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How Many Puppies Do Great Danes Have? Breed Litter Facts & FAQ

Keri-Beth Clur

By Keri-Beth Clur

a great dane mother with her puppy outside

Female Great Danes are large in structure, with a height of around 28–30 inches and a weight of 110–140 pounds, so it’s only normal to assume that they birth an average litter of one to two puppies. However, this is not the case.

As surprising as it is, Great Danes tend to produce more puppies per litter than most other smaller dog breeds, having between 8 and 10 pups. The highest recorded number of puppies in a Great Dane litter was 19! Keep reading to learn more about Great Danes, their pregnancies, and their breeding.

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How Large Are Great Dane Puppies at Birth?

Due to the large size of a Great Dane’s body, their womb is able to grow, accommodate, and nourish a larger number of puppies than smaller dog breeds. Great Dane puppies aren’t born massive and are much smaller than human babies at birth. They usually weigh around 1–2 pounds. However, they develop quickly, and by the time they reach 1 month, they’ll weigh around 8 pounds.

great dane puppy standing on sand
Image Credit: Guy J. Sagi, Shutterstock

At What Age Should a Great Dane Start Having Puppies?

Although smaller dog breeds go on heat from around 4 months old, larger dog breeds, such as the Great Dane, take longer to develop and may only go onto heat for the first time from 12 months. It’s not uncommon for them to only go on heat from 18 months old.

Once a dog goes into heat, they’ve reached sexual maturity and can fall pregnant. However, they’re still growing at this stage, and falling pregnant so early on can cause complications in their pregnancy and nursing. Instead, don’t breed your Great Dane on their first heat, and consider allowing a few more heats to pass before starting the breeding process. It’ll lower pregnancy risks, and your dog will be mature enough to look after her own puppies.

How Long Are Great Danes Pregnant?

Great Danes are pregnant for an average of 63 days or a little over 2 months. It’s impossible to calculate exactly how long your Great Dane will be pregnant because each pregnancy is different. Although your dog may have mated on a particular day, fertilization may have only occurred a few days later, throwing off your expected timeline.

If you’re unsure of whether the mating process was successful and want to be sure your dog has developing puppies in her womb, your vet can do a few tests to find out. Hormone tests, X-rays, palpation, and ultrasound are a few ways to confirm the pregnancy and give you an idea of how large the litter will be.

Other clear signs that your Great Dane is likely pregnant are swollen nipples, weight gain, vomiting, irritability, increased affection, increased appetite, and tiredness. You may even notice nesting behavior later in the pregnancy.

Do Great Danes Require C-Sections?

Although Great Danes often give birth naturally without any complications, many breeders prefer to do a C-section to avoid any risks. Due to the large size of Great Danes, they’re at a higher risk for dystocia.

Dystocia can occur at any time during the labor and birth of your dog’s offspring. It’s important to keep a watch on her and make sure she’s doing well and not showing any signs of stress or pain. Dystocia can refer to any complications with the mother or the puppies and requires vet care. You’ll need to get your Great Dane to the hospital so that she can receive treatment, and the vet may need to do an emergency c-section.

How To Best Care for a Pregnant Great Dane

The best thing you can do to care for your pregnant Great Dane is to take her for vet checkups throughout her pregnancy to ensure everything is developing as it should. Chat with the vet about their thoughts on whether your dog should have a natural birth or a C-section due to the litter size they’re expecting.

At home, you can create a safe, warm, comfortable, and quiet space for your pregnant dog. Make sure that it’s away from your other pets and that it’ll contain the puppies once they’re born. However, your dog should still have the freedom to come and go as needed.

pregnant great dane
Image By: mkzdillon, Shutterstock

What To Expect During Labor

When your pregnant Great Dane goes into labor, it can be both a scary and exciting time. It’s important to monitor her closely throughout every stage to ensure that she’s not encountering birthing complications.

Your dog will likely start to experience contractions a day before they go into labor. You may notice new behavior when as the stages of labor begin, such as scratching at her blankets, a loss of appetite, a drop in temperature, restlessness, excessive panting, and straining. Labor can last anywhere between 3 to 12 hours.

Don’t expect all the puppies to be born at the same time. It’s common for one puppy to be born around 30–60 minutes before the next one is pushed out. Your dog may also stop for periods to take a break at different points throughout the process.

If any birthing complications arise, take her to the vet immediately. Indicators that things aren’t progressing as they should are:

  • Your dog has been pushing for over 15 minutes without any progress
  • She becomes very weak
  • She has green discharge without producing a puppy
  • She hasn’t produced another puppy within 2 hours
  • Labor has surpassed 24 hours
  • She’s in excessive pain

Are Great Dane Puppies Expensive?

Great Dane puppies can be quite costly, especially if you’re purchasing one through a breeder. Where you bought your puppy and the pedigree also play a role in the cost. To find one for a more affordable price, consider looking for a Great Dane at your local animal shelter.

However, it’s important to know that Great Danes are expensive to own too. They require larger beds and other items, which cost more. They also require much more food than smaller dog breeds. Unfortunately, most Great Danes also struggle with many health issues that will require the care and treatment of vets.

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Great Danes can have around 8 to 10 puppies in an average litter. However, they should only start breeding after their first heat when they’re mature enough to look after their puppies. Breeding Great Danes can be an expensive process as they’ll need to have frequent checkups with the vet and may require a c-section as they’re at risk of dystocia. This large breed is gentle and affectionate but is an expensive option to purchase and own.

Featured Image Credit: shanwilbe, Shutterstock

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