Danes and Breeding

BlackGreatDaneWe have been looking and looking and looking for a Great Dane puppy for over a year. It’s more passively looking, as we don’t really support breeding, we want to rescue. With all the knowledge I have about dogs, training, and medical issues, I still feel like I am under-qualified to breed. I will always feel that way, unless I had a degree in Canine Genetics and Animal Behavior. I would need to know so much about the anatomy and medical problems of the breed I chose, that I wouldn’t have room in my head to do anything else. And besides that, how do I guarantee the safety and wellness of the puppies who go to homes?

I can’t. So, I don’t breed. I won’t.

White Dane

Lily, the blind Great Dane

There are some good breeders out there, and I know a few. But at the same time, our rescues are full. Our shelters are full, and there are SO MANY backyard breeders just making puppies without a thought to what this could do to the gene pool for that breed.

White puppies. Blind puppies. Deaf puppies. DEAD puppies.

This is what happens when breeders breed irresponsibly. Without doing the research. Without knowing the breed. Without doing knowing genetics, doing anatomy research, without checking the pedigree for a few generations up for each the dame and the sire.

These backyard breeders damage our dogs. They overbreed, they inbreed, they breed for the wrong reasons.

‘So my kids can see the miracle of life..’
‘So my kids can play with little puppies…’
‘Puppies are cute, everyone wants puppies..’
‘To make money’
‘My neighbor has a yorkie. I have a yorkie. Let’s breed them.’
‘I want a puppy, and this is how I can one…’

Great_Dane_PuppyThe list goes on of excuses. Never do I hear ‘To improve the breed’. Which is the correct reason to breed. Would you breed your children for any of the reasons above? If so… maybe you should think about your priorities.

Again, there are good breeders out there… just few and far between. Which brings me back to my original point. Great Danes. My husband and I (ok, mostly me) want one so badly. We are aware of all their genetic health problems. We know the risks, and know our dog won’t be around for as long as, say, a lab. But – unfortunately, they are still my favorite breed.

Over the course of 1 year: Many dogs we considered, we proceeded into the adoption paperwork about 4 of them. All fell through. Found out my neighbor is having puppies. Asked some questions. Found out the mom is a Merle. Dad is Black. No pedigree history, they won’t give me pictures. They aren’t registered breeders.

Worst of all: Breeding a Merle Dane can produce sensory defect pups or stillborn pups.

Merles should not be bred by anyone with only a handful of exceptions. The reason is not just the risk of sensory defects, since responsible breeding of appropriate colors can virtually eliminate that risk. Merles can’t be shown or evaluated by impartial third parties. Only someone who has been showing and breeding for decades and has a VERY compelling reason as well as the knowledge and experience to judge a dog’s faults and strengths accurately could even begin to responsibly breed a merle dog.

Doesn’t sound like that is the case… again… I’m puppy-less.

Danepuppy

Ryder, My Project Dog

Rider2Ryder, a 2 year old male merle Great Dane I have been working with for a few months is a PROJECT! He came to my client from a neighbor who didn’t want to take care of him anymore. He was underweight, and completely unsocialized. His problems included jumping on people to say hello, biting the leash while pulling and trying to get away, being rowdy in the house, counter/refrigerator surfing, aggression towards men, and he would ‘play bite’ your face, hands, butt, anything he could reach.

Now, that was a few months ago. Now, he doesn’t jump on people to say hello anymore, no more play biting, and counter surfing has been greatly reduced. We have been working on a leadership program to teach him who is the leader (it isn’t him!), and kennel training. We have also been heavily working on the leash and handling the aggression.

Kennel training was… difficult. 1) Because he’s huge. He didn’t like going in at first, the client would bribe him by putting a bone in the kennel. This is still something we are working on, but now, he will come out of the kennel perfectly. He will lay down until we open the door. He has to be laying down CALMLY before we can let him out. In the beginning, he would try to push you out of the way to get out of the kennel. That was a few months ago. Now, he waits calmly to be called out.

Now, the aggression is still a constant challenge. He lunges at men while barking, and this is not a ‘to say hello’ lunge. He snarls and does a hard stare when there is a strange man across the street or outside.  Now, this goes 2 ways. If the man completely ignores him, he is fine. If he looks at Ryder, he gives a warning hard stare and then a growl. If the man continues to stare, he barks and lunges at him. We have been taking him to a social class to help with this along with one of Ryder’s biggest problems: He’s pushy and dominant.

The rules are coming along, and I see major improvement within the client’s house. The family has learned how to behave around him and all the kids are on board. Even the youngest (around 4, I believe). Obedience is showing improvement, though it is slow.

As for the dominance and pushy behavior, we are teaching him he doesn’t get what he wants by pushing past people or rushing the door. We are making him slow down for ANYTHING he wants by making him sit first, and then wait calmly. Putting the halti on, taking it off, coming inside, going outside, going in the kennel, coming out of the kennel, feeding time, attention, obedience training, etc. We have also stopped him from jumping on the furniture, as this was a problem in the beginning. Still jumps up on the couches when no one is looking, but he has made HUGE progress.

So, overall, we still have a ton of work to do with him, but he made tremendous progress into becoming a loving family pet. I am so impressed with how much the family has been on board, and the progress he has made. Every week (most of the time) I see a change in his behavior.

Successes:
-Counter surfingRider
-Jumping
-Play biting
-Calming down in the house
-Kennel training

Work in progress:
-Loose Leash walking
-Accepting the halti
-Respecting the family
-Aggression towards men
-Pushy/Dominant behavior