Lately I have been just blown away by the sheer number of people online who have Great Danes, and yet know next to nothing about the breed. I belong to facebook groups for dane owners, and half of the people that post, don’t seem to know even the most basic of things, like what to feed a puppy. What really bothers me, is that when you try to educate them, which is supposedly what they’re there asking questions for, you get attitude from them as if they know it all and don’t need answers. Well then why bother asking them? If you don’t like the truth, don’t ask for it…or so my way of thinking goes.
There are so many Great Danes lately for sale on free ad sites. The excuses are usually the same. Excuses that to me, are IN excusable, if you had bothered to do your research BEFORE bringing home the pup that is.
For instance…the most common one I see, is “I have to get rid of my 8 month old dane. He’s just gotten too big and is too rough with my son/daughter or small breed dog. The other one that is common, is ” I can’t afford to feed him”, or ” I wasn’t expecting the vet bills to be this high”. All of these things, had they bothered to do ANY research at all about the breed, they would have known to expect, or atleast anticipate the possibility of such a thing happening.
First of all…feeding. Oh how it bugs me to read owners BRAGGING about how they feed Iams puppy food, or god forbid, puppy chow. Yes, let’s get you a gold ribbon right away! Although there is always a large debate on the food issue when it comes to danes, atleast in regards to the different varieties out there, the main point always stays the same. Great Dane pups especially, MUST be feed a premium food. Food that is within the proper protein, calcium and fat range. This is detrimental to their growth and health as they mature. The sad part, is the vets who reccommend these crap grocery brand foods to them, and tell the owners how wonderful they will do on it.
We’ve all seen what can come from feeding bad food to a dane. Puppy food especially, unless designed for a growing giant breed’s needs, is a big problem. Knuckling over, bones that grow too fast, and other health issues abound. It’s sad too see and maddening to watch when you give the advice and it is ignored. Only to read from the very same poster a month or two down the road…”Oh No my pup has this problem!”
Then we get to the issue of kids and danes. I know that many a dane has been raised with children and made out just fine. I also know, that many reputable breeders and rescues will not sell to those with small children. The reason being that they are far too accustomed to seeing danes being rehomed or dumped, when Little Johnny gets knocked over or gets a whipping tail in his face sending him flying across the room. Knowing how big these dogs get, and knowing that as they grow, there are going to be times when they’re clumbsy, maybe not paying 100 % attention to where they are going and how fast….you SHOULD know that this can and probably WILL happen. Even if your dog and child are supervised 24/7, some things happen before you can react. Sadly, 9 times out of ten, it’s the dog who will pay the price.
Same goes for small breeds dogs in the home. Again, I know MANY dane owners have both, and make out just fine. I also know, that accidents can and do happen, usually in the most unexpected way. The dogs start playing, and the next thing you know, the dane steps on the little one the wrong way, and instantly there are broken bones or brain damage. I’ve heard it many times. Cats, dogs, stepped on or mouthed a bit too hard and either the little one ends up with thousands of dollars in vet bills to fix it, or it’s put down. These things should always be taken into consideration before a person gets a dane, because again, nine times out of ten? The dane will be the one who suffers, even though he/she never intended for the accident to happen.
I have done my best to socialize Luke with every type of dog, person or situation immaginable since the day he came to me. It’s been difficult, because where we live, there is not a huge abundance of dogs, and those that we do see, are not dog friendly, half of them aren’t even PEOPLE friendly. He adores every dog he meets, big or small. But because of his size, his ability to seriously harm one so much smaller than him, I do not allow him to play much with little breeds, especially if I don’t really know the person that well. I am responsible for Luke. I have to put his safety first, and I know that even though my boy is the poster dog for GENTLE GIANT, things happen, and I never want to put him in that position. He wasn’t even allowed to be around Lilly much, until she got big enough. Now I have to try and keep him away from HER because she beats HIM up!LOL
The same goes for children. If I don’t know them personally, I do not allow Luke to run offleash in the park if there are kids there. He loves kids, and usually he is very gentle with them, but again, this is for HIS safety. Alot of parents don’t seem to teach their children how to behave around a dog, any dog, let alone one who’s twice the size as them. So Luke is socialized with children who I know are dog friendly, who will actually listen to me when I tell them how to behave around him so that both they and him can enjoy themselves.
I know we dane owners get a laugh out of the comments we all recieve from strangers on our walks, wherever we take our dogs. There are some main misconceptions we almost always hear. It doesn’t bother me to hear them from someone who doesn’t have any experience with a dane. Most people here have never even seen one except on tv. But when I hear those things from a dane owner??? Yes…it bothers me. It makes my stomache turn a little bit, wondering just what that poor dog has in it’s future, if their owner doesn’t even know the basics. Yet you can only educate if that person is willing to listen.
I take advantage of every opportunity that I get when out walking with Luke, to educate those who ask about him, or who mention they’d love to have a dane of their own. I tell every one of them, flat out…they are the most wonderful, beautiful, loving creatures on the face of the planet but they are NOT for everyone! They are not a breed that you should just go buy because you saw one that caught your eye. They have many needs….they come with many issues. I think it’s important for all of us who love and appreciate our beloved danes…to take advantage of any chance we get, and do our best to let people know just what these dogs are about. Encourage anyone who is seriously considering a dane in their future, to do their research! I spent hours upon hours, year after year, lurking in groups and forums, reading every website I could find, learning as much as I could about this breed before I ever even thought of getting one. If we can teach just one person to do the same….we are doing a major service to a Great Dane in the future.
Wow this is great, I really enjoyed reading this, it was very well put and both comments says it all, I am glad there are other people out there that think the same as me
I agree that Great Danes are not a breed for everyone. My wife and I adopted one about a year ago that was abandoned because the family just didn’t want to deal with such a large dog anymore. He was alot of work when we got him because they never bothered to properly train him to walk on a lease and he pulled alot. a 120 pound dog can take most folks for a drag when excited. He was way too interested in our cat and it has taken us the best part of 6 months to break him of chasing them; he still has times where he pays a bit too much attention to them and we never leave them completely alone together. He loves children and wants nothign more than to be around them and get petted. Unfortunatley he has no clue about his size and we have to pay close attention esp around children we do not know to prevent them from getting knocked around. When I walk him and our Pomeranian together I get asked “Doesn’t he eat him?” to which I usually reply, ” no he couldn’t possibly eat an entire Great Dane”. But we do have to keep an eye on him as he easily could hurt the Pom on accident.
Large dogs are not a choice to be made casually or on a whim. Food bills are high, vet visits are expensive esp for weight dependant meds and they certainly require training due to their size. I have wanted a large breed for years but was never really in a position to adequately care for one until recently. These gentle giants deserve an owner who has done the research, understands the costs and liabilities and is committed to providing a lifetime of care.
I completely agree with everything you’ve said here. Great post!
I especially appreciate the comments regarding children and big dogs. Danes, especially as growing puppies, are huge and clumsy and don’t know their own strength. Children are noisy, careless, and have generally not been taught how to interact responsibly with animals. Danes, especially are sensitive dogs that should have gentle affection, not tail-pulling and climbing on.
It makes me so angry when a dog bites a child and the parents or guardians inevitably say “I never saw it coming! They always got along so well…”. I want to force these people to open their eyes! Dogs are not toys. The child and dog may not have “gotten along well”. It’s possible that the dog just tolerated the kid, and because the adults couldn’t, or wouldn’t, see the signs of the dog’s stress or frustration, the kid was allowed to continue annoying the dog. At some point the dog just got pushed too far, and expressed his feelings by using a quick bite, as he would with another of the same species.
For this reason, dogs are euthanized every day. Most of these bite cases are not “mean” dogs, not vicious, or dangerous in the right owner’s hands. It’s a shame. Of course, there are cases where a dog (or pack of dogs) literally attacks a child with the intent of killing it. I don’t mean to sound heartless toward the victims, because I know there are legitimate cases where dogs ARE vicious, but in the case of a household pet that nips at a kid when playing too rough, for example, maybe the fault lies with the adults that should have been supervising the situation.
I, too, am astounded that some new Dane owners neglect to learn very much at all about the breed. Craigslist, for one, is full of ignorant people trying to find someone to “rescue” the dog that grew too big, or chewed up a bed frame, or knocked over their child, or became too much of a hassle to deal with during a move. I’m also dumbfounded when the same dog owners ask for a “re-homing fee”. You want me to pay you for taking care of your problem? You want me to reward you for neglecting your dog’s well-being? You want me to condone your lack of forethought and preparedness?
Though I am not the most exceptional Dane owner at times, I have done my research, and continue doing so. I waited at least 3 years before I allowed myself to seriously discuss buying a Dane with (reputable) breeders. Which is why I agree with you in trying to gently educate new Dane owners. Someone once told me that when you acquire a dog you become an ambassador for that breed, for better or worse. I’d rather people regard Danes as the gentle giant: the goofy, loyal, strong, and intelligent dogs they truly are, than the sickly, defensive animal chained 24/7 in the backyard because someone didn’t have the common sense to think ahead. Dogs are NOT expendable.
I really am enjoying your blog. Thanks for letting me rant. I guess your post just hit a note with me.