Before making the decision to purchase a Great Dane, ask yourself the following questions:
- The Great Dane is a giant breed that takes up more room in the house, needs an appropriate sized car to ride in safely and will cost considerably more to maintain than a small breed. Have you taken all this into consideration?
- A Great Dane, especially a rambunctious puppy, can knock down a small child in play. A Great Dane must never be left unsupervised with small children.
- A Great Dane can be very destructive to your furniture, woodwork, garden, and personal belongings. Are you prepared to deal with this?
- Big dogs have big medical expenses and require the same amount of medicine as an adult person. Are you prepared to purchase canine health insurance or face huge bills in the event of a health emergency?
- A Great Dane MUST be obedience trained to obtain control. Are you willing to put in the time and effort to train your dog properly?
- The Great Dane is a sociable, friendly breed. Great Danes needs to have human contact, affection, regular socialization with other people and animals, and firm, consistent training. Are you ready to provide this?
- Great Danes require exercise appropriate to their age. Many do not “self-exercise.” Are you committed to providing proper exercise in all types of weather?
- Great Danes have good noses and many have a “stubborn streak.” When not on a leash, they need a fenced yard or they may “follow their noses.” Can you commit to putting up a sturdy, appropriate fence?
- Great Danes can be excellent companions for almost any activity you wish to pursue including jogging, but you *must* wait until after your pup is two years old to avoid damage to growing joints. If you are looking for a puppy, are you willing to wait for it to grow up?
Unless you can answer yes to ALL the above questions, then a Great Dane is not the dog for you.
HOW TO FIND A “GREAT” GREAT DANE
The best place to obtain a well-bred Great Dane is from a reputable breeder. The key here is “reputable”. At all costs, avoid backyard breeders, on-line brokers and puppy mills, who work with poor quality bloodlines which may be genetically prone to a host of health problems. White Great Danes may be deaf or blind and ‘designer’ colors are usually bred by back yard breeders with no regard to quality or health. Backyard breeders and puppy mills are only interested in making a profit, frequently advertising in local newspapers or selling entire litters to pet stores for resale.
HOW TO IDENTIFY A REPUTABLE BREEDER
- Are usually members of The Great Dane Club of America or one of its affiliate clubs and believe in working towards improving the conformation and performance of the Great Dane. GDCA and Affiliate Club members are guided by a Code of Ethics and do appropriate health testing before breeding. Recommended health testing for Great Danes includes hips (OFA or PennHip), OFA Cardio, OFA Thyroid, and eye certification (CERF). You can go to the OFA website (www.offa.org) to review the health testing on the sire and dam of your proposed puppy. Be sure to ask about health issues in the pedigrees of the sire and dam.
- Ask many questions of prospective owners in order to insure that their puppy is going to a good home.
- Unless other arrangements are made, almost always require a spay/neuter agreement and/or limited AKC registration for pets.
- Are usually involved in showing their dogs in conformation competition, obedience, agility, rally, tracking or other companion events.
- Wish to be contacted if for any reason a puppy they bred must be placed in a new home.
Finding a Reputable Breeder
- Contact the Great Dane Club of America, Inc., or local Great Dane affiliate club and request names of breeders. You may not always find someone in your local area.
- Attend dog shows and talk to breeders, handlers and other owners who may be able to give you referrals on obtaining a puppy.
- Ask your local dog-training center if they can recommend a local breeder.
- The American Kennel Club (AKC) http://www.akc.org/
5580 Centerview Drive Suite 200
Raleigh, NC 27605-3390
919-233-9767 or 800-252-5545
- The Great Dane Club of America http://gdca.org,
click on “Organization”, then either “Officers” or “Chairpersons” for contacts. For Breeders click on “Great Dane”, “Breeding”, then “Breeders List”.
Once you have decided that the Great Dane is the right breed for you and you have located a reputable breeder who has puppies available, the next step may be receiving a set of photos in the mail or by email or an invitation to visit the puppies. Although some breeders let buyers choose a puppy, many breeders match the personalities of the puppies with the personalities and lifestyles of the buyers. It is not unusual for the breeder to select the puppy for you.
Questions a Breeder May Ask
Have you ever owned dogs before and specifically a Great Dane?
Familiarity with dogs insures a higher success rate in placing a puppy in a new home. It is a particular “plus” if a prospective buyer has had the experience of owning a unique breed like the Great Dane.
- Why do you want a Great Dane?
It is important to determine if a giant dog like the Great Dane will be the right choice for a new buyer. This is a breed that matures slowly, but will be very large at maturity. It’s important for the buyer to be fully aware of this, since “he got too big” is one of the reasons Great Danes end up in rescue.
- Do you have an enclosed or fenced in backyard?
The dominant sense of all dogs is the nose, which gives them the tendency to roam. They may become injured or lost. The large size of the breed makes some people over-react to a dog this size. Chaining a Dane (or any breed) to an outdoor doghouse or tree is inhumane and can result in serious injury or death.
- Where will your new puppy live?
The friendly, affectionate nature of the Dane and the fact that this breed craves the companionship of other animals and people means that it will be happiest in the house where it can be cared for by a loving family.
- How long will the puppy be alone?
Breeders are reluctant to place a Great Dane puppy in a home where it will be alone for excessively long periods. Even the companionship of another dog or cat will go a long way in providing companionship for a new dog. The affectionate Great Dane does not do well by itself for extended periods.
- Are you willing to spay or neuter a pet Great Dane?
Spaying or neutering is usually required by responsible breeders who do not want their valuable bloodlines be used by novice and backyard breeders.
- Can you afford not only the purchase price of this pet but also the maintenance? New owners need to be aware of how much it costs to keep their pet well cared for and healthy.
- Is the decision to purchase a Great Dane a unanimous one in your family?
Danes who go into a family situation where not everyone wants this unique breed may start out with a couple of strikes against them.
- May I visit your home or have a friend visit?
Breeders may want to come to your home to see for themselves where their puppy will live, or, if they live some distance from you, they may ask another breeder to do this for them.
- Who is your vet?
The breeder will want to know that you have a reliable source of veterinary care for your Dane and may want to speak with him or her. You will need to find a veterinarian who has experience with large breed dogs.
Questions to Ask a Breeder
- How long have you been breeding AKC Great Danes?
Good breeders have usually been involved with Great Danes and showing their dogs for a minimum of 3 or 4 years.
- Do you belong to the Great Dane Club of America or an Affiliate Great Dane Club?
Membership in these clubs involves working within a code of ethics that gives greater credibility to a breeder. Some unscrupulous people have been known to claim false membership in clubs so you want to verify such memberships.
- What type of activities do your dogs participate in?
A majority of breeders are involved in conformation competition. This would indicate that their Danes are probably good physical representations of the breed. Other breeders may participate in obedience, tracking or other companion competitions.
- What type of health problems do you see in your Great Danes?
Virtually every breeder who has been involved with any breed will encounter some health problems from time to time, so beware the breeder who says he/she has never seen any problems. Refer to the section on Health to familiarize yourself with some of the common health problems in the Great Dane. Ask what types of health testing the sire and dam have had.
- Do you have any puppies available, and if not, when do you plan another litter?
In some parts of the country, there is frequently a shortage of Great Dane puppies. Some breeders receive up to 8 or 9 calls a week for pet puppies with no litters being anticipated for perhaps another 6 months or longer. The majority of breeders will put your name on a waiting list. Other breeders whose lists are full are usually more than willing to refer you to other reputable breeders in the area.
- What kind of warranty do you offer?
Guarantees vary among breeders and are sometimes connected to your agreement to raise your puppy according to the individual contract agreed upon.
- What is the price of the dog?
Pet puppies might be less expensive than show prospects, but many breeders feel they have put equal love, effort, time and money into all puppies in a litter and have the same price for both pet and show puppies. What separates a show potential dog from a companion only may be trivial, therefore, don’t expect to get a “cheap” puppy from a breeder and never request the one who has “something wrong” with it.
- What type of paperwork will the breeder provide?
Reputable breeders will provide a bill of sale, a four generation AKC pedigree, and a contract detailing the conditions of the sale. AKC registration papers will be included unless they simply have not yet arrived back from AKC in the mail. Most reputable breeders will also give you information in writing in the form of articles, pamphlets or even books to help you raise your puppy. All health and diet information will be spelled out in detail here and in conversations with your breeder.
NEVER BUY A GREAT DANE FROM A PET STORE OR AN ON-LINE BROKER
Pet store Great Danes and those from on-line brokers come from backyard breeders and puppy mills. Most likely, you will not know who bred your dog or have anyone to contact if you have questions or a problem. The health of these Danes is generally at risk because they were not bred by knowledgeable breeders devoted to improving the health and appearance of the Great Dane. Pet store puppies are separated from their mothers at too early an age and usually do not have the chance to develop healthy bodies and temperaments. In fact, pet store Danes often become seriously ill and end up costing their owners hundreds and even thousands of dollars in veterinary expenses. Pet stores, puppy mills and on-line brokers do not guarantee the long-term health of a puppy.
Most poorly bred Great Danes are smaller than those from reputable kennels and often lack the majestic head and expression that define the breed. They may, instead, look more like Greyhound or Labrador Retriever mixes. Despite the inferiority of the dogs they sell, pet stores usually charge as much, if not more, than reputable breeders of quality Great Danes do.
No matter how impatient you or your children are to get a Great Dane, it is always better to wait, even a few months or longer, and get one from a good breeder!