why do great danes lean

Why Do Great Danes Lean? Here’s 6 Reasons

Great Danes, often referred to as “gentle giants,” (1) have always been a subject of fascination for dog enthusiasts. Their majestic stature, coupled with a heartwarming demeanor, makes them stand out in the canine world. But there’s one peculiar behavior that often piques the curiosity of many: their tendency to lean on people.

Why do Great Danes lean? Is it a sign of affection, a call for attention, or something more profound? This article dives deep into understanding this unique behavior, offering insights and explanations that will resonate with every Great Dane lover.

Join us as we unravel the mystery behind the leaning Great Dane, shedding light on the reasons and the significance of this endearing trait.

So, Why Do Great Danes Lean?

Great Danes are known for their unique behavior of leaning on people. While it might seem like a simple act, there are multiple reasons behind this behavior. Let’s explore each of these reasons in detail.

1. Affection and Bonding

Great Danes are inherently affectionate creatures. Their leaning can often be an overt expression of their love and attachment to their human companions.

Expression of love and attachment

When a Great Dane leans on you, it’s their way of showing that they trust you and feel a deep bond. It’s akin to a human hug, a gesture that signifies closeness and warmth.

Seeking attention and closeness

Sometimes, leaning is a Great Dane’s way of asking for attention. They might be feeling left out or just want some quality time with their favorite human. By leaning, they’re making a silent plea for some petting, playtime, or simply your presence.

2. Sense of Security

Despite their imposing size, Great Danes can sometimes feel vulnerable or anxious.

Finding comfort during anxious or scary situations

Loud noises, unfamiliar environments, or the presence of strangers can make a Great Dane anxious. Leaning on their trusted human provides them with a sense of safety, helping them navigate their fears.

Physical contact as a source of reassurance

For a Great Dane, the physical act of leaning and feeling the warmth of their human can be incredibly reassuring. It reminds them that they’re not alone and have someone to rely on.

3. Protective Behavior

Great Danes are loyal and often have a protective streak, especially when it comes to their families.

Guarding loved ones from perceived threats

If a Great Dane senses a potential threat, they might lean on their human as a way of shielding them. It’s their way of saying, “I’ve got your back.”

Signs of protectiveness like growling or barking

While leaning, if a Great Dane also growls or barks, it’s a clear sign that they’re on high alert. They’re not just seeking comfort but are also ready to defend if necessary.

4. Affinity for Certain People

Every Great Dane has its favorites. These are people they’ve formed a special bond with.

Leaning towards trusted individuals

A Great Dane will often lean more towards individuals they have a deep connection with. It’s their way of showing preference and trust.

Display of loyalty and admiration

When a Great Dane leans on someone, it’s also a display of their loyalty and admiration. They’re essentially saying, “You’re special to me.”

5. Physical Exhaustion

After a day of play and exploration, Great Danes can get pretty tired.

Seeking comfort after tiring activities

Post a rigorous play session or a long walk, a Great Dane might lean on you, seeking a comfortable spot to rest or simply to catch their breath.

Desire for cuddles and relaxation

Tiredness also amplifies their desire for cuddles. Leaning can be their way of asking for some downtime, snuggled up beside their favorite human.

6. Health Concerns

Sometimes, the leaning behavior might be indicative of underlying health issues.

Indicators of illnesses like arthritis or hip dysplasia

If a Great Dane leans excessively or seems to favor one side, it might be due to pain or discomfort from conditions like arthritis or hip dysplasia.

Seeking comfort during pain or discomfort

When in pain, Great Danes, like many other animals, seek comfort. Leaning on their human provides them with the warmth and solace they yearn for during such times.

Understanding the Leaning Behavior

The leaning behavior of Great Danes, while intriguing, is rooted in their emotions and physical state. By observing and understanding the nuances of this behavior, owners can foster a deeper bond with their canine companions.

1. Positive Intentions

Great Danes, with their gentle nature, often lean with the purest of intentions, reflecting their emotional state.

Leaning as a sign of happiness and contentment

When a Great Dane leans with a relaxed posture and a calm demeanor, it’s a clear indication of their happiness and contentment. This behavior is their way of sharing their joyous state with their human.

Accompanying behaviors like tail wagging or soft eyes

A wagging tail or soft, relaxed eyes often accompany the leaning behavior when it stems from positive emotions. These signs further emphasize the dog’s content state and their comfort with the person they’re leaning on.

2. Indicators of Underlying Issues

Not all leaning is rooted in positive emotions. Sometimes, it can be a sign of underlying issues that need attention.

Changes in the way a Great Dane leans

If you notice that your Great Dane is leaning differently, perhaps more heavily or favoring one side, it could be an indication of discomfort or a physical issue. Such changes warrant a closer observation to determine the cause.

Accompanying signs of distress or discomfort

A Great Dane leaning while displaying signs of distress, such as whining, restlessness, or panting, might be communicating discomfort or anxiety. It’s vital for owners to recognize these signs early and address any potential issues, ensuring the well-being of their beloved pet.

Managing the Leaning Behavior

While the leaning behavior of Great Danes is endearing to many, it’s essential for owners to manage it effectively. This ensures the safety and comfort of both the dog and the people around them.

1. Training and Redirection

Proper training can help manage and even modify the leaning behavior, making interactions more pleasant for everyone involved.

Encouraging sitting or standing instead of leaning

Training your Great Dane to sit or stand on command can be a useful tool. When you notice them starting to lean, a simple command can redirect the behavior, ensuring they remain well-mannered, especially in public spaces or around guests.

Using positive reinforcement techniques

Rewarding your Great Dane when they choose to sit or stand instead of leaning can reinforce the desired behavior. Treats, praises, or their favorite toy can serve as effective rewards, motivating them to make the right choice.

2. Setting Boundaries

Establishing clear boundaries is vital, especially when it comes to interactions with vulnerable individuals.

Teaching Great Danes not to lean on certain individuals, especially children or the elderly

Due to their size, a leaning Great Dane can unintentionally knock over or intimidate children and the elderly. Training sessions focused on teaching them to recognize and respect personal boundaries can be beneficial.

Ensuring safety for both the dog and people

By setting boundaries, you not only protect people from potential accidents but also safeguard your Great Dane from situations where they might get scared or agitated due to sudden reactions from those they lean on.

3. Health Check-ups

Regular health assessments are paramount in ensuring that the leaning behavior isn’t a result of underlying health issues.

Regular vet visits to rule out medical conditions

Routine check-ups can help identify any health concerns that might be causing discomfort, leading to increased leaning. Early detection can prevent complications and ensure your Great Dane remains in optimal health.

Addressing health issues promptly

If a health issue is identified, timely intervention and treatment are vital. Whether it’s a minor ailment or a more serious condition, prompt care ensures your Great Dane’s comfort and well-being.

Other Curious Behaviors

Great Danes, with their majestic presence and heartwarming personalities, often exhibit behaviors that intrigue and amuse their owners. Beyond leaning, here are some other curious behaviors that are commonly observed in this breed.

Great Danes Sitting on Everything

It’s not uncommon to find a Great Dane choosing the most unexpected spots to sit, be it a small chair, your lap, or even another pet!

Seeking warmth during cold weather

Great Danes have short coats, and during colder months, they might seek out warm spots to sit on. This could be a sunny patch on the floor, a heated blanket, or even your warm lap.

Displaying signs of anxiety or worry

Sometimes, sitting in peculiar places or on certain objects can be a way for them to cope with anxiety or stress. It provides them with a sense of security and comfort.

Indicators of illnesses affecting comfort

If a Great Dane consistently chooses soft or cushioned spots to sit, it might be due to discomfort from health issues. Conditions like arthritis can make hard surfaces uncomfortable for them, prompting them to seek out softer alternatives.

Great Danes and Cuddling

Despite their size, many Great Danes think of themselves as lap dogs and love to cuddle.

Affectionate nature of the breed

Great Danes are known for their affectionate nature. They form deep bonds with their families and often seek physical closeness as a way to express their love.

Importance of reciprocating their need for closeness

When a Great Dane seeks to cuddle, it’s important for owners to reciprocate this affection. This mutual exchange of love and warmth strengthens the bond between the dog and its owner, ensuring a harmonious relationship.


In understanding the unique behaviors of Great Danes, from their endearing leans to their penchant for sitting on just about everything, we gain a deeper appreciation for this majestic breed. Their actions, often rooted in affection, security, and sometimes health concerns, offer a window into their emotional and physical world.

Why do Great Danes lean? It’s a blend of their innate nature, their environment, and their bond with their human companions. As owners and enthusiasts, recognizing and responding to these behaviors ensures a fulfilling and harmonious relationship with these gentle giants.

Embracing their quirks and needs is the key to a lasting bond, making every moment with a Great Dane truly special.

Lean More About Great Danes Here

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