11 Great Danes Health Problems | Tips to Improve their life Span

  Apollo of dogs, Great Danes are known for their calm temperament and friendly nature. This loveable and playful breed made excellent pets. However, this healthy breed can also suffer from some diseases that should be identified. The Great Dane’s lifespan is almost 8 to 10 years, according to AKC (American Kennel Club).

   Life expectancy also depends on the care provided to Great Danes. This giant dog weighs almost 150-200 pounds. Due to their sheer size, Great Danes can be prone to various diseases, which we are going through in this article. Thus keep reading!

Why Do Great Danes Have Such Short Lifespans?

   Great Dane’s lifespan is certainly not as long as that of other big dogs. These gentle giants live between 8 to 10 years, while some only 6 to 7 years and a few at 12 years. You might wonder why dogs are different from other animals. For instance, elephants and whales are also the largest, but they live too long.

   Well, scientists also don’t know the exact reasons behind this antithetical. However, they have a few concepts, such as large dogs’ seems to age faster than small ones. That means if giant dogs grow rapidly, the bigger the dog seems, the short time we have with them.

Great Dane’s Health Problems

Great Dane's Health Problems

   Great Danes are exposed to few health conditions that cause short lifespans. Let’s take a look:

Gastric Torsion

   Great Danes are particularly susceptible to gastric torsion, known as canine bloat. When a person overeats, he becomes bloated and gas-filled in his stomach. Luckily, humans can recover from this discomfort. But dogs are not fortunate, as bloat (GDV) is a life-threatening disease for them.

   This condition happens when the stomach twists and the organs’ blood supply is cut off. If your Great Dane suffers bloat once in life, it can happen again. So, consult the veterinarian; he might suggest a tacking procedure to minimize this risk in the future. Want to know more about bloat?

Joint and Bone Disease (Hip Dysplasia)

   Due to their large size, some dogs undergo joint and bone diseases. Osteoarthritis and Hip dysplasias are bone and joint conditions. Dogs with these conditions usually suffer from gradual deterioration. Large breeds, such as Great Danes, suffer from this genetic condition, which joint supplements can improve.

   Glucosamine is beneficial against this disease. If your Great Dane suffers from hip dysplasia or osteoarthritis, feed him chewable chondroitin and glucosamine supplements. For a severe condition, surgery is required to fix hip dysplasia. In most cases, hip replacement might need.


   Cardiomyopathy is also a genetic disease that causes heart enlargement. Great Danes frequently suffer from this disease. The symptoms are Lethargy, weakness, fast heartbeat, abdominal distention, decreased appetite, weight loss, coughing, difficulty breathing, difficulty in exercise, and depression. If you notice the symptoms, visit the vet immediately.  

Tricuspid Valve Disease

   In this congenital condition, the heart valve does not work correctly. As a result, the Great Dane’s heart might fail. The symptoms are decreased exercise ability, heart babble, weakness, distended stomach, difficulty breathing, and rapid heartbeat. This condition can treat by removing the fluid in your dog’s heart.

   Your Great Danes will settle on a low-salt diet; if your dog is overweight, it must lose weight. Your Dane must avoid complex activity, but slight activity is good. The veterinarian might recommend supplements and vitamins such as Coenzyme CoQ10, Omega 3, and vitamin D. Also, other medication will prescribe.

   These treatments can improve your Great Dane’s life quality. If your dog does not improve, surgery might require replacing the valve.

Thyroid Problems

   Danes are also susceptible to thyroid issues such as autoimmune thyroiditis. This disease leads to hypothyroidism in Danes. Fortunately, this disease can be manageable with medication. The veterinarian will monitor the thyroid levels through blood tests.


   Bone cancer (Osteosarcoma) is commonly recognized in Great Danes. This disease typically affects giant dog breeds. The early signs of bone cancer are leg pain and lameness. If you notice your Great Dane is limping, call the veterinarian immediately. This tumor is severely painful and must be removed sooner for a better prognosis.

   The osteosarcoma symptoms include lumps in body parts, lameness, tiredness, swelling, joint pain, and anorexia. Also, the treatment depends on Dane’s age and disease stage.

Wobbler Syndrome

   This disease is common in large breeds. Great Danes are enormous dogs with long necks and big heads. Due to these characteristics, Great Danes are prone to a neurological disease called Wobbler Syndrome (Cervical spondylomyelopathy). In this disease, Danes undergo a shaking, wobbly gait, and neck pain due to the cervical spinal cord.

   The cause of this condition is a lack of nutrition. So, feeding your Great Dane puppy high-quality large-breed food is essential until 18 months. A high-quality and complete nutritional diet will prevent the risk of wobbler syndrome and help balance Dane’s growth.

   The symptoms include wobbly gait, weakness, weak front limbs, muscle loss near the shoulder, difficulty getting up, stiff neck, shorter stride, partial or complete paralysis, and scraped nails from uneven walking. Treatment might include non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medicine to lessen pressure and burning on the spinal cord. In case of surgery, the vet will merge broken parts of the cervical spine.

Degenerative Lumbosacral Stenosis

   Degenerative Lumbosacral Stenosis is mostly diagnosed in giant breeds such as Great Danes. It is a spinal disease that leads to lower back pain. This condition is so painful that a Great Dane might not stand alone. It is primarily found in overweight adult dogs. Early symptoms are hind legs or back end weakness and timidity to stand after sitting. You can reduce lower back pain risk by keeping your Great Dane at a healthy weight.

Eye Problems

   Sadly Great Danes can develop various eye conditions that can lead to blindness if not medicated immediately. Most of these diseases can be severely painful. Here take a look at canine eye diseases.

Addison’s Disease

   Addison’s disease (Hypoadrenocorticism) happens due to a lack of corticosteroid secretion in the adrenal gland. This disease is common in female dogs. In this disease, the adrenal gland does not create enough hormones for normal body functioning. It can be fatal if not treated and cause many other diseases such as skin diseases, hair loss, dry coat, and weight gain.

   The symptoms include Lethargy, vomiting, anorexia, and weak muscles. Luckily, a blood test can diagnose the disease and can be treated with medication.  


   Obesity is a severe disease in dogs, including Great Danes, that can lead to heart disease, worsening joint issues, back pain, metabolic disease, and digestive disorder. So, give your pooch a high-quality diet. Do not feed your leftover people food. Also, take your pet for a walk so that it feels better.

Tips To Improve Your Dane’s Lifespan

Tips To Improve Your Dane's Lifespan

   As owners, we can control many things in our dog’s life, such as diet, exercise, etc. However, there are also many things we can’t control, such as biology, but still, you can help your Dane reach more than its lifespan.

Healthy Diet

   A healthy diet is essential for Great Danes for complete health, especially during their growing stage. Giant dog breeds, such as Great Dane puppies, need special nutrition to prevent rapid growth.

   Rapid growth can cause various diseases such as osteochondrosis, Hip dysplasia, wobbler syndrome, and hypertrophic Osteodystrophy. As your Danes grow, a steady diet and exercise become crucial. Obesity is fatal for large-breed dogs and can affect their already short lifespan.

   Obesity also causes other health problems, such as orthopedic diseases (elbow & hip dysplasia), osteoarthritis, degenerative lumbosacral stenosis, and diabetes. So, you must feed your Great Danes an appropriate diet and regular exercise to endure a more extended life.

Responsible Breeder

   You should adopt your Great Danes from responsible breeders because they will provide complete breeding health history. While choosing a puppy, go for a breeder that has tested the dog’s hip dysplasia and acknowledged other genetic issues, including thyroid problems and eye and heart diseases.

   If you own a Dane from a rescue organization, you might not be familiar with Dane’s pedigree. But still, you can consult your vet for Dane’s regular checkup to avoid potential risks.

Preventive Care

   Great Danes can suffer bloat many times. Vets still don’t know why obesity happens and how to eliminate it. However, the veterinarian suggests feeding your Dane a small portion of a meal daily rather than one large meal. Also, avoid exercise immediately after meals as it can cause bloat.

   Mainly, catching a disease in Great Danes early can improve the chances of survival. Great Danes are giant dogs, which means big vet bills. You must not avoid regular checkups due to heavy veterinarian bills. Keep your Great Danes timely on vaccines.

   Also, discuss everything about your Danes with the vet, such as mood, activity level, diet, exercise, etc., to diagnose any illness. Your vet will help you to manage bone diseases, including osteoarthritis, that occur due to aging.  


Do Great Danes are vulnerable to allergies?

   Great Danes are vulnerable to atopy or skin allergies. If your Great Danes lick their paws, rub their face, or frequently get ear infections, it might be a skin allergy.

Do Great Danes have arthritis?

   All giant dogs are prone to arthritis. The standard type of arthritis is osteoarthritis, which happens in Great Danes due to joint damage. If your Dane has arthritis, it can be treated with supplements and medication.

Are Great Danes prone to bone cancer?

   Great Danes are susceptible to bone cancer (osteosarcoma). It happens to middle age dogs. If you notice your Danes limping or suffering leg pain, visit the vet right away.

Is it common for Great Danes to develop cysts?

Giant breed dogs (Great Danes) are prone to grow cysts in bones when young. The cysts can lead to bone fracture and lameness. The vet will diagnose this disease by X-ray and biopsy. If your Dane suffers from bone cysts, surgery is required to remove them.
   Cysts can also develop in Dane’s iris which can cause vision loss. It mostly occurs in old Danes. So, consult a canine eye specialist to treat this eye condition.  

Can Great Danes get diarrhea?

   Sadly, Great Danes are sensitive to diarrhea, especially in puppyhood. Don’t worry; you can treat it at home by feeding your pooch a small meal and plenty of water. But if your Dane is vomiting, has bloating, tarry stools, and is unusually tired, go to the veterinarian immediately.

Wrapping Up

   Large breed dogs, including Great Danes, are susceptible to developing various health problems. Diseases such as heart problems, bone issues, obesity, and bloating are the most common and dangerous. Many other conditions that Danes are prone to need urgent and costly veterinary care.

   Pet insurance is an excellent way to handle financial shocks. Explore our review page for an in-depth analysis of leading pet insurance providers, ensuring your furry friend receives the best coverage possible.

So, if you own a Dane, you must go for pet insurance. Hopefully, you are familiar with Great Dane’s diseases. If you have any questions, comment below. I’ll respond as soon as I can. Also, share this article with your friends. Thanks for reading!       

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Marian Haaz
Marian is a cat adoption expert. She has rescued and adopted several cats herself and helped find homes for dozens of stray cats and dogs.
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