Should You Insure the Health of Your Great Dane?

Do giant breeds really come with giant vet bills?

Gallant, handsome and big softies at heart, Great Danes are fiercely loyal and make for great companions. Sadly, as with a number of pedigrees, these elegant beasts come with a range of serious (and expensive) health risks. Find out why it pays to insure the health of your Great Dane (plus some fun facts on the breed).

While you’re here, read this: Should you insure the health of your Boston Terrier?

Some Fun Facts on Great Danes

  1. Great Danes are not from Denmark (despite their name leading us to believe otherwise).
  2. Experts believe that the breed began in Germany from English Mastiffs and Irish Wolfhounds.
  3. They are thought to have been bred for boar-hunting.
  4. Their initial growth is incredibly fast, growing to around 45kgs in just 6 months.
  5. The much-loved cartoon, Scooby-Doo was a Great Dane. Some believe that this character drew inspiration from the medieval beliefs where people thought that Great Danes were able to protect their homes from evil spirits and ghosts.

Common Health Issues and Illnesses

If you are the proud paw parent of a Great Dane, then we suggest you get clued up on the health concerns of this breed. Apart from the usual vaccinations and routine healthcare costs and check-ups, there are also additional conditions that Great Danes are prone to.

Heart Disease

From around age 4, your Great Dane’s risk of heart disease will increase significantly, specifically the condition known as canine dilated cardiomyopathy. This occurs when the chambers of your dog’s heart enlarge, and the heart muscle begins to thin – affecting the heart’s ability to properly pump blood.

This condition often shows no obvious signs at first and can cause sudden death. This is why regular preventive and wellness care check-ups are so important as your vet will be able to detect and treat conditions such as this.

FYI – if you have pet insurance with Oneplan Pet Insurance (the best pet insurer in South Africa, in our opinion), they front you with the cash you need BEFORE you see the vet and include vet visits and routine care benefits in some of their pet insurance plans. Their range of routine care benefits ensures your pet’s health is always in the best hands.

Bone Tumours

Also known as osteosarcomas, which is a type of cancer that produces immature bone. This causes swelling, lameness and pain in your dog. These forms of cancerous tumours can easily spread to other areas of the body if left untreated.

Stomach Conditions

Great Danes and other deep-chested dog breeds are known to suffer from gastric torsion, also known as bloat. This is an emergency situation where your dog’s stomach will fill with gas and can result in the stomach twisting, which requires emergency surgery.

If you notice ANY bloating in your dog’s stomach, dribbling or if your dog is pacing and/or trying to vomit, contact your vet immediately. To prevent this, you can give your dog smaller more frequent meals and avoid any exercise after eating.


Such a big dog is bound to suffer from additional strain placed on his leg joints, meaning this breed is prone to hip dysplasia and torn knee ligaments. The costs to treat issues such as these can start at R7 000 and skyrocket to R40 000 or more (for a total hip replacement). This does not include medication, rehabilitation and additional costs such as overnight stays etc.

Discover: Should you seek a second opinion from your vet?

Skin Conditions

Great Danes are known to suffer from irritable skin conditions, these include acral lick dermatitis (as a result of excessive licking), as well as demodicosis. This is a type of mange caused by mites. This breed may also develop mast cell tumours. These are cancerous and often take the shape of what appear to be harmless warts.

The Case for Pet Insurance

Giant breeds come with giant vet bills. From illnesses to accidents and hereditary diseases, the costs of routine vet visits and emergency vet care can quickly escalate to thousands (if not tens of thousands) of rands. Pet insurance was created to help cover these costs when both expected and unexpected events occur.

In reading the above-mentioned health risks and some of their associated treatment costs, it becomes clear as to just how overwhelming veterinary care costs can become. If you decide to pay these bills out of your own pocket (which is not always a viable option for all pet owners), this will leave a huge dent in your finances.

Related: Why Oneplan’s Pet Super Plan is the Top Pet Insurance Plan for Boujee Pets

Pet insurance is able to go a long way in protecting your finances and the health of your pet. As a responsible pet owner, you need to realise that pet insurance is not like car insurance. Things like home and car insurance may never be used or needed, but it is practically guaranteed that your Great Dane will need routine care and may become ill or injured at some point in their lifetime.

Give some thought to the type of pet insurance plan you can afford and what benefits best suit your wallet and your pet’s healthcare needs. We often recommend chatting with your vet as he or she will know the costs and healthcare risks associated with your Great Dane.

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