Be a part of something BIG!

In this Post

Unfortunately, there are a lot of shady breeders and Great Dane breeder scams in the world of Great Danes. These unethical breeding practices are harming our beloved breed and making it hard for pet parents to navigate their search for a well-bred Great Dane puppy.

We see a lot of this. The unethical breeders prey on people who are new to Great Danes or don’t know much about ethical breeding practices. What’s worse, is that they know how to appear ethical, friendly, and reputable.

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. 

This post will dig into some favorite shady tactics that unethical Great Dane breeders may use to get your business!


Shady Breeder Tactic #1: Bare Minimum Health Testing

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

Note: a breeder who only completes a ‘veterinary clearance’ or genetic screening is NOT properly health testing their dogs! There is no exception to this. When you hear these things from a breeder, you are hearing about their corner-cutting practices.

Diligent health testing must include at minimum:

  • Veterinary check, ideally with a reproductive veterinarian
  • A full study of the pedigree of both parents to include information about health conditions seen in the genetic lineage
  • Genetic screening for known genetic conditions and coat color
  • OFA screening by the breed’s parent club recommendations.

For example, in Great Danes, OFA health screening for each parent in the pairing must include:

OFA Heart – an echocardiogram of the heart

OFA Thyroid – Thyroid panel/blood test

OFA Eyes – Exam with a board-certified veterinary ophthalmologist

OFA Hips – X-rays read and graded by orthopedic specialists

Reputable breeders will log their OFA health testing at

You should be able to see the screening results for BOTH parents on that website. If any OFA tests are missing, find a different 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.  

If you are outside of the U.S., your breeder probably doesn’t use OFA, but they will still check 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.

17 1

Sketchy Dog Breeders Red Flag: Puppies, Puppies Everywhere!

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 can 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 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 for 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.

8 3

Breeder Red Flag: Will Ship Anywhere

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

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

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 with a habit of regularly shipping or ‘delivering’ dogs to multiple different states is a breeder who 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.

10 4

The Ethical vs. Shady Breeder Showdown


The ethical breeder will have OFA and genetic screening results to show you for both parents. They will be able to speak to the pedigree, with information about common health disorders in the breed such as heart disease, cancer, and GDV Bloat.


The shady breeder will say their dogs are health tested and healthy. They might do OFA Hips or thyroid (but not all of them) so they can use the word ‘OFA’ in their marketing.


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


Unethical breeders will attempt to sell you on their puppies by mentioning that their dogs are “Euro” and come in “rare colors”.


Exceptional breeders have a robust early socialization program that they are very proud of. It should include early exposure to people, children, animals, textures, touch, sounds, crates, handling, leashes, and potty training.


Corner-cutting breeders will say they raise the puppies ‘indoors’ and ‘around children’.


Breeders that care want to know a lot about you as a buyer, including your experience, desires, etc. They will often have a long waitlist of buyers who understand the reasons for waiting to support an ethical breeder.


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


All Dogs Need Good Homes

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 rescue. The rescue can find great homes for them, and the backyard breeder may think twice before breeding again.

Disclaimer: The information provided here is for educational purposes only and should not be construed as a substitute for professional veterinary advice, diagnosis, or treatment. 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This website may contain affiliate links, which means we may earn a commission if you make a purchase through these links. The commissions help support the maintenance and development of the site.

Share this post:


Related Articles