Great Danes are a dog breed known for their imposing stature and gentle disposition. These sweet dogs capture the hearts of dog lovers all over with their friendly demeanor and regal appearance.
If you live in a warm area with a Great Dane, you’ve probably wondered whether or not your dog is comfortable in hot weather. Or, you might want to adopt one of these giants but are questioning whether keeping them in a hot climate is ethical.
So, can Great Danes do well in heat?
For a larger dog, Great Danes are fairly heat tolerant. This has a lot to do with their large ears, short coats, and low energy levels. Great Danes are naturally lean which helps them stay cool. That being said, these dogs still can’t tolerate extreme temperatures and should be kept indoors during temperature fluctuations.
In this article, we’ll go over everything you need to know about whether or not Great Danes can do well in heat. First, let’s talk about how heat-tolerant dogs are in general and why it’s dangerous to let them get hot.
Are Most Dogs Tolerant Of Heat?
As a species, dogs don’t do well in heat.
This is because dogs only have a few ways to cool off. Dogs can cool off through vasodilation and panting. Colling off through vasodilation involves blood vessels swelling and allowing heated blood to come to the skin’s surface and cool down. Panting helps dogs cool down through evaporation. Evaporation pulls moisture from their tongues, nasal passages, and lungs to help cool them down.
Hyperthermia in dogs is a serious condition where their body temperature is elevated. Hyperthermia describes any temperature higher than the normal of 101.5F. Heatstroke occurs when dogs reach temperatures of 105F or higher and is often fatal.
Great Dane Heat Tolerance
It’s surprising how heat-tolerant Great Danes are compared to a lot of other dog breeds (especially large dog breeds). They’re large but have very effective means of letting off extra heat!
Great Danes are good at adapting to different environments, this might have to do with their breeding history. Great Danes are not from Denmark (despite the name) and instead originated in Germany.
However, there are fossils showing similar specimens dating back thousands of years in Egypt, China, Tibet, and Babylon. These dogs are able to survive in a variety of different climates. It’s not uncommon to find Great Danes curled up next to the fireplace or basking out in the sun.
Just like any other dog, however, Great Danes are only heat tolerant to an extent. Let’s talk about some of the things that might help and harm a Dane in the heat.
Why Great Danes Might Do Well In Heat
While it might be true that Great Danes are technically better suited for cooler climates due to their massive size, they can adapt and even do well in warm weather under certain conditions. Here are the reasons why Great Danes can do well in heat, especially when compared with other large breed dogs.
Reason 1: Short Coat
One of the defining standards of the Great Dane is its short silky coat. These coats come in a variety of colors, 7 of which are recognized by the AKC.
These short-haired coats serve more than just an aesthetic purpose! They’re incredibly efficient at dispelling heat. Short coats aren’t able to trap as much heat as longer or denser fur. While this is a disadvantage in cold temperatures, it helps keep Great Danes cool under the sun.
Reason 2: Large Ears
Another reason why some great Danes might do well in heat is that they have very large ears.
Ears aren’t an uncommon strategy for thermoregulation in the wild. Jackrabbits are a great example of one animal that uses its large ears to cool down. Their ears do more than just help them hear.
Jackrabbits use their ears as a site for vasodilation to help either cool them down or maintain body heat. To keep cool, blood vessels in a jackrabbit’s ears will dilate. This allows warm blood to cool off by traveling to the surface of the skin.
The larger the ear, the more surface area available for blood to cool down. The same can be true for Great Danes. Their large ears can sometimes make them appear sad and droopy, but they definitely serve a purpose! The surface area here is an essential element in Great Dane thermoregulation.
Reason 3: Low Energy Levels
For large breed dogs, Great Danes are relatively calm.
This dog breed is often known for their relaxed low energy. While there are always exceptions to this rule, most Great Danes peak in energy at around 2 years of age and start to chill out from that point on. So, why do energy levels matter when talking about heat tolerance?
Active dog breeds are at a higher risk of overheating even when it’s not an especially hot day. When dogs become active, they warm from the inside out. Just like humans, dog muscles, have to heat up to move quickly. For active dog breeds, like German Shepherds, this can be a serious issue. On a hot day, it might get to the point where you need to confine an energetic dog indoors until the temperature lowers.
But for a more relaxed breed like a Great Dane, activity levels aren’t a huge issue.
Reason 4: Low Body Fat Percentage
The last thing that might benefit a Great Dane in a hot environment is their low body fat percentage.
Great Danes by nature are muscular and lean dogs. They don’t tend to carry a lot of body fat. It’s been proven that animals with lower body fat percentages lose heat more quickly to the environment. While this would be a negative in colder climates it helps animals keep cool when the weather is warm.
Of course, this only applies to animals that are in a healthy body condition. Great Danes that are overweight won’t experience the same cooling effects as Great Danes at a healthy weight. Remember, just because Great Danes are big, doesn’t mean they should be overweight.
Why Great Danes Might Not Do Well In Heat
Despite the factors mentioned above that can aid in their heat tolerance, Great Danes also face challenges when it comes to hot weather. Here are some of the reasons why heat can be problematic for these gentle giants.
Size And Body Mass
We just discussed how body fat percentage plays a role in heat tolerance. A low body fat percentage makes it easier for animals to dispel extra heat. But, no matter how lean a Great Dane is, their large size is a disadvantage when it comes to heat tolerance.
Great Danes are one of the largest recognized dog breeds. Many Great Danes reach an overall height of around 4 feet and a weight of over 100 pounds. Just like more active dogs generate heat, larger dogs also generate more heat than smaller dogs. This has to do with the amount of muscle they carry in their bodies. Muscles generate heat and can make it hard for large animals to cool down.
When compared to something like a chihuahua, the sheer size of the Great Dane makes it difficult to tolerate heat.
Great Danes aren’t a breed you would normally associate with breathing difficulties. But, if you look closely, there are some things that could make breathing (and cooling down) difficult for these dogs.
By definition, great, Danes are not considered to be brachycephalic. Actually, Great Danes are usually classified as dolichocephalic. This means that they have an incredibly long snout when compared to their skull size. Usually, this long snout helps them intake and exhale more air which allows their tissue to cool through evaporation.
However, it’s important to note that Great Danes are deep-chested dogs. Deep-chested dogs are prone to a variety of medical issues that can make breathing more difficult. While this isn’t necessarily normal, it’s not uncommon.
If you notice your Great Dane is having difficulty breathing, it’s more than just a sign that they’re hot. You’ll want to get in touch with a veterinarian as soon as possible for advice on what to do next.
What Temperature Is Too Hot For Great Danes?
The ideal temperature for a great Dane is generally between 60°F to 70°F. Like most dog breeds, they’re most comfortable and mild, cool weather.
When the temperature rises above 80°F, Great Danes are at a higher risk of experiencing heat-related issues. Temperatures above 90°F can be dangerously hot for them. At such high temperatures, Great Danes may struggle to cool down adequately and are more susceptible to heat stroke in heat exhaustion.
Do Great Danes Get Hot Easily?
It’s important for Great Dane owners to pay close attention to the weather forecast and avoid taking dogs out during the hottest part of the day. Great Danes can overheat easily because of their large body mass. Even though they have short coats, long ears, and low body fat percentages, Great Danes aren’t much better than most dogs at dispelling heat.
The Difference Between Puppies And Adults
Does it make a difference if you have a puppy or an adult Great Dane?
Surprisingly, there is a difference and heat tolerance between puppies and adults. These are some of the ways that heat affects these two life stages differently.
Puppies, in general, have lower heat tolerance when compared to adult dogs. Their bodies are less efficient at regulating temperature and they can overheat more quickly.
Great Dane puppies are often more active and playful than their adult counterparts. While this energy is adorable, it also means that they are more prone to overheating during excessive play.
When you play with a puppy, you should always make sure their exercise is limited, especially in hot weather. They’re still growing and strenuous activity can be harmful to their developing joints and bones.
Adult Great Danes generally have better heat tolerance than puppies.
At this stage in their life, their bodies have matured and they can handle moderate heat more effectively. Adults are more laid-back and less likely to engage in excessive physical activity that can lead to overheating. Adults are also better at finding shade and resting when they need to cool down.
At any life stage, it’s essential to closely monitor a Great Dane’s health and well-being in hot weather.
Ways To Keep Your Great Dane Cool In Warmer Temperatures
With the ever-changing climate, it’s important to find ways to keep your Great Dane cool in warmer temperatures. It’s possible to own a Great Dane in areas where it gets warm in the summer. You’ll just need to take a few extra steps to keep your furry friend cool.
Early Or Late Walk
Usually, a dog walk doesn’t take much planning. But, when it’s warm outside, you’ll want to schedule your walks around the weather. If you know it’s going to heat up in the afternoon, try to walk your dog early in the morning. Early morning is the coolest time of the day and there’s been enough time overnight for the ground to let go of some of the heat I picked up throughout the previous day.
You can also walk your dog late at night but just be warned that the ground might still be hot from the effects of the sun just a few hours prior.
Access To Shade Or Air Conditioning
It is always important to give your Great Dane access to either shade or air conditioning in hot weather.
If you’re keeping your dog indoors while you’re at work, you’ll need to make sure the air conditioning remains on. Houses can get very warm and stuffy during the warmer months.
If you need to leave your dog outside during extreme heat, they need to have a big shady area to rest in. Ideally, this won’t be on concrete since that material heats up fast! Plus, the area will need to stay shady all day long, which can be difficult to find in many backyards.
If you aren’t able to provide cool shade for your Gret Dane you’ll have to keep them indoors while you’re away.
Access To Cool Water For Drinking Or Swimming
To help your Great Dane tolerate the heat, you should always provide them with water to drink or swim in.
Hydrated animals are able to cool down more effectively than dehydrated ones. Drinking water should be kept indoors or in the shade all day long.
If possible, you can also give your Great Dane the opportunity to swim. Even though these dogs weren’t bred for it, many of them have a natural affinity to water. And believe it or not, there are plenty of lifejackets that will fit the Dane‘s ginormous chest!
Check out the video below to see how much these Great Danes love using their swimming pool to cool down.
For being such big dogs, Great Danes can do well in heat. Their large ears and short coats help them expel excess body heat. Their naturally low energy levels and low body fat percentages also keep them cool in warmer weather. Despite this, Great Danes are prone to overheating at temperatures over 80°F (like most other dogs).
If you live in a warm area, you should always keep a close eye on your pup for early signs of heat exhaustion or heatstroke, no matter what their breed.