There are both ethical and unethical Great Dane Breeders. Know how to choose the good ones and save yourself future heart ache
Bringing a Great Dane into your family is a pretty significant decision. You’ll be assuming total responsibility for the health and well being of a giant dog. Picking the right Dane for you is important and if not done carefully, may end up being a very negative experience -for everyone concerned - both you, your breeder and the Dane. So it’s really important, that you check out the Great Dane breeders you are considering.
Any dog lover will often say it is never a good idea to buy a dog from a pet store. Too often, these animals come from puppy mills and have significant medical issues that only manifest themselves later. (Never mind the morality of supporting a puppy mill system where animals are brought into this world in atrocious conditions.) Great Danes in particular should never be bought in this manner. You MUST find a Dane with a good temperament –160 pounds of bad attitude will cause no end of grief later on.
So called “backyard” breeders should also be avoided when considering a Dane because these operators have no real expertise with the breed and probably have not put much thought into the line they are developing. Usually, this type of Dane breeder is motivated only to make a quick buck, or because they think it might be a cute litter in mating a particular mom and dad (serious Dane lovers would say Dam and Sire!).
It’s always the best option to select a serious breeder that is well established and is motivated by love for the breed –not money.
(NOTE: We are assuming in this article that rescue is not being considered – for many Dane lovers that would be a wonderful decision to make as well, provided your eyes are wide open.)
And take the time necessary to find the right Great Dane dog breeder for you. When we were looking for a Dane breeder, we found one that had blue puppies (that’s what we wanted) available right away. Talk about excitement! But when she told us there were two prices for the same puppy – one with papers and one without (more about “papers” below), the alarm bells started ringing.
We continued looking and found another breeder who we ended up purchasing from, although we had to wait a couple more months. We subsequently found out that the first breeder had a spotty reputation in terms of the health issues in the Danes she sold.
So how do you pick a good Great Dane breeder? Number one you get to know her and get comfortable with her. Any good breeder will be very interested in establishing a long term relationship and will be there for the long haul. But in the process of establishing this rapport, you as the buyer should also be checking some basic things.
WARNING SIGNS OF DANE BREEDERS TO AVOID
If a breeder doesn’t have an indepth knowledge of the breed, you have to wonder if he or she will be suitable for you. If they come up with excuses and do not allow you to see the Dam at least, or the puppy or the kennel operation itself, they are hiding something. Walk away.
To brag that a puppy has champion lines doesn’t mean anything. If champion is important to you (i.e. you are involved or want to be involved in the dog show world), make sure the Dam and Sire are champions. Unethical breeders will often try and muddy these terms up.
If the breeder makes a big deal about AKC (American Kennel Club) or CKC (Canadian Kennel Club) registration, start looking closely. Number one, this should be automatic and is not a selling point and number two, by itself it doesn’t really mean all that much. There are some prerequisites to this registration, but it is not an effective quality control mechanism. Take it for what it is.
GOOD DANE BREEDERS WILL:
(OFA is the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals. They are the authority in assessing animals for bone disease or deformity. Through xray examination, they will assess the incidence or presence of various orthopedic conditions. For Great Danes, an OFA certificate declaring both parents free of hip dysplacia is important because it means your puppy is less likely to develop this debilitating condition.)
- Be active in the breed which means at minimum, membership of the Great Dane Club of America (or Great Dane Club of Canada) or an affiliated club.
- Provide medical histories at least four generations back including OFA certifications for both mom and dad.
- Provide cardiac screening documents for both mom and dad
- Provide thyroid test results for mom and dad
- Provide a warranty against health problems
- Make it clear that they will be willing to take the puppy back at any time in its life if for some reason you cannot keep it. In fact, a good breeder will insist they get first options if this becomes necessary.
- Supply references on request
- Allow you to see the puppies, the mom (Dam) and the kennel operation without restrictions
- Provide a sales agreement including a spay/neuter clause (there are already too many Danes in rescue – this clause helps prevent future litters that won’t be taken care of properly and allows the breeder some influence in his line if you prefer to breed later)
- Check you out and ask numerous questions about you before selling a puppy
Don’t take offence if the breeder asks too many questions about you. A good breeder will only allow her pups to go to suitable homes. Expect questions like whether or not you have a fenced yard (many breeders will insist on a 6 foot fenced in space for Great Danes), how long the Dane will be left alone each day, or whether you have young children. Do you plan to allow the Dane to live indoors or will it be an outdoor dog? (The answer to that one is indoor. Danes need to be part of the family. Get another breed if you’re looking for a dog happy outside all the time.)
And of course, any good Great Dane breeder will be only too happy to answer some questions from you. Consider asking:
- How long they have been breeding
- What the health issues of the breed are (and you should already know something about this to gauge the answers you get)
- What the health issues in this particular line are and what they are doing to reduce them
- An assessment (both good and bad points) of the parents (No animal is perfect)
- What their guarantee is
- The terms under which they would take the Dane back (The answer to this should be anytime)
Do your research, don’t be in a hurry (we know that’s much easier said than done – not too much more exciting for us than welcoming a new Dane into our lives) and check out the breeder. You should be establishing a long and positive relationship.
The best bet to start looking, is through the Great Dane Club of America. They have a listing of breeders by state at
If you are in Canada, the Great Dane Club of Canada has a similar resource by province at
But do your homework. Unfortunately, there are many operators out there who are not breeding Great Danes for the right reasons and who are only interested in money – not the protection and improvement of the breed. Selecting a responsible breeder means a better chance of getting a healthy Dane and having long term support when you have questions (and there will always be times when you need advice).
Buying a Great Dane is a big decision – if you do it right, you’re in for years of laughter and companionship!
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