Swayd Affenpinscher

Questions To Ask Great Dane Breeders

MY opinion on what you should look for and ask when buying a Great Dane from a registered breeder.


Not a great deal of Australian Great Dane Breeders health test their breeding stock. If someone says they test, ask to see the documentation, if they don't have the documentation don't believe them. They should be happy, if not proud to show you. You would not buy a car without a road worthy certificate right?

Health testing is not the answer to everything, as things can, and do go wrong where living creatures are involved. Health testing is not a guarantee that nothing will go wrong with your Great Dane puppy, however I believe it's better then none. There are 4main factors when breeding and raising a litter Genetics, Nutrition, Exercise & Environment. The breeder can only control these whilst the puppy is in there care, once you have the puppy it is up to you to do right by your puppy and the breeder in regards to Nutrition, Exercise & the Environment in which they are raised.

Testing should include:

Hips & Elbows, Look here this shows what the scoring looks like. The Breed average, however not very accurate is around 15 although that doesn't mean 15 is an ok score...the lower the better. We do not have a true Breed Average and not enough people Hip & Elbow score.

If a Breeder tells you they don't hip & elbow score because there are no problems in their lines don't believe them, they can't possibly know unless they do the xrays. The xrays must be scored by an accredited individual such as Wyburn / Ray Ferguson at Monash Vet and not just any Vet looking at the xrays and saying they look ok. A dog can get Hip and Elbow problems even from health tested stock, this problem can also be Environmental and Nutritional as well as plain unlucky as well or it can be coming through from dogs way before it. We will never know how many Danes have hip or elbow displaysia as not enough are tested to give a true indication - show and pet puppies.

Heart - has the heart been checked and is there documentation. DCM (Dilated cardiomyopathy) which can be a problem in Danes can just suddenly pop up this is why the heart should be checked annually. You can have your dog heart tested today, yet it can drop dead tomorrow of a heart related problem, does this mean you should not test at all? Heart testing is not a waste IMO. It is not a guarantee that your dog will be forever clear, but it does show your dog was clear at the time of mating. To me this shows you are trying to do the right thing by the breed and your puppy owners.

Thyroid - This should be tested and there will be documentation to say if the test was normal or an actual range shown.

Wobblers - There is no genetic testing for this horrible disease, all you can do is ask the breeder if they have experienced Wobblers in any form, having Wobblers previously doesn't rule them out as your potential Breeder, you just want to find out if the Wobblers experienced is in the line you're looking at. I always suggest to ask health related questions in e-mails so you have their response on file.

Deaf / Blind - A problem that occurs in Harlequin breeding in 'some' lightly marked dogs, the Breeder will defiantly know before the puppy is due to leave them if it has any of these problems. Don't be tempted to take one even if offered cheap or free unless you really are up to the commitment.

There are other problems that you should ask questions about, some of these problems you really need to get out there and meet the dogs, see them at their home and see them away from their home such as at a dog show to see how they are in that environment.

Skin issues - Ask the breeder if there are any skin problems in the line you are looking at, find out more about the skin issues, are they food allergies, atopy etc. Skin Allergies seem to be more common in coloured Great Danes, more so Harlequins, some believe it to be because of the lack of pigment i.e. many White dogs or dogs with a lot of white can be known to suffer from skin allergies. The coloured gene pool in Australia is quite small this may also be a reason for coloured Great Danes sharing this problem through their genetics as science does tell us allergies and immune related issues can be genetic.

Temperament - One of the most aspects to selecting a Breeder, this is why it is important that you visit the Breeder and see the dogs on their home turf and also away from their home turf if possible, don't make excuses for the behaviors you see, are they inline with the type of dog you want to bring home? A dog temperament is part environmental and part genetic. A dog is not going to end up a mess because it had one bad experience, the weak nerves already have to be there for a little incident to wreck a dogs temperament.

Tell the Breeder what kind of dog you want i.e. do you want a nice quiet family dog, do you want a dog with good solid drives for obedience work, do you want a nice confident dog with good nerves you can take out to dog parks and the beach etc. Breeders will know their pups the best (usually) and will be able to help you choose the pup most suitable for you. If you don't want a show dog then it really is a good idea to let the Breeder choose the pup for you so you're not choosing based on looks etc. All pups are cute so you need a person who will be think for the pups best interest.

Looking up puppy aptitude testing such as the 'Volhard' test seen here I have the actual test in true length if you would like to be sent it. Perhaps the breeder did Pat Hastings 'Puppy Puzzle' instead.
If the Breeder doesn't do a test like this ask if you can do the test yourself, If a Breeder takes offence then look elsewhere.

Bloat - Although Science doesn't know a great deal about it, it has found that Bloat seems to occurs in lines so if the Parent or Grandparent bloated there is a higher risk the off spring might. Bloat is pretty common place in any deep chested breed and you can do everything you can to avoid it and you may still have it happen, all we can do is love them whilst there here, they are a breed that makes you appreciate each day they are here. Bloating tends to happen from 3+ years of age (It can and does happen younger). Some breeders like to use raised feeders, others do not. Some blame it on diet, others do not. Until we know for sure the reason, you should ask your breeder and do what is in the best interest of your puppy.

There is no such thing as a bloat free line. Its a BREED problem. While there is a theory that it maybe be passed on there is no scientific proof 100% that it does. There is no genetic marker or test for it. Bloat can and does just pop up out of the blue with no history in a line at all.
Other health problems As well as the above, ask the Breeder if there are been any other issues that have occurred because the above is just breed specific but line specific can be different.

Ask other people Ask other people in the Dane world what their 'take' is on that breeder, ask privately though as people won't feel comfortable otherwise. People will lie about other people for various reasons, but if you keep getting the same thing said then that may be more inclined to be something for you to look into further.

Colour - Great Danes come in 6 recognised colours - Brindle, Fawn , Blue, Black, Mantle, Harlequin. Merle is also a colour but can only be sold on limited register and are not to be breed from nor shown.
Be cautious of those selling "rare" and unusual colours.

Make sure the breeder is registered with their state canine association, not just with their local council.
A registered Great Dane bitch can not be mated before 2 years of age.
You can call your state canine association and ask them if the breeder you are looking into is registered or not. When buying from a registered breeder your puppy must come with papers, do not pay extra for papers, they legally must be supplied. Registered breeders have a code of ethics to follow. There is a difference between a registered breeder, and an ethical registered breeder. Is the breeder your looking at a member of their states breed club, do they help breed rescue, do they show, do they take dogs bred by them back if need be? What do they contribute to the breed, Just puppies or a whole lot more?

Whilst you are looking at purchasing a loving companion, think like you're buying a car.
Truth is people spend more time finding that perfect car, then they do when purchasing a puppy.
Make - Great Dane.
Options - Health Testing, Registered, Breeder Support.
Model - Conformation, Heavy, Light, Tall, Small.
Colour - Black, Blue, Fawn, Brindle, Mantle, Harlequin.

Ask questions, visit more then one breeder, view paperwork and ask around. You can always get a new car bought through buyer error, but you can't replace that beloved puppy because you didn't do your research first.

Ask many questions and do your research - research takes time, it's the least you can do for you're new best friend.

Kerry McKinnon



Swayd, Affenpinscher, monkey dog, ANKC, breeder, puppies