What Is Knuckling in Great Danes?

What is Great Dane Knuckling, and How Do I Watch for It?

If you’re unfamiliar with the term knuckling, you’re not alone. This is a term often used about Great Dane puppies, and you might wonder just what this term means if you’ve never had one of these dogs before.

What is knuckling in Great Danes?

This term describes a condition where Great Dane puppies have bowed or swollen feet caused by collapse under the puppy’s weight. Although puppies often appear to have severe swelling, it is not necessarily knuckling.

Knowing the difference between knuckling and normal knees in a Great Dane helps understand more about this condition.

Do Great Danes Have Knobby Knees?

You’re more likely to notice large knees in Great Dane puppies. Some of the traits that are common in puppies and young dogs include:

  • Knobby knees
  • Tight knuckles
  • Large arms
  • Big feet

One thing that surprises many Dane owners is how large the bump above their dog’s ankle appears. Sometimes, this bump is so big that owners think their puppy has to knuckle. However, this is nothing to be alarmed about by itself.

What Are Some Orthopedic Issues my Great Dane Puppy May Have?

Large growth plates are very common in Great Dane puppies. However, veterinarians will customarily recommend monitoring to stay on top of any problems.

If your puppy’s growth plates are swelling excessively and obviously in pain, these signs warrant a trip to the vet.

Some of the symptoms of excessively swollen growth plates include:

  • A strange gait while walking
  • Chewing the feet or legs
  • Whining
  • Wobbling
  • Lameness
  • Weakness

Another sign to watch for is your puppy’s feet turning out or appearing flat. When you see any of these signs, it is good to consult with your veterinarian.

Great Danes can be subject to growth disorders of varying severity. If a puppy has an injured growth plate, this may lead to swelling and permanent damage. Too much running or strenuous activity at a young age can cause such problems.

Panosteitis is another condition that can cause swelling and pain. This is also known as growing pains and is something your dog should grow out of with age.

Hypertrophic Osteodystrophy is the most severe of the conditions that can affect Great Dane puppies. This disorder is painful and also causes extreme swelling in the joints.

What Does Knuckling in Great Danes Look Like?

One of the most apparent signs of knuckling in Great Danes is legs that bow outward, with varying severity. The puppy might appear to struggle with supporting his weight.

Another name for knuckling is Carpal Laxity Syndrome. Puppies with these symptoms benefit the most from seeing vets specializing in orthopedic issues.

Sometimes owners aren’t as inclined to take knuckling seriously if the symptoms seem mild. However, this is a severe mistake because mild cases will worsen over time without the proper attention.

Why Do Giant Breeds Like Great Danes Get Knuckling?

The exact cause of knuckling in Great Danes is not entirely known. However, any leg problems in this breed are serious, requiring prompt attention.

Many experts believe that knuckling has dietary origins. An imbalance of essential vitamins and minerals may lead to knuckling and similar problems. For example, giving a puppy nutrient-poor food may impact his growth.

High-quality puppy kibble with balanced phosphorus and calcium levels will help contribute to healthy bone growth in your puppy. Ideally, the type of food you select should be large or giant breed-specific for the best results.

Can Breeding Quality Contribute to Knuckling in Great Danes?

Many Great Danes have knuckling because of unsound needing practices. For example, breeding dogs known to have knuckling or poor foot structure is likely to result in these issues being present in their offspring.

Even if puppies don’t descend from lines with known knuckling, the conditions that the puppies grow up in may contribute to later knuckling. The conditions that the puppies live in early in life help lay essential foundations for overall health.

For example, puppies kept in areas with hard surfaces, like kennels, are more likely to have joint problems. Puppies should primarily live indoors and have access to a yard. One of the worst floor surfaces for growing puppies is hard concrete.

Another contributor is when a breeder feeds the puppies a poor-quality diet. Some breeders like to cut costs by providing low-quality food. However, many of the foods with low quality offer little benefit for the dogs that consume them.

How is Knuckling in Great Danes Treated?

The most important thing to remember is that your Great Dane will require veterinary treatment if you are to get a handle on your dog’s health. You may want to consider a veterinarian specializing in giant breeds if available in your area.

A refreshing piece of information you will appreciate knowing is that there are lifestyle and other non-medical changes you can make. Although you may have to wait to see results from these changes, they should help give you peace of mind.

What Are the Proper Nutrition Ratios to Stop Knuckling in Great Danes?

When you want to stop knuckling in Great Danes, the calcium and phosphorus levels are the most important. Calcium should measure at or below 1.4%, while phosphorus should be 1.3% or below for maximum benefit.

Ideal fat levels for foods Great Dane puppies eat are 20% or below, while protein should be 30% or down. This is a substantial benefit if the food you want to give your puppy has been used in food trials.

Do Any Supplements Help with Knuckling in Great Danes?

Supplements may play a crucial role in addressing knuckling in Great Danes. When you add joint supplements to your dog’s diet, you proactively manage your dog’s health.

Some of the most helpful supplements that can help address knuckling include:

  • Fatty Acids – Fatty acids, including cod and salmon oil, contain Omega-3 and Omega-6, both of which help alleviate joint stiffness
  • Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM) – MSM helps rebuild connective tissue, which is essential to maintaining proper joint health
  • Magnesium – This essential mineral helps strengthen bones, as well as regenerate muscle tissue to help relieve excess weight on the joints
  • Sodium Chondroitin Sulfate – A naturally-occurring chemical, this supplement can prevent cartilage breakdown for better overall bone health.
  • Glucosamine Hydrochloride – This compound helps maintain joint functionality, relieve pain, and prevent wear and tear on the joints

One of the most important things to remember is to follow the dosage instructions when giving your dog supplements. Although these supplements are helpful, too many of some supplements can cause or worsen certain health conditions.

What Role Does Nail-Trimming Play in Knuckling in Great Danes?

Nail trims, as well as paw care, make it easier to provide relief for the discomfort that dogs often feel as a result of knuckling. Caring for your dog’s paws and nails also helps keep your dog more mobile.

Keeping your dog’s nails trimmed monthly will help keep his mobility intact. Your dog’s nails should, ideally, reach just above the ground. When you cut your dog’s nails or have them cut, you’ll want to ensure you don’t neglect the dewclaws.

If you opt to clip your dog’s nails yourself, you’ll want to use high-quality clippers and have styptic powder available if you cut the nails too close, which can happen quite quickly. Smaller, angled cuts will decrease the chance of close cuts.

You’ll want to check in between your dog’s paw pads to ensure there is no gravel or loose peddles that could cause further discomfort. Washing each paw with mild soap and warm water will help prevent bacterial growth.

Inspecting your dog’s paws for any signs of wounds or irritations is essential. Trimming the fur between the pads will help keep everything sanitary. You’ll want to follow up by gently massaging your dog’s feet as a reward for tolerating your care.

Can You Strengthen Your Puppy’s Feet to Prevent Knuckling?

A welcome relief for many Great Dane owners is that there are ways to protect and strengthen their dogs’ feet to help prevent knuckling.

Physical rehabilitation under the guidance of a vet can help dogs with knuckling regain some of their mobility. In an ideal setting, owners would be able to have their dogs seen by a vet that specializes in rehabilitation.

Some of the solutions that vets may use include:

  • Training socks encouraging proper foot placement
  • Patterning, which involves moving the dog’s legs to encourage a proper gait
  • Hydrotherapy, often using an underwater treadmill
  • Cavaletti poles for your dog to step over to improve foot placement

Although Great Danes can have severe problems with knuckling, different types of help for dogs with this condition can restore proper mobility.