Know Before you Buy

Great Dane Puppy Guidelines


   First of all, I would suggest you go to DanesOnline and Your Purebred Puppy to read information about the breed.  After doing this, if you decide that a Great Dane is for you, congratulations!  Great Danes are indeed GREAT!  The next thing for you to do is find that special puppy to become a member of your family.  You need to consider the following:


 Find a reputable and conscientious breeder. This is a person who is concerned with the breed and is working as a guardian of the breed.  Go breeder shopping before you go puppy shopping.  Breeding dogs is not a money-making proposition and if someone tells you it is, be instantly suspicious.  These claims mean that corners have been cut and the breeder only has dollar signs on the brain.  Years (over fifteen and preferably more) of experience in the breed count for something.  A conscientious breeder has run health checks on breeding stock to lessen possibilities of genetic conditions.  This is not really a guarantee because the gene pool is so vast.  If the health checks have been run, at least this proves to you, the buyer, that the breeder is willing to spend the time and money.  Do NOT take anyone’s word for these health checks.  Ask to see the paperwork and match names with the registration papers of the sire and dam of the litter.  If this paperwork is not available, WALK AWAY.  The absolute minimum health checks are:  

1. OFA Hips (excellent, good, fair).  Be wary of poor ratings. PennHip is also acceptable.
2. Thyroid (Michigan State test or Hemopet test) to check T3 and T4 for autoantibodies and a TgAA number.
3. CERF (eyes)
4. Additional checks are Cardiac, OFA elbows, OFA patella , vWD and BAER testing for deafness in puppies.

Breeding stock should be two years old.  OFA (Orthopedic Foundation For Animals) will not certify x-rays from animals under two years of age.  Great Danes are slow to mature and it is better if the dam of the litter is at least three years old to ensure that she has reached her full physical and mental maturity.  Breeding stock should also be permanently identified either with microchip or tattoo.  Ask to see the documentation that this has been done.  Again, match names with the registration papers.  Some breeders have gone the extra step and performed DNA testing.  This tells you that the puppies you see are indeed the get of the sire and dam.


Ask to see championship certificates, obedience title certificates, agility title certificates, CGC (Canine Good Citizen) certificates or Therapy Dogs, Inc. tags. Not every dog is a show dog and it is understood that you want a companion.  The breeder should be involved in training dogs and breeding stock should have successfully completed or is working on one of the above.  Temperament plays a big part in all these activities and your Great Dane should have a history of steady temperament.  Again, match names on certificates with the registration papers.  If the sire and/or dam are currently being shown in the conformation ring, ask to see show pictures and look for the words, “Winners”, “Best of Winners”, “Best of Opposite Sex” or “Best of Breed”.  A bunch of blue ribbons or reserve ribbons doesn’t mean anything. Look at the whole litter.  Are the surroundings clean?  Are the puppies clean?  Do the puppies rush up to meet you and want to be petted?  Are they plump?  Are their eyes clear and noses clean?  If the answer to any of these questions is no, get in your car and drive away.  A “no” can be indicative of problems down the road such as worms, fear biting or disease.


Before you take a puppy home, he should have been started on his puppy shots and been wormed. A note from the breeder’s vet should tell you that he has seen the puppy within the last 72 hours.  For your own protection, schedule a vet visit to check for disease within 72 hours of bringing the puppy home.  A conscientious breeder will include a money back guarantee in the contract.


Ask for references from other breeders and from puppy buyers. A conscientious breeder is available to answer questions 24/7. Do not be offended if the breeder asks you some pointed questions. Be very concerned if the breeder does not ask questions. The conscientious breeder wants you, the buyer, to be happy and if it is done right, has invested a great amount of money and labor in producing this litter. The breeder will want to see where the puppy will live. Be wary of a breeder who is willing to ship a puppy sight unseen in exchange for a check. How do you really know this is the puppy for you without seeing firsthand the whole litter? A conscientious breeder will demand a first right of refusal. This is to guarantee that dogs don’t end up in rescue or animal shelters. A conscientious breeder will have a sales agreement for you to sign. This is for everyone’s protection.


Some reading material available on the web:


The Importance of Health Testing



Canine Health Information Center



Canine Hip Dysplasia


Gastric Torsion/Bloat in Dogs


Dilated Cardiomyopathy


Buying a Puppy


A Responsible Breeder


Buyer Beware!


Dealing with a Reputable Breeder


The Ethical Breeder


Recognizing An Unethical Breeder


What Do Breeders Want To Know?


Do You Really Want a Great Dane?


Novices Interviewing Breeders by Jill Swedlow


Great Dane Club Of America


Dane Genetic Links


My Mentors Links


The Chroma-linx



Trust your instincts. Remember the old adage, “If something seems too good to be true, it probably isn’t”.  You may get a sales pitch from the less conscientious breeders.  If this happens, always ask for documentation to any claims the breeder makes.  I have found that the truly reputable breeders don’t have to sell their dogs but that their dogs sell themselves.  Good luck in your search!




Something to Remember about Breeders
Author Unknown

How many litters does a breeder have to have before being considered an experienced breeder?

They should have bred at least one good litter that they can brag on.  This will gain them credibility.

They should have had at least one litter that looked great on paper but turned out to be a disaster.  This will teach humility.

They should have held (God forbid!) at least one deformed puppy and wept as it slipped into the calm, silent quiet of death.  This will provide the heart to be very careful to do everything possible to not see it again.

They should have studied the lines and the traits and the greats and the problems each has produced and read all the books they can bet their hands on.  This will give them knowledge.

Last of all, they should have consulted the greats in the breed and never, never consider themselves to be experienced breeders.  They are then, possibly, experienced breeders.


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


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