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All About the Breed
What Colors do Great Danes Come in?

  A little about Line breeding and inbreeding
"Breeders don't cause disease, linebreeding and inbreeding just make disease already present, obvious".
I recently came across this quote (again) and though I know I have heard it before I thought it merited a paragraph ( or 3) .

ALL pure bred dogs are inbred and/or line bred. . . it is what makes a breed a breed.

This means:  ALL Great Danes  (and any other breed. . .including so called "designer" dogs) are related SOMEWHERE. 

Problems that are KNOWN to run in breeds are there BECAUSE it is a "family" of dogs.  This Family of dogs have produced X problem's and we KNOW it is a possibility. As breeders we DO NOT have COMPLETE control of what we produce regardless of  the decisions we make or what we THINK we know about a line.  At the end of the day it can be a roll of the dice.  By Health testing and following out WHOLE litters  we have a better data base when making our decisions.  

By breeding lines we KNOW have not produced X problem we decrease the chance of introducing ( and producing) that problem in to our line.  This is known as Line breeding.   Line Breeding is a "loose" form of inbreeding.  Dogs are related but not so closely as to be considered inbred.  In doing so you reduce the chance of producing problems ( health or conformation) because you are not introducing "unknown" genes.  In other words: you know what is there.

NEW Problems CAN come in when we "go out" or "outcross" to less related lines.  AT FIRST you get a type of hybrid vigor. . . that is because only 50% of any dog in a breeding is passed on.  SO if you have 2 dogs that are already virtually unrelated and you breed them together you have a brand new combination of genes.  50% known, 50% unknown. The CHANCES of problem genes meeting up are low.  BUT you also run the risk of introducing problem genes.  NOW it is the NEXT generation you need to watch.  This is where the problem genes will start to crop up. . .the things you now DO NOT KNOW ABOUT. 

Out-crossing is a necessary tool.  In order to bring new conformation AND health gene's in to a line it has to be done on occasion.  The only way to KEEP the good genes ( lets say you breed to a OFA Excellent dog in order to bring better hips to your OFA Fair girl)  is to NOW line breed back in to that GOOD quality.  IF you do not: you will loose 50% of the genes you GAINED on the very next Generation.  In doing so: you will also make the other gene's OBVIOUS. 

The truth is: we don't know how most problems are inherited.  With most there is no way of knowing they are there until you produce them.  In the end following out puppies for their entire life will give us more information and with this knowledge we can make better breeding decisions in the future.
                 
 
Thinking of Breeding, have you considered. . .
 Most people that breed do it once and then say will never do it again, many wish they never had.  Once they find out how hard it is to do it right, they quickly realize that this is not a money making scheme, breeders break even IF they are lucky.
It is love and  passion for the breed that drives us on.  We just want to make it clear to those who contact us to "breed my girl" or to " stud out my boy" that not every dog/bitch should be bred, that not all of them are contributing to the breed and that there is a lot more to it then sticking two dogs in the yard and having her "pop" pups out in a couple months.
Breeders:
  Of course there has to be breeders in order for a breed to be bred, but you have to take in to account the hard work and effort that has to be put in to a litter in order for it to prosper.

 This is a list of the prices and the time that is put in to just one of my breeding.  The average size for a great dane litter ( out of my line) is 8 pups.  The sex seems to fall with in the 50/50 range though never in the same litter.  Always seems to be 75/25 and then it will flip the next breeding.

  
Gestation of the bitch takes 63 days.  The bitch can only be bred only when she comes in to heat ( when the vagina starts to swell and she starts to spot or drip blood everywhere) Once she comes in to heat it will be several days before she is ready to be bred ( 10-14 is average though every bitch is different) You need to know about when she will come in to heat and then you need to line up a Stud dog for her.  

WELL. . . With Great Danes certain colors are bred to certain colors, so you need to decided the color choice that is right for the bitch  and then you need to pick a male. . . HOW DO YOU DO THAT?  Well what are you looking for?  You should not breed a litter just to get a pup.  You should breed a litter to better the breed and to get a pup.  THIS means that you need to NOW look at health issues in the male!  Has he been OFA certified ( WHAT IS OFA?) What is the life expectancy in his line?  Are there any traceable health issues in his line? 
WWWWWWAAAAAAIIIIITTTTTT AAAAAAA MMMMMIIINNNUUUTTTEEE!!!!!!
MY LORD SHE IS HUGE!
THIS IS ONE OF MY GIRLS ABOUT A WEEK BEFORE SHE WHELPED, SHE IS HUGE AND MISERABLE!
Back up. . . What about your bitch?
OK so you need to start there first.  Most "good" stud owners will not breed to you unless you have AT LEAST had OFA or Penn hip evaluation of the Hips and many will not with out a brucelosis test ( this is a communicable disease in dogs, it is a blood test and not all veterinarians can do the test $54) SOME will not breed to you unless you have had Hips, Elbows, Heart and Thyroid OFA performed AND passed!  ( some want them Cerf'd also, this is for the eyes) So now we are talking money!
OFA HIPS: 250

OFA THYROID: $180.00

OFA ELBOWS: $65 ( only at time of hips)

OFA HEART: $40 ( if you do not go to a specialist)
$360 at the Specialist
OFA CERF (EYE): $35 ( if you go to a show)

This is the local pricing for Texas, some times you can go to regional clinics and get some of it done for less. ( though not much less) AND then there are the OFA'S price for submission, and if you want the information to be listed with their registration information ( which you do) then you need to have her Micro Chipped or Tattooed ( chipping is the easiest)
Chip price: $40
Registration of the Chip: $14.50


OK so now we ARE ready to breed. . . and you have already spent $600 + OFA submitting fees. Then the wait to see if you passed, once you know this then you go on.
Now we find the stud. . .
We hold him to the same standards as we do our own bitch right?  SO the stud fee will be a little higher...
Stud fee: $600 - $2000, we will choose $800 to be an average for a stud fee
 Now we wait for her to come in to heat.
 
Once she does then what?  If you are going to breed to a local dog naturally ( this means by way of a natural tie)  then you need to count days and at day ten you need to deliver the bitch to the stud dog owner and she will usually stay there until she is bred twice.
WHAT IF THEY WONT BREED?

Well here is another problem, then you need to have an artificial insemination OR you need to run a progesterone level to find out if she is even ready to breed ( I have had some of mine breed 16 and 18 days) Progesterone test: $47 (each time)
Artificial Insemination: 69.50 ( each time)


OH did I mention that not all veterinarians handle this kind of thing?

 Most are going to tell you there is something wrong with your bitch and you should have her spayed, OR you will find that there is not a clinic that deals with breeding problems for over 200 miles!  This is a reality.
Locally the only vet that knows what they are doing is Brittmoore Animal Hospital
1236 Brittmoore
Houston TX 77447
713-468-8253


SO you get your girl inseminated and then the wait begins.  23 days ( or so) in to the pregnancy you can bring the dog to your vet and have her palpated OR you can have an Ultrasound performed. ( USG: $76.50  This will only tell you if the bitch is pregnant.  If you have a waiting list for pups then you will want to know this so you can inform prospective owners ( though this is your first breeding, you probably wont have one) So the first time you may want to wait until closer to 55-60 days in to pregnancy to have her x-rayed for a puppy count ($76.50 also). This will also tell you when you are done.  If you know that there is at least 6 pups and you only have 4 you know there is a problem.


Now you have a pregnant bitch and all ready for the pups. . . were will they be born?  When will they be born?  Were will the pups stay?

If you did the progesterone testing you will know down to a 24 hour period when they will be born.  Where will they be born?  Not out side, the elements will kill at least half your pups, puppies do not regulate there body temperature, they need to be in a more controlled environment.  Ok then how about the garage?  Well if yours is like mine: it is filled with my husbands latest car project, not exactly safe for pups PLUS here in Houston our garages are not air conditioned, it can get very hot very quickly.  OK so not out side and not in the garage: that leaves in the house.  That means the  kitchen/dinning room, but this is were you eat and were the kids do there home work.  Well we just moved the table and set up shop there.  When there are pups we eat in the living room!

We use the x-pen, shower curtain ( easier to find, store and clean) heavy wool blankets and lots and lots of newspaper! ( $ 125-250 worth of materials, though most are reusable)

Now you need to go to your boss and schedule your weeks vacation. . .

WAIT A MINUTE, you thought she would just have them hu?  No we schedule our vacations around our whelping date.  Unattended litters have a 25% mortality rate from the get go.  Are you willing to loose 25% of your litter?  SO you take the week off.  


Once the bitch goes in to labor you need to stay near by.  If this is her first litter she may need help with the first couple, you may need to dry pups and you need to identify the pups.

pups every where
RICK/RAC: $25
BABY SCALE: $75 +

Now wait a minute: here is another thing to consider. . . what if she gets in trouble?  What if she can't have the pups?  Then you have to have a  C-section.  ($800 + dollars to have that  done!  )  Most vets do not have after hour facilities, some will not even perform surgery on a dog that big.  If you go to the Emergency clinic, they WILL charge two to FOUR times as much, and they will nag you to spay your bitch. . .even going as far as telling you that you have to.

OK so you need towels ( old ones you will NEVER use again) and you need rick/rack ( sold at any walmart) YOU need as many colors as you can find and a note book.  For each pup that is born you need to mark the pup ( tie a "collar" of rick/rack around its neck, write down the color and any identifying markings on the pup) you do this through the whole delivery.  Once she is done you need to weigh all of the pups and write down their start weights with there color so that you can track them.  For the next week you need to weigh these pups EVERY SINGLE DAY.  If you do not you will lose pups, and you will never know if they are gaining and doing well.  The first weeks of there life the only time they will cry is when they are too hot or too cold.  They will very quietly starve to death if you do not watch them and supplement them when needed.  After the first week you can usually go to every other day and then eventually to once a week.  Always increase the intervals of weighing if the pup is falling behind.  

Now you are to the management part, the first few days the bitch may not eat, may not drink, you may have to physically pick her up to take her out to pee ( she will do anything to stay with the puppies ) At first you may only have to change the blanket once daily, the bitch will keep the pups clean at this point, but she will bleed and continue to discharge for quite a while ( up to 6 weeks) and this stuff is not pleasant, so you may choose to change the blankets even more often.  So now you are doing at least one extra load of laundry a day. . .

Paper towels: ( not bad really) $10


Laundry load: 25 loads ( at $2 each just for sake of argument) $50




News paper: suggest a subscription!

By day 5 ( pref. 3 days)  you have to load up the car and take them to your vet to have the dew claws removed, this runs around: $20 per pup. ( $200 on an average litter)  At the same time you need to pick up your wormer.  Strongid-T this will need to be given every week until you start the heart worm prevention $15)

At this time you should also bring the bitch in for her after whelping check out to make sure everything is going well.



All will be quiet until the 3rd week when they are really starting to get around!  Now mom does not get all the poop and you are doing loads twice a day.  They have started playing and making noise and are ripping the news paper up and crawling under the blankets and ripping there collars off!  You may feel your nerves starting to ware at this point.  The bitch will start to want out more and to not want to be harassed by the pups quite so much.  The less she is there the more you have to work.   Around 4-6 weeks you need to start supplementing the pups feeding with puppy food.  You will have to soak and mush it so that they can eat it.  AS SOON as you start doing this: the bitch will quit keeping them clean!  So now you will be changing news paper 5+ times a day and you WILL have a mess to come home too.  You will find your self getting up a little earlier and going to bed a little latter.  My normal is up at 4:30 and to sleep at 11:00!  The older the pups are the more rambunctious they will be.  

OK things to consider: this whole time you have to be socializing the pups.  Holding them loving them letting them ride in your pocket ( while they fit) Once a week they will need to have there nails trimmed, and you need to handle them all the time.  Touch there mouths, put your finger in there ear, hold there feet, things like that.  OH! did I mention that at about 3 weeks they will start needing to have baths!  They will get nasty so quickly that you will have to wash them just to be able to hold them.  They will walk and jump in poop, sleep on the same blanket they just peed on and they don't care! Even when you bathe them, keep them as clean as  possible they will start to get what is known as pups dermatitis ( little skin infections mostly because they are just plain nasty and dirty and have no limit to how they can muck themselves up in a very short time.

FOOD: average of 6 bags per litter: $270  
food
 At 4 weeks they can start potty training.  Out first thing in the morning, in to eat, out immediately after, in to rest, out before you leave for work ( and if you are lucky you will have a son that catches the bus later and he can put them up for the day) you will come home to a mess. . . there is no two ways about it! SO then you start it all over when you get home! ALL the wile having to clean the Pen in between.  The cleaner you keep everything the easier it is to train them.
So now you are feeding them and socializing them, cleaning them and quickly approaching the time to let them go.  The Great Dane Club of America wants you to keep them until they are 8 weeks old.  

It is generally frowned upon if you advertise in the local paper, so you have to pay the big bucks to announce them on the breed web pages.  OK OK I WILL STOP THIS HERE!  I have not gotten in to the chipping prices, the vaccination prices or any of the other little things that rear there ugly heady.  Right before they are all ready to leave you have to hall them all in to you vet to have them looked at and to make sure every thing is were it needs to be.


WHAT ARE YOU TRYING TO SAY?

If you want a pup just to have a pup save the $2500 + dollars you would spend breeding and go buy a pup from a top of the line breeder.  You will be happier, your house will remain intact and you will not have to worry about what happens to all the pups once they leave your home!  You wont have to use your vacation whelping pups and you will have three months of your life that you could better use.


If you are still dead set on breeding, do your research, be prepared and enjoy the entire experience.

 

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