Adopting a Great Dane Guide

Great Danes are an extremely popular dog breed known for their loving and affectionate nature. They are also natural guard dogs, making them a rare blend of excellent companions for families with complementary protective instincts. For all these positive reasons people love owning Great Danes, they can often be difficult to come by in animal shelters. Fortunately, there are many dedicated Great Dane rescues that specialize in saving these massive lovebugs. Adopting a dog of any sort is a commendable step towards reducing the number of unwanted puppies and dogs in the world, and with a bit of patience adopting a Great Dane can result in an amazing addition to your home.

Why Adopt?

great dane puppy running on grass
An adorable great Dane puppy runs towards viewer in a field

Every year, more than one million adoptable dogs and cats are euthanized in the United States. There are numerous reasons for this, but one that directly implicates prospective dog owners is that too few people consider adoption when they decide to bring a pet into their home. However, adoption can be a wonderful way of finding your new best friend, particularly if you are looking for a more affordable option. Additionally, the money spent on an adoption fee goes towards assisting other unwanted pets in finding their forever homes.

Shelters can also help pair you with your ideal companion if you’re flexible on the breed. Many people are sure that they want a certain breed, but shelters truly give you the full range of possibilities.

Adopting is also a way of bringing a third party into the process who can make you feel confident in your choice of companion. Organizations are committed to seeing their dogs placed in forever homes and are rigorous about ensuring that prospective owners are thoroughly prepared for life with a new canine companion. To that end, they can also offer advice and recommendations regarding how to navigate the specific quirks of their dogs, as well as broader-picture insight on the breed you’re interested in. 

Considerations when adopting a Great Dane

great dane puppy chewing on toy
puppy great dane in front of white background

One of the most important aspects for anyone to consider when deciding whether or not to bring a Great Dane into their lives is the financial. Great Danes do not live for very long (on average, only seven to ten years), but in their short time on Earth, they consume an average of 2,500 calories per day as adults, which adds up to be $100 of food per month.

If you’ve assessed your finances and feel confident in being able to meet the financial needs of the breed known as the “Apollo of dogs,” the next step in adopting a Great Dane is to conduct background knowledge of the breed. Maybe you have a friend who has one, or maybe you’ve always wanted one, but a mix of firsthand testimonies and advice, independent research, and professional consultation with veterinarians or Great Dane rescues can prepare you for the specific needs associated with bringing a Great Dane into your life.

While you may have your heart set on adopting a Great Dane puppy, when it comes to adoption, it’s best to be flexible. Working with a certified organization that rescues and finds home for unwanted Great Danes will ensure that a third party can stay clear-eyed about who the best fit for their animal truly is. Additionally, it is quite rare for rescues to have Great Dane puppies. The reason for this is that most Danes are surrendered as adults, often because people fall in love with the idea of a breed without considering the realities of raising a large puppy that will become a massive dog.

Thus, while Great Danes as a breed are typically known for certain things such as being good with children or being calm, many may find themselves at a shelter through poor socialization or obedience training, which manifests in inappropriate behaviors such as fear-based aggression or shyness. Owners looking to adopt a Great Dane should be openminded to the fact that while there are certain qualities that the breed is bred for, environment plays a large role in shaping individual Danes, so adopting a Great Dane will likely come with certain information that may conflict with your base knowledge about the breed.

Benefits of adopting a Great Dane mix

great dane mix whit its family

While rescues specializing in Great Danes can be wonderful resources for owners determined to own a purebred on a budget while also doing a good deed, giant breed dogs can often be found mixed into the genetic makeup of many large and giant breed mixes found at standard animal shelters. In fact, large and giant breed dogs at animal shelters are often some of the most challenging to get adopted due to the animal’s size, so shelters will likely be extremely interested in meeting with someone who has an interest in and experience with dogs that may be mixed with Great Danes.

That being said, be prepared to explain why you’re interested in Great Dane mixes or giant breeds in particular. It is often the case that large or giant breeds end up in shelters because their owners were ill-equipped to properly raise them, and this can make shelter workers extremely protective of these large dogs. So, come prepared! Ideally, you have experience in raising or living with large or giant breeds before, but don’t be discouraged if you don’t. Most shelters and rescues just want to know that you’re committed to adopting an animal for life, and doing your homework by researching in order to know exactly what you’re in for when you say you want a Great Dane will go a long way towards easing the minds of shelter workers whose first priority is that their animals go to loving and forever homes.

In the United States, we tend to have a “customer is always right” mindset, but this should be suspended when discussing the best fit dog for you at a shelter. The reality is that sometimes, when it comes to adoption, you’re not the best fit for the dog you want. In these cases, the shelter or rescue will gently point this out to you and suggest an alternative –perhaps a different dog, or to even consider a different breed.

Adopting a Great Dane guide

Depending on where you live, you may have more or fewer choices with regard to from whom you adopt your Great Dane. However, official rescues dedicated to Great Danes will all have certain qualities in common, and it’s important to know what to look for.

For starters, organizations that will be specifically dedicated to one breed are called rescues. At shelters, you may be able to find the type of breed you’re looking for, but it’s much more likely that you’ll be working with mutts of multiple backgrounds with regard to breed. Fortunately, many Great Dane rescues exist throughout the United States.

Rescues often provide specific intake services such as placing their surrendered animals in foster homes (in fact, many rescues operate on a foster basis). A foster home is a temporary home for an animal that is available for adoption. Animals in foster care are often much better prepared to adjust to life with a prospective adopter for numerous reasons. For one, fosters are able to learn much more about an animal than shelter workers, who are limited to their interactions with dogs in the shelter environment. Unfortunately, many shelters elicit negative characteristic displays in dogs, ranging from shyness to aggression, and much is often uncertain with regard to how they will adjust to life in a proper home.

In both shelters and rescues, dogs available for adoption undergo a series of medical evaluations. They are also altered, meaning that males are neutered and females are spayed, thereby preventing the possibility of unwanted puppies in the future.

Great Dane rescues operated with the help of foster families will provide the most insight into how compatible you and your prospective Great Dane truly are. Most rescues will request an application (typically requiring an upfront, nonrefundable fee, which goes towards the rescue’s operating costs) and there will be multiple appointments before a final decision is made regarding the Great Dane. When filling out your application, don’t skimp on detail. Putting effort into every interaction you have with a rescue is the best way to communicate that you are serious about adoption and committed to providing the best possible home to an available Great Dane.  

At least one of these visits will involve a home inspection, and most interactions will center on both your ability to provide for the Great Dane as well as your suitability to own a Great Dane in general. Again, research here is critical! Imagine if you were in charge of an animal and someone came along wanting to take that animal off your hands –you would probably have a lot of questions too.

The adoption process can take several weeks, but prospective adopters should be heartened by the fact that these rescues are so committed to seeing their dogs go to homes that are able to provide for Great Danes.

After you’ve been approved as an adopter, there will be paperwork to sign, a final adoption fee to pay (usually around $200 or $300), and then, of course, final preparations for bringing your Great Dane home. Many rescues will also request or even require follow up calls and or visits to ensure that everything is going okay between you and your new family member. They will also remain available to you as a resource regarding any questions you may have.

Established Great Dane rescues in the United States

East Coast

Mid-Atlantic Great Dane Rescue League, Inc. (MAGDRLI) – Mid-Atlantic

  • Mission statement: “MAGDRL is staffed completely by volunteers. Like all humane groups, MAGDRL is in the unique position of helping both humans and pets. In our case, the pets are Great Danes and mixed Dane dogs, and the people are those who have or want the companionship of the breed or, often, just dogs in general.”
  • Website: About Us – The Mid-Atlantic Great Dane Rescue League, Inc. (

Great Dane Rescue of New England

Mission statement: “Great Dane Rescue of New England, Incorporated is a diverse, volunteer group of experienced Great Dane owners who united in March 2013 to more effectively assist Great Danes in need, as well as the families who surrender, foster and adopt them. GDRNE is tax-exempt, 501(c)(3) charitable organization under of the Internal Revenue Code.”

Website: Great Dane Rescue of New England | United States, gdrne


Northwest Florida Great Dane Rescue, Inc. (NWFLGDR) – Florida

  • Mission statement: “Based in Pensacola, Fla., NWFLGDR’s mission is to help with the rehoming of displaced Great Danes throughout the Southeast.”
  • Website: Home | Nwflgdr

Waters Edge Great Dane Rescue, INC.

Mission statement: “Our mission as a rescue organization is to take in Great Danes that have come from less then ideal situations. We rescue and rehabilitate abandoned, abused and neglected Great Danes. WEGDR vets these Danes, provides a loving and stable home and finds them a qualified forever home to live out the rest of their life. We also provide education to the public about the Great Dane breed and about responsible pet ownership.”

Website: Home | wegdr (


Great Dane Rescue, Inc

  • Mission statement: “Great Dane Rescue, Inc. is a non-profit 501 (c)(3) group dedicated to the rehoming of relinquished Great Danes, serving Michigan, Indiana, Ohio, Illinois, and Ontario, Canada.”

Upper Midwest Great Dane Rescue (UMGDR) – Minnesota

The Great Dane Rescue and Sanctuary

  • Mission statement: “The Great Dane Rescue of Minnesota & Wisconsin is an all-volunteer rescue devoted to rehoming Great Danes in MN & WI, with an on-site sanctuary for unadoptable Danes to live out their lives.”
  • Website: Home – (


Rocky Mountain Great Dane Rescue (RMGDRI) – Colorado

Mission statement: “Rocky Mountain rescues, rehabilitates, and rehomes Great Danes in Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska, Utah, Wyoming, Idaho, Montana, New Mexico, Arizona, Oklahoma, Iowa, Missouri, and South Dakota.”

Website: Rocky Mountain Great Dane Rescue |Rescuing Great Danes (


North West Great Dane Rescue (NWGDR) – Washington


White Kisses Great Dane Rescue

  • Mission Statement: “White Kisses Great Dane Rescue is a foster-based rescue. We are not a facility. We service all of Texas as well as surrounding states, and we adopt throughout the U.S. and Canada. Our dogs are currently fostered in Lubbock, Dallas/ Fort Worth, Houston, Texarkana, San Angelo, Austin, East Texas and Shreveport.”
  • Website: HOME | whitekissesgdr (

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