Despite their size and relative strength and power, The Great Dane really is the ‘gentle giant’ of the dog world. They are often affectionate, always charming and very rarely display aggressive or confrontational behaviors with people. They thrive on human interaction and, by definition, require a large and spacious living environment. Their size also necessitates strong leadership qualities from their owner as they can be antisocial with other dogs in the absence of a firm hand.
|Good With Other Dogs|
Stories From Real Life Great Dane Owners
My Great Dane Bozo
When I was a kid, my favorite cartoon was Scooby Doo. My dad told me that Scooby was a Great Dane, and that these massive canines could grow over three feet tall. I decided when I grew up, I was going to buy a Great Dane just like Scooby. It would not be until I was married and had children of my own that I adopted one of these gentle giants.
Following The Danish Dream
We are definitely an animal-loving family. We have a lovely French bulldog that we raised from a pup, two cats, and a little flock of chickens. Each one is special to us in their own way. I had not really thought about my Great Dane dream for a long time, until my wife brought it up last year.
She told me about one of her co-workers who adopted a Great Dane through a rescue society out of state. The society rescues these dogs from bad situations, and give them the medical attention they need. Then, they adopt the Great Danes out to loving families. The nominal fee covers the cost of shots and license. When I got on their website, I was hooked! I was finally going to have my giant dog!
The Meet and Greet
The adoption process for a Great Dane is understandably a lengthy process. When we first registered with the rescue society, they completed a telephone interview with my family. They asked about our family life, the set up of our home, and about our other pets. We also were required to submit personal references. We understood that this process was for the well-being of any adopted dog. The society wanted to know that their four-footed clients were going to safe and loving homes.
Two months later, the call came. Doris, our case manager, said that a senior in their area volunteered to give them his beloved Great Dane, because he could no longer care for the dog. This two-year-old Dane was a beautiful Harlequin, meaning that he had black and white spots. He was well-mannered and was in good health. Doris said that his name was Bozo, and asked if we were interested in a trial placement. Of course, I said we would love to meet Bozo!
Welcome To The Family
The rescue society was about four hours away, and Doris said we could meet halfway to save each other time and fuel. Fortunately, we have a van with fold-down seats, to accommodate our gentle giant. We drove in anticipation of meeting Bozo. Would we like each other? Would he be nervous, or rambunctious and jump all over us?
We pulled into the appointed meeting place, and Doris was waiting for us. Towering beside her was this massive Great Dane, gently panting with his gigantic tongue hanging out to the side of his mouth.He smacked his drooling lips like he was smiling. It was as if he was just as happy as we were!
We walked over to him, and offered our closed hand. Bozo sniffed our hands a little, then gave each one a slobbery lick of approval. When I looked into his eyes, I knew that he would be our forever-fur-friend. He even offered his paw to my wife on command.
Move Over, Here Comes Bozo!
Doris helped us load Bozo comfortably in the back of the van. We brought along some dog food and bottled water for him. Not only was Bozo tall, but he also had a long body. He took up most of the van’s back area. While we drove, he lounged on the soft mat we brought him, and panted contentedly.
Bozo is a people lover. If he caught my wife or me even glancing back at him, he pushed his gigantic head up front and gave us a long, slurpy lick up the side of the face. Occasionally, he would bark at passing cars. His bark was as deep as a fog horn!
He did well on his leash when we stopped for bathroom breaks. I was praying that he was leash-trained, because it would be difficult to lead such a massive dog. Bozo noticed the squirrels that were running around in the rest area, and tried to chase them. After a little redirection, he slowed down and walked with me. He obediently got back into the van after each stop, and settled down in the back.
When we got home, he greeted our kids like long-lost family. He eagerly went back and forth to be petted, and ran around them in circles. Our Frenchie, Oliver, growled and cowered behind the door, and the cats ran upstairs. We could hear Bozo’s jubilant barking throughout the house. He jumped up on our couch, and just made himself at home. It took a while for us to train him to stay off the furniture.
Temperament Of A Great Dane
I can see how people often refer to Danes as “gentle giants.” Bozo has massive upper body strength, and could easily overpower an adult. However, his strength is reserved, and he plays safely with our kids.
Occasionally, he gets a little excited and plays a little too rough. It is just his way of playing, and he never has bitten or shown signs of aggression. As a guard dog, his size is intimidating enough to keep burglars away.
Bozo adores our Frenchie, Oliver; however, Oliver merely tolerates him. Bozo still has a playful puppy nature, and Oliver is rarely amused. The only time that he barks at Oliver or the cats is if they are running, or he is trying to play with them.
Bozo is curious when friends he does not know comes to visit, but he is not shy. He will sniff at their hand and make friends with them quickly. Although he knows his territory, Bozo is not aggressive about it.
He gets burst of energy and runs barking through the house sometimes. When he is like that, we often let him out to run off his energy in our fenced-in yard. His hyper spells only last for a few minutes, and then he is ready to lay in his dog bed for a snooze.
We buy him large non-rawhide bones to discourage him from chewing on furniture and other things. He has chewed up a couple of pairs of shoes since we have adopted him. In general, Bozo is a relaxed Dane that is loyal and loving to his family.
Bozo And House Training
We are grateful that Bozo was already house trained when we got him. Of course, he had an accident or two at first, but he does an excellent job of letting us know when he needs to potty. His droppings are huge, so they are easy to spot with the pooper-scooper. Bozo has been neutered, and we have not seen a problem with him marking his territory. We feed him a quality dog food that was recommended by our vet, and keep people food to a minimum.
A Word About Danes Indoors
People who are fanatic about pet hair or slobber probably should not adopt a Great Dane. These dogs may be large, but they are house dogs. Bozo is comfortable indoors with his family.
Even though we groom Bozo well every day, he still sheds. We do not allow him on the furniture, so it stays clean. His shedding is mostly in his dog bed and occasionally on the floors. This is another reason we are glad that we do not have carpet.
Keeping him brushed and groomed minimizes the shedding. We treat him regularly for fleas and ticks, and that has not been a problem. Bozo, like most Danes, also does a lot of slobbering, so we keep a towel around if he is laying at our feet.
It stands to reason that a massive dog would have a matching appetite. We feed Bozo a nutritionally-balanced dog food, along with healthy treats. Bozo gets three cups of food in the morning, and three cups in the evening. He goes through a 50 lb. bag of dog food within a month. We keep his water dish continually supplied with fresh water, because he drinks a lot. No wonder his potty business is so gigantic.
Health Precautions For A Great Dane
When the vet and the shelter neutered Bozo, she also tacked his stomach. We had read that Danes can develop a condition where their stomachs get twisted and trap air inside. It requires immediate surgery to save the dog’s life. Danes like Bozo that have their stomachs tacked are less likely to suffer from this life-threatening condition.
One of the things that our vet recommended for Bozo was to keep his food and water on a raised platform, so he does not have to stoop to eat or drink. This minimizes his chance of gulping too much air and developing bloat, another dangerous condition that Danes can have.
Since Danes are such massive animals, our vet said that they are prone to hip displacement and arthritis. For now, she has not seen any signs of these ailments in Bozo. His hips are well-proportioned, and he shows no symptoms of early-onset arthritis.
For such a big dog, Bozo is very limber. He loves to run outside and chase the kids. He knew some basic commands when we adopted him, such as “shake hands,” “come,” and “sit.” We had to do a lot of practicing with “no.”
At times, he gets a little rambunctious when we are taking our walks. He loves to chase cars and other animals--especially our chickens. A little tug on the leash and a firm “no” usually does the trick. We also had to train him not to jump up on people he meets. While he may view it as a friendly gesture, it can be intimidating to unsuspecting visitors.
Typical Day In Bozo’s Life
Our massive fur baby’s dog bed is on the floor at the foot of our bed. Bozo snores loudly, and we can hear him smacking his tongue as he drools in his sleep. When we get the kids up for school, Bozo is ready for his morning walk. He greets each family member with glee, then goes out with either my wife or me. He comes in the house and has breakfast with the family.
My wife and I work from home, and Bozo is always dozing by our desks. He only wakes to get some water or play with Oliver for a while. We take him for a walk a couple of times in the afternoon, and we pick up the kids together at the bus stop. He loves playing outside in the evenings with the kids. He is learning how to fetch, and will run with them when they play tag.
If we have no evening plans, we will sometimes watch a show on television. Bozo always seems mesmerized by the moving pictures. Sometimes, he will bark if he sees another animal on the show. After his nightly walk, he waits until everyone is in bed. He checks on the kids, then on us, and finally goes to sleep.
Why My Family And I Love Bozo
Even when I accidentally step in a Bozo pile in the yard, my family and I do not regret adopting a Dane. Bozo adores our children, and is happiest when he is at their side. His expressive eyes speak volumes to us, even though he cannot talk. It is as if he really wants to please us. He has not torn up our house, and enjoys lounging around with us when we watch television.
He loves us unconditionally, and he will always be part of our family. Some people say that animals cannot love, and have no emotions. I guess they have never met a beautiful Great Dane like Bozo!