Great Dane Service Dog

By: Kathryn Anderson Updated: April 21, 2023

When you think of distinctive dog breeds, Great Danes instantly come to mind. This giant breed is one of the most popular breeds today and for good reason. They towe at about 30 inches tall and can weigh up to a whopping 175 pounds.

What makes the Great Dane breed so great isn’t just their sheer size and weight, though that is definitely enough to make you stop and stare. While they are a very large size, they are absolutely gentle giants of dogs. They are known for their sweet demeanor and friendly personality. They tend to get along with all animals and people, and seem to be adorably unaware of how big they really are, thinking they are small lap dogs.

Known as the gods of the canine kingdom, Great Danes are also fairly easy to train and are very receptive to learning new things. They are eager to please, able to overcome difficulties and limitations, and have great energy levels and strength, both mentally and physically.

All of their excellent personality and physical traits are what makes Great Danes a solid option as a service dog. Service dogs must be intelligent, friendly, of adequate size for their handler’s specific needs, willing to work and gentle. The Great Dane breed ticks all of these boxes and they make some of the best service animals around!

What are Service Dogs?

great dane service dog

The definition of a service dog according to the U.S. Department of Justice as “dogs that are individually trained to do work or perform tasks for people with disabilities.” Basically, a service dog is a trained dog that provides assistance to a person with a disability or impairment. There are many different types of service dogs, each with their own purpose for families or patients with disabilities and limitations, but we will discuss that later.

The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 gave a more specific definition for service dogs: “dogs that are individually trained to do work or perform tasks for people with disabilities. Examples of such work or tasks include guiding people who are blind, alerting people who are deaf, pulling a wheelchair, alerting and protecting a person who is having a seizure, alerting owners to a panic attack, reminding a person with mental illness to take prescribed medications, calming a person with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) during an anxiety attack, or performing other duties.”

Types of Service Dogs

Service dog: A service dog is the most common type of service animal and is the broadest category. A service dog is most often a type of dog that provides assistance with physical disabilities or impairments.

  • Guide dogs: These dogs are also known as seeing-eye-dogs and help people with vision loss navigate the world. A guide dog will help their handler avoid obstacles, open doors, assist them across roads, help with balance and mobility, and much more. This is one of the most common types of service dogs, and was the first recognized type of service animal.
  • Hearing dogs: These trained pups assist their deaf handlers in a world full of noise. They help communicate sounds their handler needs to hear, not through a bark, but through cues such as a nudge or guidance. They alert their owner to important sounds such as fire alarms, doorbells, phones, alarm clocks, the person’s name, etc.
  • Medical alert dogs: These service dogs help owners suffering from seizures or epilepsy prepare for an upcoming episode and keep them safe during it. Another type of service dog under this category is a diabetic assistance dog, who helps alert their owner when their blood sugar is low or can seek medical assistance if necessary.
  • Mobility assistance dogs: A mobility dog is a type of service dog that helps humans with spinal injuries, leg injuries, or any injury that makes walking, standing, or balancing difficult. These are typically larger breed dogs since they provide balance support for their handler. They help their human stay standing, open doors, retrieve items, move around, etc. Dogs under this category often assist with Multiple Sclerosis, Cerebral Palsy, Parkinson’s Disease, etc.

Psychiatric service dog: This special service dog assists people with mental illnesses. They have all the same rights as all the above mentioned service dogs, but undergo specialized psychological training to help with what their owners may need. Examples of the behaviors they learn include reminders of medication, calming their owner down during PTSD episodes with a calming touch, and more. These service dogs help with mental disorders rather than mobility issues. Someone who suffers from depression, anxiety attacks, PTSD or other mental disabilities could greatly benefit from a psychiatric service dog. Veterans are a common recipient of psychological service animals.

Click the below video to learn more about psychiatric service dogs. 

Therapy dog: A therapy dog is not a service dog, but instead a pet pooch that helps provide comfort to people in stressful situations. This is often a hospital or nursing home, but can also be schools, natural disaster sites, etc. There are even different types, such as hearing impairment therapy dogs, school therapy dogs, etc. They undergo specialized training, including passing an American Kennel Club Good Citizen test, then visit anyone who could need comfort. Any and all breeds can become a therapy dog, and they return to their own home each night.

Emotional support animal: An emotional support animal is a companion animal that provides emotional benefits to their owner. They do not undergo any special training, and are not a service animal. Any animal can become an emotional support animal with a doctor’s note, but they do not have the same rights as service dogs or assistance dogs. They may have some house privileges with proper documentation, but it is not guaranteed, as they are simply a pet. They live at home with their owner, help with their emotional needs, and provide emotional strength for their owner.

Emotional Support Dog vs. Psychiatric Service Dog: What’s the Difference?

service dog great dane

While both emotional support dogs and psychiatric service dogs provide emotional and mental support to their owner, only one is a recognized service animal, and that’s a psychiatric service dog. These dogs undergo specialized training and have federally protected rights, such as the right to accompany their owner anywhere, including businesses, schools, non-pet friendly housing, on airplanes, etc. To get a psychiatric service dog, you must be diagnosed with a disability and prescribed a service dog who undergoes vigorous training to support you. They can live in any house, and are not a pet, as they provide service work.

An emotional support dog only requires a letter of recommendation from a doctor. They are a pet who offers mental and emotional benefits to their owner. They can’t accompany their owners in public places, nor do they have access on flights, in schools, etc. and have no federally protected rights. Dogs and cats are the most common types of ESAs, but any animal has the chance to become an ESA with a doctor’s note. Any breed can become an ESA, there are no restrictions as long as you have a doctor’s note.

It is very important to recognize the difference between these two types of dogs. Service dogs wear vests to set themselves apart, as they have a very important job and should be recognized as working dogs. Misrepresenting your puppy or pet as a service dog is common in the United States and is a big problem for service dogs and their handlers. Misbehaved puppies and dogs are making it harder for service dogs to help their owners with their needs in public, such as veterans. Pretending a dog is a service dog is actually illegal in 20+ states across the United States and is very damaging to service dogs’ reputations.

Why Great Danes?

So why consider a Great Dane as your service dog?  Great Danes are obviously a substantial size and weight, which makes them great as mobility assistance dogs. They are strong enough to support their owners’ weight and help individuals with any conditions that may impair their balance or mobility. They are also very friendly, which is a huge preference for service dogs, and should  be taken into account with any breed. They are also very intelligent, making them great for service work for individuals with disabilities such as Cerebral Palsy, Multiple Sclerosis, Parkinson’s Disease, and mental disorders such as PTSD, anxiety, and more.

Great Danes on average weigh between 110 and 150 pounds, and stand around 30 inches tall. They are considered giant dogs and come in many different colors, including black, blue, black, harlequin and fawn.

Great Danes originated in Germany more than 400 years ago. Many people think the Great Dane breed is Danish due to their name, but this is not true. They descended from mastiff-like dogs bred by German nobles. In the 18th century, they were used to protect estates and carriages, and then as hunting dogs to bring down wild boars. They were bred specifically for the size, as Great Danes were appreciated for their giant build in Germany. In 1880, the Germans banned the name “Great Dane” and called the breed “Deutsche Dogge,” meaning German Mastiff, but now the breed is almost always referred to as Great Danes.

It’s hard to imagine Great Danes being hunting dogs now and taking down boars. They are fit dogs, but are most often family dogs or a pet for an individual. They act as permanent puppies with their goofy demeanor, and seem to forget they are huge dogs. They act as the lovers of the house, and love every human and all animals. Great Danes are also popular as service dogs as we mentioned. They can provide mobility support and service work easily in account of their size. Great Danes also have the excellent demeanor to act as a psychiatric service dog for veterans or individuals with mental impairments.

Great Danes are even great therapy dogs as they provide love and comfort to patients or any people naturally. They make themselves at home anywhere they go and are one of the friendliest breeds out there. Think of a Labrador Retriever personality with a huge body, and you have a Great Dane!

Great Danes as Service Dogs

As we’ve mentioned, Great Danes make excellent mobility service dogs due to their size, but there is so much more to the Great Dane breed. Yes, they can act as a crutch and support system physically, but they can also provide great mental help for handlers through their life.

Great Danes have a zest for life, and act as a permanent puppy. They love new environments, all people, and other animals. They make great companions and have relatively simple needs. That’s a big part of becoming a service dog. They don’t require much grooming, and are actually fairly lazy dogs despite their size. They’re energetic enough to love work, and need exercise like any other dog, but their exercise needs are relatively low, which is important to keep in mind for someone with mobility issues. Their weight can be a problem if they ever have to be picked up though, which should be kept in mind.

Great Danes are very receptive to training, both as puppies and adults. They are of average intelligence when it comes to dog breeds, but a Great Dane ranks very high in adaptive training, which is huge for a service dog. They must be able to adapt to any situation and provide help and assistance. They are great problem solvers, even as puppies, and are one of the best breeds at adaptive behavior.

A Great Dane also provides endless love, for both animals and people. They are one of the friendliest breeds around and their size has them commonly referred to as gentle giants. They latch onto individuals, making them very loyal, but are also friendly with everyone else. This is one of the best traits of the Great Dane, you’ll love each other equally.

How to Get a Great Dane Service Dog

great dane as service dog

Are you interested in having a Great Dane service dog? There are many ways to get a Great Dane service dog, so let’s discuss a few routes.

First, you’ll want to make sure you are able to receive a service dog. For a psychiatric service dog, you must consult with a licensed mental health professional. This is the only legitimate way to acquire a service dog. For physical disabilities, you must consult with a doctor in your area.

If they recommend a service dog, the next step is finding a service dog for you. Look at rescues in your local area to see if they have any Great Danes or Great Dane mixes available. Visit in person, call, or email asking volunteers about availability. Great Dane specific rescues are also very common across the United States.

You can also purchase a Great Dane from a breeder or service dog organization. If you adopt one or purchase one from a breeder, you will want to work with a service dog trainer or service dog programs training to make sure your Dane becomes the best assistance dog possible. Great Danes are not commonly bred for the purpose of being a service dog, so finding one from a service dog organization may be a bit more difficult.

Look for reputable breeders that stick to the breeds’ standards. This is the best way to ensure you get a Great Dane that is healthy and has all the characteristics we love about the popular breed. With giant breeds, hip dysplasia and other issues are common, so you’ll want a breeder who makes sure each puppy is bred properly and can support the weight they will carry later on in life.


Now it’s clear to see why Great Danes are such a popular pooch. These animals are gorgeous creatures who thrive in most any environment. They provide an excellent quality of life for anyone with a disability due to their size, loyalty, intelligence and friendliness. A Great Dane makes an excellent life-long companion for anyone.

Are you looking for a psychiatric service dog?

Here at CertaPet, we can help. CertaPet is an online telehealth platform that improves access to mental health care in the U.S. with a focus on providing services to individuals who are seeking animal assisted interventions as part of their treatment plan.

We are currently coordinating with dog trainers who specialize in the service animal space and who will soon work in tandem with our network of licensed mental health professionals to make the process of getting and training a psychiatric service dog affordable, convenient, and hassle-free. We’ll have more information available soon about our Psychiatric Service Dog Training options. In the meantime, you can take our FREE pre-screening below to see if you qualify for a PSD!


Why do Great Danes make such great service dogs?

Great Danes are a good size for people with physical disabilities, have a great temperament, are very friendly, are loyal and able to problem solve very well.

How do I get a psychiatric service dog?

First, you must consult with a mental health professional to see if you qualify. If you are diagnosed with a mental disability, you will begin your search for a dog and begin training

How do I get a Great Dane?

You can adopt a Great Dane from a shelter or Great Dane specific rescue, buy from a reputable breeder, or adopt a Great Dane from a service dog training program.

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