When it comes to service dogs, almost every dog breed can become one. While some dog breeds are better than others, some breeds you don’t expect, like a King Charles Cavalier, can make a great companion for someone with a disability. That said, it’s important to know what strengths and weaknesses a service dog may have depending on their breed. Thankfully, many breeds have well-documented behavior, and the Great Dane is no exception.
The Great Dane makes a great service dog, depending on what your needs look like. While they’re not the best with mental disabilities, they’re large dogs that know how to be gentle. This makes them ideal for people with physical disabilities. For example, they can pull wheelchairs, help people remain balanced, and much more.
If you’re considering a service dog and want a Great Dane, read on to learn everything you need to know. We cover their strengths, weaknesses, and some general information about the breed.
What are Service Dogs?
Service dogs may vary based on a state’s definition of a service animal. However, the ADA and the United States Department of Justice generally define what a service dog should be.
According to these organizations, a service dog gets training for a specific task that helps people with mental health or physical disabilities. These dogs must be able to perform complex tasks on behalf of their owner, and most service dogs can enter public spaces like schools, work, and leisurely locations.
Can Great Danes Become Service Dogs?
Yes, Great Danes can become service dogs. In fact, most dogs can become service dogs with the proper training. You can either adopt a service dog or have your Great Dane trained by a professional if they’re young enough.
Service dog training has to occur at a young age, and the dog must be proficient at the task they’re trained for. That said, Great Danes make great service dogs for physical disabilities. They’re also suitable for mental health issues that require touch for comfort.
Can Great Danes Become Emotional Support Animals?
Yes, Great Danes can become emotional support animals (ESAs). Great Danes and most other dog breeds can become ESA. While ESAs and service dogs are similar, ESAs are a much looser category. In fact, just about any animal can become an ESA as long their behavior is calm and they don’t lash out at people (and yes, we mean any animal, there’s someone in Florida with an alligator ESA).
ESAs also don’t have the same rules as service dogs. Therefore, they can’t come with you on a plane or into some public spaces. You may need a note from your doctor.
Can I Train My Great Dane To Become a Service Dog?
You can train your Great Dane to become a service dog, but it’s not always the best route to take, especially if they’re older. Training your Great Dane yourself may result in a service dog that doesn’t master its task well enough. We always recommend having a professional train your service dog for the best results. Without professional help, your dog may fail, and you may have wasted a lot of time and money.
What Disabilities Qualify for a Great Dane Service Dog?
Several disabilities qualify you for a Great Dane service dog. We list these disabilities below, and most disabilities have to do with physical conditions.
- Impaired vision
- Total blindness
- Balance and mobility issues
- Parkinson’s, cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis, partial paralysis
- Some mental health illnesses that require touch for comfort (anxiety, depression, bipolar)
Depending on your condition, Great Dane service dogs may qualify for other disabilities. Ultimately, it depends on your unique situation.
What Makes a Great Dane a Great Service Dog?
Great Danes are a great breed for service dogs. While they’re not known for their ability to deal with mental health disorders, their large size makes them perfect for physical disabilities. Examples include moving wheelchairs, assisting with balance or coordination, and much more. While these are tasks that the dog can complete, we’ll cover some breed-specific traits that stand out for Great Danes.
- Large size
- Low maintenance
- Low energy
- Easy to train
Learn about each trait below.
The best part of a Great Dane service dog is its size. They’re much bigger than most dog breeds, which helps them reach higher shelves, open doors, and move things around. With great size also comes great strength. It’s no problem when they need to grab an item, wheelchair, or open a door.
Their large size also makes it easy for them to handle their owner’s body weight, which service dogs should handle 65% of. For heavier people, a Great Dane service dog is perfect.
Great Danes are short-hair dogs, so they’re easy to maintain. You don’t have to worry about frequent trips to the vet or for grooming. They don’t need baths often, and a rinse with a hose or a showerhead is often enough. Great Danes also don’t have a lot of energy for playing, so you don’t have to worry about playing with them or taking them for long walks. Their service dog duties are more than enough to keep them happy and healthy.
Gentle and Easy to Train
Great Danes are known as “gentle giants.” While they’re one of the biggest dog breeds around, they’re gentle with their weight and don’t get aggressive often. Most Great Danes are just happy to see people. As a result, Great Danes are also easy to train. This applies to normal training and service dog training. Great Danes also rank high on the overall adaptability scale for training.
Tasks That Great Dane Service Dogs Can Perform?
Great Danes perform a lot of tasks for people with disabilities. The most common tasks that Great Danes help with are physical. Still, they can also provide comfort for people who need touch to calm down.
Below we list the common tasks that Great Dane service dogs can offer.
- Moving a wheelchair
- Opening doors
- Finding and retrieving Items
- Creating a barrier
- Using touch to comfort their owner
Moving a Wheelchair and Providing Balance
One of the most common use cases for a Great Dane service dog is providing balance or physical guidance. They can guide someone who is blind or someone who lacks vision. What’s more, they can keep someone on two feet without falling over. Great Dane service dogs can also pull and move wheelchairs into place for people. This helps people get around airports and other places.
The height of a Great Dane service dog is perfect for opening doors. They don’t have to jump or expend a bunch of energy to open the doors because most Great Danes are at least 40 inches on all fours. Plus, Great Danes are strong enough to open most types of doors.
Finding and Retrieving Items
Great Danes are huge service animals, so it’s easy for them to reach almost anything. For this reason, one of the most common uses of a Great Dane service dog is grabbing items for their owners. These items can range from medications to personal items like a smartphone.
Creating a Barrier
Someone with a mental health disorder may need a barrier from other people. These barriers help someone remain calm when in crowded sessions. Barriers are also useful for people who have PTSD. Great Dane service dogs create a barrier by getting in front of their owner and blocking others from contacting them. They learn how to do this by picking up on their owner’s panic, distress, or overall discomfort cues.
Using Touch to Comfort Their Owner
Great Danes are smarter than many pet owners give them credit for. They can lean up against their owners to provide a sense of comfort. This works great for people who struggle with mental health conditions like anxiety, depression, and bipolar disorder. In this sense, Great Danes also work well for people who struggle with PTSD. In fact, some veterans who are used to serving with dogs do exceptionally well with service animals.
How to Get a Great Dane Service Dog
It’s not difficult to get a Great Dane service dog when you know where to look. In fact, we have a quick and efficient way to help you get a Great Dane service dog. Plus, you can register your dog when you choose USSA. Below we take you through the steps to get a Great Dane service dog.
Complete Our Assessment
The first step is to complete our online assessment. You’ll need to follow this step if you have a service dog, plan on training one, or want to adopt one. Our assessment requires the following information about you and your dog:
- Owner’s full name
- Owner’s email and phone number
- The city and state where the owner resides
- The animal’s name
- The type of animal
- Date of birth for the animal
- The animal’s gender
- American Kennel Club (AKC) ID if you have it
- A photo of your pet
Aside from this information, you may get extra products like a vest once you fill in all of this information—while this helps with identification, it is not a legal requirement.
Speak with a Licensed Healthcare Professional
Once you enter your dog’s information and your personal information, you must have a phone or video consult with a licensed mental health professional, usually a therapist. The therapist will have a virtual session with you to determine if you need a service dog. Depending on your mental health condition, you may or may not be approved in this state.
Get a Psychiatric Service Letter
The last step is to pay the small fee and get your service letter. The service letter allows you to live with your dog at an apartment complex, travel on airlines, and much more. Getting these service letters ensures that you can bring your service dog where you need to. Keep in mind, you may need to train your service dog before you can get a service letter for physical conditions.
Keep in mind that you can also register your Great Dane as an ESA if you have no luck with the psychiatric service letter. ESAs are cheap to register, and just about any animal can be one.
Great Dane Service Dog FAQ
Have questions about Great Danes as service dogs? Find the answers below.
Are Service Dogs Allowed Everywhere?
No, service dogs aren’t allowed everywhere. While service dogs can follow you to most places, places of worship and public/hotel pools don’t have to allow your service dog. Still, most of these places will provide accommodations when necessary.
What’s the Difference Between an ESA and a Service Dog?
Service dogs are trained to help their owners with a task, while ESAs are just there to provide comfort. The difference comes down to training and their legal status. For example, ESAs aren’t required to accompany people into every location. ESAs can only help with mental health issues, whereas service dogs can help with physical and mental health issues; this is another major difference.
Additionally, ESAs can be any type of animal, while service animals are exclusively dogs or miniature horses.
What are the Travel Rules for Service Dogs?
Service dogs can accompany you almost anywhere, even on airlines. Most airlines do have some leeway to make their own rules about service dogs, which is important to know. For example, many airliners won’t allow short-nose dog breeds to stay in the cargo section of the plane because of their breathing impairments. While Great Danes may accompany you on the plane, you might have to pay extra for their size and weight because they’re big dogs.
It’s also important to keep the Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA) in mind. These are rules and regulations airlines have to follow that don’t allow them to discriminate against someone based on a disability. This does not apply to people with ESAs because ESAs are no longer required to be on planes by law—though depending on the airline, you may find some exceptions.
How Much Does a Service Dog Cost?
Service dogs vary in price, but when you register with US Service Animals, the certificate costs about $90. That said, training is what becomes expensive. To train a Great Dane to become a service dog, you’re looking at prices between $15,000 and $30,000, depending on the trainer. Often, service dog training costs about $250 an hour.
However, training can also be free if you choose to train your dog yourself—though this takes considerable time and patience, which may be hard to come by if you’re already suffering from difficulties due to your disability. So you may want to supplement with some online training courses or consult a professional to ensure you’re on the right track.
How Old is Too Old for a Service Dog?
There is no required age for a service dog. However, it’s best to start the training process early (less than one year old). This is when dogs are typically most receptive to training. For Great Danes, lifespan also becomes a factor; unfortunately, they aren’t known to have long life expectancies.
What Disqualifies a Great Dane From Becoming a Service Dog?
The biggest disqualifier for a service dog is aggressive behavior. Great Danes that display aggressive behaviors or tendencies are likely to get disqualified. What’s more, business owners and airlines may ask you to leave if your dog is being aggressive or misbehaving. To avoid these problems, Great Danes with behavioral problems are usually disqualified before becoming one.
Get a Great Dane Service Dog Today
Service dogs can change the life of you or a loved one. Not only is it nice to have some company, but service dogs will help you complete tasks, remain calm, and even bring you things like your medicine. Without service dogs, many people wouldn’t be able to travel or leave their homes, which makes them important members of society.
Not everyone will qualify for a service dog, but if you think you need one, you can always fill out our assessment. All you need is to know some information about your dog. Then, speak with a therapist to learn if you qualify.