A blog by spcaLA president, Madeline Bernstein

Jun 6, 2010

Say no to a Great Dane and I don't mean Hamlet!

While "to be or not to be" ranks as a great philosophical question for the ages - in my world, it is always answered "to be" by unscrupulous breeders and puppy mills. These opportunists are already cranking out Great Dane puppies to answer the demand of those who must have their own Marmaduke. Like Collies,(Lassie) Dalmatians, (Pongo) Chihuahuas, (so many films), and Portuguese Water Dogs, (Bo, the first dog) the Great Dane breed is about to be exploited and likely decimated.

Great Danes, though wonderful, affectionate and loyal, have problems associated with the breed, such as hip dysplasia heart disease, tumors and digestive issues that must be carefully monitored by accountable breeding and attended to by conscientious pet owners.Those that simply breed to supply the demand of a fad exacerbate those weaknesses and bring additional recessive negative traits forward. The result is a slew of sick dogs, unhappy children and a surge in the number of dogs turned into animal shelters.

How about we just enjoy the movie and not create the demand in the first place by saying no to the impulse to have a family Marmaduke. It is much easier to explain to our children why we won't get the dog in the first place, than to explain why the dog we acquired died or had to be relinquished.

To be responsible or not to be responsible? That is the question.  What do you think!


  1. Thank you for proactively bringing this up. I have a Great Dane myself and you are right: they are wonderful animals but they have congenital health problems that can be difficult to manage and costly. Also, behaviour issues are magnified. When a big dog does the same thing a little or medium sized dog does, it seems more important. A Lab or Border Collie might try to wrestle other dogs or be "inappropriately affectionate", but other dogs can just shrug it off. Not so if your dog weighs, as mine does, well over a hundred pounds. It's a different set of problems. I got Jake because he was at the shelter, needed a home, and picked us. I encourage anyone thinking about getting a dog to go to the SPCA near you and get a dog that needs a home rather than thinking you need a specific breed. It's important that you know what you are getting yourself into with any dog, but big dogs come with a special set of issues.

  2. Thank you. I really hope people take heed.

  3. I'm a 'mutt man' myself (mutt cats and dogs I feel make the best and often times healthiest pets.) but I still feel people have a right in this country to get a purebred dog from a local, caring breeder if they really want to shell out a lot of dough and prance around the neighborhood with them, showing them off.

    Yeah, every time we have a new dog movie, the breeders get greedy and every kid wants the latest, coolest breed. All breeds are special in their own right but I can't imagine trying to live with a dog this large--and Great Danes have very short lifespans, something like 7-8 years. Now who wants to have their hearts broken after only seven years? That's too much heartbreaking in one lifetime! Heck, my mutt cat 'Kid' died at 18 last year and my heart is still broken. At least we had many years of love and togetherness. I'm with Madeline; enjoy the movie but think twice about this monster breed unless you have a farm or large piece of property in which you live. ...and a strong heart!