Great Dane Shaking: When It’s Natural And When To Worry

The sight of your Great Dane’s body shaking can be unusual and can make you worry. 

Occasional shaking can be brushed off as not meaning anything, however, there is a reason why they’re shaking.

In this article, we will explain more about Great Dane shaking, when it is natural, when to worry and see a veterinarian.

A Great Dane shaking can be caused by various reasons including anxiety, excitement, the feeling of being cold, old age, underlying health condition, poisoning, and pain. Shaking can be in the limbs or in the whole body which can be unpredictable for an unspecified time.

It is usually not an emergency situation but this should not be ignored because it can be a sign of a serious condition that needs to be addressed.

The signs of a Great Dane shaking include:

  • Shaking when they try to move or walk
  • Shaking in the limbs while they are resting
  • Increased anxiousness when involved in any task that requires movement
  • Episodes of the whole body shaking
  • Consistent twitching that occurs when sleeping
  • Difficulty in completion of simple tasks such as jumping or climbing stairs
Great Dane Shaking

Reasons Behind Great Dane shaking


Anxiety can lead to a Great Dane’s body shaking. This is a common body reaction, especially during separation anxiety. 

Anxiety can be caused by environmental stimuli such as loud noises, exposure to new people and animals.

When your Great Dane is exposed to these, they experience extreme anxiety and their body naturally responds by shaking.

Separation anxiety is common in Great Danes. They are people-oriented dogs and do not thrive one left alone for long periods and suffer separation anxiety when they are away from their owners or family. 

Shaking of the body or limbs is one of the signs of separation anxiety of a Great Dane.


A Great Dane will shake due to extreme excitement. Excitement can come about around meal time when they see food.

They can be overjoyed during meal time and you might notice shaking. 

Shaking can also occur when they’re excited to see you. This is a normal and natural body reaction when they are filled with joy.

Related: Why is my Great Dane acting weird?

Feeling cold

When a Great Dane feels cold, their body will shake. This is also a natural and normal reaction of the body in response to the cold which helps to regenerate body heat to keep warm.

You will also notice this when your Great Dane sleeps while temperatures are low. Their body will shake while they’re sleeping.

Old age

Old age is a factor that can cause a Great Dane’s body or limbs to shake. This is because there is atrophy of muscles which is degeneration of muscles due to aging and reduced physical activity.

Atrophy of muscles is progressive and is common in aging dogs, dogs that don’t get enough exercise as well as sick dogs. 

This is noticeable by observation of tremors in their legs, especially the hind legs and hips which affect how they walk. 

Diseases such as myositis and degenerative myelopathy can also cause atrophy of muscles causing shaking 


Ingestion of poisonous or toxic substances can cause a Great Dane to have a reaction that leads to shaking in addition to other symptoms.

Toxic substances include household cleaning products, antifreeze, xylitol, and even chocolate. 

These are substances that a Great Dane should not have access to which cause poisoning that can be life-threatening when ingested.


A Great Dane in pain due to injury or disease will also experience shaking of their body as a physical response. 

Injuries such as fractures of the limbs or illness that they may be suffering can cause extreme pain which causes them to shake. 

See also:

Underlying health condition

An underlying health condition in a Great Dane can result in shaking as one of the symptoms. 

Diseases that can cause shaking of the limbs or the body of a Great Dane include Wobblers disease, cerebellar, Addison’s disease, Generalized Tremor Syndrome (GTS), seizures, distemper, nausea, liver disease, and kidney disease.

Read more: What is Wobblers in Great Danes?

Great Dane shaking while breathing

When a Great Dane is shaking while breathing, this indicates that their breathing system is malfunctioning or there is a tracheal collapse. The shaking happens when a Great Dane cannot keep their airway open. 

This can happen due to injury or during excessive panting which causes a Great Dane to be under extreme discomfort, stress, and pain. 

Bloat which is common in Great Danes causes stomach tension and can also result in shaking while breathing.

Seek medical attention immediately when you notice your Great Dane shaking while breathing because this is a serious condition.

What should I do if my Great Dane is shaking?

When you observe your Great Dane shaking, take note of what might be the cause of it depending on when it happens and also if there are other additional symptoms.

This will inform on the best action to take and also information that is required by your veterinarian.

The following includes what actions to take:

Medical checkup

Other symptoms in addition to the shaking can be an indication of the presence of an underlying health problem that causes the body or limbs to shake. 

Seek immediate medical attention for your veterinarian either to rule out disease or provide treatment if the cause is linked to illness or poisoning.

Keep them warm

If your Great Dane is shaking because of feeling cold, provide a warm environment for them to keep them warm. 

Great Danes are mostly indoor dogs so during cold days or winter, warm the house or cover them with their blanket.

Remove the environmental stimuli

The shaking of a Great Dane can be due to environmental stimuli such as loud noises. To calm your dog and prevent them from physically reacting to this, remove them from exposure to these sources.

If the home environment has a source of loud noises, move your Great Dane to an area in your home that is quieter. Also, limit the interaction of your dog with new people and animals if these are sources of their anxiety. 

Separation anxiety in Great Danes is a common problem that can be managed to calm a Great Dane. The resource below explains in detail how to do this, which will also reduce shaking as a response to anxiety.

Read more: How to stop separation anxiety in Great Danes

Protection from poisoning

Ensure all toxic substances in your home are kept away from your Great Dane in an area they cannot access.

Also, learn more about the different foods and household products that are dangerous to your dog and keep them away from them.

When to see a vet

Shaking of a Great Dane can sometimes be a normal body reaction due to environmental stimuli which does not require medical attention, however, it can also indicate something more serious.

Contact your veterinarian immediately when you notice that the shaking lasts for a long time, that is, for more than an hour. 

Also when the shaking is accompanied by other symptoms such as diarrhea, vomiting, excessive panting, drooling, weakness, anxiety, and limping.

These symptoms indicate that a serious medical condition could be the cause of shaking and that medical attention is required. 

Many of the diseases that cause shaking of the limbs or body as a response are treatable therefore the veterinarian will provide the necessary treatment and at-home management.

If the shaking is due to poisoning and you have determined or suspect that your dog has ingested a toxic substance poison, this is a cause for alarm and needs immediate medical attention. 

All poisoning cases should be addressed by the nearest pet emergency center or your veterinarian.


A Great Dane shaking might seem normal but also it can be because of a serious underlying health problem.

It is important to monitor your Great Dane to notice when this happens and also if they have other symptoms in addition to the shaking. 

This will inform you on the actions to take and also when to seek medical attention so that your Great Dane is examined to determine the underlying reason.

The sooner your dog is treated the better for them and the results if an underlying health condition is the cause of the shaking. 

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