Why Do Great Danes Die Early (5 Key Reasons)

Great Danes die early because they are subject to several health problems. Great Danes are the largest dogs in the world, with excessive growth. The more the Great Dane grows, the greater its risk from certain health issues. Many Great Danes die early, usually due to one health problem or another.

As each Great Dane is different, diseases don’t act the same and aren’t fatal in all cases. 

Certain diseases are more fatal than others, resulting in most Great Dane deaths worldwide. We look at some of the most fatal Great Dane health problems to better prepare potential owners. With the right information, dog owners are better prepared to raise a Great Dane and possibly avoid an early death.


Cancer is one disease that affects Great Danes more than other dog breeds. Several cancer types can affect a Great Dane, and not all of them are fatal. Cancer can set in from childhood in a Great Dane; the longer it goes untreated, the worse it gets.

Depending on the affected area and type of cancer, it may be treatable or operable, saving the Great Dane.

Early detection is the only thing that can save a Great Dane from cancer. Of the possible cancers that can affect a Great Dane, the most common is Osteosarcoma.

The first symptom of Osteosarcoma is a limping Great Dane, which indicates getting help with urgency.

Heart Diseases

Great Danes are particularly susceptible to heart diseases, most notably Dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM). This disease causes a failure in one of the heart’s muscles and leads to blood pumping issues.

With Great Danes being as large as they are, this disease is highly common among other large dogs.

With DCM, symptoms don’t appear until the disease has progressed significantly. At this point, there may not be much you can do for the Great Dane.

The best hope is to detect the disease early, during a routine checkup by the vet. Once symptoms appear, they progress quickly until the Great Dane’s death.


Bloat is a fatal condition common amongst larger dogs, including Great Danes. Bloat progresses quickly in a dog, starting from gas or liquids filling up in the stomach, causing it to enlarge.

The enlarged stomach, in turn, causes a twisted stomach and eventually deprives vital organs of blood. Once Bloat reaches this point, the result is death, as the symptoms progress rapidly.

Great Danes, in particular, are highly susceptible to bloat, the species’ most common cause of early death. The exact cause of the condition is yet to be determined, but there are several possible causes identified, including:

  • Overfeeding
  • Genetic Predisposition
  • Dog size

Once a dog shows symptoms of bloat, a dog has hours at most to live. At the first sign of any symptoms of bloat, the Great Dane needs to be rushed to the vet. Some symptoms of bloat include:

  • Swollen stomach
  • Excess drooling
  • Vomiting
  • Retching in pain
  • Paleness of the mouth and nose
  • A weak pulse


Poisoning is a common cause of earlier death in dogs because they usually swallow anything they can find. Suppose your Great Dane spends a lot of time outdoors, and the risk of poisoning increases.

Constant supervision is advised when taking your dog for a walk or getting some exercise. Indoors, a Great Dane can be poisoned by chemicals found in home items and medications.

Keep items with chemicals and medication away from the reach of dogs. With great Danes being tall, you should try cabinets that can be locked. Some food items like garlic may also poison a Great Dane, so keep the kitchen locked.

Poison symptoms and action rate differ based on the substance ingested. Once symptoms are observed, seek medical care immediately.

Hip Dysplasia

Unlike the other diseases that can cause early death in Great Danes, hip dysplasia isn’t a direct cause of death. A Great Dane can have a long life with it when cared for properly; however, it brings other risks which can be fatal.

Hip dysplasia is very common in Great Danes due to its size and is passed down genetically.

There isn’t much you can do to prevent it, but you can protect the vulnerable dog from other things.

How Do I Know If My Great Dane Is Dying?

A dying Great Dane will have reduced mobility when it is about to die. When a dog is dying, its organs tend to shut down, especially when the cause of death is health-related. As each organ shuts down, it becomes more difficult for the dog to be active.

The Dog will find one spot and wait out its time.

There are other symptoms you may notice before it gets to the point where the dog can’t move around. You may notice a loss of appetite or unusual behaviour that can indicate a problem. The earlier you pick up on certain changes, the better the chances of saving the dog, if it is possible.

Fun Fact: The only thing you can do when a Great Dane is dying is attempt to make its final hours comfortable. You should contact your vet to determine if there is something else you can do before accepting its fate. A dog’s final hours aren’t necessarily pleasant, but your presence can mean a lot to it.

What Do I Do If My Great Dane Dies Early?

The most important thing to do once your Great Dane dies early is to determine the cause of death. A vet can perform a full autopsy to determine why the Great Dane died. This information will come in handy to prevent future occurrences or serve to educate other Great Dane owners.

Once the cause of death has been determined, you can proceed to bury or cremate the Great Dane.

Great Danes are large dogs, so you may need help moving them. You may still grieve the dog in your own way, but only when it has been dealt with.

If the cause of death is disease-related, you don’t want to risk contamination, especially if you have other dogs. You should worry about anything else after the cause of death and other processes like disinfecting.

Interestingly, acquiring another can make accepting the Death of a Great Dane easier. The new Great Dane isn’t a direct replacement for the previous one but a companion in your time of grief. If getting another Great Dane is too much for you, another dog breed may prove just as helpful.

How Can I Help My Dog Live Longer?

You can help extend your Great Dane’s life with proper care. The better care your Great Dane receives, the better its chances of living a long and healthy life. To be clear, there is no guarantee that your Great Dane will like to old age or above the average lifespan.

Your Great Dane will, however, live healthily with the best chance of ageing peacefully.

Healthy Meals

Eating Healthy is important for every creature, including the Great Danes. Whatever meals you feed your Great Dane needs to meet its nutritional requirements. Consult a vet or a dog breeder for information on this matter before settling on a feed.

Pay extra attention to the nutritional content of various feed brands, choosing the best one for your Great Dane. The information also comes in handy when preparing a homemade mixture for your Great Dane.

The quantity of food your Great Dane eats is just as important as the quality, especially when feeding once a day. The goal is to feed them enough to get through the day without overfeeding. Both overfeeding and underfeeding come with possible health challenges.

Dental Care

Dental care is another important aspect of Great Dane care that can’t be taken for granted. Just as humans need good dental care for hygiene, so do Great Danes.

Without great dental care, a Great Dane is at risk of bacterial infections that can cause various diseases. Infections can flow from the mouth, through the teeth, all the way to the heart, causing inflammation.

All this can be avoided with proper dental care. The most obvious choice is to brush your Great Dane’s teeth daily, but that isn’t always enough. A professional cleaning at least once a year will also be helpful.


The importance of exercise in a dog’s life is underrated, especially when dealing with Great Danes. Without the proper exercise, your dog’s muscles will stiffen, making walking difficult.

Exercise is one care routine that should start early when it is still a puppy. The right exercise and conditioning will also determine and tone of your Great Dane.

Exercise isn’t to test your dog’s athleticism; thus, it doesn’t have to be intense. Consider your Great Dane’s limits and be cautious not to push it too hard.

Ageing will reduce your dog’s limits and physical tolerance, but the exercise needs to continue, especially as the dog ages.

Regular Checkups

Health checkups are mandatory for all dogs, especially those susceptible to health challenges. Don’t wait till your Great Dane comes down with an infection or problem before heading to the vet, as it may be too late. Physical check-ups are necessary to detect problems early and attempt to solve them.

The older the dog, the more important check-ups are and the more necessary visits. Start your dog early on vet visits and checkups to establish a healthy baseline upon which the dog will be evaluated. Starting early will also help acclimate your dog to the Vet quicker, sparing you a lot of hassle down the road.

Regular Supervision

Regular supervision is also important to avoid mishaps which may prove fatal for your Great Dane. Dogs are curious and tend to inhale or swallow anything they find, including pills and medications. While medication may be helpful to humans, it can prove harmful or fatal to Great Danes.

With time, your Great Dane will suffer vision and hearing impairment as it ages. It will need help navigating the house, especially with potential hazards. Where you can’t be present all the time, you can hire a sitter or create a safe environment for the great Dane.

Some Great Danes also have to deal with a deteriorating mind and will need special care.

Conclusion: Why Do Great Danes Die Early

While considered gentle giants, Great Danes are vulnerable and tend to die early. There are many potential reasons why a Great Dane can die early, each of which is a possibility for every Great Dane.

Once you can identify any possible causes of early death, you can avoid it and help your Great Dane live a healthy and long life.

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