Truthfully, there’s no big secret to purchasing a purebred puppy. The success of your buyer’s journey is purely dependent on the time and effort you put in to your own personal research and knowledge about the breed you’re looking at.
Simply put, the more you know, the less you’ll be lovingly duped by the allure of the adorable pups you’re going to meet. The Ultimate Guide to buying a purebred Great Dane puppy – or any purebred dog for that matter – should always start with you, the prospective owner.
Take a Good Look in the Mirror
When it comes to purchasing a purebred Great Dane, the story is much the same. This is a spirited, regal animal that’s known for its impressive strength, size, and friendly demeanor. Before you begin the search for a reputable, ethical breeder, you should be trying to gain as much information as humanly possible about the breed before you head out with the kids to see some puppies. You should be asking yourself about who you are as an individual, as a family, and where you are in your life’s journey. Will the dog be a great match for you and yours?
The internet can be of help. Watching breed overview videos and reading interesting blogs should give you a good sense of the type of people who enjoy having the breed around as a companion. Ask yourself how you and your family stack up in comparison. Do you and the ideal owners shown in the literature have an active lifestyle? Are there young kids around? Do they have access to lots of open space?
Asking yourself these few initial questions should let you know right away whether or not to continue looking in the Great Dane direction.
Great Dane 101
Great Danes are beautiful dogs inside and out. Sometimes called the “Apollo of Dogs", Great Danes are never timid animals. They are majestic and move in long powerful strides.
Originally bred to hunt European boar, these massive creatures were cherry-picked to be bred with others that exhibited the preferred traits of impressive size and strength, patience, courage, and discipline.
Boar-hunting dogs resembling Great Danes are found in ancient Greek pictorials dating back to the 13th and 14th centuries, and were used in the 18th century to increase the stature of Austrian and German boarhounds, as well as Wolf Hounds in Ireland.
Known in the 19th century as German Boarhounds in English speaking nations, breeders began to introduce the breed as a German Mastiff – a luxury breed or estate dog, and not so much a working or sporting dog. It became known as a Great Dane only after international relations between Germany and other European allied nations began to slip in the early 1900’s.
Nowadays, Great Danes are used for much more than just hunting. Their sporting nature lends to a moderately active lifestyle and to a life that’s to be enjoyed with family and friends abound. They’re very social dogs, and don’t do incredibly well when left alone for long periods of time.
As puppies, Great Danes are boisterous, funny and – like most puppies – can leave a path of destruction in their wake. It’s very important that a young Great Dane be taken out in the world and socialized with other people and dogs to build their confidence and temperament.
Size / Physical Traits
Officially recognized as a breed by the American Kennel Club in 1887, the male Great Dane should always appear more massive than the female, and should not be less than 30 inches at the shoulders – although its preferred to be at least 32 inches or more. The female should be no less than 28 inches at the shoulder. A longer body is permitted in the female depending it matches her size.
At about 1 month of age, the average Great Dane puppy should weigh somewhere around 5-8 pounds, and anywhere from 65-100 pounds at 6 months of age. They tend to grow like weeds in their first 8 months of age, and quickly until the approximate age of 18 months.
As puppies, Great Dane puppies with a lot of white colouring on their heads should be checked by a vet for hearing and/or sight issues, says Dale Dutill of Kahluadanes.
“This is most often done early on by the breeder but may be done at a later age by the owner. Most genetic defects don't show up until the age of 2 or a bit later, but any unusual movement that is not [considered] normal puppy ‘gangliness’ or awkwardness should be addressed by a vet experienced with giant breeds,” says Dutill.
Great Danes are officially recognized worldwide as having 9 colours and 3 distinct markings. Colours are confined to black, black and white, blue, brindle, fawn, harlequin, mantle, merle and white – harlequin and black and white being the most popular.
The 3 standard markings of the breed include black markings, black mask, and white markings.
Dutill says buyers should avoid Great Dane puppies advertised by their respective breeders as having “rare” colour markings.
“Responsible breeders always breed to the breeder code of ethics and to the breed standard. They never deliberately breed for mismarks and never use the term ‘Euro’ or ‘rare’ colors.”
Further, the environment in which the puppy is raised should be inspected by the potential buyers as well. Ensure that the kennel or facility where the puppies are kept is clean and well maintained. Food bowls should be clean and water should be fresh and cold.
What you choose to feed your new Great Dane pup will hugely affect its development, especially the rate at which they grow. In order to achieve their necessary stature, Great Dane puppies should never be pushed to be too active.
Breeders and owners ideally want the puppy to achieve its full size at a slow and steady pace, to avoid any potential complications like bowing legs, and painful swollen metacarpals in their paws.
Key to this slow growth, it to avoid high protein and high calorie kibble. Owners should invest in a high quality dog food with protein levels no greater than 24% and fat levels somewhere around 12-14%. Discuss possible brands with a vet that’s used to dealing with large breeds, and don’t forget to consult with your breeder to see which foods they recommend.
Another good alternative is to feed the puppy a raw diet, consisting of wild and live foods, primarily meats and veggies like chicken (include organ meat like liver and kidney), broccoli, peas, and carrots. Raw eggs and salmon oils are also a good addition. This type of a diet provides live enzymes, antioxidants, amino acids and many vitamins and minerals.
Also, use an elevated feeder to help reduce the potential for digestive issues. Insisting upon a quiet time before and after feeding can reduce the breeds likelihood to bloat after eating.
Light and lean should be the ideal visual aesthetic of your Great Dane pup until about 2 years of age.
Great Danes are known to be great with children and as family companions, and do very well with other pets as well. True gentle giants, Great Danes are ranked 15th most popular breed by the American Kennel Club (AKC) appearing to be laid back and docile – but they love to keep busy.
Puppies should all be friendly and well socialized. Shy away from a puppy that is shy or fearful of the breeder, or you. Older puppies should receive ample amounts of meaningful human interaction, and a serious buyer should avoid puppies that have been left in a litter or ‘pack’ scenario for too long – they probably lack individual training and socialization and could take a considerably longer time to house train than a younger pup. A puppy should never be allowed to leave its mother before it’s reached at least 7 weeks of age.
As a tip, making a loud abrupt sound such as a sudden clap is a good test for assessing the litters confidence, sociability, and curiosity. A good litter should stop after hearing the sound, and then curiously investigate – if the puppies scatter off and hide, avoid the entire litter.
The Breeder Experience / Buying from the Web
Where you purchase your Great Dane purebred puppy is up to you, but doing your research and investing the time and effort into getting to know your potential breeder is a decision that will follow you throughout the duration of your dog’s life.
A good responsible breeder should know the breed inside and out in every way – from temperament, to history, to possible health defects. A good breeder will also be happy to show you their references, as well as their breeding facility or kennel.
Further, they should have ample questions for you as a buyer as well. They’ll want to know who you are, what your intentions are, and why you’ve chosen to look at Great Danes as a possible companion for your family.
Good breeders make sure their puppies have the proper vaccinations and de-worming for their age before they go anywhere. As a general rule, puppies 7 weeks and older should have at least one round of vaccines and 2 worming’s.
Concerned breeders will also likely perform a slew of health tests on new puppies and their parents to ensure as few hereditary defects are passed on as possible. Breeding stock parents at the very least should have their hips x-rayed and be Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) certified against hip dysplasia. Eye tests and normal thyroid tests are common in reputable breeders as well.
Both Parents on Site?
Important to note, is that is it not normal to have both breeding stock parents on site. Good breeders search out a female or male that compliments the traits of their own breeding dog – not have both readily available to produce a new litter. Having both parents on site is almost always a red flag.
At the time of the sale, you should expect to receive an AKC or CKC
(Canadian Kennel Club) registration that will include information about pedigree, diet and medical records.
As a tip, beware of CKC acronyms that stand for Continental Kennel Club an organization that gives registrations when the dog is unable to get an AKC or CKC registrations.
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