While the lumbering giants are best known for their kind hearts and size, how would this beast work as a service dog?
Short answer, excellent! Comparatively, danes need very little exercise versus other breeds. They are content with one walk a day and then napping in the corner. Their short coat makes them a light shedder and mild manner easy to bring into public.
Service needs that a Great Dane provides:
- Protection – You knew this one was coming. GD’s were originally bred to guard estates and carriages. They were also used as “sport” dogs and would frequently bring down wild boar.
- Psychiatric Service Dog (PSDs) – GD’s are known for their gentle heart and will often try to imitate lapdogs with their owners.
- Brace/Mobility Support Dogs (BMSD) - Due to their size Great Dane’s (GD’s) work as great BMSD buddies. Especially if their owner is larger than average and has balance issues due to a disability.
Great Danes are primarily used for Brace/Mobility Support Dogs (BMSD). They can accompany people with a variety of ailments including, Parkinson’s Disease, Multiple Sclerosis etc..
What tasks will they perform?
- Holding doors
- Wearing a special harness and acting as a counter-balance.
- Picking up dropped objects, bringing crutches
- Standing over a fallen handler so they are not stepped on
- Pulling a wheelchair
- Helping specific ailments for example: a Parkinson’s patient may experience “freezes.” Danes are taught to touch the foot or ankle of the person which will break the “freeze.”
What size dog will I need for my mobility impairment?
A BMSD needs to be at least 45% of the persons height and 65% of the persons weight. For example a 6 foot tall man needs a 30” dog.
Service needs that would not be a great fit:
- Visual Assistance Dogs – Danes are extremely willful and have a mind of their own. Many can be skittish and easily frightened. Shepards, labs, and goldens are a better fit in this department
As far as the breed goes GD’s are easygoing and mild-mannered. However, they can be some of the hardest dogs to train because of their size. What might be a warm welcome from a shitsu jumping on a stranger is dangerous from a GD. Therefore, it is recommended that owners of GDs have prior experience training dogs and are confident in there ability to curb bad behaviors early in development.
DO NOT GET A GREAT DANE IF!!!
- You do not have time to socialize them – danes need socialization when young and can often develop anxiety if left alone for too long. Danes love people and are always ready to welcome a stranger.
- You do not have time to exercise them – Although, danes may take less walking then you think they need a minimum of one 20 minute walk a day. If given a yard danes will be much happier which can lead to evening temperament in other departments.
- You are not experienced with dog training – danes are not starter dogs. All bad doggy issues are heightened because of the size. danes take a strong owner who is willing to invest the time and sweat into training a very large rambunctious puppy.
- You need a travelling buddy – Pretty self-explanatory here. As was alluded to in our previous article: , size matters!
- You can’t hand a little slobber! – There will be saliva on your furniture.
If you need a kind hearted gentle giant then the dane is for you! When well trained from a young age danes can grow to become excellent service/ family dogs and are among the gentlest breeds to children. danes are the #15 dog in terms of popularity and there are many websites where you can adopt one.
Need a guide for finding the perfect companion online? check out our buying guide