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Should I Choose a Breeder or a Rescue for a Great Dane?

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Are you looking to add a Great Dane to your family?

There are a LOT of misconceptions about adopting rescue dogs and choosing breeders, so we want to clear this up with our post today.

To put this simply, we believe that there is room for BOTH breeders and rescues, and that choosing the right breeder can actually mean less dogs end up in rescue. 

We hope you use our post today as a guide towards making a decision between choosing a rescue Dane or finding an ethical, quality breeder for your next Great Dane!

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The main reasons people cite for choosing a breeder over a rescue, is that they:

  • Want a puppy so they can develop a bond.
  • Want a puppy they can train ‘their way’.
  • Have kids and want a puppy so they know it will be raised around children and not aggressive.

These ideas disregard the fact that there are many wonderful, calm, stable dogs with known temperaments in rescue, dogs that could make excellent family dogs.

Not every rescue dog has a ‘sob story’ or bad habits. Many are house trained, walk beautifully on a leash and love children.

You don’t HAVE to have a puppy to guarantee ‘success’ with integration into family life.

As a matter of fact, choosing the wrong breeder for your puppy or using poor training and socialization techniques could mean that you end up with an aggressive, unstable or out of control dog anyways.

No ethical rescue will place a Great Dane into your home if you, and the Dane, aren’t a good fit for each other. This also means that it may be difficult to find the right rescue Dane for your home, which brings us back to the fact that it is a perfectly acceptable choice to choose a breeder!



Fact #2, rescue dogs, and choosing rescue is NOT the right fit for every family.

Rescues desperately want to keep dogs out of the rescue system, so they will work very hard to place dogs only in the right homes. Even if this means keeping dogs in foster longer.

This could mean being turned down for a rescue dog because you have young children, no giant experience, inadequate fencing, no history of prior dog ownership & appropriate vet care, or your family isn’t the right fit for a rescue dog that has specific needs (health, training, etc.).

This can be extremely frustrating, however it doesn’t make it acceptable to run out and find the first puppy available on Facebook or Craigslist.

It’s much easier to clear the rescues when we stop the flow of dogs needing rescue in the first place, than it is to believe that all breeders are bad and everyone should adopt.

Why are so many dogs in rescue in the first place? It comes back, nearly 100% to unethical, puppy mill, and backyard breeding practices.  These breeders create unhealthy, poorly structured dogs with poor temperaments, or dogs that don’t end up being truly wanted, and sell them to anybody with a wallet.

If you are unable or uninterested in adopting a rescue dog, the worst thing you can do is turn around and choose a dog from an unethical breeder.



When looking for a breeder for your next Great Dane, ask lots of questions! Look for breeders that meet the following basic standard of ethics:

A puppy from quality, fully tested parents with excellent temperaments and structure that has been thoughtfully raised and properly socialized since birth will be much less likely to:

  • Suffer as a result of poor structure (flat feet, roached back, improper angulation, cow hocks, weakness)
  • Develop life-threatening, painful, expensive and frustrating health problems such as bloat, wobblers, eye disorders, heart disease, blood clotting disorders and even cancer.
  • Develop anxiety, aggression, over-excitement or other signs of poor temperament.
  • Be timid and fearful.
  • Contribute to the ‘short life span’ statistics that Great Danes are known for.

Puppies from ethical breeders are easier to train (potty training, puppy biting, crate training, socialization), integrate easier into family life, and will not likely end up contributing to the rescue problem (the breeder sells only to educated owners, offers lifetime support and will take them back for any reason).



Despite all of the poor breeding practices, there are many amazing Great Danes in rescue, and they absolutely need and deserve homes!

If you are choosing a rescue dog, be upfront and honest about what you need in a dog for your family, and what you can or cannot provide.

It is better to choose an ethical breeder than it is to lie on an adoption application and ultimately end up with a dog that isn’t the right fit for you.

Choosing or fostering rescue dogs and even puppies with health and temperament issues can be immensely rewarding! Volunteer work & financial donations are also needed.

Matilda (one of my Great Danes, shown) came from a rescue at 5 months of age. She is missing a leg (thanks to her unethical, backyard breeder, yikes!) and will struggle with that and the poor structure she was given (through unethical, careless breeding practices) for her whole life.

However, she is an amazing dog. Wonderful with children, people and dogs. She is calm, easy to live with and loves life. Matilda is well loved by many people, and won’t hesitate to give the most sweet and gentle kisses to anybody willing to love on her. (Follow Matilda on IG @Jacksonandmatilda)

Rescue dogs, even the ‘broken’ ones, can make amazing pets.



Essentially, there are good reasons to choose ethically bred dogs or rescue dogs.

Neither option is without fault or purpose, and both choices can be appropriate for you and your family! You should never be made to feel guilty about choosing a quality, ethical breeder, nor should you hesitate to pour your heart into rescue.

Our goal with both should be the health, longevity and quality of life of this beautiful breed that we all love so much.

So what happens with all of the cute puppies that backyard breeders have already produced and are trying to sell?

This is the catch-22 of the dog world. By purchasing a dog from a backyard breeder, you financially reward them and provide them with incentive to continue carelessly breeding dogs.

However by leaving that dog, you leave a dog that deserves a good home no matter what, especially if the puppy and parents are neglected or abused.

But take note, purchasing a dog from a pet store or bad breeder is NOT rescue, nor is it helpful. Unfortunately, what feels like a caring act actually contributes to the problem and simply results in more unhealthy, poorly tempered or abused and neglected dogs. 

However, when a breeder cannot sell puppies, they are less likely to breed again. The puppies may eventually be given away or surrendered to a rescue where they can be properly homed. 

If you encounter a breeder with particularly bad practices and unhealthy dogs, report them! Your local animal control, Great Dane rescue and governing authorities may be interested and can help.

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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. 

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