Great Dane Breeder Scams & Shady Business

Unfortunately, there are a lot of shady breeders and Great Dane breeder scams in the world of Great Danes.

We see a lot of this, and these breeders prey on people who are new to Great Danes or don’t know much about ethical breeding practices.

The dogs and the owners end up suffering for it. Backyard breeding practices are almost solely responsible for the reason that so many purebred Great Danes are in rescue.

We are on a mission to shut these shady, scammy, unethical breeders down, and make room for breeders that are operating with the best interest of every dog in mind. 

Here are some of our favorite shady tactics that unethical Great Dane breeders may use to get your business!

A Great Dane puppy from Petland, a popular pet store that gets puppies from unethical breeders and puppy mills. 


One way that backyard breeders will attempt to appear reputable and legitimate is by doing a ‘vet check’ so they can claim that their dogs have been health tested.

Worse still, some will choose the cheapest, easiest OFA health test (the eye exam or blood work for example) and complete it so that they can use the words ‘OFA’ in their marketing.

Actual OFA Health testing involves x-rays, an echocardiogram, eye exam and thyroid panel. 

Make sure you investigate the tests that were done before choosing a breeder.

Ethical breeders will fully OFA health test both dogs being bred, and they will not breed if one or both of the dogs doesn’t pass those tests with good or excellent results. For more information, read our blog post on OFA Health testing here.  Verify the results they share with you at

If you are outside of the U.S., your breeder probably doesn’t use OFA, but they will still be checking their breeding stock for quality hips, eyes, heart and thyroid.

Don’t just take their word for any of this! Ask for proof. Ask them why it matters.


Tread cautiously with any breeder that always seems to have puppies, especially if they have a regular habit of maintaining multiple litters and pregnant dams at the same time, all year round.

These breeders may appear ‘popular’ and reputable because they have so much ‘business’, but in the world of ethical breeding this is one of the worst offenses.

Many of these same breeders may keep adult dogs in outdoor runs all day, require the purchase of ‘Life’s Abundance’ or ‘Nuvet’ (MLM commission schemes), and/or have a huge network of ‘guardian homes’ through which they are able to always have litters available.

Running a breeding business like a puppy factory isn’t fair to the dogs, owners or puppies.

It implies that each life is worth only the cash it generates.

Breeders that are literally overrun with dogs and puppies are less likely to be able to offer proper puppy socialization and care, robust breeder support, and appropriate attention, affection, training and accommodations for the dogs being used in their breeding program.

Many breeders that operate this way are keeping dogs in runs or barns outdoors, not as loved pets that are trained in obedience, shown in dog shows, socialized and kept as part of the family.

Do not mistake high volume with popularity. 

Ask yourself if a ‘high volume’ breeder is doing this because they care about maintaining and enhancing the breed, or if they are in it for ego and cash.


Some ethical breeders are willing to ship puppies to highly-qualified, well considered buyers.

We are however very leary of any breeder that always seems to have puppies and is willing and able to ship them almost anywhere to anyone.

Great Danes are NOT an item that you order online. They are living beings that should be bred and raised with care and love.

They should not be bred by volume and shipped all over the Country like bags of dog food.

Ethical breeders typically have waitlists of local buyers and don’t need to do this to sell puppies.

Any breeder that has a habit of regularly shipping or ‘delivering’ dogs to multiple different states is a breeder that does not likely have a good name in their local community.

As before, don’t mistake even expensive high-volume shipping operations with ethics, ‘popularity’ and desirability.



Can tell you about OFA & genetic screening and why it’s important: hips, elbows, eyes, thyroid, heart. They will have CHIC #’s to share for your verification.


Will say their dogs are health tested and healthy. May do OFA Hips or thyroid so they can use the word ‘OFA’ in their marketing.


Can tell you about the breed standard if you ask about angulation, top lines, eyes, head shape, croup, feet, color, temperament and health problems.


Will tell you that their dogs have ‘champion’ lineage and rare ‘designer colors’.


Will have a robust early socialization program that they are proud of and can show photos of.


Will say they raise the puppies ‘indoors’ and ‘around children’.


Will want to know a lot about you as a buyer, including your experience, desires, etc. Has a long waitlist of buyers who understand the reasons for waiting to support an ethical breeder.


May have to do a sales pitch to sell dogs and will sell them to nearly anybody willing to buy. Will encourage puppy buyers to take home multiples and will often be seen on social media trying to sell the puppies.

Ethical breeders are extremely proud of their parents, puppies, program and lifetime support. They create a limited number of robust, well-built, exceptionally healthy and beautifully tempered puppies and sell them to buyers that they feel are a good fit.

Backyard breeders do not always care who buys a puppy, and despite what they may say to sell the dog to you, they may never be willing to speak to you again…even if your puppy turns up with knuckling, hip dysplasia, a blood clotting disorder or blindness.


A sickly ‘merlequin’ double-merle Great Dane puppy from a ‘friendly’ backyard breeder.


It’s hard to turn your back on a dog that is already here, waiting to be purchased.

The problem, however is an endless loop. When you intentionally purchase a dog from a backyard breeder, puppy mill or pet store you are also funding the production of more unethically bred puppies. 

So while it feels good at the time to give THAT dog a home, the money rewards a breeder that doesn’t truly care about that dog or any others that follow.

Make it a point to seek out and purchase ONLY from ethical breeders. 

If you see sick, unhealthy, unkempt puppies and dogs report them to your local animal control. Multiple reports may eventually warrant a visit from the authorities. Many bad breeders have been shut down this way.

A backyard breeder with a litter of poorly bred, unhealthy or sick puppies that don’t sell may eventually give up and surrender those dogs to a rescue. The rescue can find great homes for them, and the backyard breeder may think twice before breeding again.

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