Our Gentle Giants

The story of two Floridians and their foster Great Danes

June 19th, 2015

The Downsides of Owning a Great Dane

By Tara

We met a lot of people and dogs at the Petco event this June. There was a woman who was very interested in the puppy who was there and asked us “what are the pros and cons of owning a Great Dane?”

I genuinely didn’t know of any real downsides of owning a Great Dane off of the top of my head. Is it because I am so smitten with them? Or are they really that close to perfect? These are the downsides I came up with later on after giving her question some more thought:

They are slobbery

So far, we have been lucky to have dry-mouthed Danes. Bubba was completely dry-mouthed and Rocco gets drool-y when he drinks water, but most of that is really just water. However, Great Danes (any gentle giant, really) are notorious for being slobbery and gross.


When you travel, you have to be sure to bring a towel to wipe his jowls with.

You have to constantly wash your furniture and blankets.

You have to be aware of the proximity of your dog to your body when you are wearing nice clothes.

You have to repaint your walls and ceilings because of the slobber stains. Have you ever witnessed a Great Dane shake his head after drinking water? That reminds me: check out this grossly awesome video.

Everything costs more

They eat more, which means you need to buy more food (obviously). The dosage on medication goes by weight, so medicine can get pricey for 120+ pound dogs.  They need larger equipment, like an extra large crate. They need stronger toys (because they can easily tear apart toys without even trying). If your family is larger than 2 people and a gentle giant, you’ll need to invest in a bigger car.

Their average lifespan is shorter

This should have come to my mind immediately that day, but it didn’t. In my experience, Great Danes have an average life of 8-11 years (however, Wikipedia is reporting 6-8 years). I’ve heard the same for English Mastiffs (but Wikipedia says 7+ years).

With a Great Dane, you get so, so much out of the short years you have with them. They are some of the goofiest, most loving dogs I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing. I love my Roxie, but my heart is so damn full when we have a Great Dane living with us. I know Roxie loves me without abandon, but the way these big guys show their love is unlike anything I’ve ever experienced before. Because of this, the short lifespan is worth it.

It is hard to find housing

This point is for those of us who don’t own our own home. I’ve been renting houses/apartments for the last 6 years and I can tell you that it is not easy to find a pet-friendly residence. Some landlords are not willing to rent to a family with pets, let alone a family with a pet that weighs as much as a human being. In my experience, the limiting factors are the dog’s weight and breed. I’m lucky to have a dog that is under 40 pounds and not on a restricted-breeds list. Actually, I once had a landlord with a 20 pound restriction. Roxie was closer to 30 pounds, but it was close enough to where it wasn’t a problem. If she had been 100 pounds heavier, than the conversation would have ended very differently.

We are so, so fortunate to have found landlords that are more than willing to rent to a family with a giant dog. But we are likely going to move a couple of more times before we buy our own home. If we owned our own gentle giant and couldn’t find a house that would accept him, we would be forced to find a new home for him. And we don’t want to put a dog or ourselves through that.

Training is crucial

I wouldn’t say this is so much a downside as something that you cannot ignore (which can be a downside for some dog owners).

It goes without saying that every dog should be well-trained. But an untrained Yorkie is not nearly as dangerous as an untrained giant dog. An unruly giant dog will drag you down the street. He can accidentally bite you and draw a significant amount of blood. He can bump into you and cause you to fall and break a bone. If you don’t have the time or money to invest in training your dog to be a model citizen, a giant dog is not right for you.

Notice I didn’t say anything about their personalities! It is because Great Danes are perfect. Okay, I know “perfect” is super subjective, but there is no “one-size-fits-all” personality when it comes to dogs which is why personality was left out of this list. While some people (like me) may love that Great Danes are highly sensitive, others might find it annoying. I find their large size to be majestic and nice to look at, while others find it inconvenient. It all depends on what kind of person you are and what kind of life you lead.

Great Dane owners out there: did I miss anything?