Owning a Great Dane can be wonderful. But ownership can also be problematic if its family is not prepared. Dane ownership boils down to one thing: BIG! A Dane has a big heart and will love its family in a big way. But it can bring its owners big trouble if they did not first research the cost of ownership. There is a responsibility in ownership of any breed, large or small, and the bigger the dog, the more work a family gets itself into. Is owning a Great Dane for you? Read on and see!
Jamie Harshfield, an Inland Northwest breeder from West Richland, says everything Great Danes need “is BIG. Bigger crate, bigger bag of food, bigger dishes, bigger car to transport bigger dog. And,of course bigger poop. And, yes, they shed, slobber, knock you over, step on your feet, dig holes in your yard, clear off the table with their tail, leave marks on all your windows with their noses…and so on.”
Danes can be bred by irresponsible breeders who simply buy a male and a female to breed so they can make money without taking into consideration bad temperament, health issues, or other problems that can be bred into puppies going to unsuspecting owners who just want a big dog to love. These puppies, often sold through newspaper-type ads or pet shops, have personality or health defects that don’t show up for a while. That is one reason why there are so many Danes in rescue organizations. Jamie says, “Most, if not all, reputable breeders sell their dogs on a contract. Most, if not all, will insist that if you cannot keep the dog for whatever reason, it must be returned to the breeder.”
Of course, the flip side of these problems is that a Great Dane is one of the gentlest, most loving dogs a person can find. They are loyal and intelligent, and once a family owns a Dane, it’s like eating potato chips, they want to keep having them! New owners mustn’t underestimate their Dane’s intelligence. For example, Jamie has a beautiful young mantle named Owen. She tells the following cautionary tale:
“We have four children ranging in age from 10-21, so there is always a lot going on. My husband came home to find the front door wide open one day. Naturally, we blamed the children. This continued over the period of about a week or two. Then my oldest son came home late one evening to find the front door wide open–how peculiar. I knew the door was shut when I went to bed.”
The family finally thought they might not be shutting the door well enough. Jamie concludes, “The next day the children all receive a lecture about shutting the front door. All of them denied leaving the door open. That afternoon I returned home from running errands to find the front door wide open and Owen on the porch. Mystery solved! Owen had been letting himself out…Now we use the deadbolt.”
Not all Danes will figure out how to open doors. Harlequins, and mantles, a variation of harlequins, seem to be the most likely to clown around and figure things like that out, according to Jamie. But even with the difficulties, Jamie says her family is hooked on Danes. Nevertheless, she says if you still want a Great Dane, “Remember to do your homework. Please visit the http://www.GDCA.org to locate a breeder close to you. I too, am available for breeder referral.” Jamie’s Email is mailto:[email protected]