4 min read


Why Do Great Danes Shiver



4 min read


Why Do Great Danes Shiver




Seeing your dog shiver is never a pretty sight especially if he tends to do it more frequently than usual. If you have witnessed your own beloved companion shaking, you’re probably wondering what could be causing his reaction and what can you do to stop it. Great Danes are known to be susceptible to a variety of illnesses and health problems. Shivering is one symptom that you shouldn’t ignore, as it could lead to an underlying medical condition such as bone or kidney disease or Generalized Tremor Syndrome. But shivering doesn’t always indicate a serious health problem. Your Great Dane may very well be shivering because he is cold or better yet… overly excited. 

The Root of the Behavior

There are many things that can cause a dog to shiver. From experiencing cold temperatures during winter to being afraid of an approaching storm, dogs shake and tremble for all kinds of reasons. Even though smaller breeds are more susceptible to cold, large breed dogs with thick coats can also get shivery when they’re outside during the colder months, especially if their coat gets wet. A few of the more common causes of shivering in dogs may also relate to distemper, nausea, poisoning, old age or pure excitement. Great Danes are known for their health problems and short lifespan, which normally include conditions such as Addison's disease, bloat-gastric torsion, hip dysplasia, hypothyroidism, cardiomyopathy, Wobblers syndrome, or panosteitis. Primary Orthostatic Tremor in Great Danes (OT) is a neurologic disease that causes tremors which are visible only when the dog is standing. It typically begins in the lower parts of the legs, but can also involve the muscles of the head and face. 

These tremors become apparent at a young age and are unique, in the sense that you’ll notice your pup being reluctant to lie down. To differentiate the OT shiver from other types of tremors, you should know that the tremors that are characteristic to this disease completely disappear when the dog walks, runs, leans against an object, or lies down. Great Danes who suffer from Wobblers disease, Addison’s disease, and cerebellar diseases can incur similar symptoms, which is why Primary OT has been previously mistaken as one of the latter. Although a lot of these conditions can be inherited, Great Danes can also suffer from improper nutrition, poor breeding practices, and owner neglect. Which is why it’s very important to maintain their physical and mental state in the best condition possible. Providing the proper balance of exercise combined with adequate socialization can do wonders for your Dane.

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Encouraging the Behavior

While your dog may experience shivers now and again, you should consult your vet when you see symptoms such as reluctance to lie down or trembling accompanied by listlessness, lip-smacking, vomiting, weakness, disorientation, drooling, and so on. It’s possible that the shivers he’s experienced are caused by food poisoning or even seizure disorders. As Great Danes are prone to developing a series of health-related issues, you should consider taking them to the vet for a full examination. With an early diagnosis, a lot of these diseases are treatable and can be avoided with proper medical attention. 

Your vet can run blood tests, radiographic examinations, spinal fluid analysis, and even MRI examinations of the brain to ensure a correct diagnosis. There are also plenty of dog medicines and supplements that can help with your Great Dane's joint health. If your vet suspects the presence of Primary OT, he can perform several tests to support the diagnosis, such as observing if the tremors persist as your dog lies down or applying a stethoscope to a tremoring muscle. For more certainty, the vet may also suggest an (EMG) examination, which is offered by most veterinary neurologists and is based on a characteristic tremor pattern observed in this type of condition.

Other Solutions and Considerations

Despite all the gloom and doom, Great Danes can live a good, healthy life by following a proper diet and a balanced physical exercise regime. If you provide him with the right nutrition and veterinary care, you will have less to worry about in the future. Veterinarians who diagnose an illness in time can manage the symptoms through various medications and treatments. Furthermore, exercise will keep him lean and healthy, as long as you make sure you don’t overdo it. Giant breeds such as the Great Dane have soft growing bones, joints, and ligaments, which can become over-stressed and damaged through rough physical stimulation.


Great Danes are a very sociable breed who love to spend time with children, although they may be intimidating due to their large, confident stature. They can also develop a lot of health-related issues, causing their bodies to react with symptoms such as shivering, depression, coughing, fever, and so on. If you want to keep your Great Dane as healthy and happy as possible, be aware of all the symptoms that accompany these issues and take better care of him through proper nutrition and a balanced physical regime.

By a Amstaff lover Marieta Murg

Published: 05/03/2018, edited: 01/30/2020

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