What Do Great Danes Usually Die From? Common Cause Of Death Of Great Danes

The Great Dane is a majestic large dog breed that is known for its affectionate and gentle nature. Sadly, they have a shorter lifespan than most dogs.

What do Great Danes usually die from? Great Danes usually die from the breed’s predisposed health problems which are bloat and dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM), a heart disease. These health problems are the major reasons Great Danes die of. Despite these health challenges that shorten their lifespan, there are ways of promoting a longer lifespan to enable them to live longer.

In this article, we will show in detail these health problems that the Great Dane is susceptible to that are the common causes of death of the breed and the tips that a Great Dane owner can do to promote a longer lifespan.

What Is The Life Expectancy Of Great Danes?

Great Danes usually die from

Generally, large dog breeds live shorter lives compared to small dog breeds. Compared to other dog breeds, the Great Dane has a very short life span of between 8 to 10 years with some not living up to the maximum age. This is seen in some living between 6 to 7 years while few others up to 12 years.

Why Do Great Danes Have A Short Lifespan?

The short lifespan of the Great Dane has not exactly been pinpointed by scientists why this is so. This is in comparison and in contradiction to other larger animals that have longer life spans as well as smaller dogs.

Explanations that have been brought up include that as a large breed dog, the Great Dane ages faster compared to small breeds, and by the time they look like adults they have already lived most of their life.

Another explanation is the breed’s health problems which also shorten its lifespan. The Great Dane is susceptible to many diseases and inherited disorders which further reduce its life. These health problems are the main reasons why they die early. 

The Common Causes of Death of Great Danes

The health problems that the Great Dane is predisposed to are the major causes of death for the dog breed. The common health issues of Great Danes are several and include: 

  • Hip Dysplasia
  • Bloat
  • Dilated Cardiomyopathy 
  • Osteosarcoma 
  • Wobbler syndrome 
  • Cataracts
  • Allergies 
  • von Willebrand’s disease
  • Epilepsy
  • Skin growths 

From these various health problems, the major causes of death of Great Danes are:


Bloat or stomach torsion is a common health problem in Great Danes and the number one killer of the dog breed.

Bloat is the accumulation of gas in the stomach which leads to the twisting of the stomach muscle which blocks blood flow to the other digestive organs and also prevents the return of blood to the heart.

This is a very serious complication and without immediate medical attention can lead to death. Medical care involves a surgical operation to correct the problem.

Bloat occurs when a Great Dane is served a large meal at once which encourages gas accumulation in the stomach and also when they eat their food at a fast pace swallowing a lot of air.

Accumulation of air in the stomach can also happen when they exercise right after a meal where they inhale air through their mouth while panting which accumulates air in the stomach.

Apart from these environmental factors resulting in bloat, it is also hereditary and can pass onto offspring. Also if a dog experiences it once there is a chance of occurrence again.

Dilated Cardiomyopathy (DCM)

Dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) is a heart disease that is common in large breed dogs. The Great Dane is more susceptible to this disease.

The disease limits the heart muscles from functioning well resulting in less optimal pumping. This usually results in heart failure and death.

The symptoms include difficulty in breathing, coughing, lethargy, and fainting.

The definite cause of canine DCM is believed to be due to several factors including genetic predisposition, infection, and nutrition.

Early diagnosis can be done through checkups by the vet where cardiac medications are provided to stabilize the condition if present to help promote the dog’s lifespan.

Ways To Promote A Great Danes Longer Lifespan

There are ways to promote a Great Danes life to give them a chance of living longer. This involves care on the part of their owner and also medical monitoring by the vet. The following are the ways that can contribute to this:

Healthy Diet

A healthy diet consisting of high-quality dog food impacts a dog’s energy levels, muscle health, immunity, weight, and overall well-being which supports a prolonged life.

Great Danes diet should have all the nutritional requirements they need as a large breed dog. Proper feeding as puppies to adults is important because their growth is rapid.

Good development is imperative so that their health is enhanced which also minimizes developmental diseases such as hip dysplasia or musculoskeletal diseases.

Obesity is also a risk for Great Danes which can lead to health problems such as joint issues, osteoarthritis, diabetes, or hip dysplasia.

A Great Dane owner should therefore keep an eye on their dog’s weight by the provision of a balanced diet and regular exercise.

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Proper Breeding

When buying a Great Dane puppy ensure you select a reputable breeder who will have the medical history of the puppy.

Reputable breeders have records and also the puppy will have been screened for genetic diseases such as heart disease or autoimmune diseases. When you buy such a puppy you are assured of the health condition and health.

A puppy without genetic problems tends to live longer.

In the case that you are adopting a Great Dane puppy from a shelter, they may not have the puppy’s complete health history.

However, have your vet examine them and provide a plan for their care and health monitoring throughout their growth.

Exercise and Good Care

Physical activities for a dog promotes their health by keeping their muscles toned and body in shape.

This also prevents obesity which results in other health problems. Ensuring that your Great Dane gets regular exercise benefits their health.

Ensuring also that a Great Danes general grooming is done also minimizes chances of development of diseases such as skin diseases.

Grooming care is not only for appearance but for checking irregularities on the body of the dog and prevention of disease.

Preventive Measures For Disease

Preventive measures reduce the incidence of disease occurrence. This will give a Great Dane a chance of living a longer and healthier life. The preventive measures include:

Regular health checkup by the vet ensures that a Great Dane’s health is monitored for any irregularities. Early detection of disease helps in early treatment and recovery which prevents fatal outcomes.

Prevention of bloat includes feeding a Great Dane smaller portions of food spread out throughout the day instead of serving one large meal which minimizes gas formation.

Also if your Great Dane is a fast eater, control this by serving their food in bowls designed for slow feeding. For example, JASGOOD Slow Dog Bowl from Amazon is a good bowl designed for large breed dogs to help in slow feeding which reduces swallowing of air as a result of eating fast.

As a Great Dane owner avoid walking or exercising your dog after they have had a meal to prevent swallowing of air which leads to air accumulation in the stomach.

A surgical procedure called prophylactic gastropexy is normally performed on a Dane to prevent the occurrence of Gastric dilation-volvulus (twisting of the stomach) which is the complication due to bloat. The procedure involves attaching the stomach to the diaphragm or abdominal wall to prevent it from moving. This prevents the twisting of the stomach and the fatal outcome of bloat.

Awareness of the symptoms of bloat in a Great Dane can help in being able to act fast and seek medical attention for your dog. Knowing this can help save a life in time. The symptoms of bloat include:

  • Distended stomach 
  • Stomach pains
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Excessive drooling
  • Lethargy
  • Vomiting
  • Anxiousness

Also, keep an eye on your dog and inform your vet of any behavioral changes. These could be signs of disease and your vet can advise further.

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The Great Dane is predisposed to factors that lead to their death. Preventive measures exist to promote the life of this large breed and it is imperative as an owner to be aware of this and how you can contribute to the health and life of your dog. 

I hope this article helped you know the health problems that the Great Dane is susceptible to, which are the common causes of death for the breed, and what a Great Dane owner can do to promote a longer life for their dog.

Although the development of the disease can still be out of man’s hands to completely eliminate, the tips provided assist in the provision of better care to promote longer healthier life.

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