For dog lovers who want an XL cuddle companion, the Great Dane is an ideal breed of dog. This gentle giant is consistently listed among the best apartment dogs — despite its large size — because it’s a lovable couch potato, ready to curl up for a movie night at any moment.
There’s just one problem — okay, there’s also a lot of drooling, so maybe there are two problems — but the biggest problem is the Great Dane life expectancy. This breed has a short lifespan compared to other purebreds. Still, these devoted family dogs can provide many years of love and loyalty.
Let’s look at the Great Dane life expectancy, the health problems you can expect from this giant breed, and what you can do to ensure your best friend remains healthy into old age.
The average lifespan of a Great Dane is 7-10 years of age. That’s a shorter lifespan than most purebred dogs, which live an average of 11.9 years. Mixed breeds are even healthier with an average lifespan of 13.1 years, according to data from the UK’s Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA).
Purebred dogs tend to have shorter lifespans overall. Veterinary researchers have often speculated that a lack of genetic diversity in purebreds has led to more health issues, which has led to their shorter lives.
But, according to the American Kennel Club (AKC), the authority on purebred dogs in the United States, most dog breeds live somewhere between 8 and 15 years. So, even compared to other purebred dogs, the Great Dane has a short lifespan.
Genetics plays an important role in Great Dane life expectancy. This breed’s genes have led to its enormous size and predisposed it to several health conditions — and both of these factors have shortened this large breed’s lifespan.
Here’s how the Great Dane’s size and health issues affect its life expectancy.
According to expert advice from the AKC, size is one of the most important factors in determining a dog’s lifespan. Big dogs have shorter lifespans than small dogs, regardless of the dogs’ breed. This trend is actually seen across all species. While there are many long-lived large species, like elephants, smaller individuals within the species often live longer than large — and scientists aren’t sure why.
One thing that researchers are sure of is that the lifespan of smaller dogs is about one year longer than the lifespan of medium dogs, like the husky lifespan or beagle lifespan. Small breeds live as much as 1.5 years longer than large dog breeds and nearly five years longer than the Great Dane.
The especially short lifespan of Great Danes is no surprise when you account for the fact that this dog isn’t merely a large breed — it’s a giant breed. And when you compare the Great Dane life expectancy to the life expectancy of other giant breeds, the numbers are similar.
The Irish wolfhound lives 6-8 years on average, and the mastiff lives 6-10. Both Irish wolfhounds and English mastiffs are ancestors of the Great Dane, which may account for the similar life expectancies. But you’ll also see similar numbers for unrelated giant breeds like the Bernese Mountain Dog (7-10 years), Dogue de Bordeaux (5-8 years), and Leonberger (7 years). Fun fact: The world’s tallest dog was a Great Dane named Freddy who lived 8 years.
One of the causes of giant breeds' shorter life expectancy is that they're at a higher risk of developing certain health problems, including cancer. The Great Dane is no exception. Here are the most common health conditions that affect the Great Dane life expectancy:
While it's unlikely that a Great Dane will ever live as long as a chihuahua, dog owners can take steps to help their big bestie live a healthy life. Here’s what you can do to ensure your Great Dane remains healthy into their golden years:
While Great Danes may not have a long life, you can ensure they have a great life. Feed your dog a healthy diet, provide regular low-impact exercise, never miss a checkup, and try all-natural supplements, like omega-3 fish oil and an anti-inflammatory turmeric chew.This giant breed may never live as long as a small breed dog, but during their 7-10 years, they will fill your life with big snuggles, big kisses, and big fun. For more information on how to keep your best friend happy and healthy, check out the Native Pet blog.
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