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rec.pets.dogs: Great Danes Breed-FAQ

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Archive-name: dogs-faq/breeds/greatdanes
Posting-frequency: 30 days
Last-modified: 10 Nov 1997

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This article is Copyright 1997 by the Author(s) listed below. 
It may be freely distributed on the Internet in its entirety without
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without express or implied warranty.

                                  Great Danes

   Georgia Alyce Thomas
   Copyright 1993-1995 by Georgia Alyce Thomas.
   May be contacted through John Thomas at for additional questions,
   comments or corrections.
Table of Contents

     * Dane Personality
     * Size, Color, Ears
     * Grooming
     * Health Concerns
     * Care and Training
     * Is the Dane the Right Breed for You?
     * Resources
Dane Personality

   "There is nothing like a Dane!" is often heard from fanciers of this
   breed. And while size alone makes him unique, the Great Dane's
   personality is the quality that most find so appealing. The Dane is a
   "people dog" - a sensitive and affectionate companion. They can be
   elegant and dignified one moment, and then playful and silly the next.
   They were originally developed in Germany to hunt wild boar. And
   although they are no longer used for that purpose, they should still
   possess the confidence that made them suitable for that work. Because
   of their temperament, and the fact that they are generally clean and
   quiet, they make ideal inside-the-house pets. They do not make good
   "yard" dogs, because when segregated from human companionship, they
   can become very unruly and destructive.
   Puppy buyers should always be sure to see at least the dam of the
   litter (and the sire if possible). Puppy temperament is influenced by
   both heredity (from sire, dam, and other ancestors), and by
   environment (which is greatly influenced by the dam, and the breeder's
   rearing practices). Anyone buying a puppy should ensure that the dam
   does have a temperament that conforms to the breed standard, and that
   the breeder is raising the puppies properly (in the house as part of
   the family), and is providing adequate socialization and early
Size, Color, Ears

   not be less than 30 inches at the shoulders, but it is preferable that
   he be 32 inches or more, providing he is well proportioned to his
   height. The female shall not be less than 28 inches at the shoulders,
   but it is preferable that she be 30 inches or more, providing she is
   well proportioned to her height." It is common for males to stand
   about 35 inches at the shoulder, and to weigh about 150 pounds.
   Females are commonly about 32 inches tall, and weigh about 120 pounds.
   Puppy buyers should remember that "bigger", is not necessarily
   There are five colors that are described by the AKC, and permitted to
   be shown in the breed ring. They are:
          "Glossy black..."
          "Pure steel blue..."
          "Base color shall be yellow gold and always brindled with
          strong black cross stripes in a chevron pattern. A black mask
          is preferred..."
          "Yellow gold with a black mask..."
          "Base color shall be pure white with black torn patches
          irregularly and well distributed over the entire body..."
   The _GREAT DANE CLUB OF AMERICA_ (parent club for our breed) has
   established a Breeders Color Code, which states: "There are only five
   recognized colors; all these basically fall into four color strains:
    1. FAWN and BRINDLE
    2. HARLEQUIN and Harlequin-Bred BLACK
    3. BLUE and Blue-Bred BLACK
    4. BLACK
   Color classifications being well-founded, the _Great Dane Club of
   America, Inc._ considers it an inadvisable practice to mix color
   strains..." Puppy buyers who are interested in showing or breeding,
   should be sure to purchase a puppy with show potential, who is also
   one of the five recognized colors, and who is also pure color bred.
   Boston and merle are colors that are often seen in harlequin litters,
   and while these colors are not permitted in the conformation ring (in
   the U.S.), individuals of these colors can make fine pets, and can
   also participate in other types of competition (obedience, tracking,
   agility, flyball, etc.).
   Danes are born with ears that (according to the breed standard) should
   be "high set, medium in size and of moderate thickness, folded forward
   close to the cheek. The top line of the ear should be level with the
   skull." Ears may also be cropped. "If cropped, the ear length is in
   proportion to the size of the head and the ears are carried uniformly
   erect." Ear cropping is an optional cosmetic surgery which enables the
   ears to stand. Aftercare (taping, etc.) is also necessary to ensure
   that the surgery will be successful. If you choose to have your
   puppy's ears cropped, please contact your breeder, or your local Dane
   club, for a referral to a Veterinarian in your area who is proficient
   at performing this surgery and after-care.

   The Dane is a short-haired breed, and therefore requires little in the
   way of coat care. Most do well with weekly brushing (more often during
   periods of heavy shedding), and bathing as needed. The Dane also
   requires ear cleaning, dental care, and toenail trimming like any
   other breed.
Health Concerns

   The Great Dane, like many other breeds, is prone to a variety of
   health problems - some hereditary (or believed to be hereditary).
   Responsible breeders should do the following health screenings on all
   dogs that are used in a breeding program:
   OFA Certification
          Hip Dysplasia is a poly-genetic hereditary disease which can
          cause pain and lameness - even to the point of being crippling.
          The Orthopedic Foundation for Animals will review radiographs
          on dogs (two years of age or older) and certify the hip joint
          conformation as normal (free of Hip Dysplasia) with grades of
          Excellent, Good, or Fair.
          Hypothyroidism can cause a variety of medical problems, and has
          been linked to auto-immune disorders. It is diagnosed with
          blood screening.
          Von Willebrand's Disease is a bleeding disorder (similar to
          Hemophilia in people), and is diagnosed with blood screening.
          The Canine Eye Registration Foundation will certify a dog to be
          free of apparent heritable ocular disease based upon
          examination of a veterinary opthamologist. The dog must be
          re-examined and re-certified every 12 months.
          This testing is done to determine hereditary heart disease,
          including Cardiomyopathy. It is generally performed by a
          veterinary cardiologist.
   When interviewing breeders, a puppy buyer should ask for proof of (the
   above listed) screenings, and should also ask about other health
   problems including Gastric Torsion (Bloat), Seizure Disorders,
   Wobblers, and Orthopedic Disease (OCD, HOD, etc.). Breeders who deny
   any knowledge of any possible hereditary disease in their lines, as
   well as those who are not familiar with these diseases (and the
   screening process), should be avoided. Dogs who have been diagnosed
   with any heritable disease should NOT be used in a breeding program.
   The Great Dane is unfortunately not a long-lived breed. Their lifespan
   is generally 7-10 years. Longevity can be promoted by breeding healthy
   individuals (whose ancestors were long-lived), and by practicing good
   health management. But, even though the Dane is not long-lived, Dane
   lovers would agree that they'd rather have eight years with these dogs
   than twenty with another breed.
Care and Training

   Danes need a moderate amount of exercise. A long walk each day seems
   to suit most Danes nicely. Of course, Danes can also be trained to
   participate in very athletic activities, such as competition
   obedience, tracking, agility and flyball.
   Because of their size, an un-trained Dane can be a very serious
   hazard. Dane puppies should be started in a puppy training and
   socialization class at about three months of age. At that stage, they
   are very impressionable, and a relatively manageable size. For their
   own safety, and for the safety of their owners (and others), all Danes
   should be taught not to bite (even in play), and not to jump up on
   people (unless invited). They should also learn (at a minimum) the
   five basic obedience commands: heel, sit, down, stay, and come. Danes
   are a very sensitive breed, and (for the best results) should be
   taught using motivational/inducive methods.
Is the Dane the Right Breed for You?

   Because a 25 pound eight-week-old male puppy will generally grow to
   about six times that weight, special consideration needs to be given
   before acquiring a puppy. Dogs are abandoned every day because their
   owners didn't realize that their cute little puppy would grow up to be
   a very large dog with real needs. Therefore, anyone considering a Dane
   as a pet (puppy or adult), should first spend time with adults of the
   breed, and then ask themselves the following questions:
     * Will I be able to provide enough food for a giant breed dog? They
       eat about three to six cups of high quality dog food twice each
     * Can I afford the other expenses involved with owning a dog of this
       size? Medication, crates, bedding, equipment, supplies, toys,
       etc., all cost more for a giant breed dog.
     * Am I prepared to provide a Dane with the companionship and
       exercise he requires?
     * Am I able, and willing, to provide positive and consistent
       training, beginning as soon as my Dane enters my home?
   If after considering all of these questions, you are still determined
   to add a Great Dane to your family, then do consider adopting a
   homeless dog from a rescue organization. Danes of both sexes, and all
   colors and ages, are often available for adoption. If you must have a
   puppy, then screen breeders very carefully before buying. Make sure
   that any puppy that you consider, has been bred and reared to have a
   correct temperament, and that the parents have been screened for
   genetic defects. An aggressive Great Dane can be a very dangerous dog,
   and a crippled or chronically sick Dane can be more of a burden than a
   pleasure. Remember that your decision to acquire a Dane, is a decision
   that will affect you (and your Dane) for a lifetime.

  Suggested Reading List
   _The New Complete Great Dane_ (Book)
          by Noted Authorities, Howell Book House, 1972
   _The Great Dane, Dogdom's Apollo_ (Book)
          by Nancy-Carroll Draper, Howell Book House, 1982
   _The Great Dane_ (Book)
          by Anna Katherine Nicholas, T.F.H. Publications, 1988
   _The Great Dane Reporter_ (bi-monthly magazine)
          Sally Silva, Editor-Publisher: P.O. Box 150, Riverside, CA
          92502-0150. Phone: (909) 784-5GDR; Fax: (909) 369-7056.
  For More Information About Danes, Please Contact
   _GREAT DANE FOUNDATION_ (Rescue/Education/Referral)
   Cathy Mitchell
   10055 Belknap Suite #115
   Sugar Land, Texas 77478
   Phone: (713) 496-5130
   Fax: (713) 530-6438
    Great Dane FAQ
    Georgia Thomas

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