Great Dane grooming isn’t difficult but it is important

Great Dane grooming

Ever tried to give a 160 pound Great Dane a bath? Talk about drama!

Actually, Great Dane grooming isn’t so bad at all. They need to be groomed, like any other dog does; not just so they look good, but also to stay healthy. And they love the attention so grooming time becomes special for them.

Danes love interaction with their humans. They love to be touched and brushed and made the center of your world – there is no doubt you are the center of theirs! Regular grooming becomes something they look forward to – special time when all your attention is focused on them. (Some may not appreciate bath time or having their nails clipped, but they certainly appreciate the praise you give them as they sit through it.)

In addition to the opportunity grooming provides for “special time” between you and your Dane companion, it is also an excellent time to check for any early symptoms of a medical condition. New bumps, itchy or sensitive skin patches, cuts, sensitive joints, problems with the paws – all these things will be noticed as soon as they occur if you are brushing and handling your Dane regularly. And the sooner these things are detected, the sooner treatment can be applied to fix them.

Brushing Daily

Great Danes are short haired and average shedders so their coats don’t require constant brushing and matty fur or knots is not an issue. They do shed (particularly in the spring),but nothing like a medium or long-haired breed.

Daily brushing isn’t necessary (although we do it at least every second day because our Dane loves it so much) but there’s nothing wrong with it! Weekly brushing is sufficient for a Dane unless there is something obvious that needs to be brushed out sooner.

Not only will brushing take a lot of the dirt away (which means less frequent baths and all the drama that goes with getting a Dane into a tub!), it is also excellent for the skin. The natural oils in the fur are spread uniformly which makes the skin smooth and leaves a brilliant glossy and healthy look.

Brush as often as your schedule allows – even if only for a minute or two - your Dane will look great and love you for it.

Great Dane Nail clipping

Nail clipping is a bit of a chore, but it is important and can’t be skipped. If nails are not kept trim, they sometimes become ingrown, which is painful for the dog and can lead to infection. It is also more likely that your Dane will end up ripping his paw during play as he runs around outside. Not too hard to get a long nail caught in something.

There is also a safety consideration for people in keeping your Dane's nails short. They really don’t know their own strength and often when they want your attention, you feel a heavy paw come down on your body somewhere! Long nails hurt and they scratch. If kids arearound, this could be a real problem. Your Dane is the most gentle thing in your house, however he has no idea his paw weighs so much or that he might be hurting someone by “tapping them on the shoulder”! Trimmed nails don’t cause damage.

In addition, if the nails are too long, the Dane will start walking with all the weight on the back areas of the paw which can lead to an abnormal gait. This is not comfortable for the dog and we haven’t even talked about how paw nails can leave scratches on the floor in a house if left without trimming!

Great Dane nail clipping If you train your Dane early to accept handling of her paws and getting her nails clipped, there should be no problem. No Dane we ever met “loves” this chore, but ours puts up with it.

If your Dane is nervous when she sees the clippers, you need to get her used to you handling her paws. This isn’t fixed over night, but every chance you get, take one and gently rub it, play with the toes etc. In time, she should offer a paw without difficulty.

When you do clip the nails, do a little at a time and offer constant praise. Don’t cut the quick and you should both come out of it just fine!

The quick is the blood vessel that goes into the nail. In clear nails it is quite easy to see, however if they’re dark it may not be evident unless you shine a light onto them. You can also usually determine where the quick is by looking at the bottom of the nail (there is a very obvious “V” shape to the end of it) or if you still can’t figure it out, cut the nails just under the point where they appear to curve downwards.

There will most likely be times when you inadvertently nick the quick and the nail starts bleeding. It’s a good idea to have some blood clotting agent handy (available at any pet store). Don’t forget to calm your Dane down (who won’t be too impressed at this point) with lots of praise and perhaps a treat.

Great Dane nail clipping doesn’t have to be high drama. But if you aren’t comfortable doing it, take your Dane to a groomer – it has to be done. Or, consider using a nail grinder instead of a clipper. This means more frequent nail maintenance, but you don’t have to clip anything and you can keep the nails constantly at the length they should be. Any pet accessory store should carry these.

Great Dane Ear Maintenance

Great Dane ear cleaning

Whether cropped or natural, Great Dane ears are big. The ear canals are very susceptible to debris contamination and need to be cleaned regularly. This is especially necessary if your Dane gets the chance to play in a rural environment. We live in the country and despite regular ear inspection and cleaning, every spring usually means at least one yeast infection requiring treatment.

It’s a good idea to check your Dane’s ears at least weekly. The skin around the canal should be pale pink and there should be no odor. If they are red, or inflamed, or if there is a decidedly unpleasant smell to them, there is a good chance a yeast or bacterial infection is present.

Regular ear cleaning should prevent infections from occurring, or at least reduce the chances of getting one. We clean ears once a week and if there is even a hint of irritation (redness, scratching etc) we start applying eardrops daily.

Dane grooming includes teeth!

Great Dane teeth brushing A dog’s breathe shouldn’t smell bad. But often they do, and the reason is almost always because their teeth have not been taken care of. As a result, gum disease and other conditions show up. Not good - and avoidable with regular dental grooming, which is a fancy way of saying brushing their teeth.

There is a lot of talk about diet and teeth and what is best for them. Everyone understands that canned wet food does not clean teeth. Just like humans, tartar and plaque builds up very easily so food needs to be brushed off regularly. You may also hear that dry kibble is actually good for the teeth, because of the scouring action as the dog eats. However,the problem with kibble is that most of it is grain based and grain is like a starchy sugar. No good for the teeth at all. The scouring action does help with tartar build up, but the sugar will cause disease in the long term. The teeth still need to be cleaned.

Now there is a way to ensure healthy, clean teeth without brushing them every couple of days and that is by feeding raw bones. This doesn’t necessarily have to be part of a raw dog food diet, although if you provide raw bones the chances are your Dane is not going to be as happy with just kibble! But the exercise they get from gnawing on these bones is good for them and the scouring theteeth get ensures there is no tarter or plaque buildup. In fact, this also an excellent strategy to remove any already there! The breath stays fresh and the gums stay healthy.

We started using raw beef bones (usually sold in supermarkets as stock for stew or soup) after two years of teeth brushing. Although we were pretty good about the teeth brushing (i.e. it got done at least once or twice a week) we could see there was still tartar build up. After two months of raw beef bones twice a week, there was no tartar at all – just healthy, white teeth. And of course, our Dane isn’t complaining about enjoying the bones!

But, if you do decide against raw bones, then teeth brushing is the only option to ensure they stay healthy. Brushing a Great Dane’s teeth can be a bit of a pain. It isn’t that the Dane doesn’t like it – normally they do, particularly if you have done it since puppyhood.

The problem is that they try and lick the toothpaste away before you get a chance to rub it onto their teeth!

We used a finger toothbrush before switching to the bones. Make sure you don’t do just the incisor teeth (which are fairly easy to get at) but also the molars in the back of the mouth and the teeth in the front of the mouth – both sides. If this is done daily (or at least a couple of times a week), your Dane’s breath should stay fresh and his gums should remain healthy.

Bath time!

Our Great Dane doesn’t get very many baths, which suits him just fine! He really doesn’t like them and getting him into the tub can be a challenge. In fact, one of us usually gets right in there with him and stays until the whole ordeal is over!

Remember that if your Dane is being brushed regularly, the chances are she won’t need a bath unless she’s rolled in something nasty or got skunked for instance. (We had to deal with a direct hit from a skunk. That was the exact opposite of fun!)

But if you do decide it is bath time, there are a few things to consider.

To begin, don’t use a human shampoo. Your Dane’s skin is not the same as a human skin and needs different nutrients. Human shampoo will irritate and cause a dry, itchy coat. Get a good quality dog shampoo.

Don’t get the ears wet. We put cotton balls in the ear canal before bathing our beast. (Careful not to put them too deep, because you need to get them out after.)

Don’t get shampoo near the eyes. In fact, we don’t use shampoo on the head at all. We soak the dog with warm water first from top of the neck down and then rub in shampoo. After thoroughly rinsing the rest of him, we then use a damp cloth only and wipe his face and head. We rub in some mineral oil around the eyes, head and ears and that’s it.

Once the bathing is done, your very unimpressed looking campanion will be quite anxious to get out of the tub and shake the water off. With a 160 pounds of shaking, this is a considerably wet event! We believe there is no “neat” way to give a Great Dane a bath. Everyone is going to get splashed.

The only other thing to consider is keeping your Dane inside until she is completely dry. In the winter this is obviously important so she doesn’t get sick. In the summer, it is not so important, however you probably won’t be that happy if she immediately rolls around and picks up dirt – that will stick far more easily on wet fur than dry!

And finally, there are dry shampoos available that will do a good job for minor dirt. These can be used without the mess of a wet wash quite effectively.

So, grooming Great Danes really doesn’t take a great deal of effort at all. Ten minutes a day (except for the very occasional bath) is all that’s needed. And your Dane will look great, stay healthy, and look forward to that daily “special quality” attention.

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