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8 Essential Facts: German Shepherd Great Dane Mix

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Are you considering adopting a German Shepherd Great Dane Mix? Both breeds have extensive traits and characteristics that could suit your life.

Whereas mixed breeds make fantastic rescues, individual personality traits or physical characteristics can be difficult to predict.

Hypothetically, your German Shepherd Great Dane mix’s temperament may be determined genetically in a way you didn’t imagine of.

Both parents pass on different behavioral and physical traits and it’s not a clear 50/50 split of the desirable traits from both breeds.

As the exact number cannot be known, pairing two different breeds of dogs is a genetic gamble.

Because the individual characteristics of an adopted mixed-breed can be pretty difficult to determine, we’ll take a look at the best qualities of both root breeds.

Let’s find out more about the German Shepherd Great Dane mix across all the important areas:

  1. Trainability
  2. Exercise/ Strengths
  3. Temperament
  4. Leadership
  5. Health
  6. Grooming/Coat
  7. Size
  8. Cost

Trainability

German Shepherd dogs are widely believed to be among the most intelligent breeds alive today.

GSDs are actually the third most common breed used for immensely selective guide dog service work, right behind both Labrador and Golden Retrievers. 

The above is only one of the countless tasks this extremely versatile and highly trainable breed can be relied on to perform.

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Any dog owner would have a difficult time finding another breed with the same level of intellect, trainability, focus, alertness, and other characteristics that make this breed so unique.

The average Great Dane you meet today would present a personality almost nothing like his predecessors 300 plus years ago.

The docile, gentle, and eager to please nature of today’s giants only boost their trainability. 

These two combined make for a highly trainable dog for the experienced dog handler, and won’t present many extreme challenges for even the novice handler (as long as they are willing to learn).

However, when it comes to training any breed, no matter how intelligent, learning progress almost always depends heavily on the experience and education of the trainer. 

Early socialization is always integral for the psychological development of any breed, but especially important for a dog prone to grow so large.

Be sure to focus on bite inhibition training (soft mouth, teach to control bite pressure) when your mix is young.

Exercise/Strengths

Once bred by German nobility more than 400 years ago, the Great Dane served important roles as both hunting companion and guardian.

The giant breed would guard expansive estates for their wealthy handlers when not out hunting the likes of wild boar.

Historians believe the Dane probably descended from a coupling of English Mastiffs and Irish Wolfhounds, the tallest dog breeds alive today.

Mighty Mastiffs of old were also popular guardians for what we believe dates back more than two thousand years, while the Irish Wolfhound’s name is self-explanatory. 

Your mix descended from working breeds, and won’t be happy sitting home alone all day.

If you have to leave for an extended time (work), take him for a nice walk in the morning and again when you get home.

Organize a dog walker, friend or neighbour to come over in between those two walks to spend time with your dog.

Provide plenty of enrichment activities, like scent/tracking games or puzzles.

Take your new pet to play classes so he can socialize with other dogs, introduce your pup to neighbors, make everything as fun as possible, etc.

Temperament

Nearly all of that aggression that was once characteristic has been bred out over these few centuries, giving us the ‘gentle giant’ we know and love today.

He would make a much better family pet than any kind of guardian now. 

German shepherds are highly intelligent, loyal, and obedient yet always watchful and alert.

A well-socialized GSD would make an equally wonderful family or individual companion.

Combine these two breeds, and you have an eager to please, docile companion always up for the next adventure. 

Leadership

When training any dog, remembering to make every experience an enjoyable, fun, and entertaining one is vital to both the success of your training and establishing that pet-owner bond.

Ask yourself what you can do to make your pet want to work with you, as opposed to fearing the outcome if he or she doesn’t.

While we’re talking about a German Shepherd Great Dane mix, what about protection training? 

K9 and German Shepherd police dog training, or Schutzhund Training (protection training) is a great way to exercise your pup and provide learning opportunities, but make sure you offer an equal combination of socialization and positive interactions.

I wouldn’t recommend this for beginners but parts of it can be used for play in a lighter form.

Health 

Great Danes are known for hip and joint issues, many growth-related (like other large to giant breeds).

Hip Dysplasia, a painful condition resulting from a poor fit between the head of the femur and socket of the pelvis (poor fitting ball and socket joint) is common and preventative steps should be taken. 

A more dangerous, life-threatening, and often fatal condition called Gastric Dilation Volvulus (Bloat) is better known in Danes.

Rapid eating is thought to cause a buildup of gasses, causing the stomach to expand and potentially rotate, cutting off its own blood supply.

Steps should be taken (like using a sectioned-off food bowl) to limit your Great Dane German Shepherd’s mix eating speed.

Paying careful attention to diet, nutrition, and individual meals can go a long way toward avoiding both issues above, on top of any other arthritis or joint issues.

German Shepherd dogs also are susceptible to joint-related issues, like hip/elbow dysplasia, arthritis, etc. so good weight control and nutrition are integral.

Diabetes is also a concern, depending on the type often nutritionally related. 

These dogs have been known to suffer from bloat, though not quite as commonly as the Great Dane.

It’s important to follow the same suggestions above when feeding your mixed pet.

Overall, be sure to monitor the nutrition, weight, and exercise of your German Shepherd Great Dane mix very closely, every day.

Provide plenty of opportunities for enrichment activities and daily walks.

After adopting a puppy, discuss growth rates and feeding with your veterinarian. Some of these developmental issues can arise from excess eating and rapid growth.

Grooming/Coat

With their double coats, GSDs shed quite a bit more than Great Danes (shorter coat, easier to care for). Be prepared to groom and vacuum regularly with your mix. 

Daily to semi-daily brushing will go a long way toward limiting the furballs around your home.

Gently using a ‘fur rake’ (a special brush designed to get at undercoat) will help you in your furry endeavors.

Unless otherwise told to by your veterinarian for a health-related reason, avoid shaving your German Shepherd Great Dane Mix.

The act of shaving would damage your pet’s topcoat, which isn’t meant to fall out and possibly lead to many other (possibly severe) problems.

Size

Your German Shepherd Great Dane mix can weigh 65-120 lbs (30-55kg). Their height will hover around 24-32 inches (61-81cm).

How big is your specific mix going to become? The answer is usually somewhere in between the two origin breeds and based on genetics.

German Shepherd Dogs average between 49-71 lbs. (22-40 kg) and 22-26 inches (55-65cm) with females being on the lighter and shorter side.

Great Danes can fall between 100-180 lbs. (45-80 kg), standing 28-34 inches (71-86cm) tall.

It would be safe to guess your pup is probably going to grow larger than most German Shepherds.

However, it can be best to ask your veterinarian to evaluate body size to be sure if is appropriate.

Cost

The average cost of any shelter dog in the United States revolves around $300 USD, but it can vary slightly depending on location.

This fee will cover the dog’s prior shelter costs, veterinary care, food, etc.

When selectively bred, Great Danes can present with a hefty price tag because the breed is highly valued.

The main goal of any credible animal shelter is to find caring, responsible families for the dogs in their care, and adoption agencies shouldn’t take advantage of this potential demand by raising prices.

If you think about it, this initial cost is a small price to pay compared to the future veterinary bills, monthly dog food, toys, etc. for the owner of any dog breed.

You’ve adopted what will become somewhere between large and giant-sized. 

Is The German Shepherd Great Dane Mix Right for You?

So, in the end, would a German Shepherd Great Dane mix be the dog for you? Well, are you looking for:

  • An intelligent, highly trainable dog
  • A higher energy pet
  • A loyal dog
  • A larger (possibly giant) breed
  • An alert, watchful and courageous pet

There are some health and growth concerns more common in Great Danes you’ll have to be aware of. Are you willing to take precautions, and can you afford veterinary care if needed?

Possible health concerns:

  • Bloat (requires emergency veterinary care and possible surgical intervention)
  • Joint issues common in larger breeds, sometimes related to rapid growth
  • Weight control and management
  • Epilepsy sometimes problematic in GSDs

Ask yourself these questions before adopting:

  • Do you have a fenced-in yard or a large backyard for your pup to play in?
  • Are you able to meet his or her exercise needs on a daily basis?
  • Do you have experience training a giant breed, or are you willing to learn? 
  • Do you have time to offer the daily enrichment opportunities your new pet needs?
  • Unless you are an experienced handler, this particular mix might not make the best apartment dog.
  • City life, with busy roads and smaller yards, might not be the best type of environment for the novice pet owner.

If you have any questions about this crossbreed, feel free to send me a message.

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About Danielle
I am the founder of PawLeaks where I share weekly tips on dog training and behavior. Sharing a passion for dogs and helping owners to solve problems through understanding canine behavior and modification is my number one goal.