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In the dog world, there aren’t many pups that can compete with the looks and stature of a Great Dane. These beautifully colored dogs are not only known for their height and speed but are also well-loved for their gentle hearts. But, even these gentle giants have a dark side and their bites can pack a punch. With their large jaws and teeth, you might wonder;
What is a Great Dane’s bite force?
Surprisingly, a Great Dane’s average estimated bite force is only about 238 pounds per square inch (psi). When compared to other dog breeds like Rottweilers, Great Pyrenees, and Greyhounds, this is a pretty weak bite! Even so, you still wouldn’t want to get into an altercation with one of these giant hunting dogs.
Now, let’s talk about exactly how strong a Great Dane’s bite is and how we’re able to measure it accurately!
What Is A Great Dane’s Bite Force In PSI?
A great Dane’s bite force in psi is about 238.
For how large Great Danes are that’s not a very high number. On our compiled list of 68 different dog bite forces, Great Danes only rank 31st. That puts them below smaller dogs like bull terriers, German Shepherds, and huskies. But, a bite force of 238 still gives them a stronger bite than boxers, Dalmatians, bulldogs, and golden retrievers.
Even though the estimated average bite force for a Great Dane is 238, their bike pressures can vary greatly amongst individuals and depending on which area of their mouth they bite with. Let’s talk about exactly how bite force is measured so we can get an understanding of this variable number.
How Is Bite Force Measured In Dogs?
Although it might seem like a simple calculation, measuring bite force isn’t easy! There are a few tried and true methods used to measure bite force, and none of them are 100% accurate. The number we currently rely on for bite force is basically a combination of results from all of these different methods.
Using Geometry And Skull Size
The first way that bite force is measured in dogs is through a series of calculations.
These calculations take into account factors, such as a dog school, dimensions, bone density, jaw, size, and tooth size. By factoring in these elements, it becomes possible to derive an estimate of the maximum amount of force a dog can exert through its jaws. Basically, the bigger the skull and jaw, the stronger the bite force.
That being said, it’s important to know that this method has its own limitations. In actual scenarios involving Great Danes, you’ll rarely see them biting with maximum pressure. That’s because maximum pressure would usually be a force strong enough to injure their own teeth or jaws. Because of this, the geometry method is largely theoretical, and the results aren’t practical.
Using Electric Stimulation
Another theoretical method of gauging by force involves electrically, stimulating the jaw muscles. In a specific study, dogs were placed under anesthesia, and electrodes were fixed to their jaw muscles.
Before you get too worried about these dogs, it’s important to mention that all of the test subjects were already going to be humanely euthanized for pre-existing conditions. While under anesthesia, they were in such a deep state that they didn’t feel any pain from the experiment. The dogs were then euthanized directly after the experiment so that they didn’t have to feel any lingering effects.
So, once the electrodes were in place, an electric current was sent through them to make the dog’s jaws contract. Through the electric stimulation, the dogs unconsciously bit down on a pressure meter. Even this seemingly reliable method had limitations because again the pressure exerted was a maximum pressure that was not realistic.
Using A Dummy And A Pressure Meter
The most realistic method used to ascertain bite force was conducted by National Geographic.
National Geographic has conducted plenty of studies to test the bite force of different animals. For dogs, a dummy jacket sleeve embedded with a pressure meter was used. The dogs were trained to bite to the sleeve and the pressure meter kicked out a number.
Well, not flawless, this experiment offered insight into the bite, force exerted by a real live dog. Many of the current estimations today stem from the study. It’s important to acknowledge that even this study isn’t perfect because there was no way to tell which part of the mouth a dog was biting with. For example, a Great Dane biting with its molars would put out much more pressure than a Great Dane biting with its canines.
What Is The Difference Between PSI And Newtons?
Our intention isn’t to overwhelm you with excessive facts and terminology, but it’s crucial to understand the difference between psi and N.
The reason that understanding these units of measurement is so important is because bite force might be quantified with either one of these units. In some cases, these units might even be used to purposefully misrepresent a dog’s bite force.
For example, someone might describe the bite force of a pitbull in N to make them appear more intimidating. If you’re interested in finding out the real bite force of a pitbull, read our article all about it here.
Psi stands for pounds per square inch and is used to measure pressure within the non-metric system. This unit will be most familiar to readers in the United States. Psi is straightforward – it informs us of the amount of pounds of force applied to a surface area of one square inch. To give you a frame of reference, 70 psi is the average amount of force exerted when humans chew food. You can imagine that even though 238 psi is considered a “weak “dog bite it’s still enough to pack a punch.
Newtons, on the other hand, present a more detailed approach to measuring pressure. Newtons are commonly used by most countries outside of the United States and are the unit of pressure in the metric system. Without getting too complex, it’s understood that one Newton is equivalent to the pressure required to move 1 kg of mass over a specific distance within a specific duration. So, newtons incorporate time and velocity into the equation of force.
As we talk about bite force today will always be talking in psi. It’s important to never enter change, psi on newtons because they are significantly different values. Just to give you an idea, 500 psi is about 3,500,000 N. Always verify units when looking at bite pressure.
Why Don’t Great Danes Have A Very Strong Bite?
Even though Great Danes are revered for their massive size, their fight pressure falls on the gentler side of the spectrum when compared to other large dog breeds.
This characteristic can be attributed to a combination of factors, including genetic makeup, the breed’s history, and anatomical features. As opposed to popular belief, Great Danes aren’t actually from Denmark. The early history of the Great Dane it’s a bit obscure, but what we do know about them is that German nobles bred them for their speed, size, and hunting ability. Great Danes were also bred as royal companion dogs for a time.
Even when Great Danes were used for hunting, they usually only needed to pin the animal in place while waiting for their human to arrive. They never used their teeth to ravage an animal as that would ruin the sport. The focus on the spread speed, temperament, and beauty probably took away from their biting abilities.
Additionally, Great Danes have a relatively elongated and narrow school when compared to other breeds. This has a great impact on how much force a Great Dane can apply. Usually, dog breeds with shorter and more robust jaws and skulls are able to exert more bite pressure.
Even within the breed of Great Danes, there’s still a lot of variation in bite force.
How Can Bite Force Vary Among Great Danes?
Not every Great Dane is guaranteed to bite at 238 psi. In fact, most Great Danes probably have a lower or higher bite force than that exact number. Here are some of the factors that can change the bite force of a Great Dane.
Regardless of whether a great Dane is male or female, they are huge!
However, the difference in gender also translates to a big difference in size. As we know, size has a direct correlation to how hard a dog can bite. Adult male Great Danes typically weigh around 140 to 190 pounds. Females, on the other hand, usually only weigh about 110 to 140 pounds.
Because of the dramatic difference in the sizes, you can assume that many male Great Danes can bite a little bit harder than females.
Age is another pretty obvious factor that influences bike pressure. Healthy adult Great Danes will have the strongest bite pressure of any age.
Young Great Danes have a weaker bite because their bodies are still developing. Since Great Danes are so large they’re not full grown until about 18 to 24 months of age. Until this point, their jaws, muscles, and teeth won’t be strong enough to exert maximum force.
Geriatric Great Danes will also have a weaker bite but for very different reasons. Geriatric dogs often have tissues that are degenerating and can’t risk as strong of a bite as they once could. Older dogs often have missing teeth which obviously affects bite pressure.
Skull Shape And Size
We’ve talked about this a few times now but skull shape and size have a big influence on how much pressure a dog can exert in a bite.
This all goes back to the idea of measuring bite force with geometry. If you think about the draw, as a lever, there will be an ideal shape to exert the most force. Shorter and stouter skulls will be able to exert and handle more pressure than long and narrow skulls.
We already talked about how Great Danes have pretty narrow heads but even within the breed, a narrower head means a weaker bite. In contrast, English Bulldogs have a shorter head and an underbite which means that their bite is also weak.
The last important factor in bite pressure is the condition of a dog’s teeth.
If you want your Great Dane to be able to bite down on anything, will need to have healthy teeth. Periodontal disease is incredibly common and undiagnosed in many dogs. While large breed dogs seem to have fewer dental issues than small breed dogs, they’re still susceptible to things like fractures, cavities, and infection.
Even though you might not want your Great Dane to be able to bite down as hard as they can it’s important that their teeth are in good condition so they can enjoy chewing on their toys
Are Great Danes Dangerous?
Great Danes aren’t known for their aggression. With the right owner, great Danes are usually gentle giants that don’t have a mean bone in their bodies. However, some great Danes can be protective over their families. When a nearly 200-pound dog is acting protectively things can get dangerous.
And, while biting, isn’t a main concern for a Great Dane, if they do decide to bite someone it’s still not going to feel great.
Can You Train A Great Dane Not To Bite?
The easiest way to train your great day not to bite is to start young.
Great Danes aren’t difficult to train, but they’re not the easiest either. Great Danes are loyal and willing to learn, but can be stubborn and not the most intelligent of dogs. If you start teaching a great Dane, not to bite when they’re young, they’ll never have the chance to repeat the bad behavior.
One of the best techniques to use when teaching a puppy not to bite is to redirect them towards a toy whenever they bite. Socialization is also essential for young dogs in teaching them that new people, animals, and experiences aren’t a threat.
The video below has some great tips on how to train a Great Dane puppy not to bite.
Teaching An Older Dog Not To Bite
Even older dogs can be taught not to bite, although it is a little bit more difficult. To teach an older dog how to not bite or how to stop biting you want to teach them “take” and “drop.”
- Give your dog a toy, once they put it in their mouth, tell them, “take!”
- Offer your dog one of their favorite treats.
- As soon as your dog drops their toy to take their treat, say “drop,” and give them the treat.
- Repeat this until your dog knows to expect a treat when they take and drop something.
- Start to say “drop” before you have offered the treat.
- This progression can end with a dog that takes and drops on command.
Being able to tell your Great Dane to “drop it” is so important due to their size and made for us.
Owning a large dog like a Great Dane is a serious commitment. Although their bite pressure isn’t strong in comparison to other large breeds, it still hurts at 238 psi.
Training and socialization at a young age are essential to make sure that your Great Dane doesn’t become a biting machine. Hopefully, with the appropriate preventative steps, you’ll never need to worry about how hard your Great Dane can actually bite.