How To Choose A Great Dane : It Is More About Choosing A Reputable Breeder Than Choosing A Puppy!

1.     Find a breeder that breeds not just for color, but for genetic soundness, good temperament, longevity and conformation to breed standard. If not, you may end up with an aggressive, timid, nervous and/or hyper 100+ pound dog that you can not control, or a dog that succumbs to premature death. ALL puppies are cute and adorable… but what kind of dog will this cute puppy end up being once matured and fully grown. What kind of dog will you be spending 10 to 13+ years with??? Just because a dog has “papers” or is “AKC Registered” does not make it a quality dog. This merely means that the dog’s parents are in the AKC registry (AKC does not regulate who can and can’t breed their dogs, they don’t police who QUALITY breeders are or aren’t, they are simply a registry!) Anyone can put 2 dogs together who happen to be AKC (or even APRI, ConKC, etc.) registered, but they can be terrible representations of the breed!

2.     Don’t just buy a great dane that is “closest in distance” or “the cheapest”, this is the worst kind of criteria to determine where you get your dog from. This may certainly lead you to getting a puppy from a “breeder” who doesn’t care about where or who their dogs go to, and most certainly won’t stand behind their puppy if something were to happen or you happen to need to return your dog due to unforeseen circumstances. Choose a breeder who has been breeding great dane’s to improve the breed and better their program with each generation and decision they make within their breeding program and which kennels they choose to get their dogs from. One who is selecting excellent breeding stock and who does all OFA recommended health clearances and more (I personally do hips, elbows, thyroid, dentation, patella’s, shoulders, cardiac, and eye CERF’s). If you call a “breeder” ask questions, lots of them, make sure that you are comfortable with them and they are comfortable with you. Make sure that you not only answer all their questions but also fill out all paperwork they ask you to. Ask them what was the purpose behind their breeding, if the answer is “to let out children experience the birth of life” or “because we love our dog and wanted to let him/her have a litter of puppies before we neuter/spay them”… these are poor excuses for a breeding, this means that they put little to no effort into this litter and are honestly only doing it for selfish reasons. If you ask about their dogs’ health clearances (OFA, CERF, Color and Genetic Tests) and they say “what?” or “my vet said that were healthy enough to have a litter” or my personal favorite “we had the x-ray’s done at the vet and the vet said they looked good so we didn’t send them in to OFA” RUN! Or if they say “yes” follow up with “what was the ratings on the sire and dam of this litter?” ask this for ALL health clearances they say they perform, you can also check on if you have the dogs registration number and/or registered name (a breeder with nothing to hide will be more than happy to provide this information to you and also post it on their website). Remember, even if you just want a “pet” you still want a pet from someone who health tests, and ensures that the dogs they bred have good temperaments and genetically sound as purchasing a puppy that may end up with poor temperament and is crippled within the first year of life or less would be heartbreaking for not only you and your family but also for your dog. Who wants to fall in love with a new companion, just to have the heartbreak of death, serious illness, physical disabilities or premature euthanasia because of poor attention paid to the breeding of the dog’s they chose to put together? The extra $100 to $200 (sometimes you end up paying less than what they are asking) is worth it in the end. You’ll pile up hundred of thousands of dollars in vet bills when you skimp on the initial investment of the right dog from the right breeder!

3.     Ask if the puppy comes with a health guarantee and what this includes. Most breeders will have a clause in their contract laying out what is and isn’t covered with their guarantee. Most breeders that have lower priced dogs will not provide any form of health guarantee, hence the lower price, this makes it so that they have no legal or moral obligation once the puppy leaves their possession. Plus, they are not investing in the testing for genetic and health clearances or ensuring that they are breeding the best of the best of breeding stock. If they can not provide you with a contract stating what is expected of you as the owner of their puppy (cause yes this puppy was theirs first, they loved them first) and being able to outline what they are willing to do for their puppy even after leaving their possession, walk away and find a breeder who does. They are cutting corners and “saving money” and not ensuring that you are getting the best puppy possible that will go on to be the best dog possible.

Chances are if you see an ad on or or other puppy advertising websites, it is from a backyard breeder or puppy mill. Most serious breeders do not need to advertise their puppies on these sites- their reputation for the well-bred puppies speaks for itself. Most of their puppies are placed via word-of-mouth or through their website that they put together and poured all their knowledge onto the pages of the site, and they frequently have a waiting list for their puppies. The price of the puppies reflects the amount of time, effort, love and resources spent into producing a well-bred happy, heathy puppy!

The Difference in Price?

So many people ask me “why are your puppies more / less than XXX” what I want to know is why these puppies only cost XXX???

A Preservation Breeder- Both the sire and dam of this puppy come from top quality breeding stock which has been developed over years and years of selective and knowledgeable breeding’s. Both meet the parent club standard (GDCA) in conformation, temperament, coat color, etc. Each has a pedigree, which has been studied and thoroughly researched and thoughtfully planned out.  These dogs have been selected to breed to each other because they can both contribute positively to the breed and complement each other physically and correct faults in each other for a better future generation.

A Backyard Breeder- The dam of the litter was purchased from a puppy mill, pet store or a “breeder” who happened to have the male and female on their property and just let the breeding happen, or the sire is an over or under sized, out of standard male that happens to live down the street. Neither owner has every heard of AKC or the GDCA standard, neither owner has ever seen nor cared to look at the pedigree. Both have possible behavioral and/or temperament issues. The owners say they “hope” that having/siring a litter will calm them down.

A Preservation Breeder- Before this breeding even took place, bot the male and female had extensive health clearances (OFA & CERF) and color testing to ensure that the dogs being bred will not produce an off-color puppy. The breeder has chosen to only breed dogs who have received a passing OFA rating and conforms to the standard. The health of the puppies is of upmost importance!

A Backyard Breeder- the breeder is often unaware of any potential genetic problems within the breed. Many times, a trip to the vet is only done when in dire need or emergencies. Routine exams and any vaccinations or titers are deemed “too expensive” and “unnecessary”. The breeders hope is to make money off the puppies and “get back what they paid for the mother/father dogs”. Puppies are typically sold with no health guarantee and no breeder support for in the future if issues arise.

A Preservation Breeder-the breeder wishes to maintain a good relationship throughout the puppy’s life into adulthood and will always be there with answers for the puppy’s owners from start to finish. The breeder’s goal is to produce beautiful and sound specimens, which anyone would be proud to own. Profit, if any, is put towards future breeding’s, ensuring that the puppies will have everything needed, show entries, new equipment, important veterinary tests and always moving their program forward. Each breeding is always aimed toward the betterment of the breed! Both the mother and puppies are fed the highest quality diet. Puppies are raised in a busy part of the house where they are socialized, groomed, exposed to different stimuli and people. They are touched and talked to multiple times per day, cuddled and played with. Puppies are stared on kennel training and potty training. They are never placed before they are 8 weeks old and each potential buyer is thoroughly screened and vetted on caring for a great dane puppy. If for some reason the breeder doesn’t have some of the puppies placed they start leash, potty and manner training, sometimes taking them to local puppy classes to ensure that whoever is to get this puppy will have an amazing start with them once they take them home. Only puppies who are excellent examples of the breed are held and placed in either a show home or a guardian home that will allow the breeder to show him/her. Any other puppy is sold on limited registration to pet/companion homes with a spay/neuter contract to ensure that these puppies are not bred (and if they are there are legal stipulations put in place by the breeder). All puppies are preregistered with AKC/FCI/CanKC (whichever region the breeder is located that pertains to their registry) and all the new owner has to do is ensure that all the information is correct. The breeder has paid a portion of the registration fees to ensure that every puppy from each litter is registered before going to its new home. The breeder has a strict clause in the contract stating that the new owner has to keep in contact with them at least once a year and has an open line of communication with them from puppyhood to seniority.

A Backyard Breeder- these puppies are born in a garage or a secluded area where they receive little care or exposure to anything aside from what the mother gives and when old enough only during feeding times. To cut costs they are weaned to a generic poor-quality kibble and allowed to nurse on the mother as long as possible to keep the food bill down. The female’s health declines rapidly due to poor health and living conditions and some puppies are weak, runty and have wormy bellies. They are sold as soon as possible because continuous advertising, food and vaccines are expensive. More than half the litter likely doesn’t have a home lined up for them once they are ready to go and the breeder becomes desperate to place them and starts decreases their prices. They are sold to anyone who has cash in hand. If the new owner is lucky, they may receive an AKC or ConKC registration application. And although the puppy is a poor example of the breed, they are sold with full breeding rights. The new owner typically disappears with the puppy and is never seen or heard from again.

The comparison you just read is completely hypothetical but is very typical and seen far too often in the dog world. Although not every breeder who charges a higher price is reputable and ethical, pet buyers should keep looking until they find someone that they trust and are comfortable with. It is completely okay to say “no thank you” to someone with whom you do not feel comfortable with. Don’t insult their program just simply state that you have chosen to go a different route.

Those who are seeking a companion deserve nothing less then the best quality, healthy, trusting and sound, as well as a breeder that they can rely on from now and to the future!


Price is always once of the first questions, one that I would rather answer right off the bat than to spend hours and hours speaking with someone who eventually decides that my puppies are out of their price range. Finding a breeder that not only is comfortable with you and you with them but also one that has puppies within the price range you are looking to spend is important, but also asking a breeder to decrease their prices because it is not what you wanted to spend is like a slap in the face to that breeder who has poured their heart and soul into each puppy and has ensured that each breeding has taken place for the right reasons.

This also pertains to people who are simply looking for a companion and think “I just want a pet and have no interest in showing or breeding, so what do I care if the puppy is from health tested parents?”

Whats In A Pedigree?

A good pedigree isn’t everything, but it is a good place to start when you are wanting to learn about a dog or it’s lines. This also applies to those who just want a good family pet, a beautiful dog and a smart, trainable dog. You probably want to know that the puppy you purchase was well-bred and did not come from an uneducated breeder or puppy mill. A pedigree can tell you a lot about your dog. It first show’s you each parent, grandparents, great-grandparents registered name and AKC Reg # in which you can use this information to search the OFA website for the results, this is extremely important if you want a healthy dog.

It is our duty to breed responsibly and this means…

  • Breeding high quality breeding stock that have been temperament tested, are loving and beautiful specimens who have also been health tested to the fullest.
  • Placing puppies with families that have been approved only after being thoroughly interviewed and have demonstrated the willingness and ability to raise the puppy to be a member of the family in a nurturing and healthy environment.
  • Offering a complete follow-up and LIFELONG support for ALL puppies produced.
  • Assisting families that are interesting in pursuing events (conformation, agility, barn hunt, etc.) and recommending specific training classes, clubs and associations as well as guidance to get started.

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