Dane Puppy Buying 101
Is a Great Dane the Right Breed for you at this time in your life?
Great Danes are a wonderful breed, but they simply are not for every family. Far too many people obtain a Great Dane without fully understanding what owning such a large breed entails. Careful research in both the breed--and the breeder--should be done prior to adding such a large dog into the household. Failure to find out about the special traits and requirements of this breed can end up in a poor match between the household and the Dane.
I've listed a few sites that might help you determine if this is the breed for you. If you've never been "up close and personal" to Danes in a household situation prior to adding one to your family, please do so. Just because you like the looks doesn't mean you will like the breed and its care requirements. Many Dane breeders and owners are glad to set up a meet and greet so you can see Danes "up close and personal".
The Great Dane Club of America has a very helpful article detailing questions to ask yourself to see if the Great Dane is the right breed for you, Is a Great Dane right for you. Read the article, you will be glad you did.
Insist on Health Tested Parents
Not a week goes by that I don’t spend several hours talking to a new Great Dane owner who has had a bad experience with their “breeder.” Problems range from lack of breeder support (as in, “Your check has cleared, good-bye.”) to misinformation, to serious health, training and/or temperament issues the breeder will not assist with – or even acknowledge. The frequency of these calls has prompted me to do a “primer” for the potential Dane purchaser so they can be informed and make knowledgeable decisions in choosing a breeder.
Recently I spent about two hours of my time speaking to a distraught gentleman whose seven-month-old Dane “just dropped dead.” A necropsy revealed an enlarged aorta. He had purchased from a breeder who touted “great health” in her dogs and claimed this exceptional health was because her dogs were from European lines. The claim was European Danes were, in the long run, healthier than American Danes. However, these claims could not be supported with any health testing certifications or other data. Additionally, the breeder had no health history knowledge of the dogs in her pedigree beyond the second generation. Furthermore, when this breeder was informed about the tragic and unexpected demise of the loved family pet, she was unsympathetic, offered no emotional support, and claimed the death must somehow have been the owner’s fault. I'm sharing this experience because I want to help Great Dane owners avoid tragic and heartbreaking situations.
The term “health testing” is tossed around quite a bit. I strongly recommend the potential purchaser ask exactly what the breeder means by “health testing.” Some breeders use the term to simply mean the sire and/or dam has walked into a veterinarian’s office, had a quick exam, and was termed “healthy.” Bingo—for less than $40.00 the dog is pronounced “health tested.” While a pre-breeding veterinary exam is important, it should not be considered valid “health testing” in terms of determining the existence of certain health conditions that can affect Great Danes.
I have a detailed discussion on Health Testing on this website, but for introductory purposes, the Great Dane Club of America states "The minimum recommendations for the Great Dane to be used for breeding are a baseline at approximately two years with normal hip, heart, thyroid & eye results established. Heart & thyroid testing should be repeated at least every 2-3 years as results done on young adults do not remain valid for the life of the dog."
The cost to a breeder for doing the above testing properly can range from $500.00 to $1000.00. Testing should be done on both parents. Tests must fulfill certain criteria, and be submitted to the proper organization for review and certification: The “OFA” (Orthopedic Foundation For Animals). You can check any dog's Health Testing results on the OFA site by filling in the dog's registered name or their registration number in the Search box.
Why is health testing of the parents prior to breeding so important? The tests help responsible caring breeders identify dogs that might be afflicted with hip dysplasia, cardiac or thyroid disease, or eye problems and enables breeders to remove them from a breeding program. Do you want a puppy from parents with hip dysplasia? Hip dysplasia isn't obvious in a puppy and you could end up having to euthanize your 9 month old puppy or watch your 5 year old beloved pet, limping and in pain, his life shortened because of pain related to hip dysplasia. You don't want the heartaches or the expense of trying to deal with such an illness.
Health testing doesn't completely eliminate the chances of these afflictions cropping up in puppies, but it does reduce the chances. Responsible breeders health test because they care about the puppies they produce and the families who will give those puppies loving homes. It should be noted there are no genetic markers for Great Danes, so any "genetic" testing is invalid for testing against diseases in Danes.
Choosing a Breeder
Anyone considering the purchase of a Great Dane puppy should not only do their research on the breed, but on the breeder they choose to buy their puppy from.
There is much involved in choosing a breeder. It is important to purchase only from breeders who have the welfare of the breed, the puppy's new family and the puppy, foremost, in mind.
There are already a large number of great articles on the internet to help families acquire a healthy happy puppy. I've listed a few below.