroiditis and hypothyroidism. With hypothyroidism, a dog’s thyroid does not secrete the appropriate levels of hormones, causing a very slow metabolism. They are also highly susceptible to cancers and congenital defects related to thyroid function. Autoimmune thyroiditis is a thyroid disease that causes a dog’s immune system to attack the thyroid gland. Hypothyroidism can occur as a result of this disease.

Joint Disease

Joint diseases like arthritis and hip dysplasia are prevalent in larger breeds. These issues are not life-threatening but will impact your dog’s overall health and day-to-day function. They can impact their long-term ability to exercise and stay healthy, influencing how long they live.

Spay & Neuter

Spaying and neutering are a normal part of dog ownership, especially for owners looking for companion animals who do not want to breed puppies. When this process occurs, it is not the same for every dog breed. For Great Danes, it should not be done too early because it can have lasting impacts on their overall development and health. It can impact their growth plates, joints, spine, and limb development.

Giant pups who go through this process too soon will not properly develop the bone and muscle structure to carry the amount of weight they have. Generally speaking, large breeds should not be spayed or neutered before they reach nine months old. Most Great Danes are not neutered until they are over a year.

Waiting too long or failing to spay and neuter a Great Dane can also impact lifespan. Females can develop infections, like Pyometra, in their uterus and bloodstream and are at a higher risk of developing internal tumors. Males who are unneutered can develop prostate infections and may be at higher risk for the growth of tumors and testicular cancer.

Keep in mind that these hefty-sized doggies mature at a slower rate than some other bigger canines. They can take up to two years to fully develop. It is important to discuss the spay and neuter procedure with your veterinarian when your puppy is young and set a plan in place. Do not be in a rush or wait too long. Especially for canines that do not have a very long expected lifespan, owners will want to ensure they take great care with the spay and neuter process.

Vaccinations

Vaccinations are especially important throughout a canine’s life to keep them healthy. Puppies are required to have more vaccinations than adults. Vaccinations are required whether fur babies are indoors or outdoors because they protect our fur babies from many different environmental and biological threats. Some diseases can become very serious and even have the potential to be fatal. These essential vaccines include distemper, canine hepatitis, canine parvovirus, and rabies. Other vaccines like Bordetella and Leptospira are also important.

Obesity

Obesity is an incredibly serious condition in canines, especially in giant pooches like this. An overweight giant dog is susceptible to many severe health concerns, including arthritis, diabetes, heart disease, and joint issues, some of which can take years off their lives. Because these pups do not have an exceptionally long average lifespan, it is particularly important that they stay fit and healthy. They should be fed only high-quality food made with real animal proteins. Exercise is also very important.

Dental Disease

Dental disease is an often unexpected yet profoundly serious condition that canines can develop. Brushing a dog’s teeth can be awkward and quite challenging with larger canines. It is one of the most critical areas of pet care.

Research has estimated that almost 80% of all canines, regardless of bloodlines, will develop some form of dental disease unless they receive regular dental care. Great Danes are highly likely to develop dental disease unless they have proper dental care from an early age. Tartar buildup will lead to infections in the gums and teeth and will eventually damage internal organs like the liver, heart, and kidneys. It is estimated that dental disease can take one to three years off this breed’s life expectancy.

Infections

This breed is highly susceptible to infections, both bacterial and viral. It is especially important to make sure you keep up with all vaccinations throughout your dog’s life. Talk to your veterinarian about setting up a vaccination schedule and discuss your dog’s lifestyle with your vet. Pets who spend a lot of time outdoors camping, hiking, and near water may need more vaccinations to protect themselves against viruses and bug bites that can carry disease.

Cancer

Sadly, this breed has a higher risk of developing certain cancers. This includes lymphoma or lymphosarcoma, which are cancers of the blood. Osteosarcoma is a bone tumor that can develop in canines and affect larger canines more prevalently. Hemangiosarcoma is a bleeding tumor that can form in organs, often the spleen, which can break open and cause severe internal bleeding.

Other Factors That Impact Great Dane Lifespan

Great Dane at veterinary getting ear examined
Along with health and the risk of developing diseases, some other factors can significantly impact a dog’s lifespan, overall health, and quality of life.

Size

Outside of hereditary health conditions and those that this breed is prone to, size is one of the most significant factors in the breed’s expected lifespan. Small canines live longer than all other sizes. In fact, it is estimated that smaller breeds may live a year to a year and a half longer than larger breeds and almost five years more than the mighty Great Dane.

Nutrition

A dog’s diet is a cornerstone of their overall health and development. While nutrition is extremely important during their high growth years, it should be a priority throughout their lives. Great Danes are giant dogs, and they need to eat a proper and highly nutritious diet. Giant breeds can grow too fast, causing them to get exceptionally large and putting them at risk for more diseases, including those of the musculoskeletal system. Obesity is also a huge concern for larger breeds like this and can impact their lifespan in many ways.

Owners should look for food that is formulated specifically to support giant canines. There may even be breed-specific formulas available from some manufacturers. Make sure to control portion size and feed your big fur baby several smaller meals a day rather than a few larger ones to reduce the chance of bloat.

It is important to choose dog foods with real ingredients, no fillers, artificial chemical additives, or fake colors. Look for foods that use real meat ingredients and list them first on the label. Avoid budget brands that use unnamed animal byproducts as their protein source. It is also important to feed your dog food that is developed specifically for the stage of life they may be in.

Pet parents have plenty of choices. All dogs should eat kibble, but there are also fresh, raw, and freeze-dried food options owners can use. If you have any questions about your dog’s specific weight and what food they need to eat, it is best to talk to your veterinarian. You can develop a nutritional plan specific to your dog’s needs and size. Because nutrition plays a significant role in this breed’s overall development and weight management, as well as the risk of bloat for this huge yet sensitive pup, it is especially important that they always be fed high-quality food.

Genetics

Genetics lays the blueprint for a dog’s overall health and how long they will live. The quality of their bloodline, whether or not they are a purebred or mixed breed, can impact their lifespan. How large a dog will grow is in part determined by genetics. Mixed-breed dogs have been shown to live longer than purebreds. Puppies that come from higher-quality breeders will have gone through more extensive health testing to rule out genetic defects and hereditary diseases.

Care & Lifestyle

How a dog lives and the level of care they receive also impact how long they will live. Those who are fed high-quality nutrition diets, get the appropriate amount of exercise and appropriate rest, and live in low-stress environments are likely to be healthier and less prone to developing diseases. Dogs who receive regular and preventative medical care throughout their lives will also be healthier. These visits are where veterinarians look out for signs of any concerning health conditions early before they start to impact a dog’s quality of life or lifespan. Pets with separation anxiety or who are stressed out may be less healthy, which can also impact lifespan.

As pet owners, we take on the responsibility of providing our pets with a healthy lifestyle. When adopting a giant dog like this, owners take on more responsibility. These dogs are bigger, require more room and attention, and often need special diets. They are at risk for many different medical conditions and are also susceptible to different environmental factors. Owners must provide high-quality nutrition and supplies like crates, beds, toys, and more. Additionally, canines need mental and physical stimulation daily to maintain a healthy mindset.

Canine’s care needs will change as they age. Puppies need different nutrition because their bodies grow rapidly and use more energy. They also require more exercise than older dogs. Adults may need special food like weight management, low sodium, or other special diets based on lifestyle and health. Senior pups can develop different medical conditions and digestive issues. Make sure to provide your Great Dane with the appropriate care for whatever stage of life your doggie is in. This is also an area where owners should work closely with veterinarians to make sure that their dog’s changing life needs are being met.

How To Help Your Great Dane Live A Long Life

Great Dane laying on bed
There are some things owners can do to increase their dog’s probable lifespan.

Unfortunately, even if owners feed their dogs the most expensive dog food and buy them the best quality supplies, there is no way to get them to live as long as a smaller pooch like a Toy Poodle or Chihuahua.

  1. Do your research before adopting a puppy. Look for reputable breeders who offer healthy puppies. The healthier your puppy, the healthier your adult dog will be. Look for breeders that are running screenings specifically for heart, thyroid, hip, and eye issues.
  2. Always provide your pup with high-quality nutrition. Additionally, you can control the amount they eat and how often they eat to aid in digestion and prevent conditions like bloat. Stay away from grain-free diets as they will not provide a breed as big as this with enough nutritional value to sustain their size.
  3. Dental cleaning from an early age prevents disease and increases lifespan expectancy.
  4. Spay and neuter your Great Dane at the right time. Work closely with your veterinarian to monitor their growth and maturity and decide the right time. Do not do this too early, as it can affect their growth and overall health, which can impact life expectancy.
  5. Make sure your giant pup gets the appropriate amount of exercise every day. Pay attention to how much your dog can handle, and do not overwork them. Too much exercise can be as harmful as too little exercise. This is particularly important for large and giant breeds. They can develop joint and muscle issues easily, as well as prone to injury if they get too excited or are running too fast.
  6. Provide your Great Dane with joint protection. You can discuss offering your dog supplements with your veterinarian, including fish oil or glucosamine. Working with natural anti-inflammatory ingredients like turmeric, green-lipped mussels, and black pepper is also helpful.
  7. Make sure your dog has a comfortable, safe environment at home. Dogs who feel stressed out or unsafe can develop anxiety, gastrointestinal issues, and fear-related aggression. This can decrease their overall quality of life. Ensure that they have a regular variety of mental and physical stimulation. A bored dog can get destructive and has a higher chance of eating something they should not or getting injured.
  8. Keep your dog’s environment free of smoke and restrict access to human medication, alcohol, marijuana, coffee, unsafe foods, or other human substances that can be dangerous to canines.
  9. Pay attention to your dog’s behavior, as well as any signs or symptoms that they may not be feeling well. Remember that animals often communicate with us through their behavior. A subtle behavior change may be an indication that something is wrong. If your dog has a change in energy level, appetite, urinary, or bowel habits, it may be worth a trip to the vet to rule out any underlying issue.
  10. These big beauties should only be let off the leash in a safe, enclosed environment where they can be fully supervised. Because they are so large and intimidating, they may not be the best choice to take to the dog park when it is crowded. Though the breed is rarely aggressive, people and dogs may be intimidated by their size and appearance. It is important to keep them safe and away from injury. The best way to do this is to keep them on a leash when they walk outside.

Frequently Asked Questions

Great Dane sleeping on sofa
Great Danes are glorious animals. Here are some other common questions about their age.

Do male or female Great Danes live longer?

Though there is no obvious reason why female Great Danes who are spayed often live longer than males. Though the exact reason why is unknown, it is often thought that this may be due to the female’s smaller size. They do not grow or age as quickly as their larger male counterparts.

Is 7 years old for a Great Dane?

Seven years is about the average age for these huge doggies. Though this would not be considered old for many other breeds, a 7-year-old is likely considered a senior dog.

Can Great Danes live to be 12 years old?

It is unlikely that this breed lives to 12 years old very often. Some owners may claim their dogs have lived that long or have gotten close. On average, the life expectancy of Great Danes is 7 to 10 years, which is a good guideline to stick with.

How old was the oldest Great Dane?

This is not an easy question to answer because this breed goes back centuries. in addition to that, there are plenty of unverified claims out there. Many people have claimed to have pups that have lived to 15 or even 17 years old. However, there is not a lot of reliable proof regarding those claims. One dog, named Pirate, is said to have lived to about 11 1/2 years old.

Final Thoughts

From their majestic appearance to their wonderful lapdog personality, these big doggies are amazing pets. They are very affectionate and love to be with their humans. Adopting a Great Dane can be an incredibly rewarding and memorable experience.

Prospective owners should know that these giant doggies have an expected lifespan of about 7 to 10 years. Their bodies grow and age more rapidly than smaller pups. This, along with some other factors, means that they will have a shorter lifespan than some. This is normal for large and giant canines. regardless of how long a Great Dane will be in your life, these huge doggies are one pup you will never forget and can never get enough of.

The information provided through this website should not be used to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease; it is not intended to offer any legal opinion or advice or a substitute for professional safety or care advice. Please consult your health care provider, attorney, insurance expert, or product manual for professional advice. Products and services reviewed are provided by third parties; we are not responsible in any way for them, nor do we guarantee their functionality, utility, safety, or reliability. Our content is for educational purposes only.

Leave a Comment

1 Comments

Sassy

February 24, 2023 at 12:16 am

I wish they lived longer!

Reply