Why Do Great Danes Always Look Sad? (Vet Tech Explains)

Why Do Great Danes Always Look Sad

Great Danes are truly one of the most majestic-looking dog breeds. These dogs are tall, regal, and gentle by nature, making it easy for them to steal the hearts of dog lovers around the world. Another striking characteristic that many people notice about them is their perpetually sad expression. No other breed of dog can ever give puppy eyes the way that Great Danes do.

So, why do Great Danes always look sad?

Even though Great Danes always look sad, it doesn’t mean that they’re depressed. Their facial features such as downturned eyes, low-set ears, and other genetic factors make them look sad all the time. Some Great Danes are also incredibly lazy in the house, and this might be misinterpreted as depression.

In this article, we’ll delve into why Great Danes often look sad and explore the unique features that contribute to their melancholic appearance. We’ll also talk about how to differentiate between their natural expression and genuine sadness.

Why Does My Great Dane Look Depressed?

If you’ve ever spent time around a Great Dane, you know just how sad they look.

The distraught expression on their face is almost comical because it looks so dramatic! Usually, when a Great Dane looks depressed, it’s just a side effect of their face.

A study even showed that domesticated dogs have developed an “emotion muscle” that allows them to lift their eyebrows and give serious puppy eyes. This was a muscle that wild wolves lacked. It likely developed in response to selective breeding of more expressive and “sad-looking” dogs.

A depressed-looking Great Dane is actually pretty normal. It’s hard for them to manipulate their facial features to look excited or happy. Even when these dogs are clumsy and playful, they’ll still look depressed.

Generally, the sad look on your Great Dane’s face comes down to their anatomy. We’ll talk more about exactly what makes your Great Dane look so sad below. But there is one other aspect of a Great Dane’s mannerisms that makes them look sad.

Is My Great Dane Just Lazy?

Though Great Danes are pretty energetic, some members of this breed are downright lazy.

They’ll spend all day posted up on the couch and won’t bother to get up for almost anything. Sometimes, this can come off as depression or sadness. In reality, your Great Dane might just be a little lazy.

Remember that these giant dogs don’t have long life spans and are considered to be seniors at just five years old. At this point, their energy levels will start to plummet and they’ll do a lot less than they used to.

The Anatomy of the Sad Great Dane

So what is it about a Great Dane’s face that looks so sad?

Facial Features

The facial features of a Great Dane are almost engineered to be sad.

The first feature that makes a Great Dane look sad is their large expressive eyes. Their eyes are often dark and deep-set with soft and soulful gazes that can give the impression of sadness. The size and depth of their eyes create an effect that makes them appear more contemplative and introspective.

Great Danes also tend to have slightly droopy eyelids which further enhance their side appearance. These droopy eyelids can make the icing heavier and more downcast reinforcing the impression of sorrow.

Lastly, Great Danes have long heavy muzzles that are another factor in their sad expression. The length of their muzzle can make their faces appear more elongated and add to the perception of a thoughtful and somber dog. Great Danes also drool because of their loose lips which can make them look depressed at times.

Ear Position

How a Great Dane holds its ears also has an influence on their overall expression of sadness. When relaxed and content, their ears may hang down and naturally accentuate their appearance and depression. This is a big contrast to a lot of dog breeds that have perky ears that stand up high and make them look alert and excited.

Sometimes, Great Danes have their ears cropped. Unfortunately, this is pretty common. It can be difficult to find a Great Dane with sad droopy ears.

The video below gives a great example of how a Dane’s natural ears contribute to its overall sad appearance!


Genetics are at fault for how sad Great Danes look.

Great Danes have been selectively bred by humans for specific traits over generations. This breeding has influenced their facial structure in the expression that they naturally convey. The genes responsible for the Great Danes’s somber appearance have been passed down to continue this dog’s characteristically sad look.

How Do You Know If Your Dog Is Actually Sad Or Depressed?

Since Great Danes seem to always look sad, how can you tell if your dog is actually depressed?

Luckily, there are plenty of signs that will tell you when your dog isn’t feeling 100%. If you are worried that your Great Dane truly isn’t happy, keep reading and watch out for the signs listed below.

Body Language

Body language is one of the best ways to tell that a dog is feeling sad.  

A slouched posture is one sign that a Great Dane is generally feeling sad or unwell. Their shoulders may droop, and their body language will convey a sense of lethargy.

A sad Great Dane may also have a lower or tucked tail that doesn’t often wag. If their tail is normally held high, but suddenly troops, it could be an indicator of their depressed emotional state.

Changes In Appetite

Another strong sign that your Great Dane is sad is a change in appetite. If your dog suddenly loses interest in food or experiences, a significant change in eating habits, it could signal sadness or illness.

Lack of Interest In Activities

Young Great Danes are typically pretty playful and enjoy physical activity. If your Dane suddenly becomes disinterested in activities they usually love, such as fetch or walks, it could be a sign of sadness.


Have you noticed a change in your Great Danes vocalizations?

Sometimes dogs will either howl or become unusually quiet when they’re feeling sad. Great Danes aren’t the most vocal dogs but you’ll be able to tell if your pup starts making more or less noise.


Isolation is a classic sign of sadness or depression in animals.

Animals are known to isolate themselves when they become sick or worried. This is a natural instinct that once kept them safe from predators in the wild. If it seems like your pet has become withdrawn, or avoidant recently, it could be a red flag.

Physical Symptoms

The last thing that might indicate sadness is the physical symptoms of illness. Lethargy, limping, or changes in bathroom habits could be related to an underlying issue that might be causing a decline in health in your dog.

What Should You Do If Your Great Dane Is Actually Sad?

If you think your Great Dane is actually sad or experiencing depression, it’s time to get help. You should consult your veterinarian to make sure that there aren’t any medical or physical issues restricting your pet’s happiness.

You can also talk with a professional dog trainer or behaviorist who specializes in canine emotions. They can help you provide comfort and exercise to support your dog in their emotional recovery.

But, if you’re not seeing any of the symptoms above, remember that Great Danes always look sad, even if they’re the happiest dogs on earth.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are answers to a few frequently asked questions on the topic of Great Danes and their various issues.

Why Are Great Danes Called The Heartbreak Breed?

Great Danes aren’t nicknamed the heartbreak breed because of their sad faces. These dogs received this nickname because they are prone to a heart condition called cardiomyopathy which weakens this dog breed’s heart.

What Are The Mental Issues With Great Danes?

Like any other dog breed, Great Danes are prone to some specific mental issues. For large dogs, Great Danes experience fear and anxiety quite easily. Great Danes can be skittish and afraid of novel experiences.

Do Great Danes Like Being The Only Dog?

Because Great Danes are prone to anxiety, it’s never a bad idea to provide them with a friend. Great Danes only like being single dogs if they are able to be around their owners all day. Otherwise, they might become depressed or bored in their solitude.

Final Thoughts

Some people love Great Danes because of how sad they always look. Looking sad is an anatomical feature. Their eyes, ears, and mouths work together to give them an overall droopy appearance. In reality, Great Danes probably aren’t sad unless they’re showing physical signs of depression.

So, the next time you’re worried about your furry friend, remember they were bred to look distraught and try to enjoy their adorable puppy eyes!

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