I realized the other day that it has been quite awhile since I mentioned our Great Dane, Penni, in a post. That is really unacceptable, as she is the pearl…the gem…she brings a, well,….regal quality to the landscape.
If you have been visiting our farm for awhile, you know that Penni is mother of all things chicken….hatchlings, to be more specific. Every new chick hatched on the farm (or not) is required, by the overseer, to pass the sniff-lick-slobber resiliency test by the queen herself. Once completed, Penni is bonded to the chicks, and keeps a very close eye on them….
…the downside of this is like any mommy, she becomes very protective of her chicks, and will let the other dog(s) know in no uncertain terms. This is a very natural response, however harsh it may seem.
We’ve come to a point of “decision” with Penni. She is not spayed, and is a wonderful example of a classic, old school Great Dane.
By this I mean, she envelopes all the qualities of Danes before there was the trend to breed taller and taller dogs. This trend, and acceptance by the AKC, bothers me so much. I don’t believe that this adds to the health of the breed, I think it weakens it. I have seen danes with such long legs that they look spindly, the rear end is often higher than the shoulders, and the dog’s gait / strength appears off, weakened. I don’t like it at all; our Great Dane babies are not Irish Wolfhounds or Deerhounds…they were not originally bred to be as tall as those.
I think this breeding taller trend is what has also sparked the other current trend of breeding European Danes into the American Dane’s bloodlines. This, in my opinion, is a good, healthy trend, as it is bringing sturdiness back to the breed. Okay…I’m off of my soapbox now!!
Our pending decision…to breed or not to breed. I know…this is a dirty word to many….I usually think that way too, and am a huge advocate of spaying and neutering. In fact, this is the first animal I have ever had (besides chickens haha) that has not been “fixed” … she is the only four legged beauty that I have ever considered breeding. Physically, she is amazing, strong, and adheres to the standards of the American Kennel Club ( http://www.akc.org/breeds/great_dane/breed_standard.cfm ) ….mentally, she has a great, loving temperment….not at all aloof (although a common quality of the breed) and is very intelligent. Yes, I said it….I do believe that dogs think, and are not solely reactive…especially Danes.
Why would you breed her while there are so many in shelters and rescue? Beyond Penni’s safety and the safety of the pups throughout their lives, this is my biggest hindrance. I have worked in shelters or with shelters most of my life…this is an issue that I have not been able to justify yet, hence, Penni has never been bred. However, we have the acreage to take back any of our babies that may need to be rehomed.
Is Penni OFA certified? This is an expense that we will put out if / when we decide breeding is what we intend. She will be certified in heart, hips, knees, elbows, and thyroid… if and when.
Do you show Penni? No, Penni is an amazing family member. Although I thought, at one point, to show, I have not gone that route with her.
What’s the real reason you are considering breeding, Penni? If her OFA certifications are favorable, her classic dane stature, strength, beauty, and demeanor would be great characteristics to pass onto the next generation. If I could provide a few other families with a forever sweetheart like our girl, it would be a great gift….I know I’m romanticizing this very important decision…believe me, I’m looking at the issue with eyes wide open!
Reason for discussion? Penni will be three years old in April…at this point, she has been through five heat cycles. I will not breed her as long as we still have our 15 year old little Karli with us, as I will not subject Karli to that level of stress. For Penni’s safety, I don’t want her to go through too many more heat cycles if we’re not going to breed her…..hence, before her next cycle, I want to decide what to do. There are risks associated with the fluctuation of hormones in our furry kids that are unaltered.
Bottom line, there is much to consider…financial, emotional, intellectual, and social issues surround this decision, let alone the health and safety of our girl and her pups. Penni is depending on us to make the right choice. Beyond that, a suitable male would need to be found….not an easy task. I know this is a very controversial discussion for many…I highly respect your opinions, as I hope you will mine.
Thanks for talking with me today. Animal management (livestock or pet) on the farm always requires thoughtful consideration. It is never a light-hearted choice.
Your friend from Oregon,