Great Danes are massive animals that can’t be easily stashed in travel carriers like small dogs, and especially when you have lots of luggage and supplies for your road trip, it can be questionable whether you’ll be able to fit your Dane and your gear into your car at all!
So, can Great Danes fit in cars?
Fortunately, Great Danes can physically fit into all but the most compact of cars, so long as your vehicle isn’t completely packed with people and luggage. However, some preparations should be made to ensure that your Dane enjoys the car ride and the overall trip.
Let’s look more in-depth at how Great Danes do in the car, how to safely transport this giant breed, and how to ensure road trip success!
Are Great Danes Good in Cars?
Great Danes certainly can be good in cars, although like all breeds, it really depends on the individual dog and how well you have prepared your Dane for car rides. Fortunately, Great Danes generally have relatively calm temperaments and aren’t terribly boisterous, which bodes well for successful car rides.
However, they are enormous, so you’ll need to dedicate a significant portion of the vehicle to your Great Dane’s travel space. It’s also important to make sure that your Great Dane is comfortable, entertained, and safely restrained in the vehicle, which leads us to…
How To Transport a Great Dane in a Car
There are several steps you can take to ensure that your Great Dane fits comfortably in your car and that everyone has a good time on the ride:
Take a Practice Ride (Or Several)
If your Great Dane has never ridden in a car before, this step is especially important. But, even if your Dane is used to going for short trips around town, taking an extended road trip will still be a new experience.
If your Dane isn’t familiar with cars, introduce the vehicle to him slowly – first get him used to jumping in and out of the car and sitting inside for a few minutes with the car turned off. Then repeat the process but with the car idling. Be sure to reassure him and reward him with treats and pets throughout the process, especially if he seems nervous.
Finally, once he is comfortable, take a short ride in the car, keeping an eye on your Dane for signs that he is getting anxious or uncomfortable. Slowly increase the distance of the practice drives until you can be relatively certain that he will handle long drives well.
Of course, this process is easiest if you start when your Great Dane is very young, as it will be easier to help him in and out of the car, and younger Danes are usually more fearless and open to new experiences. But, it’s never too late to start!
If you only ever load your Great Dane in the car to go to non-fun places like the vet, it is understandable that he might learn to dislike the car. To prevent this, be sure to intersperse vet trips with excursions to fun places like the dog park or simply rides with no destination, rewarding your Dane with treats and affection so he begins to associate car trips with positive things instead of only going to vet.
Look Out For Motion Sickness
Just like people, Great Danes can get motion sickness. Keep an eye out for this, especially during your Dane’s first few car rides. Symptoms can include obvious things like vomiting, but also less apparent signs like excessive drooling, panting, whining, or frequent yawning.
Short practice trips that slowly increase in length can help your Great Dane get used to the car’s motion and help alleviate motion sickness, as well as cracking the windows for fresh air. Some Great Danes are less prone to motion sickness if they haven’t eaten before the car trip, but it depends on the individual dog.
However, if these tips don’t help your Dane feel better, consult your vet – they may suggest using dog-safe Dramamine to help prevent motion sickness. Remember that Dramamine takes 30-60 minutes to be effective, so you’ll need to give it to your Dane ahead of time.
Create a Safe, Comfortable Space
If you’ll be going on a long trip, be sure that your Great Dane has plenty of room to sit, lay down, and turn around. These giant dogs may need more room than you realize at first so make sure to test how much room they need before you hit the road.
Additionally, be sure that he is secured in the vehicle in some way, so he won’t go flying through the windshield if you get into an accident – we’ll talk about how to do this in the next section.
Also, comfort is key. If your Dane will be riding in the cargo area of an SUV, remember that the floor is hard, and bouncing around on that hard surface will likely be uncomfortable. You can use a few blankets or a dog bed as padding and to ensure that your Dane is comfy and cozy. Make sure to keep the temperature in your car is not too hot so the don’t overheat or too cold to the point of discomfort.
If you drive a hatchback, you may need to put down the seats in order to create enough space for your Great Dane. In a sedan, you will likely need to dedicate the entire backseat to your giant companion.
Just like for kids, you’ll want to be ready with a variety of toys for your Great Dane to keep him happy and occupied for the trip.
Look for car-appropriate dog toys that don’t make noise so you won’t go insane over the course of a long drive, and consider purchasing a few new and extra-special toys specifically for the ride. Provide a few toys at a time, switching them out periodically throughout the trip to keep your Dane entertained and out of mischief. Even in the car, idle paws can be the devil’s playthings.
Take Lots of Breaks
Make sure that you take breaks every couple of hours so that your Great Dane can go to the bathroom, stretch his legs, burn off some energy, drink some water, and have some food if it’s near mealtime. It’s much easier and less messy to provide food and water outside the vehicle than to have a water bowl sloshing around during the drive, so be sure to offer fresh water each time you stop to keep your Dane hydrated.
Many rest areas and even some gas stations have dog-specific areas where your Dane can go potty and run around a bit before you continue on your way. If not, you can always search for nearby parks on Google Maps to serve as a doggy pitstop.
Ensure Your Lodgings Will Accept Great Danes Specifically
Finally, if you are taking a multi-day road trip, be sure that wherever you are staying will accept dogs and specifically that they will allow Great Danes. If you are camping, this likely won’t be an issue, but there are still some campgrounds that don’t allow dogs or that have specific rules.
Some hotels will accept any kind of dog with no fee, but others have weight/size limits, breed restrictions, charge per-night pet fees, or don’t allow pets at all. Some might have waivers that allow you to bring your Great Dane along on a case-by-case basis, with prior approval.
It would be a huge bummer to do all the prep work for a successful car trip with your Great Dane, only to find out when you arrive at your destination that you can’t actually stay at the hotel you booked. So, do your research and read the fine print.
How To Secure a Great Dane in a Car
As we mentioned above, it’s important to secure your Great Dane in the car in some way, so he’ll be safer in the event of a crash and so he’s not trying to jump into your lap while you are driving – which could potentially cause a crash. As this Outside article outlines, in a crash where a vehicle is traveling just 35 miles per hour, an unrestrained 60-pound dog essentially becomes a 2,700-pound projectile in terms of the impact force that will be generated. The impact has the potential to be fatal to both the dog and the humans in the car.
So, you can only imagine how much more extreme this figure would be for a 150-pound dog in a car that’s going 60 miles per hour. Fortunately, there are several ways to mitigate this possibility and keep both yourself and your Great Dane safe:
Harness and Seatbelt
While a harness and seatbelt adapter are not absolutely ideal for large dogs as the Outside article mentions due to the likelihood that they will still hit the front seats in the event of a crash, this option will work for small young Danes who can be appropriately restrained in this manner. And, even large Great Danes will benefit from being restrained with a harness and seatbelt since, despite the chance that they will hit the front seats, they likely won’t actually fly through the windshield, crush the human occupants of the front seats, or be able to run into traffic or away from the scene if a crash does happen.
A barrier can also be used to keep Great Danes contained in one part of the vehicle. You might opt for a barrier between the front and back seats, between the cargo area and the seats, or to divide a large cargo area into a Dane space and a baggage space. Some types of barriers will attach directly to your car’s frame which makes them quite secure, and some even have lockable gates so you can open the rear door of your vehicle without letting your Dane out until you’ve opened the gate.
Finally, a crate is another option. Of course, you will need quite a large cargo area in order to fit a Great Dane-sized crate, and a way to anchor the crate securely in place. Also, many crates are not designed to survive impacts, so they are good for general containment of your Dane while driving but won’t help much in a crash. But, there are a few types of crates that are suitable for both. Some are even padded on the sides and floor to help reduce the chance of injury in the event of an accident. You can also add your own padding to an existing crate to make the space more comfortable and safer.
A crate also obviously requires that your Great Dane is crate trained and comfortable being in his crate for a decently long period of time. If your Dane gets overwhelmed by the stimulation of riding in a car, transporting him in a crate (that he’s already accustomed to) with a crate cover or blanket over it might help him stay calm. And, of course, some toys, blankets, and treats in the crate will likely help as well.
Will My Great Dane Fit in My Car?
Chances are, unless you drive a Smart Car or a two-seater sports car, your Great Dane will fit into whatever car you have. Whether you will be able to fit any other people or luggage items, however, is a different matter entirely!
But, if you’ve got a backseat or a cargo area in your car, you will likely be able to get your Dane settled comfortably in your vehicle. You may find that you need to add external storage options if you have a lot of gear or luggage, such as a trailer hitch storage rack or a rooftop storage bag or box.
As you can see in this video, a Great Dane can even fit into a tiny Toyota Prius:
Great Danes are certainly fast-growing and enormous, but fortunately they can fit into almost any car. Set your Dane up for a successful car ride by slowly getting him used to the vehicle, providing a comfortable space that’s stocked with toys, restraining him safely, taking frequent breaks, and helping him avoid motion sickness. And, of course, enjoy your road trip!