Thoughts to Ponder


Articles of Interest

"Stop, Look and Think!"

"Forever Homes"


"Do YOU Know me?"

"Truth (or Lack Of) In Advertising"

"The Three Ss"

"The Real Breeder"

"Need to Breed?"

"X-Ray Clear?"

"So Ya Wannabe A Breeder?"


"Ring Stewards"

"The Cost Of A Champion"

"Did You Realize?"

"What Do You, the Puppy Buyer, Look for in a Breeder?"

"How To Successfully Campaign A Dog To A Finish"

"A Test"

"The Bottom Line"

Add our banner to your site

Stop, Look and Think!

As a young child you were always told to “Stop! Look! And Listen!” before you crossed a street.

Please apply these things to crossing the street into Dane ownership. And don’t forget to add, “Think!”

So the Great Dane is the breed for you.

You know to buy from a breeder, face to face. You have seen the dogs in person and away from home. If you have seen them in the show ring, they stand for examination and don’t shy away from the judge. The dogs are stable. They can stand outside the ring and let anyone pet them from young to old.

You have asked tons of questions and are comfortable with the answers.

Maybe there are some other things to consider?

Health testing? You can choose what health testing you can live with…or rather, without. Be aware though that hip screening should include generations and relatives, i.e. aunts, uncles, siblings. One lone “Excellent” parent doesn’t cut it. If that “Excellent” parent though has ten sisters and brothers with OFA ratings, there is more value. The same can be said with a “Fair” rating. If ten brothers and sisters are “Good” or better, then it’s a good thing. It doesn’t hurt to have OFA numbers and/or PennHip numbers for both parents and ALL the grandparents at the very least.

Generations of CHIC numbers are a plus. Just one CHIC number by its lonesome out of 75+ puppies produced? Hmmmm. A marketing ploy only?

Several “Fairs”? Time for questions.

Can’t find anything in the OFA database? Recently there have been some interesting developments. I have noticed more OFA numbers being advertised by those critical of the database a couple of years ago. What I can’t figure out is there is more health testing on stud dogs being promoted than the b*tches being bred. But baby steps…baby steps…

Be aware also that nothing is a guarantee. Genes have a way of matching up in the most inconsiderate ways. From my experience, I put a lot of stock in genetics and hip dysplasia.

Thyroid testing? Look especially at the TgAA. Positive is bad. Negative is good. No TgAA? Ask for another test. Be familiar with terms. Check the OFA site for explanations:

Let’s look at the pedigree. In four generations, there are 30 dogs. How many AKC and/or Canadian champions do you see in those 30 dogs? At least ten?

How many kennel names do you see in those 30 dogs? Count them. Kennel names, not individual dog names. Less than 50%? That is 15 kennel names or less. This shows me there is some continuity to the breeding program…and real experience.

A word about kennel names. I have noticed that some old kennel names have reappeared after many years…but not with the original owners. They are long gone. I guess these newbies didn’t think anyone would know. Familiarize yourself with names and know who is who.

ALL of your puppy’s parents and grandparents should still be alive. In this age of accelerated breeding programs, the need to breed young and often, this should not be an issue. Those of us that prefer to breed later will have a lot of geriatric dogs to look at. If they are not still alive though at eight or nine or ten, ask why? Are you comfortable with the answer? Are you concerned with longevity?

Ask for achievements of older puppies. Is this is a repeat breeding? If there are no achievements, then WHY was this breeding done? Did the puppy producer keep puppies at his/her home from the parent or parents if they have been bred before? If not, why not? Let’s look at the logic here. The cross is not good enough for the puppy producer to keep something but is good enough for the general public? Do not accept the excuse of “didn’t turn out”. Is the “We’ll keep breeding until we get it right” syndrome at work here? Is this really necessary?

In the words of one Great Dane breeder who will celebrate sixty…yes, that is 60…years in the breed next year, “Go to a breeder who has been around a long time and who has the knowledge and perseverance to come up with good dogs.” Long time? Twenty or more years would do.

A $3500 puppy does NOT mean quality. Never, EVER equate a hefty price tag with quality. Personally, if I spent $1300 or more for a puppy, any puppy, I would expect AKC Champion parents and CHIC numbers at the bare minimum. But that is my set of standards.

What is the system of identifying puppies in the litter from the time of birth? A couple of puppies that are the same color aren’t hard to tell apart but what about eight? If you are interested in one particular puppy, how do you know this is the same puppy over time if there is no collar or other identification? How can daily weights (a very important thing for the first two weeks of life) be accurate?

Another thing I look at in puppy pictures is toenails. Long toenails? Little hooks on the end? Why? Toenails should be clipped daily or at the least every other day. If this isn’t done, maybe the puppy producer is overwhelmed and shouldn’t really be producing puppies?

And for heaven’s sake, if you want a show puppy, buy from someone who actually owns AKC champions and has done so for years.

Is the puppy producer aware that if the parents of the litter have poor top lines, there is little hope for the puppies? Is the puppy producer aware that if the stud flips his front feet out that some, if not all, of the puppies will do the same thing? Funny thing about those genes. There are actually people out there that think by breeding a great rear to a bad rear, the puppies will have good rears.

If the puppy producer is not spending at least one weekend a month at AKC shows (absolute minimum average), then what is being accomplished with the dogs? Obedience titles? Performance titles? Extensive training? Or is the real interest in pumping out puppies?

Take a breath and take your time. This is a lot of stuff to mull over but remember it is your money. Some may consider some stuff as nit picky. I however see a lot of red flags. Food for thought…Jo


Forever Homes


   So. You are at the breeder's house. There is something you may want to consider. Ask yourself this question. Is the oldest dog on the place the breeding stock? Where are the dogs that are older than five years old? If they aren't there, then where are they? Hopefully, you will get a truthful answer. If there are no older dogs, what can this mean? No longevity? An unwillingness to keep anything that has outlived its usefulness? Does there seem to be a large turnover? I realize that not everyone is like me. Once something lives here, it stays here regardless and dies here. There is never any question of "making room" for more. JMO...Jo





   One of my favorite shows on PBS is Small Business School. They had a question today that I thought was interesting. "Why do some small businesses do better than others?" The expert answered that it boiled down to two factors--exposure and phenomenal customer service. A living however is made on service, not publicity. I can easily see a parallel with the dog business. Exposure comes from the show ring. Being a hands on person, I like to see things in the flesh. This is where the internet fails. Customer service? How much does the breeder really know? How much does the breeder really help? How well does the breeder back his product? Worthwhile questions IMO...Jo



Do YOU Know Me?


   I have talked to and or met in person >1% of the readers of this board  (referencing DanesOnline). You may think you have an idea of what I believe, etc. from what I write. You may disagree vehemently with me or agree wholeheartedly with me. You may have seen my photo album and looked at some of my dogs and at me. You may be comfortable with me or you may dislike me intensely.
   Let this be an example.
   This is what happens on the internet. A glitzy website. A good story. An ad that attracts. Things designed to pull the buyer in. Contact is made via the internet. The deal is made via the internet. A puppy is shipped sight unseen.
   If you really want to know a person, take the time to sit down and have a face to face chat with them. Listen to what that person says and more importantly, what that person asks you.
You, the buyers, are spending your hard earned money on a puppy. You deserve the very best. Distance is NOT an excuse. It is just an easy solution. Don't be taken in by the salesmen of the dog world. Food for thought...Jo



"Truth (or Lack Of) In Advertising"


   Ads drive me crazy. If I can get past the misspelled words and grammatical mistakes, I tend to dissect the ads to discern how truthful they really are.
   One ad that appeared in a magazine says "See the Puppie's Pedigree below". It should read Puppies'. The plural possessive. Isn't it more professional to be correct? When I see a mistake like this, I have to wonder at the degree of professionalism of the advertiser.
   Then we can talk about show claims and the ever popular, "Needs only a major to finish". I see this often and know for a fact that the dog or b*tch has eight or nine points (or less). I guarantee that there are no six and seven point majors out there.
   Health testing is another point. "Hips normal". An OFA rating would carry more weight with me. Then I have to wonder why there isn't an OFA rating and if there really is, why it wasn't included?
More often than not, the good breeders have no need to advertise. Word of mouth and referrals serve them well. Food for thought...Jo



"The Three Ss"


   The three Ss can have different meanings. Usually here on the farm and the surrounding environs, it can apply to "Shoot, shovel and shut up". I have used it in a previous context as the "Star Struck Syndrome" or as is known as the Popular Sire Syndrome. This is breeding to the Big Name dog of the day, regardless of complimentary conformation and pedigree. It can serve a purpose as a selling point by a puppy producer.
   Now I have another meaning for the three Ss. Sell. Ship. Skip. It's so easy to do on the Internet.
   Does the puppy producer have a sales pitch? Remember it's all about marketing. Is this person willing to ship anything to you any time, anywhere? If so, don't be surprised if this person also skips out on responsibility for the puppy. After all, you are just some words on a computer screen. No interpersonal contact has taken place so you are basically a nothing, have no face, have no voice and ultimately easier to deal with. But wouldn't it be nice to matter?
   Something to consider. Always meet the people, up close and personal, that you are dealing with. As ever, JMO...Jo



The Real Breeder


Unfortunately, anyone can have a litter of puppies and be listed on the registration form as a breeder. But...

Real breeders spend the time and money to health test.

Real breeders are available 24/7 to answer questions. If an answer is not known, then real breeders will defer to their network of other breeders for the answer.

Real breeders are willing to share experiences and be mentors.

Real breeders do activities with their dogs such as conformation, obedience, tracking, therapy work and/or agility.

Real breeders spend countless hours, days, months and years researching pedigrees and sifting through information in order to make informed breeding decisions.

Real breeders don't measure success in the number of puppies they are able to produce.

Real breeders know the health history of their breeding stock for at least five generations.

Real breeders know what the dogs look like in the pedigrees of their breeding stock for at least five generations. Personal interaction with relatives is best.

Real breeders have paid their dues in breed clubs and all breed clubs by actively participating.

Real breeders work tirelessly for the good of the breed and never expect to be thanked.

Lastly, real breeders don't ever call themselves "real" breeders but allow their peers to do that for them.

As ever, just my opinion...Jo



"Need to Breed?"


   I just don't get it. The need to mass produce puppies, that is.
I've read arguments that some use to justify producing puppies. One popular argument seems to be "I want to better the breed".
   Since a Dane isn't fully mature until the age of three, wouldn't it make more sense to wait between litters to see how the puppies turn out? So what if the b*tch has only two litters max? Or even just one? What is so wrong with that?
   The drug industry and automobile industry have testing standards and then go into production. They also periodically have recalls.
   There is no such thing as a puppy recall.
   Some breeding choices may look good on paper but fail miserably in the flesh. Throw in a lack of health testing and pedigree research and you may have a recipe for disaster. Breeding should never be taken lightly. It is hard, time consuming and costs a lot of money if done right. Why play Russian Roulette? JMO...Jo



"X-Ray Clear?"


   I don't think so.
   This is my opinion on the subject. I am seeing quite a few claims of "X-ray Clear" instead of OFA numbers.
   Case in point. A dog with abnormal hip X-rays to the untrained eye. A vet says that they are fair. The dog is bred. Out of curiosity, the X-rays are submitted by the owner to OFA and come back with a dysplastic rating.
   So why not spend the money in the first place and submit them instead of playing Russian roulette?
   I'll take the OFA rating, thank you very much. JMO...Jo



"So Ya Wannabe A Breeder?"


   Okay. But wouldn't you rather aspire to wanting to be a real breeder? There is a difference.
   A wannabe is a fringe species, a wishful sort that expresses the desire to wannabe a breeder to anyone who will listen (and even to those who try to walk away) and actually tells people that he/she is a breeder. The wannabe only absorbs enough knowledge to get by and doesn't listen to anyone with more experience because they already know it all. I also find that wannabes have "I'm gonna..." as a prominent part of their vocabulary.
   Don't be a wannabe. Make the emphatic statement, "I want to breed Great Danes" and then set out to do just that. Study, learn, listen. There is no need to talk. Absorb all that you can before you produce that first litter. Be patient. The act of producing a litter of puppies ought to scare you to death and make you doubt yourself constantly. Have you REALLY made the right decisions after all? It is indeed a daunting responsibility. Insist on high standards and don't ever "settle" for anything. The future of the breed is in your hands and that fact alone ought to cause a panic attack...Jo





   I watched "The Emperor's Club". Let me quote a line.
"Great ambition and conquests without contribution is without significance".
   I can most assuredly apply this to the dog world.
   Thinking of breeding? What contributions have you made before embarking on this important venture? The mating of two dogs is not to be taken lightly. Not only is it financially draining but it is stressful and time consuming as well...if done correctly.
So, let me repeat. What contribution have you made? Time spent with your dog club? Time spent with rescue? Time spent in training? Time spent in any dog related activity? Time spent in research? Time spent health testing and temperament testing?
How many blue ribbons do you accumulate before you consider yourself a success? Remember, it's the purple ribbons that really count. Any of those? What about titles of any kind? Any achievements at all?
   To paraphrase what comes after what I quoted. History doesn't remember those who don't contribute.
   I'm curious. What will your legacy be? Will it be, "Oh, yeah, what'sherface. She produced a huge number of pets. They didn't live long and didn't really look like Great Danes and attacked everything that walked by on two or four feet but there are a lot out there. She spent all her time in the whelping box."? Why can't it be, "Oh, I remember 'X'. She had the best and the brightest. They were true ambassadors of the breed and produced the same consistently. Everyone looked up to her. She was willing to share her experiences and taught many. So sorry that she is gone. We miss her."? So, which is it to be?...Jo



"Ring Stewards"


   For those who use the excuse, "I don't show and know nothing about it but...", here is a way to learn. Become a ring steward at your local show. This is an excellent way to find out how things work. The chief ring steward will thank you for volunteering.
I'm a chief ring steward for a couple of shows at the end of May. I would be thrilled if I had tons of people who wanted to be ring stewards. It's on-the-job training and something to consider...Jo



"The Cost Of A Champion"


   This is a common question. How much money does it take to show a dog to an AKC championship? One of my friends blanched when I told her that I figure about $1000 a point or a total of $15,000. This includes everything from the original purchase price, food, vet and the show fees and expenses.
   Now before you faint, I did some bookkeeping today and figured out what my last champion cost me. $6000. Why the discrepancy?
First of all, there was no purchase price per se since I bred him. But if I divide the litter cost (and this is the really bare basics) by seven then his part was about $700. Then the vaccinations and one round of antibiotics for tonsilitis, etc. Food, supplements, etc. for two years (he's two years old).
   Next we were ready for the shows. Forty nine shows total. Entries totaled $945. But here I lucked out a little. In some shows, I got a break for puppy classes and BBE classes.
   I used a handler for two show circuits. That is an added expense and was an option I chose but maybe it isn't necessary for everyone. I did put nine points on him including one major and the handler was responsible for seven points.
   The single biggest expense was for lodging. $1489.84. Again I was very lucky and a friend asked me to stay with her for a couple of shows. (Thanks, Oni!)
   Food on the road was not five star by any means. I didn't want to leave my dog alone quite honestly. He has developed a taste for Arby's roast beef sandwiches though so fast food it was.
   The price of gas was an expense. However, I have a car that gets good gas mileage and I can do this with one dog.
   Travel could be limited to local shows but remember that you would have to show under a maybe less than desirable judging panel. The farthest I traveled was to a cluster fourteen hours away. The circuit that my dog finished on was ten and a half hours to the first place and then six hours to the next, four and a half to the next and then four to the last which I skipped because we were done, hot and tired. I had to pass through that town though. Then five hours home. I did some driving for this adventure.
   Of course, I had to have pictures of my wins and that is an added expense. Not everyone may choose to get pictures but in case of disputes with AKC about points, it is always good to have a picture to back it up. Ribbons alone won't count.
   Note that this dog is two years old. A four year old dog is more expensive in upkeep alone so take that into account.
   In contrast, my Canadian champion has cost me $11,744.76 to date. She is four and a half years old. She also has a couple of American points. However, she has more vet expenses and is retired from the show ring because of a failure of a health test.
   If you are interested, keep track of your expenses. If you are afraid to, that it is okay also. I've been that way in the past.
   When my friend gets home from the shows this weekend and reads this thread, I think she will be very happy. It may not be as bad as what she first thought...Jo



"Did You Realize?"


   This is something to keep in mind. Of the Great Danes registered each year with AKC, about 2% of them will attain a championship. An even smaller percentage will achieve performance titles of some kind. This is only for the registered dogs. Think of ALL the Great Danes out there that are produced each year without registration papers and the percentages dwindle.
   Before you get discouraged, there is a chance that your dog could be in that 2% so don't give up. Attaining a championship isn't easy and it isn't supposed to be. It takes training, planning and knowledge of judges to be successful. Everyone is able to do it but are you willing to work at it?
   I'm concerned about the low numbers of performance titles. I have a theory. The more the owner does with his/her dog, the more likely the dog will remain in that home. A bond is forged during training. Mutual respect grows. Goals are reached.
   You don't have to have a conformation show puppy to show. Participate in the obedience ring. Participate in agility. Do something with your dog. You'll both be happier. JMO...Jo



"What Do You, the Puppy Buyer, Look for in a Breeder?"



"How To Successfully Campaign A Dog To A Finish"


   Now that the summer show season is in full swing, here are some things that may help:


Keep extensive records of the shows you show at. I have a chart with the date, show, judge, number of dogs and b*tches that actually showed (not entered), class placement, winners?, reserve? and points received. Then I make a notation of the things I feel the judge was looking for. I give a judge three chances. If I get dumped, then I won't show under that judge again. I accept the fact that he/she doesn't like my dogs.
   Time for a story. Years ago, I showed my first Dane to a judge. He had us go down and back several times. Finally, he said that he was puzzled. My dog was tracking straight but standing a bit eastie-westie. This was a young dog and his chest hadn't dropped yet. We didn't so anything that day so I went back to that judge later. We got a reserve. On the third time, we got the points.
   I took a gamble recently. A judge appeared on the judging panel who had given my dog a major reserve when he was a puppy. I thought I would give it a shot. This time she gave him a major. The gamble paid off.
   When a judge's name appears on a panel, look the name up and see what you have done under that judge before. You can decide to enter or not.


If you are a novice to the ring, enter everything. However, if your breeder/mentor says not to waste the money, then take that advice. They have been around long enough to know. Or should.


Be prepared to travel. Sometimes you have to go where the judges are, especially if there are majors. A dog needs two majors under two different judges in order to finish the championship. Or the other scenario may happen where you have the majors and have to get the single points. Both scenarios can be frustrating. My Corgi girl got both her majors as a puppy. I couldn't seem to win at the smaller shows with the lesser points. She finished with a four point major. Guess she relished more competition. Things like that happen.


Keep an expense account. I figure about $1000 per point. This has held up pretty much over the years despite inflation. You may get by for less if you restrict yourself to local shows. Invariably the judging panels aren't favorable and you may get frustrated waiting.


A word about bias. We hear about judges who put up only fawns or judges who won't look at puppies, etc. I really don't think there is such a thing as a rule. The circuit I just attended? AOAC dogs and b*tches won 54% of the time, fawns and brindles 46%. If you have a good dog regardless, you can win anytime.


If you choose to owner-handle, go for it. I enjoy the sense of accomplishment when I'm on the end of the lead and the judge points to me. However, I'm not adverse to using a professional handler in certain instances. The more you show, the more you can tell what you would like to do.


Be realistic. If I don't average a point or reserve for every four shows, then I evaluate the situation. What am I doing wrong? Should I hire a handler and try that route? Think it through. It's your hard earned money. No use to waste it.


If you want a fair evaluation of your dog, owner-handle and see what happens. If I can't win with a puppy and put points on a young dog, then I reevaluate the dog.


Of course, I feel that everyone ought to owner-handle a dog to an AKC championship at least once in their life. It is a learning experience. That rush of adrenaline is the best thing ever.


Keep track of your competition. Know how many points the other dogs have and what they need. If they are pointed out, they won't be showing at the smaller shows. If they need majors, they'll be at the larger ones. Your goal is to make it into winners. Sometimes you have to change classes around for your best chance. Depending on the show and the location, I'll show in either open or BBE. Whatever works. There is a certain amount of planning involved for sure.

   Whatever you do, have fun and have patience. Not everyone goes out and wins every time. There can be bumps in the road and what seems like long, dry spells. Believe me, it all passes if you stick to it. There is nothing like having a champion or two laying on your couch. Good luck! As with anything, JMO...Jo



"A Test"


I have owned an AKC Great Dane champion.


I have owner-handled at least one Great Dane to an AKC championship.


I have held at least one office in an all breed club.


I have held at least one office in a Great Dane club.


I have health tested my bitch. She is of stable temperament and in good health, free of internal and external parasites and herpes.


My bitch is at least three years old and is not being bred back to back.


My bitch is at least AKC pointed unless there has been an injury.


I have a five generation health history on both the sire and dam.


I have either met in person (preferable) or have pictures of the ancestors and relatives in my five generation pedigree.


I have a copy of the Illustrated Standard and can list the faults of the sire and dam.


I know the person by name and face who runs the local rescue and have helped in any way I can.


The prospective stud does not live in my home unless he is an AKC champion and is complementary in pedigree and conformation to the dam.


I have mentors and can call on them in emergencies.


I can supply 24/7 care for the litter for at least the first three weeks and preferably longer.


I have a place in my house to whelp a litter.


I have a waiting list of at least ten names of puppy buyers that I have screened prior to the breeding.


I plan on keeping a puppy from this litter.


I have spay/neuter clauses for pet puppies in my puppy buying agreement. I also have printed puppy instructions that I have authored myself.


I am available to answer puppy questions.


I have attended at least three National Specialties and have exhibited in at least two of them.


In case of extreme bad luck, I am prepared to raise orphan puppies which require intensive care 24/7.

   As a side note, on my last litter I spent over $4700 in basic costs. It wouldn't hurt to have some money in the bank for emergency vet costs.

   If you answer "yes" to all these things, you might, just might, be prepared to CONSIDER having a litter.

   This is all my opinion and nothing is negotiable. If you disagree with something, ask yourself if you truly want the best for the breed? Food for thought...Jo



"The Bottom Line"


   It is no secret that I have put together a checklist for puppy buyers. It can be found HERE. My intention was for it to be a tool for the puppy buyer and a place to begin in researching breeders. I never said that one HAD to find breeders that met ALL the criteria. What would be so wrong though if that did happen? I do feel that it can be used as a basis for asking the right questions and separating the wheat from the chaff so to speak. From some feedback that I have received, this checklist seems to be threatening to some.
   In this season of peak puppy buying madness, I ask that buyers be careful, take their time and research, research, research. Go to shows. Talk to several different people. Ask questions. If claims are made, ask to see the paperwork. Figure out what is important to you. Please don't ever settle for less than what you want. If this checklist can be of help, then by all means use it.
   I only wish to aspire and to inspire...Jo



About the Author Buying a Purebred Pup Know Before you Buy How to find a puppy Puppy Visitation Checklist What a Puppy Costs How to read a pedigree What it costs to breed properly

Jo Kurtz
Hof Kurz Great Danes
Fawns and Brindles
since 1975
P.O. Box 63
Princeton, ID 83857-0063
Phone 208-875-0311
Fax 208-875-8921


Bio I Buying a Purebred Puppy I Know Before You Buy I How to Find a Puppy I Glossary

Puppy Checklist I How to Read a Pedigree I Breeding Costs I Articles of Interest I Puppy Costs

Website Content may be reproduced with credit to author and link back to this site,
 For educational purposes only.
 Copyright © 2003/2004/2005 Jo Kurtz- Hof Kurz Great Danes
 Web Design and images copyrighted by DaneMist Graphix
 Please contact Webmaster with any questions or problems with this site.