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Great danes are a wonderful breed of dog - but not for everyone.  We all read about the "apollo of dogs," the "gentle giant," and the dog who lays at our feet while we sit in front of the fire on a cool evening....

So let's talk about the reality!

First, the "standard" of the great dane - this is how the breed is described by the American Kennel Club.  This description is actually voted on by the members of the Great Dane Club of America, and then enforced in the show ring by the American Kennel Club rules.  The Great Dane Club of America, GDCA, has a lot of information on it's web site but perhaps the first things you should read are "Before you Choose A Great Dane" and "Is The Great Dane Right For You And Your Family?".

How many times have people said "oh, but I just want a PET!"?  Well, let me tell you - all "show" breeders have pets in their litters, and many "show" dogs live happily in homes as pets when they aren't showing.  It's not about where or how the dog lives, it's about bringing home the great dane that matures into the vision you have of what a great dane should be.

How concerned should you be about health testing?  After all, most breeders will guarantee their puppies - so does it really matter?  Sure it does.  You've been told "my dogs don't have problems...  I've been breeding for YEARS and my dogs don't have problems....  " so why does the GDCA want breeders to do health testing?  And what is this "CHIC" thing? 

What about the litter of puppies in the newspaper?  They are raised in their home, and they aren't breeders - they just breed their dogs once a year because they are such wonderful dogs.  Okay, let's talk here - once you breed a litter, you ARE a breeder - the only question is what kind of breeder you are.  If you are price shopping, then you need to look at all that is included in the price - just like anything else.  Frequently, these non-breeders are smoother sales people and may also charge MORE for their puppies - don't fall for the pitch that puppies from "show" breeders are more expensive.  Research the people from whom you are buying a puppy - you are making what is hopefully a ten year commitment.  

What is a great dane REALLY like at home?  Well, at first they are just puppies, like any other dog.  They will grow QUICKLY and soon become a 100+ pound puppy, so the opportunity exists for this puppy to be a hazard in your home.  These puppies are no more or no less than other puppies in behavior, it's their size that makes them somewhat unique.  Puppies of all breeds learn fastest when they are youngest - so don't wait to start training.  This breed is not the same as a golden retriever - they are not always the breed you want playing ball in the back yard with your children.  Great danes are not natural retrievers, and you don't want to teach them that it's okay to chase down and tackle your children. 

The great dane is a breed that is so beautiful it takes your breath away.  They are also big enough to clear coffee tables with their wagging tails, and surf counter tops looking for snacks.  They are loyal, loving lap dogs - who bring in HUGE amounts of dirt on their feet, shed tons of little tiny hairs, and have drool that sticks like gorilla glue all over your walls when it flings.  They drool water from their water bowls that cause people to slip and fall.

Are you still interested in a great dane?  They are a breed that people either adore, or it's just not right - most people are not ambivalent.  I'll tell people they need to spend some time with people who own great danes before they want to bring one home because of a picture they saw.  You can ask breeders if there is a convenient time for you to visit; you can ask for references (people who have their dogs living in their homes) that you can talk to about their experience.  These days the internet is a great resource; just remember to use your common sense about the validity of what you read.

Congratulations on choosing a great dane!

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