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Great Dane Club of New England



About buying a Great Dane puppy

Interested in acquiring a Great Dane? Wonderful! But, buying a Great Dane is not a decision to be taken lightly. A Great Dane is one of the giant breeds, and that cute little puppy is going to grow and grow and grow. Are you ready for a puppy that can literally chew holes in the wall and steal food off your kitchen counter—without standing on its hind legs? Are you prepared to deal with gastric torsion ("bloat") and other potentially serious and costly health problems? Do you have time to socialize and train your "gentle giant" so it will be a good companion and good citizen?

Before you buy a Great Dane, take time to be sure it is the right addition to your home and your family. The Great Dane is not the dog for everyone. However, given the right owner, the Great Dane is the most rewarding of companions.

How big do Great Danes get?

The standard set for the breed by the Great Dane Club of America requires female Great Danes to be at least 28 inches tall at the shoulder and males to be at least 30 inches but most Great Danes will be taller than this. A typical male may be 34 to 36 inches tall and a female 31 to 33 inches. Weight may be 120-170 pounds or more.

Six-month-old fawn bitch is already 28 inches at the shoulder.

What is the temperament of the Great Dane?

Great Danes are people oriented, wanting to please and be with their families. They need to be socialized so they are comfortable around different people and other dogs, and they should receive basic obedience training.

Are Great Danes good with children?

Great Danes can be wonderful with children. But keep in mind that a six month old pup will outweigh a six year old child! A playful Dane puppy can knock down a small child in fun and a wagging tail or paw can be on the same level as a child's face. If you have not raised a giant breed before and you have young children, you should think carefully before you acquire a Dane puppy.

What colors do they come in?

The official standard set by the Great Dane Club of America recognizes seven colors:

Fawn-yellow gold with a black mask

Brindle-yellow gold base with strong black cross stripes, black mask preferred

Blue-pure steel blue

Black-glossy black

Harlequin-White base color with black "torn patches." The black patches should not be so large as to give the impression of a blanket nor so small as to give a stippled or dappled effect.

Mantle-Black and white with a solid black blanket extending over the body; black skull with white muzzle; white blaze optional; whole white collar preferred; white chest, white on part or whole of forelegs and hind legs; white tipped black tail.

Merle-Pale to dark gray with torn black patches, in either a solid or mantle pattern

Any Great Dane which does not fall within the above color classifications must be disqualified from the show ring. Sometimes miscolored Danes are advertised as valuable, rare colors. These dogs may make wonderful companions and pets but they cannot be shown and they fall outside the colors recognized by the Great Dane standard.

This mantle puppy's ears have been cropped and taped so they will stand erect when the dog is older.

How big are puppies?

Puppies weigh about from half a pound to a pound and a half when born. By six weeks, puppies should weigh 12 to 15 pounds and be gaining about 3 pounds a week.

Below are two-week- old fawn puppies.

A five-month-old male puppy taking a nap.

What about ear cropping?

While Great Danes traditionally have their ears cropped, whether or not to crop is a matter of personal preference. Both cropped and natural eared dogs may be shown. If a puppy is cropped, this is usually done between seven and eight weeks of age. The cropped ears require regular care if they are to stand properly when the dog is older.

This nine-month-old uncropped Dane is relaxing with friends.

How much exercise do they need?

While Great Danes need exercise in order to be happy and healthy, they do not require the amount of exercise that sporting or hound breeds typically require.

How much do they eat?

Great Danes and other giant breeds grow quickly and the quality of food is very important, especially for puppies. Do not overfeed a growing Dane. A Dane puppy that consumes too many calories is more vulnerable to bone problems. Do not supplement your dog with calcium.

What kind of health problems do Great Danes have?

Great Danes may suffer from a variety of health problems, including cardiomyopathy and other heart diseases, gastric torsion (bloat), hip displasia, thyroid disorders, and bone cancer. Reputable breeders will stand behind the health of their puppies and many will screen their breeding stock to try to eliminate as many problems as possible. However, even if a dog’s parents have been tested and found to have normal hips, hearts, eyes, thyroid function, etc., puppies may still develop these or other problems. When a large dog such as a Great Dane requires medical attention, it can be expensive. They require larger doses of medication than small dogs, and surgery for something like bloat can cost several thousand dollars.

How can I tell if my dog is a good show prospect?

First, you need to be sure that you dog does not have any faults that disqualify it under the breed standard. But lack of such serious faults does not in itself make a good show prospect. The dog must also have many good qualities so that it comes close to meeting the ideal Great Dane as described in the standard. No dog is ever perfect and judging dogs involves personal opinion and preference. A reputable breeder will tell you if a puppy is likely to be a show prospect. No one can guarantee that a puppy will mature into a successful show dog or finish its championship. Going to dog shows and comparing your dog to those being shown and taking your puppy to "matches" (fun shows at which no AKC championship points are awarded) can be helpful in determining if your dog is a good show prospect.

How can I find a breeder?

You can get in touch with one of the breeders listed on this site under NE Area Breeder Referrals. You may find it helpful to attend some dog shows and talk with exhibitors (remember that exhibitors may not have time to talk until judging is over). Responsible breeders don't have many litters, so be prepared to wait for the right puppy to come along. You may also want to consider adopting a dog through Rescue.

Resources for this content include "Dane Data" from Waccabuc Great Danes and the Great Dane Club of America. Editor Kim Thurler.


Comments? We'd love to hear them. E-mail to:
Kim Thurler (e-mail: KimThurler@vfemail.net)
(C) Copyright Great Dane Club of New England, 1997.