I wrote this a while back, and posted it last year, but feel it bears looking over again, especially for our newer members. This was written about great danes, but obviously it applies to any breed. Okay, the moment has arrived. You have decided that you are ready for a great dane. There are a couple of different avenues you can take... 1) You pick up a local paper and cruise the Pets section/head to the local petshop to look at puppies 2) You have been in contact with a reputable breeder and are now ready to get on their waiting list 3) You go to the nearest GD Rescue site and start browsing Let's take a look at how each avenue may progress... 1) You've found a local breeder in your paper and you're on your way to looking at the pups. You get there, and you immediately fall in love. You are so smitten with your new friend that you forget to ask the breeder about health testing or temperament. In fact, the breeder is busy talking about what great pups "ZENA" and "TINY" always produce that you forget almost everything you had read in the books. You fork over the cash and come home with your new puppy that day. 2) You talk to the reputable breeder. He/She informs you that they have a planned breeding coming up in 3 months. He/She also informs you that the Sire just completed his championship and has also gotten his CHIC number. He has cleared all testing for common inherited diseases. The Dam has been cleared for months, and they have been waiting for the best sire they could possibly find to compliment any faults the dam had. Because the breeding has not yet occured, you go ahead and place yourself on the waiting list. You talk to the breeder several times in the interim, and you're SO excited to get your pup. In the meantime, you continue to do research, you go to shows/trials where you see relatives of your upcoming pup. You beam with pride. 3) You hear about a rescue from a person you work with. You decide to check it out. After all, saving a life is a wonderful thing. You contact your area coordinator and spend quite a while on the phone with her. You tell her of your specific needs, and she tells you of a few of the foster danes. She sends you an application. You fill it out and send it back in. You may or may not be perfectly matched with another dane immediately. But you're on your way. So, now you have taken one of the three avenues. What happens next? Letâ€™s fast forward six months. 1) Your backyard bred pup is now 7 Â½ months old. Your breeder had told you how great his/her pups did on â€œXâ€ kibble from the local grocer, so you decided to stick with it. At 5 months, your puppy had severe pains in his joints, but you called the breeder and were told it was just growing pains, donâ€™t worry. At six months, he could hardly walk, and his feet look funny. You called the breeder again, but now your calls are being avoided. You take puppy to the vet only to find out he has severe HOD. While doing the x-rays, they also found that your puppy is dysplastic in both hips. The vet prescribes the appropriate treatment for the HOD, which your pup will eventually conquer, but prepares you for the hard life of problems ahead with the hip problems. He discusses surgery options with you for the future. You try to contact the breeder to tell him/her how upset you are, but surprise, your calls are still being avoided. Weâ€™ll also touch base on the behavioral issues your pup is having. Because he wasnâ€™t with mom until he was at least eight weeks old, he did not learn the appropriate socialization skills that mom would have taught him, as well as bite inhibition. Now he is 100 pounds and has fear aggression. Again, you try the breeder, and again you are ignored. You have no breeder support. 2) Your new pup from the reputable breeder has only been with you for a short time. The litter was born successfully and your breeder sent you pictures by email of the pups every week, along with updates. Through many conversations with your breeder, you both picked out a pup that would be suitable for your family. The breeder also sent you home with tons of information about feeding your pup, health care, the name and number of a good trainer, and a cell phone number you could call anytime you had a question. This is breeder support, and a reputable breeder offers it for the life of your pup. At three months of age, your dane pup is everything you couldâ€™ve hoped for. You are very happy and satisfied with your puppy and heâ€™s healthy and happy and is a great representation of the breed. 3) Your adoption application was approved, and you have met several danes up for adoption. Two weeks ago, you received a call about a dane that would be a perfect match for your family. Heâ€™s been vet checked, and temperament tested and after meeting him, you couldnâ€™t resist him. You brought him home where he took great interest in becoming part of the family. Your rescue volunteer has called to check on him, and you report that he is doing great, you canâ€™t imagine why someone wouldâ€™ve given him up. The volunteer also gives you a phone number you can call, anytime, should you have any concerns. You can see how much making ONE decision can influence the life you share with your dane. Letâ€™s fast forward a few more yearsâ€¦.. 1) Your backyard bred great dane suffered horribly from his hip problems. The pain of that on top of his temperament issues made him a biter. After your son accidentally tripped over your dane, the dane bit him causing extensive damage. You had to release him to the Bridge because he was not only in misery, but no longer trustworthy. He never made it to his fifth birthday. Your breeder never returned your calls. 2) Your pup from the responsible breeder went on to become a registered therapy dog, a Canine Good Citizen, and an agility champion. Your breeder was there every step of the way giving you support. When your dane reached the age of ten, you called your breeder again. â€œJess, Apollo is getting old, he sleeps most of the time and has trouble getting up.â€ Your breeder is there for you, and offers support, and when itâ€™s Apolloâ€™s time to go to the Bridge, she even goes with you too the hospital. After Apollo is gone, you remain in contact with the breeder. Then the day comes when another litter is planned. You put your name on the list. Youâ€™re going to be a mom again. 3) Your rescued dane shared 4 more years with you. Four wonderful years. In the space of that four years, you adopted two others. You now know that you will never be without a rescued dane. When you had problems with separation anxiety on the latest adoption, you contacted the rescue volunteer who gave you great advice, and together, you worked through it. You now volunteer with the rescue as well. The first dane you adopted inspired you so much, you have become a wonderful asset to the rescue organization. ************************************************** ******************************** Letâ€™s take a look at a different perspective now. The Backyard Breeder - The backyard breeder has taken no steps whatsoever to make any improvements. Though she knew she was breeding faulty dogs, she continued to do so. She put very little money into raising the dogs, but sold them for hundreds of dollars (Ironically, almost the same price you would've paid for a healthy, well bred pup from a reputatable breeder). She has made quite a little pile of money at the expense of the dogs and the ownerâ€™s pain. How do we stop this from happening? SIMPLE - do NOT buy from them. Educate yourself, and others about the pitfalls of buying from a BYB. The Reputable Breeder - The reputable breeder consistently works to improve her lines. Health and temperament testing is done to insure that the risk of inheritable health/behavior problems are minimized. The reputable breeder has continued to take steps to ensure that she is breeding only the best. She makes no money from the breedings but continues to do so because of her love for the breed. It was never about money. The Rescue Organization - The rescue has just celebrated their 15th year as an organization. Homes for over 800 great danes have been found, with great success. They take so much time and make so much effort to assure that the danes they place go to great forever homes, that they rarely have any danes returned to them. They continue to help save danes, educate owners and backyard breeders, and make life an option for many danes. ************************************************** ******************************** One decision, it doesnâ€™t seem like much. But it can mean the world to you down the road. Please choose wisely. ** Backyard bred danes (Scenario number 1) can be substituted with Pet Store Dane for the same effect and outcome. Pet store dogs are typically supplied by mills or back yard breeders. No reputable breeder would ever sell a dog to a pet store.