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What Makes a Great Dane Breeder Good?

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What Makes a Great Dane Breeder Good? Choosing the right Great Dane breeder for your next puppy can be the difference between having a dog live a long, robust, active life and having a timid or aggressive dog that suffers from heart and structural problems.

Not all Great Dane Breeders are created equal! Today we’re talking about what makes a Great Dane Breeder good. If you are looking for a Great Dane puppy, you need to read this list!

What Makes a Great Dane Breeder Good?

What Makes a Great Dane Breeder Good?

The reality here is that there are a million things a breeder can do wrong, and only a few they can do right.

Abusive breeders with sick puppies are generally easy to spot, but the reality is that they aren’t in the majority.

So what about the others? What makes a Great Dane breedergGood?

Where are all of these aggressive, fearful, poorly structured dogs coming from? Why are the rescues full of dogs with questionable health, poor temperaments and terrible former home lives?

The ‘friendly’ backyard breeders with nice websites and who ‘health test’ are super sneaky and easy to fall for. Yet, they are actually the ones responsible for the majority of health, temperament and rescue problems in Great Danes!

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A sick puppy from our bad breeders list, produced by a ‘reputable’ friendly backyard breeder.


Here is a list of the top 5 things that your Great Dane breeder should be able to prove to you before you consider purchasing a puppy from them.

Keep in mind that the ‘sneaky’ backyard breeders will be friendly, will have a nice website and will make you think they are reputable. Verify everything!


Many ‘friendly’ backyard breeders will tell you that they ‘health test’, but this testing will stop short. Verify that both parents have completed the following:

  • Hip & Elbow x-rays, OFA or PENNHIP certified
  • Eye exam with a board-certified Veterinary Ophthalmologist (OFA)
  • Echocardiogram (OFA)
  • Thyroid panel (OFA)
  • Genetic screening as needed for color and genetic disorders such as bloat and IMGD
  • A thorough study of the pedigree, which should be healthy and robust

Pro tip: remember, fear/aggression, bloat and heart problems are largely genetic AND are just three of the primary reasons that Great Danes ‘don’t live long’.

The breeder you choose can greatly impact your new puppy’s lifespan and overall health.



To put this simply, the parents should be robust, healthy, friendly, courageous examples of Great Danes.

Read the written standard here for more information.

The pedigree should be free bloat, seizures, heart failure, thyroid disease, megaesophogus, poor structure, fear, anxiety, aggression, Wobblers, Von Willebrand’s and clotting disorders. Ask the breeder to verify this, and don’t take excuses for an answer.

Breeding dogs together because they ‘are great dogs’, are ‘Euro’, have a neat color or AKC papers is not enough.

(Read more about ‘Euro’ Danes here)

One the left: A rescue Dane that originated with a backyard breeder. On the right, a well-bred brindle Dane.
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On the left, a Harlequin Great Dane from a ‘friendly and reputable’ backyard breeder. She is aggressive and has health problems. On the right, a well bred champion Great Dane. The dog on the right is more likely to live a long, robust life, pain-free life and make an excellent family pet.

Perpetuating genetic, structural and temperament problems in Great Danes through careless, profit-driven breeding ‘friendly backyard breeding’ practices is extremely unethical.



It’s not enough to expose a litter of puppies to the yard and some kids or goats.

Good Great Dane breeders learn from others, study, understand basic behavior and training concepts and implement dedicated practices such as Puppy Culture and ENS.

These programs are designed to socialize the puppies and teach them to be confident, adaptable, people-focused and trainable. Puppy Culture and ENS can take already outstanding, thoughtfully bred dogs and make them amazing family pets that are calm, focused, easy to train and a joy to be around.

Puppies should be deliberately exposed to a variety of handling, sounds, people, obstacles and experiences, and kept with the litter for a minimum of 8 weeks.

Stress is a leading contributor to bloat risk, so this one is important.



A good breeder is dedicated to their dogs. They provide them with robust, enriched lives and maintain their health and well being with an appropriate diet, training, teeth & nail maintenance and access to socialization experiences.

You will also find that good breeders title their dogs. Titles can come from conformation (show), obedience, tricks and sports.

Ask about previous puppies and their experience! If the breeder is selling puppies to dedicated, caring and deliberately chosen owners those puppies will also have received titles such as CGC, trick titles or even conformation and show titles.

Contrary to popular belief, showing dogs is not just a ‘snobby hobby’. Show dogs prove that the breed health and structure is being maintained. Proving a dog’s conformation in the show ring is in the best interest of the breed as a whole, and puppies from show dogs with proven, AKC CH. pedigrees are more likely to have robust structure, health and temperaments.

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A sickly, timid looking double-merle (‘Merlequin’) Great Dane puppy from Petland, a store that sells puppies from unethical breeders and puppy mills.


Good breeders care about every puppy they produce and will never allow a single one to end up in a shelter or rescue.

They will support buyers through hard times, take puppies back at any time for any reason and are available to puppy buyers for questions and advice.

A Great Dane from a thoughtful, careful and diligent breeder is not a dog that will ever clog the rescue system; this reason alone should be enough for people to understand the importance of choosing carefully before giving money to a ‘friendly’ backyard breeder.



Good breeders:

  • Never use their breeding program and contracts to promote, sell and profit from MLM commission products such as Life’s Abundance or NuVet; these products promote the idea of breeding for profit and are not fully tested nor are they formulated by board-certified Veterinary Nutritionists.
  • Will never stud their dogs out to random other ‘breeders’
  • Don’t use social media to sell entire litters of puppies; this is a sign that a breeder bred dogs together before finding dedicated potential owners, and is willing to sell to anybody with $$.
  • Will not cut corners on health testing (heart, hips, eyes, thyroid) or make excuses for why they only did some of it.
  • Good breeders often have terrible, outdated and sketchy looking websites! Good breeders are out working with their dogs and their puppies, not wasting time making pretty marketing.
  • Will not simply/easily ship a puppy to you or sell it to you with a ‘buy now’ button.
  • Are affiliated with the parent club (GDCA) in some way, either as a member, in the community as a breeder that is showing their dogs, or as a breeder who is mentoring under and learning from a member of the club while building their program. Their reputation is positive in the Dane breeder community, not just in the Dane pet-owner community (where most friendly backyard breeder referrals tend to come from).
  • Will never allow owners to breed their puppies without extreme diligence, and will not allow any puppy from the litter to go to a ‘breeder’ home.
  • Are choosy about potential homes.
  • Are extremely unlikely to allow you to purchase littermates/multiples at the same time.


Bad Great Dane Breeders

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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