How Long Do Great Danes Live: The Heartbreak Breed

Great Danes—no, we’re not talking about a prominent person from Denmark; this article is about one of the most impressive-looking pedigree dogs. They’re large, they’re powerful, and they have a regal bearing that is impossible to miss.

But is their lifespan as prominent as their looks? How long do Great Danes live anyway? The answer might surprise you.

How Long Do Great Danes Live

When put up against other breeds, Great Danes actually have the shorter end of the stick in terms of life expectancy. In fact, the average lifespan of a Great Dane is only about 7 to 10 years. This is significantly shorter than most purebred canines’ average lifespan, typically around 11 to 13 years.

But not everything is so doom and gloom, as reports suggest that the longestliving Great Dane was a pup named Maggie Mae, who nearly reached an astonishing 16 years of age. As magnificent as that number is, it’s not a luxury that all Great Danes can enjoy. Sadly, many of these dogs only get to live for half as long as the oldest Great Dane, Maggie Mae, did.

Factors That Influence the Great Danes’ Lifespan

Of course, the length of any dog’s life is going to be influenced by a variety of factors. Not all of them have to do with the dog itself, but rather its environment and lifestyle. All the surrounding conditions come together to create a perfect (or not-so-perfect) storm that will determine how long—or short—a dog’s life will be.

Diet and Nutrition

It’s quite natural for bulkier dogs to have a more gluttonous appetite than their smaller canine counterparts. But simply picking out the best canned food and dumping a hefty portion into their bowl isn’t going to do the trick.

Great Danes, in particular, need to be given food that is high in protein and low in fat. Their metabolism burns through calories much faster than smaller breeds, so they need food that will give them sustained energy throughout the day.

Your pet’s diet is regulated by a number of factors, including age, activity level, and health condition. The more active your puppy is, the more calories it will need to fuel its body. And as your dog ages, its metabolism will start to slow down and will no longer require as many calories as it did in its younger years.

Living Conditions and Environment

You might not think of the living conditions as having much bearing on the Great Dane’s lifespan, but it actually plays a pretty big role. You must ensure your pup has enough space to move around and stay active. This breed, in particular, needs a lot of exercise, so a cramped apartment is probably not the best environment for them.

If you live in an urban area, it’s important to take your Dane out for walks on a regular basis. They need to get their heart rate up and burn off some energy, or they risk becoming obese.


Their dominant size goes hand in hand with their muscle mass, which is one of the reasons why Great Danes have a shorter life expectancy than other breeds. The math here is simple—the more weight a dog has to carry around, the greater the strain on its joints and bones. Their large size is undoubtedly one of the main contributing factors to orthopedic problems.

Take the Great Danoodle life expectancy as an example. This is a crossbreed between the Great Dane and the Standard Poodle, two breeds that are at opposite ends of the size spectrum. The average longevity of a Great Danoodle can go as high as 13 years—much longer than a Great Dane’s.

On the bright side, their imposing size and muscular build make these canines some of the best guard dogs for families. They’re fierce protectors and will do whatever it takes to keep their loved ones safe.

Sex and Age

There is some evidence to suggest that female Great Danes tend to live longer than their male equivalents. This indicates that a dog’s temperament, energy levels, and behavior could also be determined by its sex. Females are typically calmer and more reserved than males, which might account for their longer lifespan.

Naturally, the aging process will take its toll on any dog—and this breed is no exception. With age comes a more sedentary lifestyle, which is inherently bad for their health. Even the oldest Great Dane will still need some form of exercise to stay in shape and avoid developing health problems.


Perhaps the most notable culprit in the Great Dane‘s lifespan is genetics. Family history is certainly a factor in determining how long your dog will live. If there are health concerns that have plagued past generations, then it’s likely that your dog will also suffer from the same issues. Your pup’s breeder may have some valuable insight on this topic.

Their genetic codes will sometimes give Great Danes blue eyes—if you’re looking to adopt a breed with this rare feature, take a look at our list of blue-eyed dogs!

Common Health Problems in Great Danes

Why do Great Danes die so young compared to other breeds? If all of the above factors weren’t enough to give you an idea of how delicate this breed’s health may be, here’s a short list of all the Great Dane’s health issues you should be aware of:


This occurs when the stomach twists and gas buildup causes the organ to swell. The main reason this happens is the breed’s anatomy—they have long, deep chests that make them more susceptible to bloat.

Bloat can be extremely painful and even fatal if not treated immediately. That’s why you should always be on the lookout for signs of bloat, such as an enlarged stomach, restlessness, drooling, and retching.

A stomach tuck is generally required to fix the problem. It involves surgically stitching the stomach to the abdominal wall. This will help prevent bloat from occurring in the future.

You might want to consider getting a slow-feeding bowl to help your dog eat its meals more slowly and to avoid bloat.

Eating at a slower pace will help prevent the stomach from twisting into an abnormal position.

Joint and Bone Disease

The joints and bones of Great Danes are under a lot of strain due to their size, which is why orthopedic problems and bone disorders are a common occurence. Most notably, Wobbler disease is a condition that affects the vertebrae and causes them to compress the spinal cord. As the disease progresses, it can result in paralysis.

Other problems that commonly affect the joints and bones include elbow and hip dysplasia, as well as osteochondritis dissecans (OCD). They’re all caused by the abnormal development of these areas, leading to cartilage loss and joint deformities.

Your vet may recommend supplements that contain glucosamine and chondroitin to help with the pain and inflammation associated with joint disease. Surgery may also be required in some cases to correct the problem.

Dilated Cardiomyopathy

This heart condition is characterized by an enlarged heart that doesn’t function properly. The lack of efficient blood pumping can cause several issues, such as fatigue, exercise intolerance, and even sudden death.

The best way to combat this problem is through early detection—regular veterinary check-ups and heart screenings can help identify the condition before it becomes severe. Treatment options include medication, weight management, and even a heart transplant in extreme cases.

Thyroid Problems

The thyroid is a small gland located in the neck that produces hormones that regulate the body’s metabolism. If it doesn’t function correctly, a number of problems can arise—such as weight gain, hair loss, and additional cardiovascular issues.

A lack of thyroid hormone is known as hypothyroidism, while overproduction is called hyperthyroidism. Both can be managed through medication, although it’s essential to catch the problem early on before it causes any severe damage.

Key Takeaways

The Great Dane is a magnificent breed full of love and life. As majestic as they are, they can also be quite delicate.

If you’re on the fence about getting one for yourself and wondering ‘How long do Great Danes live?’—the answer is as good as it’s bad. There’s a reason they are often referred to as “the heartbreak breed.” Many health problems can shorten their lifespan, but with the proper care and attention, this pup can be a loyal and loving companion for 7–10 years on average.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *