Controversial Issues:


Breeding Your Pet


Arlene Scarbrough,

Scarbrough Fair Great Danes


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 the way.

Breeding is 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 friend’s male.  

 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 expensive. 

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 breeders.

Folks, be 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.




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