I decided to look for my first Great Dane in the late sixties. Someone was kind enough to refer me to a breeder they knew. I called the lady. She was no longer breeding and had only one dane, but she told me to come on over anyway and she would try to give me a "crash course" in what to look for in a dane, what publications to subscribe to, how to select a healthy pup, etc. I spent a half a day with her and felt much more confident. I was so impressed by her willingness to be helpful that I promised myself if I ever became a breeder, I would try to be as helpful to others as this lady was to me. She, through her kindness and generosity, made a permanent impression. Her name is Fran Garber, and she ran a school for hippie children in Atlanta. If anyone knows her, please ask her to contact me.
I bought my first dane. He was wonderful...his breeders were not! To make a very long, sad story short, he lived through distemper, generalized mange, and I had to put him down at a year and a half...he looked more like fourteen. It nearly killed me. That experience also made a lasting impression!
I bought a "generic" harlequin bitch. She was very healthy, very intelligent and had a wonderful temperament. She had good conformation. I was very fortunate.
Her worst feature was poor color. I decided I wanted to become a breeder. Thanks to Fran and the publications she referred me to, I knew the type of structure that I preferred, and my experience with my first dane had taught me a permanent lesson about health and temperament.
I bred Rebel to a champion German import owned by Jim Payne in Alabama. I kept from that breeding and bred those danes to sons and daughters of imports and kept from those breedings. I then line bred on the dogs that I had kept.
Over the following seventeen years, I purchased from reputable breeders numerous danes...only 5% of which made it into my breeding program due to health and/or temperament problems. I was terribly discouraged, so I started researching German breeders. It took alot of work and alot of time, but I found what I was looking for.
To date, we have imported twelve or thirteen danes. All have had good temperaments, and all but one were or are healthy. We have health and temperament, so all we have to do in those departments is maintain. Since we can only afford to import puppies, and some turn out conformationally better than others, we have utilized only the best of our imports for breeding. The others were put into pet homes. We have been pleased with the results. I went to Germany and joined the German Dane Club
As breeders go, we are somewhat eccentric. We want to take personal responsibility for each and every life we create, so we do not breed our studs to outside females, except those owned by very close friends. We use "pet" to describe the puppy's function in its new family, not to describe a non show quality puppy. Our goal for each and every puppy is to have it live in a loving home with an appreciative family for its entire life, and our average life span is ten to thirteen years. If they also want to show the pup, that's fine, but it is definitely not a requirement.
All pups sold as pets are sold with limited AKC registration papers. A puppy being considered for show must have the correct color and conformation, but those characteristics alone do not, in our opinion, make it a show puppy. It must also have the appropriate attitude for show. Without the attitude, the puppy would not enjoy showing and would not present itself as well as one with the appropriate attitude, and most importantly, the puppy would not be happy being shown. Therefore, even if a puppy has the color and conformation, we will not sell it as a show puppy unless the puppy also has "the attitude".
We x-ray every dane before breeding. We seldom crop the ears, as we have become so accustomed to the "natural ear". We do not cull healthy puppies. We also do not cull deaf puppies. We kept one, and Flurry was our wonderful pet.
We are very fortunate to be in a position to be able to breed for our own personal preferences. We like intelligent, healthy danes with super temperaments, large bones and substantial structures.