I receive emails
every day from folks who have decided that their dane is so
wonderful that they should definitely breed. Most pet people who
consider breeding do so to acquire an offspring of their beloved
pet; to make a little money “on the side”; to show their children
the miracle of birth, up close and personal; or to get additional
pets without having to purchase them.
Great Danes are
supposed to have an average life span of seven to eight years…way
too short to suit me. The American danes have declined to an
average of about five…pathetic! The reason this wonderful breed
is suffering so acutely…bad breeders.
In my opinion,
approximately 90% of breeders are bad. Some are bad because they
don’t know what they are doing, and the others are bad because they
really don’t care what they are doing to or with the breed.
For the purposes of
this particular CI, we will discuss those bad breeders who do not
know what they are doing…in other words, all those folks who have
decided that their pet is so wonderful they should breed him/her.
A good breeder
should be the first one hurt in a transaction or sale; the buyer
should be the second; and, the pup should be the last. A person who
just decides it would be wonderful to breed does not know what they
are doing and, therefore, generally makes numerous mistakes in
judgment. Unfortunately, the first to suffer from their mistakes is
their pups; the second is their buyers; and they suffer last, if at
all. As breeders, they should improve with experience, but this is
a slow process with a lot of unnecessary suffering for pups along
dangerous for all concerned. The only time I have ever been
bitten by a dane was during a breeding, and I have two scars to
prove it. I was helping a friend breed her female to another
If you really
love your dane, you have to realize the risks of breeding BEFORE you
make the decision to breed your pet. I have had many folks
email and/or call me to see if I would either breed their female to
one of our males or use their male on one of our females. I always
decline, but I always warn the folks about the risks. In the past,
some of these folks wanted pups so badly that they persisted in
their search until they found someone who would work with them.
Some of the people recontact me; some don’t.
One lady had a male
that she adored, and all she wanted was a pup out of her male. She
did find someone who would allow him to breed their female dane.
Her male did his job, and the dog and the bitch tied. The male went
to dismount, lost his footing, fell over backwards and broke his
back. This type of breeding accident doesn’t happen often, but it
does happen, especially when the breeder is inexperienced.
I also know of a
case where the male bred the female and they were tied. The bitch
started acting up while they were still tied. The male wound up
dead the next day. He had been seriously injured during the
breeding, and the kennel help did not notice.
We just had a very
strange experience. We bred one of our bitches to one of our
imported males. Both the male and the female had been bred
before. It was a VERY gentle breeding ATTEMPT, and we thought
maybe she wasn’t quite ready. We put the male up and brought the
female inside. We noticed that she was bleeding heavily….very
heavily. We wound up at our vets at 11:00 PM on a Saturday night
for a surgery. There was a rip, and it was bad enough that our vet
said had we not caught it immediately and gotten her in to the
clinic that she would have bled to death in about THREE hours. Had
we been keeping her outside, we wouldn’t have seen the problem until
the next morning because this was a night breeding, and she would
have bled to death. In 37 years of breeding, this was a first for
me. An inexperienced breeder or a pet person doing a breeding might
not have realized that there was a serious problem, and they would
have lost their female.
Both the breeding
and the pregnancy are risky for the bitches. If they make it
through the breeding without injury, they can have severe
complications during the delivery process; they can retain pups and
die from associated complications.
Years ago I lost a
beautiful show marked harl bitch. She was bred; whelped the litter;
torsioned in the middle of the night a day after the litter was
born. We had the surgery done, but lost her anyway. I’ve lost a
few females over these many years to pregnancies. It is because of
these losses that I stopped co-owning. I did not ever want to be
responsible for making the decision to breed someone else’s pet that
I co-owned only to have something bad happen to her….or worse yet,
to lose her completely.
If you simply
want another dog from the same “family”, go back to your breeder and
purchase a relative. It is ever so much safer and generally less
Although we love
all of our kids, I have personally owned a couple of danes who got
to me so much that I refused to breed them due to the associated
risk. I lost the first one at ten years of age. Her brother was
our top producing stud for many years, but she was never bred. The
other female is still with us.
If you have
considered breeding because you think your dog is so wonderful and
would produce super pups, the sale of which could help supplement
your income…think again!! We have been breeding since 1970 and
find wonderful homes for our kids. Some people think our danes are
a little on the pricey side…and we still lose money every year.
An average litter is from 8-12 puppies. Our largest litter was 19:
14 born naturally and a C-Section performed to get the other five.
Since you don’t
know what you’re doing, and you would be unable to fully assist your
female, you could get involved with some very pricey veterinary
emergency assistance. Most vets expect payment in full at the time
the service is rendered, if a C-section is necessary. You must have
an area in which you can house the mother and pups. You should
have a whelping box with a guard rail to keep the pups from being
crushed. Pups must be wormed and get shots before they are sold.
You may also encounter parasites; parvo; kennel cough; and/or other
problems. Even if you get the pups up to eight weeks, ads are
expensive to run, and most buyers want to purchase their pup from
someone with experience, so that the breeder can provide guidance
throughout the pups lifetime. It will take you longer to sell your
pups than it takes a professional, and you will get a much lower
sale price because you don’t have the knowledge, expertise with the
breed, and the guarantees offered by most reputable professional
forewarned, great dane pups at four months eat approximately the
same amount as a healthy adult dane. Also, multiple four
month old pups are like a serious wrecking crew. Most pet folks
do not have adequate facilities to house and care for older pups
until a proper home is found.
If you want to
show your children “the miracle of birth”, rent a video or let the
children observe you or your spouse delivering another child.
Do not make your dane and/or her pups pay for the mistakes you will
likely make due to “serious lack of experience”. It’s truly not
fair to this wonderful breed.
Trust me, if you
simply want another dane or two from the same bloodline as your
beloved pet, go back to your breeder and purchase what you want…it
will wind up costing you a lot less.
The risk of
breeding for an inexperienced person without a mentor is high; even
with knowledge and experience there is a real risk! Do your
dane/danes a favor….neuter your pets.