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Your New Great Dane Puppy

We put this page together to answer some of the common questions asked about great danes. . . please email us if you have a question you think we missed :)

How Big do they get?

Well:  BIG.   
An Average Great Dane Female is 120-145 pounds, average size of Males is 130-165 pounds.  
Claims of 200+ pound danes are common but in truth we have rarely met danes that HEAVY. 
Great Danes should not be kept overly heavy, this will only harm joints.
Height ranges from 28-36 inches at the withers ( top of the shoulders)
KNOW that this is a very big dog. 
If you are not willing to allow a small pony to live in your house: don't get a Great Dane!

Pet VS Show
I only want a pet. .. I am not interested in showing. . .
.  It is a questions that I think needs to be addressed carefully,
one that breeders need to make perfectly clear on what the differences are and that
JUST because you are getting a "pet" that you are not getting an inferior dog.

Many breeders will make you believe that all of their dogs are "show quality" if so they are not managing their breeding program well.
 The best dogs should be shown, ones that you want to use in a breeding program. 
It is not only a beauty contest, it is a contest to see who has the best dog, the most correct dog ( judging from the GREAT DANE STANDARD) 
The most correct dog ( usually) wins, this is also supposed to be the representation of a breeders breeding program. 
There are special once in a life time breeding's, these may produce foundation dogs that may also have a high number of show potentials.
Now that we have that out of the way here is the skinny on pets vs show dogs.

No: not all dogs are show dogs. 
BUT it is not only looks that make them a winner.  It takes the best conditioning, great genes,
the correct personality, the dogs own want, fantastic handling skills and a whole lot of luck. 
When you set out to find your perfect pet you need not settle on the ugly duckling. . .
most of the dogs in a litter are going to be very similar in body style and type.

What makes  a show dog is my willingness to over look  small imperfections and her/his willingness to perform.  

When breeders judge a litter you start with VERY young puppies.
The process does start from birth, then REALLY takes shape by 8 weeks. 
You look at the obvious faults: not a showable color ( merle perhaps. . .) this is JUST a color, just like your hair.
 The coat color should not effect a healthy dog, though it will effect a breeding dog. 
Then there are other things to consider, at that time they do not have their adult teeth,
so you hope a good bite then is a good bite at 2 years old
( not always and some times when the baby teeth fall out the whole bite changes, this starts at 4 months old)
Is this the end of the world: no, but you grade the best bite too.

 Then you look at over all body ( and this gets more technical!)
The head type, the top line, what the dog acts like ( you want different personalities for different things), eye color
( and this changes too! Even brown eyed babies have a "blue" cast to their eyes when they are little, but TRUE blue eyes will not turn brown)
If it is a male: does he have all of his equipment?
  They should at that age. 
Though I have seen dogs have one testicle at 8 weeks and both in a couple of months, ALSO I have seen dogs have both at 8 weeks and then one at 16 weeks!
 OR You can have a completely perfect dog that moves horribly, and you can have a dog with several undesirable traits and have it move like a dream.

Some breeders just "have an eye" for what it takes, and many make the wrong choice and find surprises in the future. 
Kicking out an elbow, a pacing gait, necks never grow, ears that will not stand, a dog that  hates to show,  a terrible top line.
At around the same time that we are grading pups for conformation (build) we are also performing a complex set of behavior testing.

WHAT YOU NEED TO LOOK FOR: Pet owners guide to finding a pup.

Health checks on the Sire and the Dam.  
DO NOT take the breeders word for it.
 Go to the OFA web sight and look them up yourself.
 Ask the breeder for copies of this information ( they should have it and by the AKC rules should make it available to you)
  You can do it using the dogs REGISTERED name or the AKC number.
  The breeder should be forthcoming with this information.
 Hips are a must.  Elbows, thyroid, heart and eyes clear would be even better. 
PLEASE NOTE: Having a CHIC certification does not mean that a dog has passed all of his/her health tests.  It only means they were all COMPLETED.

 Some Sire owners never test, or only test females. 
Breeders may not have a choice on what health tests are done on the stud.

Does this mean that your dog will not get any of these problems?
 Unfortunately no it does not.  All danes carry undesirable problems. 
Most are polygenic ( more then one gene causes it).
 These problems can still crop up.
 BUT the more health tests you do the less chance they have for throwing them.

The breeder should be forthcoming with the back round history of there own dogs AND willing to share any information they have about known problems in the back round.  

What does this mean?
When you are looking at a breeding and you know that the grand sire of the sire died of Ostio sarcoma, and the dams great grand sire had a thyroid condition, then those are things you need to consider.  Does this mean that this is what your dog will get?  Most certainly not.  All danes have SOME sort of disease in EVERY line.  This is why it is important to document.  The only way to get away from inherited problems is to document them and try to not breed to dogs that have the same problem in there direct back round.
What else should you know?
 You should be properly educated by your breeder on how to feed, vaccinate and generally take care of your new puppy. 
They should be willing to talk to you and coach you through the rough spots and be generally up front and friendly.

 Does this mean that they should except phone calls at 12 in the morning about a broken toe nail: NO.
 Have expectations that are realistic.
 FEW breeders make a living breeding and showing dogs. 
Most loose money year after year and do it for the love of the breed, they hold "real" jobs and have "real" lives and should not be expected to be super human and to replace your Veterinarian.  

Limited registration or full registration?
MOST reputable breeders will not sell a non show/breeding quality dog with full registration. 
Why?  To keep you from breeding the dog . 
If you want to breed, then you do not want a pet. 
Undesirable traits will be passed on, the poor top line or an under bite, this is why the breeder has passed on this pet pup, this is why it is sold as a pet.

I have also seen the flip side on this, the owner now goes to their veterinarian and he notices that the dog has a  overshot/ under shot jaw and tells the people that this is unacceptable and to return the dog. 
If it was a breeding dog : yes. 
But it is a pet. 
Some crooked teeth or a slightly off color does not make the  pup undesirable.  Just unbreedable. 
Same with umbilical hernias, cryptorchids (single testicle or no testicle puppies)

Most breeders will co-sign all full registration dogs.
 Why?  To have a controlling interest in the dog and any breeding that you do.
 WHY?  It is the responsible thing to do.  
If you bring a litter of 10 danes in to the world, you are responsible for them AND any breeding that they do in the future.

 WHY?!: because there are enough irresponsible breeders in the world, why add to the mix?

  You may think  this seems invasive and not want to be beholden to the breeder. 
Most breeders just want to see how the dog matures, make sure that you have the health checks done and will also offer to help you with trouble shooting and placement of the pups.  Some want a pup from a breeding or just want to make sure they made the right decision on the dog.

There are breeders out there that want to control every aspect of the dogs life, READ your contract.
 If you feel uncomfortable then don't get the dog.

Euro VS Made in America. . .

I often get asked. . . do you breed "Euro" type dogs? 
I kind of laugh every time  because I exhibit in Conformation  and in order to exhibit SUCCESSFULLY I need to breed to the American standard.
Have I used Euro dogs?  You bet. . .when I needed something I do not have and that dog has it: WHY NOT? 
But with it comes other problems.  
Tilted Croups, SOFT Toplines and length of leg---these would be the three biggest draw backs to breeding to an import. 

WHY are they different. . . .
There are differences through out the world with any animal, any breed and any species. 
Different countries used to be primarily isolated in there breeding population and  there for there are differences with in the breed. 
SOME are more exaggerated but for the most part a dane is a dane.  

AND we are seeing them more and more. . .
With advances in semen freezing  and import laws we can now chose to breed not just through out the United States but through out the world.
We can now take advantage of gene pools we could never access before.  This has its good and bad points. . .

Claims that Euro dogs are "healthier" and  "Bigger" are greatly exaggerated. 
For the most part I have found them to be allot shorter  then our danes here in the states,
they have more loose skin ( meaning more flews and slobber) and on average more bone.  They tend to be a denser dog with sloppy movement.

The reason why Euro imports SEEM to be "healthier" at FIRST is because the likely hood of those dogs having the same disease
 genes as dogs from the US ( and this goes both ways. . . ) are pretty low.  
SO when they are bred to Healthy Danes in the US the litter's produced have almost absolutely NO problems.
Once you come out of the first generation and they are bred to the already existing population you have now introduced a whole string of Gene's that will not be known until they age and inherited traits become apparent.   In all countries danes have similar type diseases, with the introduction of new blood does not make them go away.
This is why health testing and screening of all adults used in a breeding program is so essential.

Do they get along with children and other animals?

Just about every dog on the planet will do fine with children IF they are raised with them.  
Keep in mind that this is a powerful breed and just their tail alone can be very painful.  Small children should NEVER be left alone with ANY dog. 
REGARDLESS of how well behaved you think the dog OR the child is.   Accidents are not planned, they just are.

Great Danes do have a bit more prey drive then some other breeds.
 With training, correction and starting out young: they can live very happily with just about any other animal.
Come See our Danes and Kids

What Colors do they come in?

Great danes come many different colors and patterns.
There are 6 showable colors, Black, Blue, Brindle, Fawn, Harlequin and Mantle.

Great Danes colors are thought of as Families. 
With in these families there are variations of color, markings and pattern. 
The family with the most color variations is the Harlequin and Mantle color family.

CLICK for a more in-depth color explanation.


As A breed, they really do not eat as much as you think.
 Most of our puppies are at about 2-3 cups of food per feeding when they leave here. 
The most we are currently feeding is 10 cups twice daily, and this is to a large male who is still growing. 
Great danes DO however have breed specific feeding guidelines, we do not feed our puppies puppy food past 16 weeks of age.
PLEASE do your research and LISTEN to your breeder. 
If they do not HAVE a feeding recommendation: RUN.

Click here to see our views on feeding

Breed Standard

What are danes? 
Below are some links that show you mostly what a PERFECT great dane CAN be. 
SO far there has never been one. . . so please keep in mind when you are reading the standards they are set on a scale that is
PERFECTION. . . not on actuality. 
Click here for Jill Swedlow's wonderful conformation clinic. 
This is a fantastic tools for new exhibitors to hone their eye.

Great Dane Club of America Link

Illustrated Standard

AKC Description

Health Concerns

As a whole, great danes are extremely healthy dogs, but when they are not--it can be a complete disaster. 
Here are some of the reasons :
Canine medicine goes by weight. 
So the bigger the dog the more the expense.
SIZE, that is a big part of it. . . .
 With a small dog you can pick them up if they have a hurt leg. . . with a dane it will take the whole family.
One bad joint on a small dog with little weight will last a whole lot longer then a giant breed dog with a bad joint.
Danes also have some unique Health problems.
Any breeder you speak to should be able to  tell you the top 4 health problems in Great Danes
Bloat, DCM, Osteosarcoma and Hip Dysplasia.
They should also be able to tell you what they are, how to help to prevent them and what they have done as a breeder to screen or control the occurrence in there breedings.  There are no GENE based tests for any of these problems, there are SCREENING process's for some and knowing the pedigree and the dogs  behind their own breedings, what they died of and when. . . knowing where the problems means you can breed away from pedigree's.
There is NO perfect line of dog.  Anyone that tells you they have NO problems in their line most likely have not been breeding long enough to see the problems, are not following their puppies through life or are just out right lying.

Breeding dogs. . .

Quick facts:

Unlike human reproduction, Canines have heat cycles.  
They are usually on a  6 month basis, though some dogs can cycle at other intervals.  
Most danes do not come in to their first heat until after their first birthday, many do not start until they are 18 months of age.
When you have several female dogs in one home they will also tend to cycle together, this does make spreading out litters difficult.
GDCA Guidelines are that dogs should not be bred under the age of 18 months.
The ONLY time a dog can mate and produce a litter is during a heat cycle.  
Canine Gestation is 63 days.

Heat Cycle it self:
Typically Dogs are bred 12-14 days after the heat cycle has begun. 
After a bitch is bred it will take 3 weeks before the fetus's implant into the uterine wall. 
This is why Ultrasound can not detect pregnancy until after this point.
They also have a Progesterone based cycle where levels of progesterone are maintained and  will be maintained until gestation time regardless of being bred.  This is why we sometimes see false pregnancies where dogs will act like they are going to whelp, collect toys and sometimes even produce milk.   Because of the hormone influences on the uterus, each and every heat cycle a dog goes through increases the risk of certain reproductive disorders like Pyometra, uterine cysts and increases the chances of breast cancer.

For a more indepth article on reproduction click HERE

For article on Disorders of the Reproductive Cycle Click HERE

Our Article on what it takes to just get a litter raised:

Registration. . . .what does it mean?

Registration papers are only as good as the organization and breeder that is producing them.   The gold standard in registration  is the AKC.
  TO ME:  none of the other US registrations are worth the paper they are written on. 
My problem with the "other" registrations is that they will except limited registration dogs in to their stud book.  
GOOD breeders place pet dogs on limited registration to keep people from just breeding a dog to breed a dog. 
Unscrupulous people will circumvent this by trying to register with other national registries. 
This act in it self leads me to believe you can not trust their registry and that dogs registered this way should be avoided.  

Why are AKC papers only as good as the breeder? 
In short. . . the breeder supplies all of the information. 
This means they CAN lie. 
The AKC tries to prevent this by requiring certain record keeping practices and implementing DNA testing of sires that are used more then three times in there life. 

What else does the AKC require?
Up to date information on WHERE all dogs are owned or Co-owned. 
Names, address and phone numbers of all owners.
Positive identification( Micro chip or Tattoo ) on all dogs used in a breeding program ( if you own over 6 dogs)
Records of all breedings, puppies produced, sex's, number of dead puppies. 
DNA certification of all stud dogs used over three times.

So what is the point?
Registrations are just that. . .registrations.   They keep a certified record of dogs produced and provide pedigree's  that track the lines.
In doing so, you as an owner can make a decision on the dogs you buy and why.    With the names provided you can search the OFA data base and look at health check records of any registered dog, you can follow lines and ask owners and breeders for more information then ever before.  Though getting an AKC registered dog of any breed will not guaranty you will never have health problems, doing your research of AKC breeders will go a long way to finding a healthy line to get one from.

Here is our link on what to ask and some information on what to look out for

Great Danes in action:

Day At The Lake: fun pictures of Great Danes
Swimming and playing in our lake
Hard Life:  Pictures of the day after a dog show

School Daze
Willow and Jane visit a local school with Bianca

Fun Pictures at Houston Great Dane Club Puppy Match

Pictures From the Corpus Puppy Match

Our Links:
Feeding and Nutrition
Health Checks
Behavior and Training
Eartrims (cropping)
Heartworm information
Hearing Dogs
Toxic Plants
Dangers In the Yard
Obedience and Agility
Body Condition Page

Great Dane Links:
GDCA ( Great Dane Club Of America)
DOL ( Danes On Line)
Dane World
Great Dane Gazette
Great Dane Review

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