Why Do Great Danes Lean? 

By Britt Kascjak

The Great Dane may be a large dog, but they are well-known for their gentle and affectionate personalities.

But, the way that they ask for this affection is what they may be best known for. Any Great Dane lover recognizes the Great Dane lean.

This occurs when your Great Dane walks over to you and gently leans against your side.

Where does this behavior come from? Why is this so common with this breed?

There are several explanations for your Great Dane leaning in this way.

Looking for Attention

The most common reason why Great Danes lean is simply that they want attention.

This is a breed that loves to be close to its people at all times. When they lean against you, it’s almost like a Great Dane hug.

They are showing you affection and asking for some love in return.

Of course, this is a behavior that you may not want to encourage. Especially if you have children in the house.

As gentle as your dog may be, the weight of a Great Dane is more than most young children can stand up to.

They could easily not kids over causing unintentional injuries.

One way that you can address this is to encourage your do to lay down before offering any praise. This will help him recognize that laying down is how you’d prefer that he ask.

Remember, his end goal is physical attention. So, make sure to give him the love he desires.

Feeling Anxious or Nervous

If you are entering into a new or different situation, your Great Dane may be leaning on you for reassurance.

Closely bonded with their people, Great Danes view you as “safe”.

When they face something new they are unsure of, leaning against you is a reminder to them that you are there.

At the same time, they are letting you know that they aren’t comfortable in the situation. This is a form of communication.

This can even happen in the safety of their own home if someone new comes to visit.

You can address this behavior by building your Great Dane’s confidence through socialization. Visit new places, experience new situations, and offer plenty of encouragement.

Protecting Their “People”

Another reaction to new or uncomfortable situations, your Great Dane may not be worried about himself. This could be an effort to protect you.

This response is more common when around new people or unfamiliar dogs.

By leaning against you, your Great Dane is letting others know that they are there. They are warning that they will protect you if it comes down to it.

This is far less common than the other options. Great Danes are not the most protective breed. In fact, they are often the ones afraid.

Illness or Feeling Ill

If your Great Dane isn’t feeling well, they may be trying to communicate that to you.

Leaning against you could also be to support them when feeling off.

For example, ear infections can cause a loss of balance, making it harder to stand up on their own.

He may also be feeling weak or experiencing pain in one of his paws.

Watch for other signs of illness and contact your veterinarian if you have reason to suspect something is off.

Photo of author
Britt Kascjak
Britt Kascjak has been active in the animal rescue community for over 15 years, volunteering, fostering, and advocating for organizations across Canada and the US. Her ‘pack’ includes her husband John, their 3 dogs – Daviana, Indiana, and Lucifer – and their 2 cats – Pippen and Jinx.