July 12, 2018

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is alerting pet owners and veterinary professionals about reports of canine dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) in dogs eating certain pet foods containing peas, lentils, other legume seeds, or potatoes as main ingredients. These reports are unusual because DCM is occurring in breeds not typically genetically prone to the disease. The FDA's Center for Veterinary Medicine and the Veterinary Laboratory Investigation and Response Network, a collaboration of government and veterinary diagnostic laboratories, are investigating this potential association.

Canine DCM is a disease of a dog's heart muscle and results in an enlarged heart. As the heart and its chambers become dilated, it becomes harder for the heart to pump, and heart valves may leak, leading to a buildup of fluids in the chest and abdomen. DCM often results in congestive heart failure. Heart function may improve in cases that are not linked to genetics with appropriate veterinary treatment and dietary modification, if caught early.

The underlying cause of DCM is not truly known, but is thought to have a genetic component. Breeds that are typically more frequently affected by DCM include large and giant breed dogs, such as Great Danes, Boxers, Newfoundlands, Irish Wolfhounds, Saint Bernards and Doberman Pinschers. It is less common in small and medium breed dogs, except American and English Cocker Spaniels. However, the cases that have been reported to the FDA have included Golden and Labrador Retrievers, Whippets, a Shih Tzu, a Bulldog and Miniature Schnauzers, as well as mixed breeds.

Diets in cases reported to the FDA frequently list potatoes or multiple legumes such as peas, lentils, other "pulses" (seeds of legumes), and their protein, starch and fiber derivatives early in the ingredient list, indicating that they are main ingredients. Early reports from the veterinary cardiology community indicate that the dogs consistently ate these foods as their primary source of nutrition for time periods ranging from months to years. High levels of legumes or potatoes appear to be more common in diets labeled as "grain-free," but it is not yet known how these ingredients are linked to cases of DCM. Changes in diet, especially for dogs with DCM, should be made in consultation with a licensed veterinarian.

In the reports the FDA has received, some of the dogs showed signs of heart disease, including decreased energy, cough, difficulty breathing and episodes of collapse. Medical records for four atypical DCM cases, three Golden Retrievers and one Labrador Retriever, show that these dogs had low whole blood levels of the amino acid taurine. Taurine deficiency is well-documented as potentially leading to DCM. The Labrador Retriever with low whole blood taurine levels is recovering with veterinary treatment, including taurine supplementation, and a diet change. Four other cases of DCM in atypical dog breeds, a Miniature Schnauzer, Shih Tzu and two Labrador Retrievers, had normal blood taurine levels. The FDA continues to work with board certified veterinary cardiologists and veterinary nutritionists to better understand the clinical presentation of these dogs. The agency has also been in contact with pet food manufacturers to discuss these reports and to help further the investigation.

The FDA encourages pet owners and veterinary professionals to report cases of DCM in dogs suspected of having a link to diet by using the electronic Safety Reporting Portal or calling their state's FDA Consumer Complaint Coordinators. Please see the link below about "How to Report a Pet Food Complaint" for additional instructions.
Additional Information

How to Report a Pet Food Complaint
Veterinary Laboratory Investigation and Response Network (Vet-LIRN)

Contact FDA
240-276-9115 FAX
Issued by: FDA, Center for Veterinary Medicine

7500 Standish Place, HFV-1
Rockville, MD 20855


The Great Dane is regal in appearance, having dignity, strength and elegance. He is the tallest of dog breeds with his great size and well-formed muscled body. Known as the friendly giant, he should show no unprovoked aggression. There are times he may have a stubborn streak, but early training will help alleviate this problem. The Dane makes a great family dog with his gentle, loyal and affectionate nature and patience with children. Adapts well to urban living if given plenty of space and exercise. Despite his large size he should not be kenneled but kept indoors as a member of the family. He truly loves the comforts of home and you may find him sleeping in your big easy chair.

Great Danes are giants in the dog world. That means more food, more exercise and more expensive veterinary costs. Be sure you can afford to keep a Dane in good health!

 As with any dog, regular exercise and training is important - with large or giant dogs it is essential. These dogs grow very quickly and investing the time to socialize and train your puppy while they are young cannot be overstressed An uncontrollable, unruly or poorly trained 150 lb dog is a disaster waiting to happen.

Like many other purebred dogs, Danes come with their own set of health risks. One of the most common (and most dangerous) is bloat. Bloat is also known as gastric torsion, a condition in which the stomach fills with gas, twists and is unable to escape. This is a life-threatening condition and every Dane owner should be aware of the signs of bloat, as well as the precautions that can be taken to reduce the risk of this happening. NOT ALL DANES BLOAT, but it can happen with any bloodline if the conditions are right. Please see these links for valuable bloat information that every Dane owner should have:
Bloat in Large Dogs  and Gastric Torsion in Dogs ( both highly recommended reading)

 Danes have critical growing periods. These are stages in their lives, usually within their first year, where their nutritional needs must be met if the dog is to achieve his full potential. Skimping here will result in a poorly matured dog.

Not frightened away yet? GREAT! Because Great Danes are one of the most people oriented dogs around. They make excellent companions! They have a gentle and pleasing nature with a proud dignified bearing. You should know up front that Danes thoroughly enjoy their creature comforts and will happily take over the couch if permitted!

History and the Great Dane Today The Great Dane is known as the "Apollo of all dogs." Incised on some Greek money dating back to 36 B.C. is the image of a dog very similar to the Great Dane of today. An illustration dating back to approximately 600 B.C. shows Assyrian huntsmen with Dane-like dogs. In 407 A.D. German Gaul and part of Italy and Spain were invaded by an Asiatic people who brought with them powerful mastiff-like dogs. In Germany especially, where these magnificent animals capable of overcoming bears and wild boars were much admired, a process of selective breeding was begun. The dogs were crossed with Irish Greyhounds, and the result was the beautiful, large dog known today as the Great Dane.

From the middle to the late 1800s, breeders both in Germany and England became very interested in the breed and more or less developed it to the standards, which are recognised today. It has been claimed that the Great Dane is German in origin, which is not certain. However, what is evident, is that German breeders contributed largely to bringing the Great Dane to its glory of today.

Why the breed is called under different names is uncertain. The breed did not originate in Denmark, yet in most English speaking countries the breed is called 'Great Dane', in most of central Europe it is recognised as 'Deutsche Dogge', though in France, it is recognised as both 'Dogue Allemand' and 'Danois'. In Holland, 'Duitse Dogge' and 'Deense Dogge' and in Italy it is called 'Alano'. In 1880, Germany adopted the Great Dane as its national dog and was called the Deutsche Dogge and in England the breed was recognised by the Kennel Club in 1884 as the Great Dane.

Why choose a Registered Great Dane?

 It is strongly recommended that buyers wishing a purebred puppy purchase ONLY a registered Great Dane. It is only in this way that you will be guaranteed a purebred puppy and it reflects the committment and sincerity of the breeder.

Purchasing an unregistered Great Dane is unwise on many fronts. Will this 'breeder' stand behind the puppy? What if inherited health issues arise - are they prepared to replace the puppy or refund your money? Have the parents been tested clear of eye, thyroid or hip problems? Can you call them for advice on your puppy or with any problems you may encounter? Likely not.

We recommend that you begin your search with reputable breeders who are members of the Great Dane Club of Canada. Should one not be able to supply you with the type of puppy you are looking for, they can refer you to other known reputable breeders. 

Factors to Consider When Purchasing a Great Dane Puppy
In choosing a purebred puppy you assure yourself of many characteristics, which your adult dog will have. A healthy puppy is round and robust. It should be friendly and outgoing-a bundle of kisses and tail wags. At the puppy stage, they should be playful. The coat should be shiny and the eyes bright. A mentally sound puppy should not be shy or reserved. This may be the sign of an unsteady or nervous temperament.

You should inquire about the health of the Great Danes in the breeder's line and the temperament of the dogs. Although it is not always possible to meet the sire of the puppies it should usually be possible to meet the dam. Her manner will provide you with a good indication of the temperament of the line. A good breeder knows the background of the puppies and should be a good source of information to the to the purchaser. They should be available for support throughout your dog's life. All breeders with years of experience will have encountered some health issues. Any long time breeder who claims to have never had health issues should be avoided.

Registration of your new Great Dane is the responsibility of the breeder of your dog. The Canadian Kennel Club is the registration body for puppies born in Canada while the American Kennel Club is the registration body in the United States of America . In Canada , the Canadian Kennel Club under the jurisdiction of the Federal Department of Agriculture's Animal Pedigree Act administers the conditions of registration. This Act states that registration papers must be provided for any animal sold as purebred, at no additional cost to the purchaser within six months of the date of sale. The Act provides for stiff penalties for those persons not adhering to these conditions.

Terms of Sale
The terms of sale of your Great Dane puppy should be in writing between you and the breeder. This agreement should contain information about the expectation that the breeder has of the purchaser such as the signing of a non-breeding contract, the diet to be fed, the immunization protocol to be followed. For example, there it may be wise to discuss the matter of ear cropping. Although many breeders !crop the ears on the puppies they sell, they are others who refuse to allow any of their puppies to be cropped. Most breeders tend to be more flexible.

If you are uncertain about any of the terms of sale it is important that they be clarified prior to the sale. If you cannot accept the terms it is best not to proceed with the purchase until both you and the breeder are in agreement over the terms of the sale. Details may become very important if a problem does arise in the future. Even the with most conscientious breeders problems may arise. Some breeders feel that if any part of the agreement is violated that the whole agreement is invalid.

Colours of Great Danes

Danes come in six acceptable colors: Fawn, Brindle, Black, Blue, Boston (Mantle), and Harlequin.

Fawn: a golden yellow with a black mask on the face.
Brindle: Golden base coat with defined black striped laid over as chevrons..almost tiger striped appearance.
Black: Solid black colored dog..
Blue: a steel gray solid color
Boston/Mantle: this pattern is best described as marked like a penguin, must have a white tail tip or is not considered a true Boston .
Harlequin: A white dane with torn black patches distributed over the body.
For more details please go to the
breed standard.

These colors are acceptable to show in conformation for a Canadian championship. Although a mismarked dane can be born in a litter, they are registerable as they are purebred, from registered parents. A mismark is a colour not acceptable for competition in comformation (ie. merle, harls with too much black, blacks with large white spots on their body, brindles with little or no fawn base color, etc) Aside from the colour, mismarked colored danes still can preform in functions scantioned by the Canadian kennel club, just not in conformation. They are as equally wonderful a pet as a conformation-marked dane.

Caveat: Don't be fooled - there are no 'rare' coloured Great Danes. Don't walk, run from any breeder claiming to have a 'rare' coloured dane.

What should I expect from my Breeder?
What is expected of me?

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 Determining if a breeder is a reputable one can be confusing to a beginner. Ideally you should be able to visit the breeders home and see for your self what kind of environment your puppy comes from. Gut feelings can be very important!
Reputable breeders will:
- be proud to show you their dogs. They will be clean, healthy and happy.
- require you to sign a contract outlining the sale conditions upon which they will sell you a puppy.
- inform you of the health clearances done on the parents
- provide you with a pedigree As well, you should expect to be questioned by your breeder! Any reputable breeder will want to know alot about you, your lifestyle, and your plans for the puppy. If you are interested in a pet puppy (not to show in conformation) you should be required to spay/neuter your puppy. These people invest alot of time, love and money into improving their lines. They will be concerned about where their puppies go.  Breeders who will not supply you with the information above, or seem uninterested or unwilling to be upfront with you should be avoided. An excellent checklist for anyone questionning the ethics of a breeder can be found here:
http://www.nopuppymillscanada.ca/reputable_breeders.htm Puppy Growth

Great Danes, as a giant breed grow very quickly, but do not fully mature until they are about two years of age or older. Some breeders do not feel that they are fully mature until 3 or 4 years of age. In this growing process they do pass through some very awkward stages. Growth plates are changing, bones are moving, cartilage is forming. Injuries during a puppy's first year may become permanent problems for the dog. Too much exercise at an early age is detrimental to good development. Forced exercise is not recommended for this breed - puppies should be allowed to play until they are tired.

The following weight chart gives an overview of the growth pattern of Great Danes.




Birth weight

1-2 lbs



Week 1

2-3 lbs


Week 2

3-5 lbs


Week 3

4-7 lbs


Week 4

5-8 lbs


Week 6

12-20 lbs


Month 2

18-27 lbs

13-17 inches

Month 3

30-45 lbs

17-22 inches

Month 4

50-65 lbs

21-25 inches

Month 5

65-85 lbs

25-30 inches

Month 6

70-100 lbs

27-33 inches

Month 7

75-110 lbs

27-33 inches

Month 8


27-34 inches

Month 9

85-120 lbs

28-34 inches

One Year

90-135 lbs

28-36 inches



Full Grown (will fill out after this point)


140-170 lbs

33-36 inches


110-140 lbs

30-33 inches

 Puppy Nutrition & Health

There are different schools of thought regarding food. Some breeders use a high quality commercial kibble, while others implement a raw diet (sometimes called B.A.R.F.).

Your best bet is to feed your new Great Dane puppy according to the diet sheet provided by your breeder. Different lines (families) may do better on one type of diet than another. Your breeder has invested alot of time into their dogs - they know what works!

Immunization / Vaccination
Traditionally all dogs received their first immunization at eight weeks of age, followed by a 2nd vaccine four weeks later and a 3rd four weeks after that. At six months of age there was to be another dose and a usually a rabies vaccine as well. This was to be followed by yearly vaccines... New policies for vaccinating your dog is available please get a titter test done to see if your puppy/dog needs yearly vaccines or whether to wait for 3 years in between vaccines as per rabies scheduling


Great Danes' ears naturally hang by their cheeks. Both natural and cropped ears are acceptable in the show ring. Breeders have varying opinions whether their puppies should be cropped or should be allowed to stay as they are. This is a matter that you should discuss with your breeder and agree upon prior to the purchase of your puppy.

If you decide to crop, or if your puppy arrives already cropped, there is much aftercare and dedication on your part to ensure the ears will stand erect. Time, patience and persistence for a few months will ensure standing ears for life.

Your breeder should provide you with instructions on taping. If they are close by and offer to tape for you - take them up on it!  Health Problems

 Great Danes, just as human beings, may suffer from a variety of health problems. As this website is not being supported by a veterinary organization we would refer you to various available websites. The following may be of assistance to you, as will your breeder and veterinarian: 

VetInfo (A Veterinary Information Service)

MarVista Vet, the Pet Web Library

Animal Diseases (extensive listing of veterinary links)

Great Dane & Canine Health Links (Diseases and Disorders)

*Note: The links provided on this page are intended for educational use and we cannot take responsibility for their content. Nothing should take the place of seeking veterinary attention. If in doubt we strongly recommend you contact your breeder or veterinarian.