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Pets

GREAT DANE CARE 101

November 22, 2017

If you are considering adding a fur baby to your life, you should do your research and make sure the breed you are considering is right for you and your lifestyle. If you are thinking that a Great Dane might be a good fit then you have come to the right place. I have had dogs my whole life and Great Danes the last few years and will share everything you need to know when it comes to their temperament, eating, costs and other needs.

Our sweet Penny 

Temperament

Great Danes are known as gentle giants. Because of their large size they are generally lazy and slow moving. But don’t be surprised if they get a crazy look in their eyes and start sprinting around like a Tasmanian devil. This is known as the “zoomies”. They will get a quick burst of energy (typically after they eat) and they just want to go wild for a few minutes. When this happens the best thing to do is stay out of the way because they can accidentally smash into you and take you out by accident! It’s best to try to stop them from running or rough play right after they have eaten to avoid stomach bloat which I will discuss in the feeding section. Use a verbal command to make them stop rather than trying to grab them and stop them as you will likely get hurt!

Danes are also wonderful with children and other pets. They are curious and want to be friends with everyone. Not all cats and smaller dogs feel the same way. We have had a couple incidents where small dogs get intimidated by the size of our Dane and try to give a warning chomp. Our Danes have never retaliated. They just tend to stay away from smaller dogs after an incident.

Our Danes have proven to be very gentle and safe around babies and small children. Of course, it is important to never put too much trust into a dog because it is an animal with instincts and they can be clumsy at times. We currently have a 5-month-old baby and a 2-year-old Dane. We are constantly on alert to make sure our pup, Quinn, isn’t whipping the baby in the face as she wags her giant tail. We also never set him on the ground for tummy time and walk away because she could accidentally step on him. She doesn’t know her own size and strength. I’m convinced she thinks she is a small cat.

Andrew & Quinn catching a nap

Like most dogs, they are extremely loyal. They are generally friendly and outgoing but if they sense any danger they will fight to protect you. My last Dane saved my life, check out the story. Our current Dane, Quinn, is very protecting of our new baby. She thinks it’s her baby and has to check out anyone who comes near him and makes sure the situation is safe. Check out the story on how we introduced Quinn and baby Axel for the first time.

Feeding

When we are out walking our gentle giant, we get jokes all the time. “Did you take out a second mortgage in order to feed your horse?” Everyone always wants to know how much Quinn eats and what it costs. We purchase her food and treats from the natural and organic pet shop in town. The 30lb bag we buy is around $40 and she eats about 8 – 10 cups daily. You don’t have to buy expensive food but Danes have a short lifespan and are prone to diseases so our hope is that if we feed her top-quality food it will improve and lengthen her life.

There are so many different feeding chart resources out there and to be honest we haven’t followed one. We have fed both our Danes differently. Feeding should be based on the dog’s gender, weight, age and activity level.

We still feed her on a regular schedule rather than just leaving food in her bowl and letting her graze. We do this because she is basically like a goldfish and will keep eating and drinking until she throws up. Also, it’s nice to have her on a regular schedule because we know exactly when she wants to eat and go to the bathroom.

Danes are highly susceptible to stomach bloat. Different from other breeds, their stomachs are not fully attached to the rest of their digestive organs and can bounce up and down quite a bit. This makes it easier for their stomachs to twist up, especially when they have a full belly. It is important to encourage them to rest for about an hour after they eat. Signs of bloat include excessive drooling, becoming instantly lethargic and vomiting. Thankfully, we have not experienced this with our Danes. If this happens they need to go to the vet IMMEDIATELY as they could die within a few hours. In many cases, emergency surgery is needed.

Quinn helping me through my rough 1st trimester

Costs (Warning: Great Danes are NOT CHEAP)

  • Purchasing a Great Dane puppy typically costs between $800 – $2000
  • Food and treats cost between $80 – $100 a month
  • Toys $20 a month (Quinn shreds some toys in 5 minutes, others she is gentle with for a while)
  • Leash/harness/collar $75 – $150 (you may go through several sets as your puppy rapidly grows)
  • Kennel $150 – $200 (Andrew had to build an indestructible custom kennel)
    • Make sure your Dane has enough room to stand up all the way and easily turn around if they are being left in the kennel for a few hours at a time.
  • Pet Insurance (we use PetPlan) $100 – $200 a month HIGHLY RECOMMENDED – we spent a lot of money on medical bills for our last Dane before I knew pet insurance existed
    • X rays, blood transfusions, surgeries, etc are exponentially more expensive because of a Dane’s massive size
  • Vet bills & flea/tick/heartworm preventative care ~$600 a year
  • Doggy daycare and overnight boarding – it depends how much you want to do this but daycare is around $30/day
  • Obedience training $10 – $25 per session
  • Other miscellaneous costs include
    • Nail clippers
    • Dog brush
    • Dog Shampoo
    • Dog beds
    • Winter booties
    • Pooper scooper
    • Poop bags
    • Training clickers/tools
  • Consider a Large vehicle to tote around your gentle beast

FAQ

Q: Do Danes need a lot of space?

A: No, not at all! They are known to be good apartment dwellers because they curl up in the tiniest spaces and they don’t expend a ton of energy. They pretty much just want to be cuddling with their owner all the times.

Q: Do Great Danes really eat couches?

A: Yes, our last Dane destroyed an entire couch. Our current Dane chomped part of our couch, ripped up carpet and ate through wood trim. We don’t let her roam around the house when we are gone anymore. She has a large custom-built kennel inside.

Q: Does your Dane bring you a lot of attention?

A: YES. When we go out in public with her, we get stopped every single time from people who want to meet her. I don’t mind as long as they are respectful and ask before they pet her. Sometimes it is hard to get a walk in when we are getting stopped every 20 feet, though. We usually go on hikes where there aren’t many people so we can get our exercise in.

Q: Are Danes good swimmers?

A: Not from what I’ve seen! Our Danes have been very dainty and timid about the water. You would think with those giant paws they could swim well! I think because they have such a deep chest, they tend to sink forward and don’t like that feeling.

Q: Does your giant dog have giant poops?

A: Yes, yes she does. We don’t buy the tiny dog poop bags. We use a couple full size plastic target bags because she lays some serious piles. My husband is out every couple days picking up the poop otherwise our yard would be poop city.

Q: Does your Dane like the snow?

A: Because Danes don’t have undercoats they are more sensitive to extreme weather. If it’s too hot out, they get very tired and lazy. If it’s too cold, they can last outside about as long as you could without your winter coat on. They are delicate beasts.

Q: Do you have a saddle for your dog?

A: We get this joke a lot and have a few clever lines we answer with. Keep in mind, it’s actually bad for Danes back and hips to have the weight of a small child on them so even though it’s cute, please refrain! Unless of course you are just holding the child lightly on the Great Dane for an adorable picture.

Q: Will you crop your puppy’s ears and dock their tail?

A: People usually do this for show dogs. Our Danes are not for show, just our pets. I don’t know a lot about the process at all but it seems painful to them! Although, Quinn’s tail whips really hurt and sometimes I wish she did have a short tail, I think the long, curved tail and floppy ears are cute!

Q: Are there different kinds of Great Danes?

A: Yes, there are several varieties. Merle which is a gray/blue and they usually have blue eyes. Harlequin which is white with gray and black spots and they can have blue or brown eyes. Fawn (Scooby Doo) is a tan color with some black in the face with brown eyes. Brindle is a tiger strip coat pattern with brown eyes. Black is simply black fur with some white patches and brown eyes.

Q: Do Great Danes have a lot of energy?

A: Not really. They have small bursts of energy every now and then but for the most part they are very lazy. Quinn gets a 20 minute walk or dog park session a day and is good to go.

Did You know…

There are tons of Great Dane rescues! People think a Great Dane is right for them and do very little research which results in sending them to a shelter for re-homing. Adding a pet to your family is a big commitment! Please do your research to know what is best for your family and household. If you are a fellow Great Dane owner I would love to hear from you! We love to hear funny Dane stories.

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Baby Motherhood Parenting Pets

HOW WE INTRODUCED OUR NEWBORN TO OUR 115LB DOG

September 24, 2017

This post may contain affiliate links meaning I may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. I only promote products that I have personally used myself or believe in. Please see my Policies tab for more details.

Before we had our first baby, our Great Dane was our baby. Our life revolved around her. Some nights we would let her sleep in our bed with us, under the covers (not recommended). On the weekends we would take her on hiking adventures, to dog parks and of course through the drive through for a puppychino. We lost our last Great Dane at age 3 so we wanted to give Quinn a fun filled life!

As I was approaching my due date, I started to read up on tips and tricks for how to introduce new baby to your dog. She is such a gentle giant but I was so nervous that she would be jealous and too dangerous for baby. She has never bit any dog or person and has interacted wonderfully with other small children so I had hope! I started by letting her smell all the new baby stuff we had. She enjoyed this because she was very curious about the changes she was sensing. I let her smell diapers, the bottles, baby clothes, toys, everything! I also started ramping up dog training. Before we kind of just let her run the show. If she was misbehaving, I would say “Quinn, no no” in a gentle voice which did nothing. Great Danes are pretty lazy but every once in a while they get “zoomies” where they sprint around like an out of control tazmanian devil. Before, I would just kind of laugh, ignore it or even video tape it.

I realized that if we were going to have a tiny new baby in the house, she couldn’t do these things anymore. I started using a firm, low voice when I scolded her, I didn’t allow her to have her zoomies in the house and romp up and down the stairs anymore. No more sleeping in bed or jumping up on furniture. At first I felt bad, like I wasn’t letting her “live” but she has a fenced in backyard to romp in and gets endless belly scratches so she adjusted. Finally, I realized I was the Alpha and she was Beta! She listened to me and behaved much better! This gave me confidence for the big day when we brought baby home.

On Father’s Day, June 18th, we brought baby boy Axel home. Quinn had been at home with family anxiously awaiting our return. My husband went inside first because Quinn gets crazy excited to see us return after being gone. He took her out to the backyard to greet her and give her hugs. Meanwhile, I brought sweet baby boy inside. We got situated on the couch and my husband brought Quinn back inside and she went on a full out sniffing spree. I’ve never seen her so curious! We let her sniff the hospital bag, his baby hat, the carseat and then baby! I used one arm to hold baby and one arm up ready to push Quinn back if she got too wild. Andrew had both arms on her and we were on high alert.

Within a few days of baby being home Quinn learned she needed to move slow and be extremely gentle. She wasn’t jealous at all. She thought this was her baby! She followed him EVERYWHERE. If I went to the nursery to change him she went. If I got up in the night to feed him, she was by my side. When we had company over she was watching them like a hawk if they held “her baby”.

We knew we wanted children went we brought our Great Dane home. We had done a lot of research on the breed and temperament. If you are thinking about getting a dog for your family, make sure to do the research! Talk to people who have this breed and make sure the dog is a good fit for your family. Great Danes are pretty lazy which is great for us because we love being lazy!

It’s been almost three months now and Quinn still loves her baby brother. There are times in the night when he is extra fussy where she will kind of groan and go sleep in the living room but I don’t blame her, sometimes I wish I could join her!

I recently discovered that Newman’s Own Organics makes dog treats! (link below) We are always trying to remind Quinn that she is still our baby too so she gets extra belly scratches and treats these days. She loves these! Disclaimer: may cause excessive drooling 🙂

Pets

HOW MY GREAT DANE PUPPY SAVED MY LIFE

September 24, 2017

This post may contain affiliate links meaning I may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. I only promote products that I have personally used myself or believe in. Please see my Policies tab for more details.

Back in 2013, I was living it up in the big city. I was a single girl in my 20s living alone in Minneapolis, with my new corporate “big girl” job. I had decided that living alone was the best option for me since I had always had roomates throughout college. This way I could decorate how I want, invite people over when I want and just enjoy my own space for once in my life! Don’t get me wrong, I am super extroverted and love people but it was my “I am a grown up now and grown-ups don’t have roommates” phase.

Turns out, I got lonely very quickly. Not that I wasn’t making friends and enjoying visits from family. It was at night where I felt slightly scared and alone! That’s when I spontaneously decided I needed a puppy! Not just any puppy, a GREAT DANE!

I started researching online and found a local breeder. It was love at first sight. I had to have her in my life. When she finally reached 8 weeks (23 pounds), I picked her up. It was one of the happiest days of my life. I named her Penny (because she cost me a pretty penny). I remember wrapping her in a blanket and turning the heated seat on in my car for her because it was a cold December day! She was quite a naughty puppy. Not a very good listener, extra chompy and strong willed. She taught me responsibility and a lot of patience. Despite her behavior, I loved that dog. She was the best roomie and kept me company.

Now, let’s get to the interesting part about how she SAVED MY LIFE. She was just about 8 months old. Great Dane puppies grow at an insane amount so when she was 8 months, she was nearly 100 lbs. I was living in a “garden view” apartment. There was no garden, that’s just a fancy way they called the cold, dark and cheap basement apartment. Penny would always sleep with me in my room. One night I woke up and she wasn’t in my bed. I remember sitting up and being a bit confused. I tried to go back to sleep and decided maybe she wanted to go sprawl out on the couch in the living room. Then I heard some growling. This was years ago and my heart still races when I relive this night. I decided to get up and see what was going on. As I walked out to the living room, I saw Penny staring towards the window still growling. This wasn’t her typical, playful growl. This was a deep growl I had not heard before. As I looked up, I saw a man crunched down with my window open about to jump into my living room. It was too dark to see his face but the outline of a man trying to enter my apartment will forever haunt me.

So, what did I do when faced with this terrifying scenario? Surprisingly, I did not scream but ran to turn the lights out. I guess I was going into instant stealth mode? I do remember gasping for air and calling for Penny because I wanted her to come run with me (I was just a few steps from my door). But instead, she went after him. Never in my life have I seen a Great Dane so vicious. They are known to be a mellow and sweet tempered breed. I remember seeing all the fur on her back stand up and she went into full out werewolf mode. She sensed my fear and tension and her first instinct was to protect me. She started to bark so loud I thought she would wake up all of Minneapolis. She leaped at him, showing all her teeth. He took off. I thought she was going to jump out and chase after him but I desperately yelled for her to stay and she did.

After a few minutes of violently shaking I was able to close and lock the window again and call the police. I couldn’t give them much detail because I had no idea what he looked like. They did patrol the area for a few weeks after the incident which made me feel a little better. The day after, I was processing what had happened. I realized that this sweet puppy had literally saved my life. Who knows what would have happened if I didn’t have her. Who knows what that man wanted? I didn’t hear him breaking into my window at all. Penny’s growling woke me up.

Seems like a happy ending, right? Well, not to completely bum you out, but unfortunately my sweet heroine Penny, died of lung cancer at the age of 3. We tried so hard to save her. She saved my life and it still breaks my heart that I couldn’t save hers. Stupid cancer. Pets can be so amazing and bring so much fulfillment to your life or even help save your life in my case. I am so privileged and thankful that I was lucky enough to have had her in my life. Rest in peace my sweet Penny girl.