A Mystery Solved: The Best Toys for Great Danes
The Great Dane is the canine world’s epitome of the phrase “gentle giant.” He’s about as large as pooches come, but underneath that massive frame is a sweetheart that loves everybody. He’s also about as mellow as big dogs get. So what toys best suit this enormous, relaxed love?
OUR PICKS FOR THE TOP TOYS FOR GREAT DANES
Things to Know About the Great Dane
There’s a practical reason why the Great Dane is such a massive breed. This Mastiff-type breed was originally bred to hunt wild boar. However, the dog’s natural elegance made the breed a hit with noblemen eager to provide the pooches with a cushy lifestyle, and the fight was eventually bred out of the blood.
Nicknamed the “Apollo of Dogs” because of its tall, sleek appearance, today’s Great Dane is considered by some to be the world’s biggest lapdog. This presents a bit of a dichotomy that ultimately makes this breed fascinating. After all, it has the type of muscular build that on paper would make him a stud athlete.
Yet Great Danes are docile dogs whose penchant for separation anxiety and seeming lack of body awareness makes him a bit of a klutz with destructive potential. And while he’s friendly to all comers, he will show great courage in the face of a threat. All things considered, it’s no wonder both Marmaduke and Scooby-Doo are Great Danes.
It should be noted that there is a journey a Great Dane takes on the way to being mellow. Like all puppies, the breed will tend to be a bit rambunctious and exuberant. Given his knack for clumsiness – especially in regards to his wagging tail – this could be a trying pooch for novice pet owners.
The good news here is that Great Danes are eager to please; a trait that makes the breed relatively easier to train than other dogs. The breed’s affectionate nature also makes it a potentially good dog for children. One caveat to this: make sure your pooch is trained not to roughhouse with your wee ones.
Great Danes at Play
Even though Great Danes are relaxed in nature, the breed does thrive on exercise and playtime. However, the type of play that you can engage in with a Great Dane tends to be a bit more complex than other dogs of his size.
You should be prepared to engage in roughly 30 minutes to an hour of daily exercise with your adult Great Dane, depending on his age. If your pooch is in the pup stage, build that out to 90 minutes.
Here's where things get a bit dicey. The Great Dane has been bred to be an indoor dog and does not like to spend an inordinate amount of time outdoors – especially if the weather is too warm or too cold. But young Great Danes tend to get the "zoomies,” so some outdoor play is essential so he can unleash these bursts of energy.
The people-friendly nature of Great Danes also means that the breed is subject to enjoying a little gentle roughhousing with their owner, which may include him getting up on his hindquarters and nearly looking you in the eye. Be sure to control the action in this situation. If not, playful exuberance could lead to an unwitting accident.
Regardless of where you play with your Great Dane, it’s imperative you cultivate a nice big space for him. Don’t even think about this breed if you live in an apartment. If you own a home, you better make sure you have a backyard when it does come time to indulge in those moments of outdoor play.
If you have a Great Dane puppy, it's wise not to let him romp outside unsupervised. This breed is a notorious digger, and won’t think twice about ripping up your garden. Considering how big the breed is even in the puppy phase, the damage he can cause is pretty significant.
What Toys are Best Suited for Great Danes?
Because Great Danes do like to lope around a bit when they’re outside, objects that can be used in a game of fetch are pretty optimal. He’ll also find great entertainment in batting around and chasing after balls on his own. Because of his frame, he can thrive on romping around with massive spheres that may be the size of some toy breeds.
A good sturdy chew toy will also satisfy their inner inside dog’s needs. Most chew toys offer the added benefit of helping out with dental maintenance. This is a particularly good thing here; the breed carries a potential for enough diseases as it is without also having also to deal with preventable dental problems.
What Toys Should be Skipped?
Treat Great Dane play like you would treat playtime with your kids. In other words, keep the fetching and the ball batting outside at all times. Great Danes can be a klutzy breed, and engaging in these games indoors because he’s an indoor dog is a recipe for disaster for you and your possessions.
You should also avoid poorly made toys in general, but this axiom is particularly in play when it comes to chew toys. Even though Great Danes are a gentle breed, they have strong jaws that can shred even stuff that’s pretty decently made. Throw in their rambunctious style of play, and you can see why flimsy toys aren’t a wise choice pretty easily.
You should especially pay attention to large balls in this regard. Don’t assume that all large spheres that you may purchase for your Great Dane are automatically sturdy just because of their size. Unless of course you’re cool with running the risk of picking up scraps of ball fabric all over your yard on a routine basis – then go nuts.
Our Final Recommendations
KONG Extreme Dog Toy, XX-Large
KONG toys carry a strong reputation for being able to withstand the force of pretty much any jaw. Given that this reputation has largely stood up time and again, it seems natural to recommend this massive toy as a plaything for your Great Dane. But it’s not just the toy’s super-strong durability that tends to win us over.
The KONG works so well because, with proper training, you can make this a reliable toy for your Great Dane to focus on whenever nervousness or separation anxiety occurs. The fact that it is capable of holding a tasty treat in its core has quite a bit to do with this. After all, your big buddy may exert a lot of nervous energy trying to reach the goody.
Also, the toy's oblong shape and the kooky bounces it can create has great potential to keep your pooch entertained even when you are around, and treats are not found inside. Just a word of advice here: anytime you give him the KONG, make sure he has plenty of room to enjoy the toy. You may regret it if you don't.
Wilson Traditional Soccer Ball
A giant dog like a Great Dane will sometimes require some serious out-of-the-box thinking when it comes to playtime. And the Wilson Traditional Soccer Ball certainly qualifies as such, primarily because it’s a soccer ball. Yet there is some method to this seeming madness.
Great Danes can find great entertainment in batting around, chomping on, or engaging in general mischief with a big ball. The only problem with this is the breed’s powerful jaws and rambunctious play style – particularly when they’re immature – could spell a quick demise to a ball that isn’t made for punishment.
A soccer ball like the Wilson model is most certainly made for punishment. After all, it’s designed to be kicked about for extended periods of time, sometimes in an aggressive manner. Based on that rationale, it should be able to handle your pooch.
With a little bit of training, your Great Dane can make a game out of trying to hold the ball in his mouth, when he’s not batting it about. If you do want him to be able to put it in his maw, you could try deflating it, allowing just enough air to allow it to roll when nudged.
However you choose to play with your Great Dane, you'll take delight in his presence simply because he's a sweet doggie whose awkward clumsiness will warm your heart easily during playtime. And he will need plenty of play time to feed his soul, even though he's content with being an indoor dog.
Sure, there are challenges to creating proper play sessions with your pooch, such as making sure you have ample space for fun. But if you are up for handling all of the unique puzzles this pooch can pose, then you'll have no problem falling in love with him whether the two of you are at play or in relaxation mode.