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As tall as 32 inches at the shoulder, Great Danes stand head and shoulders over most other pups — and when they stand at full height on their hind legs they are as tall, if not taller, than most adult humans as well. Yes, Scooby Doo, Great Dane who is also one of the most iconic animated animals ever created - and Shaggy realistically are the same height
As anyone who knows one is aware however, the average Great Dane is not quite the scaredy cat that Scooby Doo is. In fact, they make alert and intelligent home guardians, although the fact of the matter is that their size alone is often enough to make any potential intruder think twice.
The origins of the Great Dane are complicated to trace, but the one thing that is for sure is that they are not Danish. In Denmark they are known as the Deutsche Dog, or 'German dog' and that is a far more accurate name. Their ancestors were used by German nobility to guard their homes and their castles, a responsibility that Great Danes still take very seriously when introduced into a family.
Where the portrayal of Scooby Doo gets the Great Dane right is how goofy but loving and loyal they are. As large as they are Great Danes are excellent with other pets and with children and while their size means there are extra challenges involved in taking care of them the Great Dane makes a wonderful family pet.
As large and as heavy as they are it probably should not come as too much of a surprise that the Great Dane is more prone to certain health problems. While your pup may encounter none of them - and we certainly hope they do not - being aware of what they might be at particular risk from can be helpful in planning their daily lives and for getting preventative care.
Here is a look at some of these health conditions.
Gastric Dilatation Volvulus, more commonly known as bloat - is the number one cause of unexpected death in Great Danes.
Dog bloat occurs when excess stomach gasses expand and fill the stomach, causing it to twist. It what might be considered minor cases this makes it hard for a pup to catch its breath or blood flow to rest of the body is decreased. In the most severe cases, when the stomach twists completely blood is trapped there and the pup may quickly go into shock.
The key to treating bloat successfully is prompt emergency treatment. While there is sometimes a genetic reason a pup is prone to bloat, any dog can suffer from it, as it also often relates to the way they eat and what they do afterwards. In dogs who are very prone to bloat a preventive surgery can be considered.
Treating bloat can be time sensitive and expensive - emergency treatment can run anywhere from $1,000-$7,500 depending on the care needed.
Hip dysplasia is usually an inherited condition, although there is some newer evidence it may also be caused by growth that is too rapid in the first year of a pup's life (something that can happen with a giant breed dog like a Great Dane) It is the term given to an abnormality in the hip joint that causes the ball and socket joint to do not operate properly.
Over time this can lead to lameness, pain, difficulty walking, arthritis and even to paralysis. There are excellent surgeries available to help correct the problem and restore natural movement, but these can be expensive, ranging from around $1,500-$4,000 for a large breed pup. It’s also essential to monitor your dog’s diet, and make sure he’s eating well and staying at a healthy weight to minimize the progression of hip dysplasia.
While many Great Dane pet parents know about the risk of hip dysplasia, they are less aware of a very similar condition that affects the elbow instead. Once more the malformed elbow joint leads to destruction of the surrounding tissues, wear and tear and eventually osteoarthritis. Surgery is available, but like that for hip dysplasia the costs can run to several thousand dollars.
This is a disease of the thyroid that can affect Great Danes at any age but often develops when they are young; between one and three years old. The disease usually manifests itself as lethargy and decreased movement and results from lowered production and release of T4 and T3 hormones by the thyroid gland. It can be effectively treated with diet and medication, but the testing required to accurately diagnose the condition and form a good treatment can run anywhere from a few hundred dollars to up to $1,000.
The health conditions we have just covered are some of those that, statistically, a Great Dane pup is more prone to developing, but there is nothing to say he ever will. However, just like us, dogs can easily become ill or injured and often at the most unexpected times and there is some anecdotal evidence that giant breed dogs can be more prone to accidental injury because their environment is sometimes not quite suited to their size.
When we humans get sick or injured, we usually have health insurance to help offset the costs of our treatment. Until recently this was not the case for our pets, but increasingly pet parents are realizing that this might be an excellent idea for their pup as well and a growing number of pet health insurance companies now offer such coverage.
Making the decision to purchase pet insurance is something then that every Great Dane pet parent should look into. However, it may not be right for all pups, and as there are lots of different policies available finding the right one for your Great Dane calls for some homework and due diligence, just like it does when buying personal insurance for yourself or even for things like car and home insurance.
How much Great Dane pet insurance will cost you will depend on a number of different factors including their age, their current health, sometimes in the case of giant breeds their height and weight and, of course, upon the level of coverage you are seeking and how much you are willing to pay out of pocket as a deductible.
To help you get a general idea of what your costs might be however, we requested quotes from a leading provider of pet insurance for two Great Danes we know, Fred and Daphne.
Daphne is a two-year-old female. She is in good general health and has been spayed. The quotes we were offered for a mid-range pet insurance plan for her broke down as follows:
We then ran the numbers for Fred, who is six years old. As the average life expectancy for a Great Dane is 8-10 years, although many live much longer, Fred is considered a senior gentleman and while currently healthy statistically more prone to age related medical problems than his friend Daphne. Fred's quotes broke down like this:
These figures should give you an idea though of the basic cost of pet health insurance but not a comprehensive one. They are from a single major insurer but the costs vary significantly from one provider to another. They are also for two dogs of a set age. As he is unique a quote for your Great Dane will differ.
The costs of getting pet insurance for a giant breed dog like the Great Dane are often higher than those for a smaller dog. And the number quoted above may be a little higher than you expected. But what will you get for your money and is this an investment that is really worth making every month?
One of the things we should mention right away is that it is very hard to find a pet insurance plan that will provide coverage for a pre-existing condition. It also may be difficult to find a plan that will provide coverage for conditions that are usually considered to be genetic - like hip dysplasia. Some will, but you can expect that additional risk to be reflected in the form of a higher premium.
One of the biggest reasons that any pet parent consider pet health insurance is to provide coverage in the event of an emergency. When their beloved factors health depends on how fast they can get the right care for them, having a pet insurance plan in place that can help cover the costs and make that treatment possible is peace of mind that many pet parents are very grateful for.
Most pet insurance plans do provide good coverage for emergency situations but make sure that you look for any restrictions on where your pet can be treated in order to be covered.
In addition to offering emergency care coverage a growing number of pet insurance plans now offer some coverage for more routine medical care like yearly checkups and wellness visits - something pups of any age should get at least once a year, as well as coverage for the treatment of minor ailments your Great Dane might need to see the vet for.
Another big consideration when comparing pet insurance coverage options will be how the claims are paid. Often pet insurance is offered on a reimbursement basis; you pay the bill, the company reimburses you. Some companies do offer a direct pay option, in which the vet is paid directly though. This often sounds like the better option but it may restrict you in which providers you can make use of and how much of the bill will be covered (80-90% is common).
If you are willing to pay a little more, you will even find that some pet insurance policies offer coverage for 'extras' including chiropractic, physical therapy and behavioral modification training, as well as coverage for non-medical services including pet burial.
Whether or not to get pet insurance for your Great Dane is one that only you can make. We do suggest that you get several quotes from different companies and compare them carefully before opting for any single plan. When doing so what is covered is every bit as important as how much the coverage costs, so reading the ‘fine print’ is something that’s a must, as is asking questions when you are not sure about something.
The good news is that these companies feel the same way too and encourage comparison, providing both online quotes and lots of information about the coverage available so that you can make a well-informed decision about the pet insurance that is right for you, your Great Dane and your budget as well!