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Great Dane Adoption

Breed Photo

What do you need to know before you adopt a Great Dane? We asked the experts!


Great Dane Rescue of Minnesota says:

We would like people to know that Great Danes do not need a big house. They can do very well in a small home, even an apartment, as long as you can take them for a walk every day (about 30 minutes is usually enough).  Other than that, they need a soft bed or couch to lie on.

Harlequin Haven Great Dane Rescue says:

If adopting a puppy or young Great Dane, realize that they are a giant breed and will typically grow to well over 100 pounds. Too many Great Danes are dumped because the owner says they got too big. Great Danes are called “Gentle Giants”, but that does not mean that a puppy or even a young Dane is going to lay around all the time. A man once told us that the difference between a Dane puppy and a miniature poodle pup was the size of the hole eaten in the couch. Never get a puppy for small children; the puppy does not understand that the child is not a littermate and, especially considering how quickly a Great Dane grows, the Dane will quickly be too rough for the child. NO small child should ever be left unattended with a dog no matter what the age and history of the dog.

Great Dane Rescue of the Carolinas says:

There are lots of things that we tell our adopters, but number 1 at the top of the list is that this breed is prone to a deadly condition called bloat or, more formally, gastric dilatation and volvulus syndrome (GDV).

GDV is a disease in dogs in which the animal’s stomach dilates and then rotates, or twists, around its short axis. A number of emergency conditions may result as a consequence of this gastric rotation, including progressive distension of the stomach, increased pressure within the abdomen, damage to the cardiovascular system, and decreased perfusion. Perfusion is the process of delivering nutrients via blood in the arteries to the body’s tissues. Insufficient perfusion may lead to cellular damage and even organ death.

Symptoms of GDV include anxious behavior, depression, abdominal pain and distention, collapse, excessive drooling, and vomiting to the point of unproductive dry heaving. Further physical examination may also reveal an extremely rapid heart beat (known as tachycardia), labored breathing (known as dyspnea), a weak pulse, and pale mucus membrane (the moist tissues lining the body’s orifices, such as the nose and mouth).

The exact causes of GDV are unknown. A variety of factors, including genetics, anatomy, and environment, are most likely to blame. For example, dogs that have a first relative with a history of GDV have been shown to be at higher risk. Additionally, large and giant-breed dogs may be at higher risk, especially deep-chested breeds such as great Danes, German shepherds, and standard poodles. Although GDV has been reported in puppies, risk does increase with age.

Some factors that are believed to contribute to the development of GDV include ingestion of excessive amounts of food or water, delayed emptying of the gastrointestinal system, and too much activity after eating. In some cases, dogs affected by GDV have a history of gastrointestinal tract problems. It should be noted, however, that these characteristics do not necessarily occur with all cases.

A primary method of diagnosing GDV is imaging techniques, such as x-rays of the abdomen. Other tests may include a urine analysis and testing concentrations of lactate substance in the plasma.

If GDV is not to blame, other possible causes of the patient’s symptoms may include bacterial infection, gastroenteritis (which is the inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract involving both the stomach and small intestine), or “food bloat” due to overeating.

GDV is an emergency condition requiring patients to be hospitalized and aggressively treated. If secondary cardiovascular problems are apparent, they will need to be immediately treated. After the heart is stabilized, gastric decompression can be performed, preferably with orogastric intubation, a process by which a tube is inserted through the patient’s mouth into the stomach. After these processes are complete and the patient is stabilized, surgical measures may be taken to return internal organs (such as the stomach and spleen) to their normal positions. Additional treatment may be needed to address any organ damage. A permanent gastropexy, in which the patient’s stomach is surgically secured to prevent future improper rotation, may be done to prevent recurrence of GDV.

General care after initial treatment includes administration of painkillers, along with any other necessary medications. Activity should be restricted for approximately two weeks, especially after surgery.

While the exact causes of GDV are unknown, there are a number of risk factors that can be addressed, namely avoiding strenuous exercise after eating and drinking. Slowing the rate of food consumption may also help, as well as feeding frequent small portions, rather than infrequent larger portions.

More about the Great Dane

Thinking about adopting a Great Dane puppy? Here are three reasons to adopt an adult instead:

1. You have kids.

Like most people, you’ve probably heard time and again that if you have kids, you should adopt a Great Dane puppy (or, gasp! find a Great Dane puppy for sale). The rationale is that an adult shelter dog is an unknown quantity, so buying or adopting a Great Dane puppy is safer. Actually, the opposite is closer to the truth. Puppies are not usually a great choice with kids; they have very limited control over their biting/mouthing impulses, and when you mix that with lots of energy and unbelievably sharp little teeth, it’s a recipe for your small fry to be in tears.  Puppies are tiny chewing machines and can destroy a favorite stuffed animal or security blanket in short order.  Adult dogs, on the other hand, are generally calmer, and their personalities are already fully developed and on display.  When you meet an adult dog, you can see how they are with kids and with other animals.  This takes the guesswork out of wondering how a puppy will turn out as a full-grown dog.

2.  You value your possessions.

Puppies teethe.  They have a biological need to chew, they want to play constantly, and they can’t discriminate between appropriate chew toys and, say, your favorite pair of Manolos.  Puppies eventually can be trained out of this behavior, of course, and there are exceptions to every rule, but generally speaking, an adult Great Dane (or any adult dog) is much less likely to shred your drapes like coleslaw or function as a “helpful” canine document shredder.

3.  You work, or otherwise leave the house.

Pop quiz: how often does a two-month-old puppy need to be taken out to do his business during the day?  A) every six hours; B) every eight hours; or C) every two hours?

If you answered B, or even A, you’re an eternal optimist! The correct answer, though, is C: every two hours. When you’re housetraining a puppy, the general rule of thumb is that they can hold their bladder one hour for each month they’ve been alive (up to a max of about eight to ten hours).  So a three-month-old Great Dane puppy needs to go outside every three hours, a four-month-old needs to go every four hours, and so on.  If you’re retired, or you work from home, or you’re taking the puppy to work with you or to a doggy daycare (make sure your puppy is up-to-date on all vaccines before considering that last option), great! But if you’re planning on leaving your dog alone during your workday, you’ll definitely want to adopt a full-grown dog, ideally from a Great Dane rescue that can help you find the right dog for your lifestyle.

Let’s bust these myths about adopting a Great Dane

Time to get real: when we ask people what reservations they have about Great Dane adoption, we hear the same things over and over again.  If you’re operating under any of these mistaken beliefs, you just might be missing out on meeting the best friend you’ll ever have.   So it’s time for us to set the record straight:

  • You CAN find purebred Great Danes for adoption in an animal shelter or rescue group.
  • Great Danes and Great Dane puppies for adoption are NOT in any way inferior to or different from those for sale.
  • The dogs in the shelter are NOT there because they’re bad dogs.
  • If you want a puppy, you DON’T have to buy a Great Dane puppy.  Great Dane puppies ARE available for adoption.
  • If you have children, adopting a dog is likely the SAFEST option.

Here’s the truth: you absolutely can find a Great Dane, even a Great Dane puppy, for adoption in an animal shelter or rescue group.  And they don’t end up there because they’re bad dogs.  In fact, often the only difference between the dog in the shelter and the one on your couch is a bit of bad luck.  Think about it: let’s say you buy a Great Dane puppy for sale by a breeder. Your new dog is great; you immediately enroll the two of you in obedience classes, and soon your best pal is housebroken and well trained. But what would happen to your wonderful Great Dane if, tragically, something happened to you? What if he escaped from your home and ran away? Your best pal would very likely end up in an animal shelter.  The lucky person who adopts your Great Dane would be getting a great dog!  Animal shelters are filled with wonderful, healthy, well-behaved dogs who have been in homes before, but whose owners have fallen on hard times.  Many of them are housebroken and trained.  Great Dane rescue organizations often care for their adoptable dogs in foster homes, which means their foster families will be able to tell you if the Great Dane you want to adopt is good with other animals or kids, and if he or she is housebroken and knows any basic commands. As you can see, adopting from a rescue organization is likely the very safest way for people with children to add a new Great Dane to their family!

Breed Photo

Rescues and shelters near you

Dogingham Palace Rescue/Ashburn
Ashburn, VA

FOHA - Dogs
Aldie, VA

Pet Rescue Foundation, Inc.
Gloucester, VA

Virginia German Shepherd Rescue
Sterling, VA

With Our Regards, Inc.
Sterling, VA

Dogwood Sheltie Rescue
Sterling, VA

Blue Ridge Border Collie Rescue
Herndon, VA

PAWS Rescue of Northern VA
Reston, VA

SCMR - VA
Herndon, VA

Furry Suits Rescue
Herndon, VA

NBRAN-Virginia
Reston, VA

Akita Rescue Mid-Atlantic Coast, Inc.
Silver Spring, MD

Boxer Rescue and Adoption Inc.
Reston, VA

New Rattitude - Maryland
Poolesville, MD

Friends Of Homeless Animals - Cats
Aldie, VA

Dogingham Palace Rescue/Great Falls
Great Falls, VA

Humane Society of Loudoun County
Leesburg, VA

Open Hearts Rescue
Leesburg, VA

A Forever Home Rescue Foundation
Chantilly, VA

Collie Rescue, Inc.
Chantilly, VA

Potomac Valley Pekingese Club - Chantilly
Chantilly, VA

Little Buddies Adoption and Humane Society
Centreville, VA

Home At Last Sanctuary, Inc
Potomac, MD

Sweetheart Sanctuary
Vienna, VA

Healing Hearts Animal Rescue Group
Catharpin, VA

Annies Orphans
Gaithersburg, MD

Dewey Animals, Inc.
Centreville, VA

Mutt Love Rescue
Fairfax, VA

PetConnect Rescue
Potomac, MD

City of Fairfax Animal Shelter
Fairfax, VA

The Humane Society of Fairfax County
Fairfax, VA

Whitney Foundation
Fairfax, VA

Independent Animal Rescue
Germantown, MD

Rescue BC
Germantown, MD

United Maltese Rescue
Germantown, MD

Loudoun SPCA
Middleburg, VA

Middleburg Humane Foundation
Middleburg, VA

Loudoun County Animal Services
Waterford, VA

Nova Rottweiler Rescue
Germantown, MD

Westie Rescue MidAtlantic
Dunn Loring, VA

Dachshund Rescue of North America Inc.
Manassas, VA

Raleigh County Animal Rescue, Inc
Manassas, VA

Forever Homes Animal Rescue, Inc.
Rockville, MD

Gentle Creatures
Rockville, MD

Hedgesville Hounds
Rockville, MD

Montgomery County Humane Society
Rockville, MD

American Lhasa Apso Club Rescue - Northwest Region
Gaithersburg, MD

Blue Ridge Border Collie Rescue
Mclean, VA

Chesapeake Area Alaskan Malamute Protection, formerly Potomac Valley AMR
Virginia, Maryland, DC, MD

Appalachian Great Pyrenees Rescue
Clifton, VA

Pet Pros Maryland
Bethesda, MD

Lab Rescue LRCP - Purcellville VA
Purcellville, VA

Montgomery County SPCA
Gaithersburg, MD

Saint Seton's Orphaned Animals
Falls Church, VA

Friends Of Montgomery County Animals
Germantown, MD

Mid-Atlantic Chinese Shar-Pei Rescue Operation
Bethesda, MD

Tailed Treasures of MD Inc.
Rockville, MD

Empty Shelter Project
Manassas, VA

Sheltie Haven Sheltie Rescue, Inc.
Adamstown, MD

Bull Terrier Rescue of Virginia (BTRVA)
Manassas, VA

Jasmine's House, Inc. - MD Chapter
Clarksburg, MD

Ambassador Pit Bull Rescue
Gainesville, VA

HART (Homeless Animals Rescue Team)
Fairfax Station, VA

Promises Animal Rescue, Inc
Gainesville, VA

DC Area Weimaraner Rescue
Manassas Park, VA

Doberman Assistance Rescue & Education
Arlington, VA

Lost Dog and Cat Rescue Foundation
Arlington, VA

on the rebound bulldog rescue foundation
manassas, VA

Best DAWG Rescue Inc.
Bethesda, MD

BB&G Pomeranian Rescue
Lovettsville, VA

Maryland Bichon Frise Rescue
Rockville, MD

Lab Rescue LRCP - Frederick MD
Buckeystown, MD

Mutts Matter Rescue
Rockville, MD

Rhodesian Ridgeback Rescue Inc. District of Columbia, Virginia
Washington, DC

Lab Rescue LRCP - Falls Church VA
Falls Church, VA

American Maltese Assoc. Rescue--Virginia
Bristow, VA

Blue Ridge Doberman Rescue
Bluemont, VA

Dog World Rescue, Inc.
Alexandria, VA

Mid-Atlantic GSP Rescue
Arlington, VA

Homeward Trails Animal Rescue
Arlington, VA

SPCA of Northern Virginia
Arlington, VA

Allbreed Rescue & Referral Inc
Gaithersburg, MD

Chow Chow Rescue of Maryland
Silver Spring, MD

Grand Dogs Rescue 2
Silver Springs, MD

Roxie's Fund, Inc*
Silver Spring, MD

Lucky Dog Animal Rescue
Washington, DC

Capitol Canines Animal Rescue
Washington, DC

Capital Animal Care
Arlington, VA

Caring Hearts Rescue
Springfield, VA

Dogs Deserve Better - Virginia Chapter
Arlington, VA

Dogs Deserve Better, DC Metro Area
Arlington, VA

Dogs Deserve Better-DC Metro Area
Arlington, VA

Ozark Mutts and Stuff, Inc VA
Springfield, VA

Pups 2 Luv Rescue
Springfield, VA

Purrs, Paws, and Claws - Springfield Chapter
Springfield, VA

Rescue Angels, Inc. - Virginia Chapter
Arlington, VA

To The Rescue Inc.
Springfield, VA

American Brussels Griffon Rescue Alliance, Inc. - VA
Alexandria, VA

Animal Welfare League of Alexandria
Alexandria, VA

Tara's House Animal Rescue, Inc. - Silver Spring Chapter
Silver Spring, MD

Animal Welfare League of Arlington
Arlington, VA

Bring Home the Brindle Dog Rescue
Ijamsville, MD

Washington Humane Society - GA Ave
Washington, DC

City Dogs Rescue DC
Washington, DC

Dogingham Palace Rescue/Washington DC
Washington, DC

Dogs in Harmony - Washington D.C.
Washington, DC

Alliance for Stray Animals and People
Washington, DC

DC Shiba Inu Rescue (DCSIR)
Manassas, VA

Lonely Hearts Animal Rescue
Frederick, MD

MerryLea Rescue
Frederick, MD

Operation Paws for Homes - MD Chapter
Frederick, MD

Pet Pros Washington DC
DC, DC

Prince William County Animal Shelter
Manassas, VA

Hot Water Rescue
Alexandria, VA

Presidential Pits
Washington, DC

Lizzy's Lodge
Silver Spring, MD

Pet Pros Virginia
Arlington, VA

Vindicated Pit Bull Rescue
alexandria, VA

Pooches & Purrs Cooperative - Washington, DC
Washington, DC

Washington Animal Rescue League
Washington, DC

HFH - Washington D.C.
Washington, DC

Animal Protection Alliance
Takoma Park, MD

Cockers & Friends, Incorporated
Alexandria, VA

K-9 Lifesavers
Takoma Park, MD

Oldies But Goodies Cocker Rescue, Inc.
Newington, VA

.....
....., FL

USNMC Rescue
Jefferson, MD

United Yorkie Rescue - VA - Woodbridge - Brenda
Woodbridge, VA

YDD Resq
Prince William County, VA

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