TIPS FOR CHOOSING A GREAT DANE PUPPY By Georgia Hymmen (Georgia, thanks for the great article -Beth@MacDanes)
INTRODUCTION Buying a Great Dane should be done in the same manner as you would with any major purchase.....research, compare, ask questions, then make your decision! The person wishing to add a family pet to their household needs and wants a Dane that has a stable temperament, is physically sound, and is healthy. The new Dane owner will also want assistance and support from his breeder and should expect to receive information on care, feeding, and training at time of sale.
It is suggested that the pet home purchase their Dane from a breeder who adheres to the Great Dane Club of America’s “Breeder's Code of Ethics”. This code of ethics has established recommended guidelines for Dane breeders. The pet purchased from an established breeder will most likely be of better quality and well cared for. Established breeders usually have a waiting list for their puppies and breed only on a limited basis.
This pamphlet was prepared to assist you in making a wise choice in your purchase of a Dane puppy.
THE BREEDER A “breeder” is any person who does a breeding between two dogs that produces a litter. There are good breeders and bad breeders, puppy mills and backyard breeders, reputable breeders and not-so-reputable breeders. It’s your decision who to purchase your Dane from. As a generalization, usually a person very active in Great Danes will belong to at least one Dane club. Usually, most people who are active in Danes show either in obedience, conformation, or other canine sports. The Dane community is fairly small and we all know each other. You can always ask for references from the person you are considering purchasing a puppy from.
Is the person knowledgeable? Do they truly love the breed? Are they concerned where their puppies go? Or, do they simply want your money and to end the relationship when the check is cashed? Most breeders take an active interest in their puppies and want to keep in touch with their “puppy people”. Can they answer questions on the breed correctly? Do they represent their stock honestly? Beware of the pet breeder touting puppies as “show quality”~especially if they’ve never shown! Do they discuss the pro’s and con’s of Dane ownership; telling you the bad along with the good?
What are the surroundings like? Are the adult dogs kept clean, well fed, and taken care of? Is the kennel area clean and well built? If there is any question about the care of the adult dogs you can probably assume the puppy care has also been lacking.
What are the adult dogs like? Do they look like Great Danes? How do they act? Do they seem healthy and active? If the adult dogs look to be of questionable parentage or don’t appeal to you, pass the puppies by. If you don’t like the appearance or temperament of the parents, you probably will not be happy with the puppy. Pet puppies out of show stock are going to have a much better appearance than pet puppies out of mediocre or questionable stock. Even if you “just want a pet” you want it to look like a Great Dane!
THE PARENTS I often hear “I only want a pet, not a show dog”. When the purchaser realizes it costs just as much to raise a pet puppy as it does his show littermate, he’ll understand why breeders cringe when they hear that. It somehow infers that the pet puppy isn’t of the same caliber and has received less care and planning. This just isn’t so! First, the parents should be AKC registered. While this is not a guarantee of quality, it is your assurance that the dog is indeed a purebred. Also, I have yet to see a “breeder” producing unregistered dogs that are of any quality or are doing a good job! Both parents must have their AKC registration papers in order before breeding or the puppies will not be eligible for registration.
The parents should be good examples of a Dane-meaning they should look like the breed they are representing! A few generations of poor quality breeding soon results in dogs than barely resemble the breed they’re supposed to be. Parents should be a “normal” color (no white dogs with fawn spots!) and should have good, stable temperaments.
Concerned breeders also do a battery of pre-breeding health exams and tests. These tests are done to make sure the parents are not passing on any hereditary diseases to their puppies. At the very least, all breeding stock must have their hips x-rayed and OFA certified against hip dysplasia. While this crippling disease of the hip joint can be environmentally caused, it definitely has a hereditary factor. Breeders with high standards also check eyes against defects, test for normal thyroid, test for a bleeding disorder, and several other things. All breeding stock should also have a routine health check. Bitches should be current on vaccines as they will pass immunity on to their puppies. They should also be parasite free. Both parents should be tested negative against brucellosis, a canine venereal disease. Better breeders will guarantee against certain health problems.
THE PUPPIES Dane puppies should be happy and healthy. NEVER purchase a puppy that is shy or fearful. Properly raised puppies are “house raised” and have received plenty of socialization. Garage or kennel raised puppies often lack in proper socialization. When making a sudden noise such as clapping, most puppies will stop, then come to investigate the sound. If the puppies skitter off into hiding, avoid the litter. Those puppies will have a hard time making good pets. Older puppies should receive plenty of individual human attention. Avoid older puppies that have been in a “pack” for some time and have not had any training or socialization. The puppy should be kept as clean as possible. Puppies raised in dirty surroundings are often hard to housebreak.
A puppy should not be allowed to leave the litter until 7 weeks of age.
Better breeders make sure their puppies have the proper vaccines and wormings for their age before they go into new homes. Any puppy 7 weeks of age or older should have at least one vaccine and have been wormed twice. Again, better breeders will also provide the cropping as part of the price.
At time of sale, you should expect to receive the AKC registration, pedigree, information on diet and medical records, and know what, if any, guarantees your breeder is offering.
Don’t hesitate to ask for references; any established Dane person will be happy to provide them. Don’t hesitate to make the sale contingent upon a clear health check from a veterinarian. Always get any contracts or agreements in writing.
Be comfortable with the person you are buying your puppy from. You should feel they are honest, have the best interest of the breed at heart, and take pride in raising happy, healthy puppies.
Remember, a dog is for life!
WHAT DOES IT MEAN? AKC Registered The puppy is eligible for registration with the American Kennel Club. Only puppies with AKC or CKC registered parents can be registered. AKC registration is not a guarantee of quality; only that the dog is a purebred. Champion Means the dog has fulfilled the requirements set by the AKC to receive a Championship award. Usually means the dog is a quality animal.
CKC Registered The puppy is eligible for registration with the Canadian Kennel Club. Only puppies with AKC or CKC parents can be registered.
OFA Stands for Orthopedic Foundation for Animals. Consists of a panel of veterinarians who read hip x-rays of adult animals and rate them. X-Ray Clear Means the dog had his hips x-rayed but they were not certified by the OFA.
CERF Means the dog has had his eyes certified against eye defects.
REMEMBER! Ask for references if you have any questions about the breeder. Make the sale contingent upon a clear health check from a veterinarian.
Get any agreements or guarantees in writing.
Be sure the dogs are honestly represented.
Great Dane Facts ~Great Danes come in six recognized colors; fawn, brindle, black, blue, harlequin and mantle. Any other color is a mismark. There are no such thing as “rare” colors in Danes. ~The average lifespan is between 7 to 10 years of age. ~A Great Dane makes a good pet for the home wanting a large, short-haired indoor breed. The breed is very people- oriented. ~The breed was originally developed to hunt wild boar and to be an estate dog. Cropping originated to prevent the shredding of ears during the boar hunt. ~A male will eat about 10 to 12 cups of dry food a day. A female will eat about 8 to 10 cups ~Puppies should be fed low protein food.