Freddy the Great Dane, who held the record for the world’s tallest living dog for four years, has sadly passed away at the age of 8 and a half years old. Freddy, who became something of a superstar when he entered the record books in 2016, has left his owner, Claire Stoneman, devastated at his passing. “He was not just the tallest dog but the dog with the most love and the biggest heart,” she tells the Guinness World Records. With Freddy’s death, the title of the world’s tallest dog is now up for grabs. But is there any other dog out there that can fill his massive shoes?
The Runt of the Litter
Claire Stoneman had always suspected Freddy was a big boy. Like most Great Danes, he towered above other dogs. But even in comparison to other dogs of the same breed, he seemed particularly majestic. How he’d managed to get quite so big was something of a mystery. As a pup, he was tiny (or at least, as tiny as Great Dane’s can get). As the runt of the litter, he got the tiniest share of his mother’s milk. Some days, he barely got any at all, prompting Claire, who lives in Essex in the UK, to take him home several weeks before she’d planned. But once he was liberated from having to compete with his siblings for food, Freddy started to grow. And grow and grow and grow. Pretty soon, Claire realized that she wasn’t dealing with any ordinary dog. By the time he reached maturity, he weighed 210 lbs. According to the Daily Mail, his monthly food bill, which consisted of kibble, minced beef, roast chicken, and treats, added up to as much as £500.
From Runt to Record Breaker
In 2011, the record for the tallest living dog was awarded to Zeus, a Great Dane from Otsego, Michigan. Zeus measured 111.8 cm (44 in) from foot to withers. When Zeus died in 2014, he opened the door for another dog to take the title. For 2 years, none did. And then along came Freddy. By 2014, Claire was convinced her dog was something special. When her vet took a measuring tape to Freddy, he couldn’t help but agree. Determined to see if Freddy had the potential to become a record-breaker, Claire reached out to the Guinness World Records.
Shortly after, the Guinness World Records team visited Claire and Freddy at their home in Leigh-on-Sea in Essex. Over the next few days, they hung out with Freddy, photographing him, playing with him, and generally having a fine old time getting to know the massive Dane. Although Freddy was initially skeptical of their attempts to take a tape measure to him, he eventually calmed down enough to stand patiently by while they took his measurements. And what measurements. Standing on all-fours, Freddy measured a giant 103.5 cm (3 ft 4 in) from foot to withers. When he stood on his hind legs (not a measurement the Guinness World Records use for official purposes, but impressive enough to mention anyway), his height skyrocketed to 226 cm (7 ft 5.5 in).
Freddy the Superstar
When the Guinness World Records announced they’d found the world’s newest tallest dog, Freddy became an overnight sensation. His tale of runt to record-holder captured the public imagination. Soon, he was making headlines all across the world. For Claire, it was business as usual. Having such a big dog may have made her famous, but she had too much work on her hands dealing with Freddy to chase the spotlight. As well as catering to his giant appetite, she also had to organize her daily schedule around his exercise needs. Understandably enough, Freddy’s giant stature could be intimidating to other dogs, making potential new friends far more inclined to run away and hide than come and say hello. The problem was compounded by Freddy’s occasional desire to bound after them. Given his size, Claire stood no chance of controlling him on the leash if he decided to make a run for it. To counter the problem, Claire took to walking him as early as possible in the morning to avoid the risk of bumping into any other dogs. When she wasn’t walking or feeding Freddy, she was shopping for sofas – in his time, Freddy’s massive bulk managed to destroy almost 30 of them.
Old Man Freddy
Four years after Freddy first made the papers as the world’s tallest dog, he was back in them again, this time for a different (albeit related) reason. Not content with being the world’s tallest dog, Freddy was now laying claim to the title of the world’s oldest Great Dane. As The New York Times reports, June 2020 marked Freddy’s 8th birthday. Eight may not seem particularly old to most dogs, but for Great Danes, it is. Big they may be, but Great Danes don’t have the longest lifespans. According to The Happy Puppy Site, Great Danes are one of the shortest-living dog breeds, with a median lifespan of just 6.0 – 6.5 years. Having reached the grand old age of 8 years old, Freddy certainly had cause to celebrate. When the Guinness World Records confirmed he was the oldest Great Dane they had on record, he had even more reason.
RIP, Gentle Giant
On 27 January 2021, Freddy passed away. He had been suffering from health issues in his hind legs (a common problem in giant breeds) that had begun to make walking difficult. Claire was understandably devastated at his passing. “He was not just the tallest dog but the dog with the most love and the biggest heart,” she says. “He was my life. My joy. My happiness and my ultimate sadness. My one in a million and loved by the entire world.” Guinness World Records Editor-in-Chief Craig Glenday echoes her sentiments. Speaking about his recollections of measuring Freddy back in 2016, he recalls: “Freddy was a gentle giant. Measuring this mountain of a dog was unforgettable. I’ll always treasure the occasions I shared a sofa with him – there was just about enough room for the two of us!” “I still can’t believe he was the runt of the litter,” he continues. “Freddy brought a smile to everyone’s face and will be missed.”