We love rescue Danes. We love Great Dane rescues even more! The work they do is so important. 

Both of us have fostered or have had Danes from rescue situations; we know very well the challenges that rescues and rescue dogs often face. 

If you are looking to adopt a Great Dane from a rescue, you may find that it’s surprisingly difficult! 

If you are having trouble getting approved, or want to understand why they make it so hard to adopt, read on. 

COMMON GREAT DANE RESCUE RESTRICTIONS

  • Must have giant breed experience
  • Must have a fenced yard
  • May not have young children in the house
  • Must be willing to crate train
  • Must be willing to attend training classes
  • Must have veterinary references
  • Must show a history of using preventatives (vaccines, heartworm)
  • Existing dogs must be spayed/neutered
  • Must not have a history or abuse or surrender
MUST HAVE GIANT BREED EXPERIENCE

This is a common rescue restriction and perhaps the most frustrating. 

What they are trying to prevent is a situation where they adopt a dog to somebody who returns it 2 weeks later when they learn that giant breed dogs:

Scare people, can jump fences, take up the whole couch, make a LOT of pee and poop, have a huge bark, knock people over, lean hard, steal things off of counters, eat tons of food, pull HARD and barely fit in the car. 

If you have giant breed or Dane experience, you KNOW all of this and they know it won’t likely be the reason you return a dog to them. If you want to adopt but have never had a giant breed, try these things:

1. Volunteer with the rescue to help out at adoption events, take photos, write bios, etc.

2. Write a short essay about what you’ve learned about giant breed dogs. Share what you know and prove to them that you have fully researched this! Tell them WHY you are interested in Great Danes, adoption and living with a giant breed dog. 

 

MUST HAVE A FENCED YARD

Many people looking to adopt a Great Dane have an electric fence or several acres. 

Several acres sound amazing for a dog, and it is, but not if the dog (who may already have a history of running as a stray) decides to run, and run, and run some more. Especially in a new home lacking a relationship and routine with the new owner. 

Electric fences may keep a dog in, or a dog may become savvy and learn they can ‘jump’ the fence and run. They can also increase fence aggression and reactivity, so many rescues are understandably wary of electric fences. 

If you don’t have a fence and don’t plan on installing one, share with the rescue what you do to ensure the safety of the dog when outside. Regular leashed walks, leashed potty breaks and time in a safe, fenced area off-leash are things they may want to hear about. 

 

MAY NOT HAVE YOUNG CHILDREN IN THE HOUSE

Giant breed dogs can be absolutely wonderful with children, but they can also be afraid of them, knock them over or play to rough. 

The last thing a rescue wants is a Dane returned to them because he jumped and knocked over a 4 year old! 

Not only that, but many people do not properly teach their children how to interact with dogs.

The dog may tolerate being sat on, poked and teased for a short while. However, when they reach the end of their fuse and growl, nip, or bite the dog ends up in rescue again, only this time with a bite history. 

If you have young children, consider first if a giant breed dog really is the best choice for your home. If you are committed to it and to adopting, be up front and honest with the rescue! Tell them what you know, how you plan to manage the environment, how you plan to train the dog and how you teach your children to interact with the dog. 

MUST BE WILLING TO CRATE TRAIN

Crate training is not cruel. Great Danes can grow to love their crates, because it becomes their quiet, safe place. Not only that, a crate-trained Dane cannot eat something dangerous or destroy the couch (and be returned to the rescue as a result). 

If you are resistant to crate training, why? 

MUST BE WILLING TO ATTEND TRAINING CLASSES

It doesn’t matter how much you think you know about training, or how well trained your last dog was, attending a training class with your new rescue Dane is a valuable opportunity to bond. 

We recommend everybody take training classes, especially rescue dogs! Classes are fun, can help you become a better dog owner and trainer, and teach your dog to focus on you despite distractions. 

MUST HAVE VETERINARY REFERENCES

If you don’t have a history of taking care of your dogs, Great Dane rescues are going to be cautious about placing a dog in your home. 

Their goal is to STOP abuse and neglect. They want to see that you have taken great care of your past dogs. 

If you are new to owning a dog, find a vet and show the rescue that you’ve already spoken with them and begun a relationship. 

MUST SHOW A HISTORY OF USING PREVENTATIVES

Great Dane rescues spend a TON of money treating heartworm in the dogs that come into their care. 

It’s expensive and heartbreaking (literally). They don’t want to place dogs into homes that don’t take those things seriously. 

In areas of the Country where heartworms are particularly bad, many rescues require that your existing and past dogs have been kept up to date on preventatives. A veterinary reference can go a long way here! 

EXISTING DOGS MUST BE SPAYED/NEUTERED

We are big believers in waiting to spay and neuter Great Danes until their growth plates are closed (age 2+), so we understand how frustrating this particular restriction can be. 

However, too many people breed dogs for fun and money, and this is one way that can make sure they never send a Great Dane into an irresponsible breeder home. 

If you have no intention of breeding and have a solid reference from your veterinarian, it may be worth sharing that. 

MUST HAVE NO HISTORY OF ABUSE OR SURRENDER

This one seems obvious, but it needs to be said. If you’ve surrendered a Great Dane before for nearly any reason, you are going to have a very difficult time adopting. 

If a rescue won’t place a dog with you, that doesn’t mean that you should run out and purchase a dog from the first breeder you find on Craistlist. 

Unethical breeders are the reason why so many Danes end up needing rescue in the first place, so make sure you aren’t actually contributing to the problem. 

Ethical breeders are also going to be exceptionally picky about buyers, but may have less restrictions about spay/neuter, fencing and children. 

Sometimes it helps to volunteer for the rescue and sign up as a foster! They are more likely to place dogs with owners that they really know well. 

Are you ready to adopt a Great Dane? 

Search our Great Dane Rescues by Location page here, and find rescues near you. 

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