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Important info on Great Danes 




When Should I Spay or Neuter My Great Dane?

The decision to spay or neuter your Great Dane is a big one for owners. With the exception of experienced breeders, most families will opt to have their Great Danes altered. The term "altered" refers to the process of spaying or neutering. Because many people feel a little bit of guilt about the decision to spay or neuter their Dane, let's cover the long list of health benefits.

When is the "Best" Time to Spay or Neuter?

General advice can be confusing because smaller breeds can perform these surgeries as early as a few months of age. However, research and anecdotal evidence indicate that spaying or neutering Great Danes too soon is detrimental to their long-term health. Great Danes grow at an incredible rate in the first year of life. By postponing this procedure you give their bodies the necessary time to develop. This includes physical and hormonal development; the latter being especially important.

For males, this means that neutering should not be conducted until they are at least one year of age. This ensures that they have a chance to fully develop the musculature needed to support their massive frames. Otherwise, they may have the appearance of a gangly puppy their entire life (not a good thing).

The timeline for spaying females is similar, however, timing around their estrus period needs to be considered. This consists of the ~3 weeks during which they are "in heat" as well as the following two months. The risk of clots is much higher due to their elevated hormones and could result in death. Because the timing of the first heat can vary, a spay is often performed following the female's first estrus period. In the event that it does arrive early, the one year mark as a minimum age should still be respected.

Why Should I Spay or Neuter My Great Dane?

As you will see below, there is a long list of reasons why you should consider spaying or neutering your Great Dane. The one scenario where it is clearly not the right option is intentional breeding. Breeding is a massive responsibility and should not be taken lightly. As this article is not focused on breeding, I will leave it at that!

Health Benefits

According to the 2013 State of Pet Health Report released by Banfield Pet Hospital, altered pets live longer than those that remain intact! In fact, neutered males lived 18% longer on average than unneutered males. This is largely attributed to the prevention of testicular cancer and prostate problems. By comparison, females who have been spayed live a whopping 23% longer on average than those that are not spayed! Avoidance of ovarian cancer and uterine infections are the primary benefits leading to the increase. Given the already abbreviated lifespan of Great Danes, these kinds of numbers are pure magic to my ears.

Behavioral Implications


Intact animals are far more likely to display acts of aggression, dominance, and territorial behavior compared to those who are not. In fact, studies have shown that most dogs bite incidents involve those who are unaltered. While bites are the worst case, displays of dominance can also manifest in acts such as excessive barking and mounting. Neutering will lower the overall testosterone in males and should help resolve undesirable behaviors but is not a guaranteed fix. Habitual behaviors can be hard to break, and the outcome will also depend upon the dog's physiology and history.


"Houdini Syndrome" is real! Ok, I may have made up that name, but dogs have proven to be incredibly resourceful when it comes to escaping from backyards and other enclosures. Given the massive size and weight of Danes, you are going to be hard-pressed to construct something strong enough to hold them back if they really want to get out. This is often due to their desire to seek out females in heat, who they may have detected while on a previous walk. On their own, they risk getting injured by cars or potentially fights with other males. Should you succeed in barricading them in, there is still the risk of injury to the dog or simply destruction of whatever you built to hold them back.


Have you ever seen a dog running around peeing on everything in site? This behavioral stunt is referred to as urine-marking and can be exhibited by both male and female dogs. This is considered a territorial maneuver, in which the animal is staking their claim on areas or object to claim as their own. Spaying or neutering your Dane should reduce urine-marking, or potentially stop it altogether.