The Great Dane is one breed that makes lovely family dogs. These canines have all it takes to serve as great companions, even in families with youngsters. While their large size makes them look scary, Great Danes pack a cool demeanor. They have kindness as large as their size. That’s why they are famously known as the “Apollos of dogs” or the “gentle giants”.
But apart from serving as great family companions, can Great Danes excel when trained as service dogs? Well, this is one of the questions that most pet parents of these adorable pooches struggle to find answers. Our coverage provides detailed information on this and more.
So, are Great Danes good service dogs? Well, these canines can make good service dogs. They have everything that a dog needs to excel in the area. In fact, this article will reveal to you why Great Danes have the upper hand to serve better in the area than some of the breeds long-known to make good service dogs.
Why Great Danes Are Right Service Dogs?
For any pup to serve as a good service dog, he/she needs to have all the necessary qualities. That said, what are some of the characteristics of Great Danes that make them suitable candidates for serving as service dogs? Below are some.
Great Danes Are Intelligent
Although dogs are generally intelligent creatures, their level of smartness differs from one pooch to another. Great Danes have a high level of cleverness. While we may not put them in the same class with Border Collies, Poodles, German Shepherds, Golden Retrievers, and other smartest dog breeds, these cool colleagues have enough level of intelligence to excel in service roles.
Intelligence plays a major role in service dogs. Smart dogs are easy to train. But far from training, these dogs will use their intelligence for the rest of their lives in making wise and timely decisions on what they have been trained to do.
These Dogs Are Huge
Their name best describes their physical size. Great Danes are giant-sized dogs. They are very muscular. The males will attain a maximum height of 32 inches whereas the females stand about 30 inches high when fully grown. Both the male and female will weigh up to about 120 lbs. That makes them among the largest dog breeds. Actually, they come second in terms of body size, only after the English Mastiff.
Their strong massive body size puts them in a better position to serve well in service tasks that need physical support. This is because the rule of the thumb is that a service dog needs to have at least 45% the height of their human partners and the minimum of 65% their weight.
Great Danes Are Very Calm
Having a dog that displays some level of aggression is more of a safety liability than it is of help to people living with disabilities. Although their enormous size is likely to send a wrong message at first glance, Great Danes are calm beings.
These dogs are very patient and social. That’s why they will keep their cool in public settings and when they meet other unfamiliar dogs. But don’t get it wrong- Great Danes aren’t shy by any means- they will step up to the plate to defend their loved ones when the need be. This larger than life personality makes them great service beings.
They Bond Strongly With Humans
Any service dog needs to portray high levels of loyalty. It should be able to bond strongly with their human partners. While almost all dogs are loyal to their owners, some are more loyal than others. Now, the Great Dane is one of the dogs that will do all it takes to avoid anything that may affect their relationship with their human friends.
They are kind of dogs that will always want to obey commands without having minds of their own like some dog breeds. This character makes them reliable service dogs. Their strong desire to please helps them perform very well in training.
They Don’t Claim Much In Return
The primary purpose of service dogs is to help disabled persons perform tasks they are naturally unable to do by themselves. They make them more complete and eliminates the need for relying on other humans for assistance in performing these tasks.
A good service dog should be easy to care for. It should get along well without expecting too much in return beyond what their human partners can deliver. That’s another reason we see Great Danes as suitable candidates for the role.
Even with their large size and muscular bodies, it’s perplexing how the gentle giants don’t need much physical activity. They are a type of dog that will survive just fine by eating and laying around when there is no work to perform.
Great Danes also have a short coat. Thus, they don’t need frequent grooming like heavily-coated furry friends. The short fur is also an implication that they won’t have their hair scattered all over the room. After all, they don’t have much for shedding in the first place.
A Few Things About Them That Don’t Work Best For The Role
As seen above, Great Danes possess several qualities that favor them for a service dog role. However, we must acknowledge that not everything about Great Danes works positively to make them perfect service dogs. Here are some negatives yo need to be aware of.
Great Danes Have A Short Lifespan
One thing that has been hard for scientists to explain about dogs is the negative relationship between size and lifespan. While it’s normal for larger organisms to live longer, it’s surprising how large dog breeds have a shorter life expectancy than the pint-sized furry colleagues.
While a small dog like Chihuahua may live up to about 16 years, Great Danes will live only half these days at their best. I mean, although they possess a lot of qualities that qualify them as good service dogs, we must come to the fact that their short lifespan is one major drawback.
Considering the amount of cost and time that goes into service dog training, not many pet parents are willing to invest that much for a dog that will only serve for less than a decade.
They Have A Massive Size
We already saw the importance of giant body size for a service dog. While it makes them well-suited for some tasks the large size of Great Danes also has its downsides.
For instance, because of their large size, these dogs need more space than smaller dog breeds. Most pet parents of Great Dane compare living with these dogs to living with a fellow human. Hence, if you choose to have a Great Dane as a service dog, be sure to provide him with the amount of space he needs to thrive.
Additionally, their unpopular large size will more likely attract attention when serving as service dogs. They are likely to attract questions and compliments from different people. Of course, while they may not have any problem with strangers, it may make them lose their confidence and forget what is expected of them for a moment.
They Are Great Eaters
Although Great Danes aren’t among the most energetic dogs, they will need a good amount of food to keep them going. Being huge and muscular, Great Danes will require more food to maintain their muscle mass and body shape.
A male will need about 10 cups of dog food a day to keep them going healthy and strong while the females may need only a cup less this much. This is what an average Great Dane needs- one that will only eat and sleep for about 14 hours a day.
Hence, when serving as service dogs, you will need to increase this amount to give them enough amount of energy to execute what you want them to do. Hence, before you train a Great Dane to serve as a dog, be prepared to quench their appetite.
They Have High Susceptibility To Medical Conditions
While we don’t have dogs that are immune to diseases, some breeds are likely to develop some conditions than others. And yes, Great Danes are among the dog breeds that are likely to attract a few medical conditions than the majority of smaller canines.
Scientists see Great Danes’ high vulnerability to several health conditions as one of the major reasons behind their short life expectancy. The most common health issues of these dogs include Canine hip dysplasia, Wobbler syndrome, Osteoarthritis, Gastric Dilation Syndrome, diabetes, obesity, and more.
With each of these diseases having the chances of occurring, expect to spend some good amount of cash on vaccination, frequent checkups, and treatment. Their large size means that you have to pay a few more bucks for veterinary service than it would take to get the same service for smaller dog breeds. However, provided that you give them the best care and healthy living conditions, your dog may never develop any of these diseases.
Perfect Service Areas For Great Danes
Like any other dog breed, Great Danes are well-suited for some service tasks than others. Below are some of the areas where your Great Dane is likely to excel the most.
Mobility Support Dogs
Also known as Brace and mobility support dogs (BMSDs), these are types of service dogs that are trained to help people with impaired balance, gait, and those using prosthetics and other devices for assisting in movement such as wheelchairs.
Dogs in this class help their handlers in tasks such as opening doors, turning lights, retrieving dropped and out-of-reach items, accessing cabinets and drawers, and other everyday tasks that their human handlers can’t do on their own because of their disability.
Since people with these conditions will more often need some physical support, dogs serving in this area need to be muscular and strong enough to handle the weight of an average adult. And since Great Danes have all the needed qualities to succeed in these tasks, Great Danes will be happy to train to serve as Brace and mobility support dogs. Other breeds that can make great BMSDs include German shepherds, Labs, Golden retrievers, Newfoundlands, Rottweilers, Bernese mountain dogs, mastiffs, standard poodles, and more.
Emotional Support Animals
Before we proceed any further, it’s important to note that emotional support animals (ESAs) are not recognized as service dogs under the Americans with Disabilites Act (ADA). Therefore, emotional support dogs will more often not enjoy the same privileges as service dogs. According to ADA, service dogs are for performing specific tasks. However, ESAs are those trained for a specific owner.
However, this doesn’t mean to underestimate the role that Emotional support dogs play. These dogs are trained to provide their owners with therapeutic benefits such as providing comfort and helping in alleviating emotional distress symptoms.
That said, emotional support dogs are as important as service dogs and therapy dogs. For dogs to make for great ESAs, they need to be calm and friendly with a reassuring demeanor. Since Great Danes have all these, it’s undeniable that they can make excellent ESAs. And while in the past most people didn’t prefer them because of their large size, they are now popular ESAs.
Great Danes are lovely pups we all want to have in our families. However, other than serving as fantastic family dogs, gentle giants have all it takes to make more than just mere pets. Since they are intelligent, loyal, calm, strong, and massive in size, Great Danes can be trained to help people with disabilities perform some tasks. They also make good emotional support animals for relieving psychological issues such as anxieties, post-traumatic stress disorder, phobias, and many others. However, be ready to provide for their basic requirements such as in food, space, and frequent medical check-ups.