Many people wonder if grooming a Great Dane is difficult, you may be surprised!
We're often asked about grooming a Great Dane and questions like "How do you wash a dog that size?", our reply is often, "We don't!". Conveniently, Great Danes are a very low odor breed, except of course for occasional flatulence, but you already knew that, didn't you?
Grooming a Great Dane - Bathing
Bathing these mammoths is not a major necessity which works in our favor, no need to bother, or budget for trips to the dog salon! Frequent bathing may also strip essential oils from your dog's coat. Since dry skin affects many Danes, keep baths to an "as needed" basis.
We give zero baths during the warmer months as weekly trips to the swimming hole keep our Danes fresh as a mountain spring. On occasion and if necessary, i.e., Skunk attack, we may add a bottle of biodegradable doggie shampoo to the mix. If rare circumstances mandate a winter bath, we wash down our Great Danes with a wet cloth and an all natural shampoo.
Grooming a Great Dane - Shedding & Hair Loss
Compared to other short haired breeds, Great Danes shed like about the same as any. Shedding ebbs and flows and seems to increase a bit each Spring. Of course if your dog is suffering from skin problems, nutritional or contact allergies, shedding can be severe. You will notice much more hair around your house with a Dane compared to what would be dropped by a smaller short haired dog. This is solely due to the fact we're dealing with a much larger dog and a larger surface area of fur.
Tip: If you feel your Dane is leaving more hair on the carpet than usual you can try supplementing alfalfa powder and Organic Ocean Kelp with meals. Low thyroid function can also cause excessive shedding, a thyroid test is relatively simple and inexpensive if you'd like to have that ruled out.
Slight noticeable dander or dry skin in Danes is not uncommon with certain color varieties.
A daily once over with a brush will greatly reduce the amount of hair left on your carpet. We found that grooming a Great Dane using a rubber curry brush works best. Don't waste good money on an expensive brush, we've made that mistake! Our favorite is a KONG Zoom Groom Brush. Imagine that! The simple design and short flat rubber notches pull dead hairs out like a magnet!
Grooming a Great Dane - Head & Face
A Dane's head and face require slightly more upkeep. Great Danes seem to differ individually with regards to drool and slobber. Although there always seems to be a touch of wetness on the jowls. It seems that the slimy, white, translucent slobber typically forms when our Danes are on a scent, or watching us prepare their raw meals.
A trip to the dog park could make quite a mess of you Dane's beautiful face. Carrying a drool towel for these situations is always good idea. You'll also most likely need to tidy up a bit after your Dane drinks, seems they haven't quite perfected this skill and tend to get the floor pretty wet if their water bowl is full.
Tip: When putting water down only fill the bowl half way and re fill if needed. This will force your Great Dane to lap at the water rather than submerge his muzzle and gulp. Not only will this help keep your floors dry, it will help eliminate gulping air which is always a concern with breeds prone to bloat.
Eyes may build mucus from time to time and this can vary by season. Activities such as road trips when your Dane is riding shotgun with its head hanging out the passenger window can also cause the eyes to weep. Mucus of this sort is usually normal and nothing to worry about. Should the eyes get crusty with a colored discharge or mucus intensifies and persists, you may want to consult your Vet.
Ears should be cleaned once a week, especially if they're cropped. Our favorite natural product for wiping the ears and getting the crud out is TrueBlue Super Easy Ear Wipes. Cleaning the ear canal from time to time is also important and will help to minimize ear infections. As a precaution, I'll clean my dog's ears this way after any type of activities in and around water. The procedure is pretty simple I've grown fond of natural Ear Care Solution with Tea Tree Oil. Just squirt a little solution into each ear and massage the ear canals between your thumb and forefinger for a few minutes. After you've finished, stand back and let your Dane shake out the solution. Be warned you should do this outdoors if you don't feel like wiping down your walls and ceiling after the fact!
Tip: Most tasks associated with grooming a Great Dane will go easier if your grooming procedures are introduced to your Dane as a young puppy. Not only will your dog be more manageable, you'll condition him or her over time that grooming is normal and they'll accept it without incident for life.
Most Danes, once over the initial sensation of ear fluid, will quietly rumble with pleasure during this process. Next wrap a soft cloth moist with solution over your finger and go down into the ear to wipe out the ears base, or bell. You'd be surprised at what a pair of cropped ears can collect.
Teeth are much easier to maintain than with a smaller breed, they're way bigger and not cramped into a tiny little mouth. Grab hold and pull up on the convenient jowl handle. What a nice unobstructed view of those choppers. Watch for tarter or food built up in the creases and crevasses, the rear molars seem to hold the most debris.
Getting your dog used to a toothbrush and teeth care early on will make it a fun, tasty experience for years to come. Those that feed raw or offer a good marrow bone to gnaw on will most likely never need anything else.
Great Danes are pretty tolerant of head maintenance, eye, ear, and face clean up is typically a breeze. Teeth brushing may take some practice yet if started early as a puppy, should go easy as well.
Grooming a Great Dane - Feet, Paws, Nails
Your Dane's paws and nails require proper care and this is important, hence the larger headline. A split toenail, splinter, or cut, can have a detrimental effect on the well being of your dog. The giant, heavyweight Great Dane is more susceptible to paw injuries than a smaller breed as their paws take the brunt force of their powerful strides.
Tip: Many savvy owners choose a late hour for doggy maintenance. Grooming a Great Dane, especially nail care, will go a little easier while your Dane is in a deep sleep.
Ever wonder how much pressure your Great Dane puts on its feet? Let him step on yours:) A small sharp object such as a piece of glass may only slightly cut or scratch a small dogs paw pad. Under the pressure of a pouncing Dane, it can cause a major gash.
Keep the nails as short as possible! With Dane nail care and with any dog for that matter, we always try to cut as close to the quick as possible. Don't worry about cutting too close, keep a few damp Q-tips coated with Remedy+Recovery Styptic Powder ready. If you cut a little too aggressive press the Q-tip directly into the tip of the bleeding nail to quickly stop the flow of blood.
A traditional nail cutter will work just fine and a good choice is the Millers Forge Big Dog Nail Clipper.
Me, I like STONE nail grinders and have used the Master Grooming Tools grinder for over 10 years. Here's a picture with the rough stone attached, it's my favorite setup to get the job done.
Unfortunately, this grinder has long been discontinued which sucks because it had a variable speed control that was really nice.
A great replacement with plug-in-cord power and available stone attachments is the Conair Pro Professional Dog Nail Grinder! Yes, it comes with sanding drums, but the STONE grinder attachments you will need are pretty inexpensive and easy to get here.
Don't waste your money for grinders packed with every kind of sandpaper drum purposed for small breed dogs. Or, grinder tools that are battery powered lacking power for Great Dane nails. You'll need a cord powered grinder with stone attachments to quickly grind your Dane's GREAT nails.
Whatever method of Dane nail maintenance you choose, begin the routine early on in your pup's life, I'm serious! Get it going with your young pup and you'll have no problems down the road with your mature, powerful adult.
Trust me, dogs are not in pain when you cut their nails too close, even if they bleed. Funny though, any dog that's unaccustomed to getting their nails messed with will make you believe you're killing them. Wait and see, neglect nail care and it's going to take you, your wife, and your neighbor to hold your adult Dane down so you can clip their nails.
Here's a closeup of my dog's nails after being filed down with the Master Grooming Tools grinder. Note that I've rounded the nails and even polished off the undersides.
TIP: You may want to use a dust mask during this process due to flying dirt and nail dust. It's a messy procedure but results in an awesome job!
Foot and paw care is probably the most important aspect of grooming a Great Dane. Neglect this department and further problems can develop. A Dane with a painful or injured paw will make changes to its posture, gait, and weight distribution. This can lead to orthopedic problems or even a ligament injury.
Start with your young puppy with all the Great Dane grooming practices, make leg and paw rubs a nightly affair. Everything is easier with a young Dane and will only cause much grief if left for later.