Finding a Great Dane Puppy
How do I find a healthy well adjusted pet puppy?
What are you looking for in a Great Dane Puppy?
Once you've decided you want a Great Dane puppy, think about your family life and how you want your Dane to fit in your life.
- Great Danes can range from bold and fearless to shy and laid back. Which will fit best in your family?
- Danes can require lots of exercise or prefer to be couch potatoes. Think about how much time you have to exercise your Dane puppy/adult.
- How confident a "dog" leader are you? With a more outgoing and fearless Dane puppy/adult, you need to be a strong leader, so the Dane doesn't take on the job themselves 🙂
- Would you or your children like to start showing your Great Dane in either conformation or sport (obedience, rally, trick dog, etc) ? These can be very rewarding activities and great ways to spend time with your dog and a great way to learn about your new family member.
- Are you thinking about breeding Great Danes? Breeding Great Danes is a heavy responsibility. Ethically any dog breeder must be responsible for the puppies they produce for the lives of the puppies. Are you prepared and able to take back any puppies you produce if their families can't keep them? If you research and think this is something you might like to do, you should definitely get a show puppy. For the health of the puppies, only well bred, well structured dogs should be bred and that requires a commitment to a great deal of learning.
- The answers to these questions need to be given to your Great Dane Breeder so they can match you up with a puppy that will fit in well with your family.
How to find a Great Dane Breeder
The way to find a Great Dane puppy is to first find a GREAT Great Dane Breeder(s).
- I'm going to start off suggesting you start attending dog shows within a couple hours drive of where you live. Now your first reaction may be - NO, I JUST WANT A PET!!!! Please keep reading. Show dogs are 99% pets and 1% show dogs. So people who show and are good breeders, are breeding dogs that are PRIMARILY WONDERFUL companions and secondly show dogs. People who show socialize and hang out with other Great Dane breeders. They share information, different dog foods, different treatments for illnesses, better training techniques. People who show their Great Danes share information with their friends. They are part of a huge network of knowledgeable people. They are very much worth getting to know. You will benefit greatly from doing so.
- Contact and attend your local Great Dane Club's Meetings and ask questions of the club members. Great Dane Club members will have decades of Great Dane experience. The more people you talk to the better educated you will be. And given Dane breeders are humans 🙂 and have all the foibles and failings of people, don't totally believe in what any one person says:-) Ask questions and get opinions from lots of Dane people and judge for yourself what you believe and what will work best for your family.
- Look at and contact breeders on the Great Dane Club of America's Breeder list. The link is toward the bottom of this page.
- Venture onto the internet, but be very very careful. When using the internet, you will need to learn the difference between breeders who breed puppies purely for money and breeders who breed to produce structurally correct healthy puppies. Most breeders who show their dogs in AKC Shows, are well educated, do health testing and know a great deal about the history, pedigrees and temperaments of their dogs. Their websites will have pictures of their dogs at AKC dog shows.
Oh but wait! You say again, I don't want a show dog! Ok, absolutely, do you want a health puppy that looks like a Great Dane is supposed to? Do you want a Dane puppy that has a good chance of living a comfortable life? Do you want a support system, a breeder, that will be there should you have any problems or issues with your Dane? Oftentimes breeders who show, only show 1 or 2 puppies from each litter. Most puppies are sold as pets/companion animals with their new owners never intending to show. That is not always the case, but oftentimes it is. Many good breeders are much more concerned about the quality of home for their puppies, rather than whether the new puppy owner intends to show their puppy.
Will you pay more for a pet/companion Dane from a breeder that shows? Maybe. There are breeders who breed odd colors who will charge much more for a poorly structured Dane of a specific odd color than you will pay for a well bred companion puppy (whose parents were health tested) from a breeder who shows.
But you say, I don't care about the structure, I don't want to show! Structure isn't just about showing, it's about having a healthy Dane that will be able to run and jump and play and live a comfortable life. Danes are huge animals that weigh a lot. They need to be well structured or they develop back and spinal problems at a young age, they can develop arthritis at a young age. Structure isn't just about showing, it's about living a longer more comfortable life.
Breeders who show are focused on breeding healthy well structured puppies that look like a Great Dane. Many breeders who don't show generally breed any two dogs they have available at home, don't health test and don't know anything about proper Great Dane structure.
There are good Great Dane breeders who don't attend AKC shows and you can find them by asking questions. One of the questions you should ask any breeder you are considering is to have them explain the Great Dane standard to you and ask what attributes they feel are most important for a healthy athletic Dane. If they can't answer that question, how can they breed healthy well structured Dane puppies?
Where NOT to find a Great Dane Breeder
- Do not get a puppy off Craig's List. Ethical breeders do not need to advertise their puppies on Craig's List.
- Do not get a puppy from a Pet Store. There is no way to know how the puppy was brought up, you have no way to see the parents or meet the breeder.
- Do not "order" a puppy from a website that lists many many many puppies. This is essentially a puppy mill online. They will sell anyone a puppy, you could be using the puppy as stew meat for your next meal and no one involved in the puppy sale cares. Are these people likely to be breeding quality dogs and raising them to be well adjusted loving companions?
- Don't buy from a breeder that specializes in "special rare colors" that aren't part of normal Great Dane breeding practices. The normal accepted Great Dane colors are Fawn, Brindle, Black, Blue, Harlequin and Mantle. In the Harlequin breeding program it is completely normal to get Merle colored puppies (grey and black) or black puppies with white trim.
- The reason it isn't a good idea to buy from someone who specializes in a particular odd/off color is because those breeders make the most important aspect in their breeding program a dog's color and not whether it looks like a Great Dane, or whether it has the athletic strong build the dog should have to live a comfortable life. When these breeders are looking for breeding stock, they look FIRST for a dog/puppy that has a particular set of color genes and not a well structured puppy/dog that looks like a Great Dane is supposed to. Generally these breeders won't be able to answer questions about the standard or how breeding to the standard helps produce athletic well structured dogs, built for a comfortable life. Having to take your crippled 5 year old Dane to the vet hoping to find a miracle to make their life more tolerable isn't any fun and treatments can be very very expensive.
- Don't get a puppy from anyone who doesn't require you to return your puppy to them, if at some point in his life, you can no longer keep him. This is part of quality breeder support. Ethical breeders are responsible for the puppy for the life of the puppy. Ethical breeders have resources to rehome their older puppies/adults when they need new forever homes. Unexpected circumstances come up during our lives, as much as we try and prevent the situation, at times we are not able to keep our beloved dogs. Don't you want to feel reassured knowing that when you return your beloved Dane to a breeder that breeder will take excellent care of your dog and find a good quality home for them.
What questions should I ask a Great Dane Breeder?
- How long has the breeder been breeding Great Danes? Do they breed on their own or are they working closely with a mentor who has been breeding for decades. The more experience a Dane breeder has the better support you will have. And a new Dane breeder who is closely mentored by a breeder who has been breeding for decades is probably fine to purchase from, even though their own personal experience is limited. Being part of a community of dog owners and breeders is very beneficial for the dogs and the owners and new puppy buyers.
- How many litters has the breeder bred? and how many litters a year do they normally breed.
- When breeding Great Danes, what are the most important factors in pairing Great Danes? What is the breeder trying to achieve? How long do dogs in their lines usually live? What do they usually die of? The best breeders will want you to let them know of any health problems that you have with your puppy. They will want to know what they die of and when.
- Do you own both parents and can I meet them? Many good breeders only own the mother and have bred her to a stud dog that will complement her structure and temperament to produce healthy well built Danes, so only owning one parent can be a sign of a thoughtful careful breeder.
- Are both parents health tested and have passed all 4 of the recommended Dane health tests. We have an article on this site that carefully explains Great Dane health testing and how to look up the parents to see if they have passed their health tests. If the breeder hasn't health tested their parents and doesn't show their dogs in AKC shows, then I would really hesitate to get a puppy from them. The least costly aspect for a Great Dane is the purchase price, a purchase price up to $2000 for a companion is a normal and very reasonable investment compared to what you can pay in vet bills and heartache for a Dane with hip dysplasia or other genetic diseases or temperament issues that require the dog to be put down. Here is the link to the article discussing health testing.
- Are the puppies raised in the home? Have they been exposed to other animals, children, noises?
- Have the puppies been temperament tested? Temperament testing is a great tool for evaluating the personality of the puppies and helps place them in best fit homes. It helps identify the fearless outgoing dominant puppies from the more shy quiet reserved puppies.
- What vaccines will the puppies have when they come to you and will you be given a recommend vaccine schedule?
MORE questions I should ask a Great Dane Breeder
- Can you pick your puppy when they are born? This may seem like a great idea, but very experienced breeders who have had puppies returned because the puppies weren't a good fit, take more time to match puppies with families. If you want to do performance sports with your puppy/dog you will want an outgoing dog who has good drive. Choosing a puppy at birth that is more laid back and shy won't be a good fit for what you would like to do with your puppy. If you are a first time Dane owner, choosing the puppy at birth that turns out to be the most outgoing, fearless, bossy, dominant puppy, could be a very bad experience and end up with you returning a dog that is too much for you and your family. A 150 pound out of control dog isn't a pleasant companion. A breeder that won't promise you a particular puppy when they are born is looking out for your best interests and the puppy's.
- Does the breeder require you to sign a contract - the answer should absolutely be YES! A contract outlines in writing the agreement and expectations between the breeder and puppy buyer. The contract should contain a commitment by you to return the dog if you can't keep it. Read a contract carefully, in fact you should ask for one before you commit to buying a puppy. I've known a puppy returned to the breeder after a rush purchase without viewing the contract and when the contract was read, the buyer realized they couldn't commit to all the very detailed and somewhat arbitrary conditions of the contract, so the puppy was sent back to the breeder. Read the contract before committing to buy a puppy.
- This may seem like a lot of trouble and all you want is a cute puppy. Great Dane puppies are adorable, but they need careful care, primarily because they are a GIANT breed. It isn't fair to your family or the puppy if you don't think carefully enough about getting a Dane puppy and then the puppy or your family isn't happy with the puppy in your home. It is never easy to return a puppy to a breeder, not easy for the family, not easy for the puppy and not easy for the breeder.
- As much research as we do, things don't always work out the way we would like. No matter how well bred a Great Dane is, they can still develop serious issues and show puppies may not turn out as well as one would hope. These are living things with random genetic possibilities and not mass produced products. It is a little bit more deterministic than having a child, you get to know the puppy for 8 weeks BEFORE bringing them home - HAHAHAHAHAHAHA.
- Don't be overwhelmed by all this information. If you do research and make a point of talking to many Dane breeders, going to shows or talking with people in your local Great Dane club, you will end up with a wonderful Dane puppy, or two or three or four 🙂
What questions should a Great Dane Breeder ask you?
- What is your name, address, specifics about your house, whether you own or rent, is your yard fenced and if yes then how high is the fence, what is it made of how old is it?
- Have you owned dogs before? How long, what happened to the animals and whether you have had large breed dogs before?
- How many people live in the house, adults and children, ages of the children?
- Does anyone in your home have allergies to animals?
- Why you want a Great Dane?
- What kind of activities you want to do with your dog, show, sport, family companion, breed them?
- How long the dog will be alone each day?
- Where will the dog be kept during the day, where will they be kept at night?
- Do you know how to house train a puppy? Do you know how to crate train a puppy?
- Do you want a boy or girl and do you have a color preference?
- Will you attend puppy training classes?
If the breeder you are speaking to doesn't ask these questions or doesn't have an online puppy questionnaire that asks these questions, that means the breeder doesn't really care what kind of home the puppy is going to. Which means they don't really care about the puppy. Do you want to buy a puppy from a breeder that doesn't care about the puppies they produce? What kind of care do you think was taken in the breeding of that puppy and after the puppy was born, how much time and attention do you think that puppy received?
Buy a puppy from a breeder who cares enough about their puppies and YOU to ask you questions to make sure you are going to have a successful wonderful experience with your new Great Dane family member.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
The WVGDC doesn't recommend individual breeders. Below is a link to our parent organization, the Great Dane Club of America, that does have a list of Great Dane Breeders. On our website we have information about what to look for in a responsible, knowledgeable and experienced breeder. We recommend careful research before acquiring your future family member to help ensure that you get a healthy puppy that fits well with your family and lives a long healthy happy life with you.
Click this link to go to the Great Dane Club of America's Breeder Referral Directory