Should I Breed My Great Dane?

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6 mins read

Hey, we are all here because we LOVE Great Danes. The idea of participating in the creation of more Great Danes seems pretty exciting!

Ask any Great Dane owner what they think of their dog. Every single one will tell you that theirs is the best. All of us love our dogs and are attached to everything about them; their personalities, their unique markings, the way that they walk.

Are you thinking of breeding your amazing Great Dane? 

Read on friend!

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SHOULD I BREED MY GREAT DANE?

We’re going to go out on a limb here and say that if you are asking this question, chances are you should NOT be breeding your dog. That is not to say that you shouldn’t learn more about breeding and eventually get into it! We welcome that, but we highly discourage the practice of willy-nilly pairing of dogs for fun.

AKC papers are helpful, but they are NOT an indicator of quality. All they prove is that the dog came from a lineage of other dogs. Read our blog post about AKC Papers here. 

We have seen some positively sketchy ‘AKC’ Great Danes. Papers are NOT enough. It’s that simple.

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You don’t need a show dog to breed dogs, but you should be thoughtful about what genetics you are passing along. Having a neat color, great personality or a ‘Euro’ look simply isn’t enough. If all you see are positive things, remember this. All dogs have faults, and for every positive thing they pass on, they pass on their faults, too.

Whether we like it or not, all dogs have some fault or another. Even the most well-kept, well-bred beautiful show dogs will have something minor that isn’t ‘perfect’.

Those faults lie in their genetics, and breeding is how you either continue or discontinue faults.

Some common and unacceptable faults in Great Danes include roach, sloping or sway back, narrow hips, overbite or underbite, hip or elbow dysplasia, droopy eyes, excessive jowls, incorrect head or ear shape, poorly developed feet, lack of substance, flat front, over-angulation/weak read, double-merle, narrow hips and aggression.

Can you evaluate your own dog objectively? If you aren’t sure, you can always ask for help! Ask in one of the many conformation groups on Facebook (post photos of your dog and they can tell you where the faults and strengths are) and get into the show ring with your Dane (there are fun conformation classes you can take to learn how). Find a mentor through your local GDCA breed club.

Click the link below to read the written standard and see how your dog compares:

Great Dane Written Breed Standard  

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DO YOU HAVE BREEDING RIGHTS? 

Make sure you reference the contract that you signed when you purchased your Great Dane.

Is there any language in there restricting you from breeding your dog?
Do you need to talk to the original breeder first?
Did your breeder sell your puppy with Limited AKC Registration (meaning that you will NOT be able to register or paper the puppies that are produced from the litter)?

If your breeder didn’t outline these things, doesn’t care, had no restrictions, or didn’t have a contract in the first place you should NOT be breeding your dog. Your Great Dane may be a wonderful family pet, but he/she isn’t likely meeting a reasonable standard for breeding quality.  

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IS YOUR DOG HEALTH TESTED? 

A vet check is not enough. If you want to breed your dog, visit www.ofa.org and view the current requirements for fully health testing Great Danes. At minimum your dog will need x-rays, an echocardiogram, a hearing and eye test, and bloodwork. Both the DAM and the SIRE will require these tests, which can run upwards of $2-4K for each dog.

It is flat out irresponsible to breed without completing these tests. If you don’t know for a fact that your dog is free of significant, painful, and/or life-threatening faults then you should not proceed.

We do not condone the practice of breeding dogs without full OFA health tests, and if you choose to continue without them, we no longer support you. It is even more offensive to set up a website with a breeder/kennel name and continue without this testing.

Puppy buyers are becoming more and more savvy about this. It can be extremely difficult to sell puppies from untested parents, because people are seeing just how heartbreaking it is when Great Danes receive preventable structural, growth and health faults.

If the dog you want to breed came from parents that were not health tested, this is even more important. 

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IS YOUR DOG THE CORRECT AGE? 

OFA health testing cannot be completed until the age of 2+, and you can’t fully evaluate a Great Dane until they are at least that age.

Patience is a virtue here! It’s important to allow Great Danes their full chance to develop before asking them to breed for you.

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HAS YOUR DOG BEEN BRED BEFORE? 

No Dam/Bitch should ever be asked to breed more than 2-4 times. So if you’ve reached that point, STOP.

If your Dam or Sire has produced litters in the past, what were the litters like? Were the puppies solid, healthy, robust, curious, and friendly? Did they become quality pets? Did any of them have significant structural problems, health issues or faults? Have any of those puppies developed bloat, aggression, autoimmune disorders (including allergies), heart problems, limb deformities, diabetes or thyroid issues?

Don’t breed again if your breed choices are not producing dogs that serve to improve the breed.

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DO YOU HAVE A MENTOR? 

What made you want to breed your dog in the first place? Find a mentor who has vast experience breeding Danes. Don’t just pick up advice from a backyard breeder (unfortunately, they are everywhere), but find somebody who is truly focused on breed health and ethics. The Great Dane Club of America is a good place to start.

At some point if you truly want to get ‘in’ to breeding, you’re going to see the difference between ‘well bred’ and ‘pure bred’ and you’re going to want a puppy from one of those breeders. By seeking out their advice BEFORE you breed, you prove yourself early and are more likely to have access to quality puppies.

We are always happy to provide our honest opinion about your breeding program and breeding stock as well, just send as an email!

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ARE YOU WILLING TO DEAL WITH PUPPIES?

If your dog is the Dam, you have additional responsibility. Raising Great Dane puppies is fun, until it isn’t.

The mother may require medical support and even an expensive c-section. You will be up all hours of the night, especially at first (and that’s just with a healthy pregnancy and birth!). There will be POOP and PEE everywhere.

You’ll have to pay for additional veterinary checkups for your DAM, and the puppies will also need vaccinations, deworming, and possibly dew-claw removal (more $$!). Registering the litter will also cost money.

As the puppies grow they become tenacious, noisy and HUNGRY! A large litter can eat a lot of food, as can the mother who needs the nutrition to support the growing puppies. This decision to breed could end up becoming the longest and most expensive 5 months of your life. 

You’ll have to find quality homes for the puppies, too.

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CAN YOU SUPPORT YOUR BUYERS? 

Expect to have to provide support to all puppy buyers, for the life of their dogs.

They will send you text messages and phone calls and will need information about food, puppy biting, vaccines and more. Are you educated about Great Danes and prepared to field those questions? If not, don’t breed your dog.

Are you also prepared to take those dogs back should any one of them have significant health or temperament issues, or if an owner cannot keep the dog?

Ethical breeders feel immense pain and guilt if any of their dogs end up needing rescue, expensive veterinary care, or euthanasia. If you don’t care where the puppies end up once they leave the litter, you should not be breeding your dog. 

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WILL YOU BE PROUD OF THE RESULTS? 

Are you willing to accept responsibility if puppies in the litter turn up with significant faults? Will you be proud of your litter if they have flat feet, hunched backs, or timid personalities? Will you feel good about your decision to breed if your puppy buyers tell you that their dog has become aggressive and requires intense behavior modification?

We Understand wanting to breed Great Danes, truly. Which is why we are here with a solid belief in education and ethics, wishing to share that foundation with others so that every puppy buyer receives a dog that has been truly set up for success. 

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Good breeders have waitlists. If you have to work hard to sell the puppies, that’s a good sign that you should NEVER HAVE BRED the dogs in the first place.

Do you wish to get into breeding ethically?

Do you desire to make sure that you are creating healthy, confident puppies?

We encourage you to keep learning. Find a high quality breeder and mentor with them. Purchase a dog that could be shown and consider going into the show ring. Get to know the people in your local breed club. Dig into the written standard and understand what the difference is between a well-bred dog and a purebred dog.

Lastly, be thoughtful. We know your love your dog, but chances are you probably shouldn’t breed him or her. That can be tough to face, but it’s one that us humans have a responsibility to. 

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ALTERNATIVES TO BREEDING

If you really want to breed so that your dog can ‘experience motherhood’ or so that your kids can ‘learn and experience it’, consider rescue instead.

Many rescues need temporary foster homes for whelping mothers, or temporary housing for young puppies until they are placed. It’s a good opportunity to do a POSITIVE thing for your Community and still get to experience the sweet magic of tiny puppies!

See our list of Great Dane rescues here. 

Hello Danes

Dane lover and believer in ethical breeding, training and rescue practices. Positive + Balanced trainer, owner of rescue dogs and dogs from breeders. Love the dog in front of you.

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