Great Danes seem to have the smarts to be able to do anything, but are they a good service animal? I was curious to see how well these animals serve, so I did some research and here is what I found.
So, are Great Danes good service dogs? Great Danes provide excellent service to those with limited mobility. Their regular patients are those with Cerebral Palsy, Parkinson’s Disease, or Muscular Dystrophy. Due to their large size and weight, Great Danes can help patients stand or walk as they support those with limited movement.
Great Danes weren’t considered for service until recently. Their massive size and weight were once thought of as a disqualification for service, but now seem key in helping veterans, children, or anyone with any type of mobility impairment, walk again.
What Makes a Great Dane an Excellent Service Dog?
A service dog is defined as “any dog that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability, including a physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual, or other mental disability.”
Great Danes are usually used as brace dogs, which help people with mobility problems stand and walk. They are like a living breathing walking stick.
A brace dog should be at least 45% of the person’s height and at least 65% their weight.
For example, let’s say you have a man that stands 6 feet high and weighs 180 lbs. This man would need a dog that stands at about 3 feet and weigh around 80 lbs.
A great Dane would make an excellent companion for a man this size because they will well exceed the height and weight requirements. Here is a chart that shows the average height and weight of Great Danes:
|Sex||Height (Inches)||Weight (Pounds)|
|Male||32 – 36||140 – 170|
|Female||29 – 33||110 – 140|
Due to their large size and weight, Great Danes are excellent brace dogs.
But their massive size isn’t the only reason why Danes are great service animals.
Unlike a lot of other large working dogs, Great Danes have a gentle temperament and aren’t very aggressive.
Great Danes have been described as the “Apollo of dogs”. They have the ideal blend of muscles and mind. Not only are these bad boys strong, but they are extremely nice as well.
A Great Dane [is] spirited, courageous, never timid; always friendly and dependable. This physical and mental combination is the characteristic which gives the Great Dane the majesty possessed by no other breed.American Kennel Club
Danes are often called “gentle giants.” Their genteel attitude and calm demeanor are rare for a dog so large.
In rare cases, you see Great Danes used as estate guard dogs, but that is the exception, and not the rule. Danes usually only become protective when something is endangering its family.
Of course, there are always exceptions to the rule. A Dane that has been poorly trained or abused tends to be more aggressive. Personality differs from dog to dog, but as a general rule, Great Danes are calm and peaceful.
You might be surprised to learn that Great Danes are actually better indoor dogs then outdoor dogs, but why would that be and how is that important to them being good service dogs?
Great Danes may be massive, but they don’t require a lot of exercise. A lot of service dogs, like a German Shepherd, for example, have a lot of energy and require room to play and jump around.
Great Danes, on the other hand, don’t need much exercise at all. Rather, they are content to take a nap in the corner, or sit on the couch and watch TV until their services are needed.
Their low energy is great for people whose disability would make it hard to tend to a high-maintenance dog’s needs.
In fact, too much exercise would be detrimental to a young Dane’s growth.
A Dane does the equivalent of 15 years of growth to humans within the first 2 years of it’s life. If you take your Dane out too much during his first 2 years, you may damage his bones or nerves and he may have complications growing.
A 20-minute walk every day should be sufficient for the Great Dane.
But exercise isn’t the only thing that comes easily to this massive dog. In fact, just about everything about this dog is relatively simple.
The coat of a Great Dane is glossy and short. They don’t shed a lot and when they do, the short tufts of fur are easy to clean. Not at all like the long clumps of smelly fur you often pick out of the couch in the home of the owner of a Labrador retriever.
The diet of a Great Dane is simple too. Although they may be heavy eaters during the rapid growth of their early life stages, mature Great Danes eat about as much as other large dogs.
Overall, Great Danes are wonderful animals that make great support dogs.
Registering a Service Dog
If you own a Great Dane and want to register it as a service dog the steps are pretty simple. All you need is the service dog’s name, the name of the handler, address and a photo of the service dog.
This will get you a service dog ID that will allow you to enter with your pet into public areas like stores that would normally bar you from entering with an animal.
Service dogs need to be trained in order to be legitimately registered as service animals. You do not need to hire a training specialist to train your dog. You can train the dog yourself if you have the know-how.
You can find out more about dog registration, here.
If you have a Great Dane and are interested in registering it as a service dog, click here.
What Kind of Service Do Great Danes Perform?
Great Danes are primarily used as brace dogs. Brace dogs are used to assist those who have trouble walking stay balanced, and help them up when they fall.
When a person is falling, they can grab onto the shoulders of their Great Dane, and usually halt themselves before hitting the ground.
If they do fall over, the person can usually still get a hold of their dog and save themselves from hitting the ground so hard. They can then use the dog as a means of helping themselves up.
Great Danes are also employed as emotional support animals. Emotional support animals help people with PTSD and other such mental disorders manage their stress levels better.
Taking care of an animal helps people stay grounded. It can be therapeutic to forget your own troubles and focus on the needs of another creature.
Great Danes are usually not used as therapy animals because of their massive size. Recently though, they have become more and more popular.
Where Can I Get a Great Dane for Service?
There are a lot of charities that donate Great Danes to those in need. Here are a few of
- Service Dog Project
- The Great Dane Club of America can help you find a dog or get in touch with a breeder.
- Medical Mutts can also you find a service dog.
Remember, you can register your own dog if you know how to train it.
Are Great Dane’s good apartment dogs? Despite their massive size, Great Danes actually make great apartment dogs. They don’t need a lot of exercise (only about 20 minutes a day) and, when mature, are very calm. Beware of Great Dane puppies, however. These little guys aren’t aware of their own size or weight.
How smart is a Great Dane? Great Danes somewhere in the middle when it comes to dog intelligence. Great Danes aren’t the smartest dogs, but they are easily trained. They are easily housebroken and can learn simple commands. Great Danes are also capable of more advanced commands and tricks. They are also frequently employed as service animals.