Any type or breed of dog, large or small, can be a service dog. As a breed on the large side of the spectrum, a Great Dane service dog offers unique advantages.
The Bottom Line:
- What are service dogs? - Service dogs perform tasks for people who have disabilities. They have individualized training to equip them for the task.
- Why Great Danes as service dogs? - In addition to their large size, other traits that make Great Danes good service dogs include their loyalty, obedience, and calm, gentle demeanor.
- How to get a Great Dane service dog - The first step is to consult a licensed mental health professional to ensure that you qualify.
- What's the difference between a service dog and an emotional support animal? - Service dogs receive training to perform specific tasks for their handlers. Emotional support animals help keep their handlers calm through their presence.
What Are Service Dogs?
The ADA and the United States Department of Justice offer similar definitions for a service dog: A dog that receives individual training to perform specific tasks to assist suitable individuals who have disabilities. Certain physical and mental conditions can make it difficult for people to go to work or school or carry out activities of daily living. Service dogs can help with complex tasks for these individuals to assist people in becoming more independent.
Why Great Danes Make Great Service Dogs
Fantastic Danes have many qualities that make them excellent service animals.
The Great Dane is a giant dog breed, and their size can be a significant advantage as service dogs. At a minimum, a service dog should be 65% of the handler's body weight and 45% of their height. A Great Dane service dog should effortlessly meet these minimums and, in many cases, actually exceeds them. A Great Dane can reach or even exceed a typical person's height when standing on its hind legs. Great Danes are muscular in addition to being enormous.
A Great Dane service dog has a short coat that is easy to groom. Great Danes do not require frequent baths, and when they do need one, it can be as easy as soaping them, scrubbing them, and rinsing them off with a garden hose. Occasionally, their coats may need brushing, but this needn't be a daily chore. You can ask your veterinarian for grooming recommendations specific to your service dog.
Low Exercise Needs
While all dogs need at least some exercise, the Great Dane's need is lower than many other breeds. This minimal exercise requirement means that a Great Dane service dog is ready to work when needed but, when not needed, is happy to relax and wait until called upon to work again. Some breeds of service dogs require at least an hour's worth of exercise every day, and specific disabilities may make this a challenge for their handlers to fulfill. Often, a Great Dane makes a good service dog for many individuals with mobility limitations because of its low exercise needs.
Many people consider Great Danes "gentle giants." They tend to be very friendly and mild-tempered, making them excellent candidates for potential service dogs. They are social animals that enjoy being around people, meaning that they tend to be comfortable and well-behaved in public areas.
Great Danes are average compared to other dog breeds regarding canine intelligence. Intelligence is an essential trait for a service dog, but the most intelligent dog breeds sometimes get bored if they do not receive enough mental stimulation and may become destructive. Therefore, average intelligence may be a strength in service dogs, hearing dogs, and medical alert dogs.
Great Danes are receptive to training, and when it comes to adaptive training, Great Danes rank very high. They are good at problem-solving.
What Tasks Can a Great Dane Perform?
Different types of service dogs provide various types of assistance. Because of their size and strength, Great Danes are trained as mobility assistance dogs but can learn to perform any service dog task.
Sometimes a person who uses a wheelchair has difficulty moving it independently. If this is the case, a Great Dane can learn to move the wheelchair by either pushing or pulling it. Other animals and breeds of service dogs may be willing to perform this service work but unable to carry it out because they lack the physical strength required. Thanks to its vast size, a lack of strength is not a problem for the Great Dane.
Another way that the large body of the Great Dane can come in handy as a service dog is that its size and weight can help it push open doors for someone who uses a wheelchair or has mobility limitations. It is not only the weight of the Great Dane that is beneficial, but also its height.
One of the most common tasks that a service dog may have to do is retrieving objects off high shelves. Because of its height when standing on its hind legs, which can rival or exceed that of a human, a Great Dane can perform this valuable service more effectively than a smaller dog might be able to.
Provide a Calming Touch
Great Danes lean up against the people it feels closest to as a sign of affection. A service animal trainer can use this natural inclination of the breed to teach the dog to provide a calming touch to a handler experiencing anxiety, a post-traumatic flashback, or other symptoms of psychiatric conditions.
Form a Physical Barrier
A person experiencing symptoms of a psychiatric condition may need a barrier to separate them from other people when in a public area. Great Dane service dogs can learn to form such a barrier when needed, and because they are so large, they can form a very effective one. Creating a barrier is another way the Great Dane's natural inclination to lean against the people it is closest to can apply to its duties as a service animal.
How To Get a Great Dane Service Dog
Whether you already have a Great Dane that you would like to train as a service animal or wish to obtain one in the future, the first step to joining approved applicants is to receive a letter detailing your disability.
Complete Our Assessment
On our website, we provide a brief, three-minute online assessment. Completing this assessment for approved applicants communicates your psychological needs and specific situation.
Consult With a Therapist
We match you with a licensed mental health professional in your area and help you schedule a live consultation to complete a mental health evaluation. Before you can meet with the therapist, you need to fill out some forms that we will provide relating to consent and privacy.
Get a Psychiatric Service Letter
Following your evaluation, you can receive a legally-recognized letter stating that you have an essential need for a service dog in the therapist's opinion. Unless you live in California, it may be possible to receive the letter within 24 hours of the consultation. We offer a 100% refund if the letter does not work.
Can I Train My Own Great Dane To Be a Service Dog?
All service dogs have to receive specialized training in particular tasks to help their handlers and families to become legally recognized. Most service dogs begin training with professionals or volunteer organizations when they are puppies. If you or your family members already have a Great Dane that you would like to become a therapy dog, you can perform the training yourself or work with a private trainer. Experts recommend that service dog training begin before the dog is two years old.
Where Can I Adopt a Great Dane Service Dog?
Service dog organizations provide training and work to match specific dogs with individuals. Otherwise, Great Dane puppies are available for purchase from pet breeders. Be sure to choose a reputable breeder, or the puppy you purchase may be unhealthy or unsuitable for service work.
There are also quality rescues from which you may be able to adopt and train Great Danes. Look for breed-specific rescues and services.
What Disabilities Qualify for a Great Dane Service Dog?
Disabilities that qualify for a service dog include the following:
- Blindness and low vision
- Balance and mobility limitations, such as Parkinson's, cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis, and other mobility issues
- Seizure disorders and related severe balance issues
- Diabetes and related blood sugar issues
- Mental illness
Specific mental illnesses that qualify for a psychiatric service dog include ADHD, anxiety, bipolar disorder, depression, personality disorders, phobias, and schizophrenia.
What's the Difference Between Psychiatric Service Dogs vs. Emotional Support Dogs?
The short answer is that psychiatric service dogs receive training to perform specific tasks for their handlers to help them manage their conditions. For this reason, they receive legal recognition. The laws that protect people with disabilities from discrimination allow them to bring service dogs to most public places in everyday life.
Emotional support animals help ease symptoms of mental illness for their handlers by their presence but don't know how to perform specific tasks. Therefore, they do not receive the same legal recognition as guide dogs.
Frequently Asked Questions About Great Dane Service Dogs
Here are some answers to other questions that people frequently ask about having Great Danes as service dogs.
How Much Does a Great Dane Service Dog Cost?
The costs to obtain a trained dog average between $15,000 and $30,000. Professional training can cost up to $250 per hour. You are also responsible for expenses such as dog food and veterinary care.
How To Catch a Fake Great Dane Service Dog?
Thoroughly trained service dogs behave in public because they received training for a long time. They know not to leave their owner or handler's side. A dog that lacks focus, misbehaves or disrupts by wandering around is not a service dog.
Can You Get a Great Dane Service Dog for Anxiety?
Yes. Anxiety disorders, including post-traumatic stress disorder, qualify for service dogs.
Can Any Dog Be a Service Dog?
Under the law, any breed of dog can be a service dog. However, individual dogs have to have a particular temperament, and not all dogs are suitable.
Do Great Dane Service Dogs Have To Be on a Leash?
When a fully trained service dog of any breed works in public, it must be under its handler's control. Retaining control means remaining on a leash or harness.
Does Insurance Cover Great Dane Service Dogs?
Typically, health insurance does not cover the costs related to either acquisition or care of service dogs, regardless of breed, from large breeds to small.
How To Get a Psychiatric Service Dog?
If you have a condition that qualifies for a psychiatric service dog, you need a letter from a licensed mental health professional attesting to that fact.
Are Great Dane Service Dogs Allowed Everywhere?
Under the law, service dogs must be allowed access to most public spaces to accompany their handlers. There are a few exceptions, such as places of worship and hotel swimming pools.
How To Get a Great Dane Service Dog for PTSD?
Post-traumatic stress disorder, commonly referred to as PTSD, is a qualifying mental condition for a Great Dane service dog. After you obtain your letter, a service dog project or organization may be able to help you find one, such as a veteran's organization, if you were in the military.