Is a Great Dane Right for You?
If you find an issue with any of the following, this breed is probably not for you.
A huge dog who takes up a lot of space in your house and car. A heavy dog who wants to sit on your feet or lean his weight against your leg. Providing the right balance of exercise. Rowdiness and exuberant jumping when young. "Separation anxiety" (destructiveness) when left alone too much. Aggression or fearfulness in some lines, or when not socialized enough. Possible aggression toward other animals. Strong-willed mind of his own, requiring a confident owner who can take charge. Slobbering and drooling. Gassiness (flatulence). A special diet of quality food, whether it's raw fed or kibble. Serious health problems and a short lifespan. Large and expensive vet bills. Potential legal liabilities (public perception, future breed bans, insurance problems, increased chance of lawsuits).
Providing enough socialization
Most Great Danes have protective instincts toward strangers. They need extensive exposure to friendly people so they learn to recognize the normal behaviors of "good guys." Then they can recognize the difference when someone acts abnormally. Without careful socialization, they may be suspicious of everyone, which could lead to biting. Some Great Danes go in the opposite direction - without enough socialization, they become fearful of strangers, which can lead to defensive biting.
Some Great Danes are dominant or aggressive toward other dogs, especially of the same sex. Some Great Danes have strong instincts to chase and seize cats and other fleeing creatures. If anything goes wrong in the breeding, socializing, training, handling, or management of this breed, it is capable of seriously injuring or killing other animals.
Serious health problems
Great Danes are not a healthy breed. Their bone structure is often flimsy and may break down under the heavy weight thrust upon it. They are frequently stricken at an early age by joint and bone disorders, heart disease and cancer. Bloat is the number one killer with Great Danes. These vet bills can be very expensive.
The Great Dane may be targeted for "banning" in certain areas, or refusal of homeowner insurance policies. In this day and age, the legal liabilities of owning any breed that looks intimidating and has a history as a guard dog should be seriously considered. People are quicker to sue if such a dog does anything even remotely questionable. This is one of the reasons why we require landlord consent prior to adoption.
Providing the proper balance of exercise
Young Great Danes need enough exercise to keep them lean and healthy, but not so much that their soft growing bones, joints, and ligaments become over-stressed and damaged. The proper amount of exercise can be difficult to regulate in giant breeds.
Since you have to minimize their exercise, young Great Danes can be very rambunctious. They will romp with uncoordinated gawkiness all over your house. You need to substitute extra quantities of companionship and supervision. Otherwise, left alone, young Great Danes become bored and destructive -- and their powerful jaws can literally destroy your living room.
The strong temperament
Great Danes have an independent mind of their own and are not pushovers to raise and train. Some Great Danes are willful, obstinate, and dominant (they want to be the boss) and will make you prove that you can make them do things. You must show them, through absolute consistency, that you mean what you say.
Please consider an ADULT Great Dane.
When you're acquiring a Great Dane PUPPY, you're acquiring potential- what he/she one day will be. So "typical breed characteristics" are very important.
But when you acquire an adult dog, you're acquiring what he/she already IS and you can decide whether he/she is the right dog for you based on that reality. There are plenty of adult Great Danes who have already proven themselves NOT to have negative characteristics that are "typical" for their breed. If you find such an adult dog, don't let "typical breed negatives" worry you. Just be happy that you found an atypical individual -- and enjoy!