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Everyone who comes here regularly knows that I love big dogs – and they don’t come much bigger than Great Danes! In fact, before I adopted Janice and Leroy, I seriously considered a pair of Great Danes. I ended up with Boxers just kind of out of pure dumb luck – or fate, or divine intervention, or something. I was ready to have dogs in my life, but at the time, there was something of a shortage or really good unrelated purebred Great Danes. Cost didn’t enter into my decision – I was in decent shape financially, and could have afforded pretty much whatever breed I wanted.
The issue was that I wanted to have dogs right away, and the waiting list for unrelated Great Danes in my travel area was too long for my liking. I’d probably have had to wait for years, and I wanted dogs yesterday! So, I decided to consider another breed.
Would I like a do-over? No way! My experience with Janice and Leroy has been so wonderful that as of now, Boxers own me, heart and soul. I can’t imagine my life without Boxers in it. Obviously, I hope that Janice and Leroy live for a very long time, but if there comes a point that I have to find other dogs to love, I’m confident that they will be Boxers.
I totally get it, though, if it’s Great Danes that call to your heart. So, how much should a purebred Great Dane cost? There are a lot of factors involved, and you need to consider not just the initial purchase price, but also what a purebred Great Dane will cost you to keep over the course of his life.
In the material that follows, we’ll talk a bit about Great Danes in general, as well as the monetary outlay you can expect to incur.
When you’re considering what a purebred Great Dane should cost, you need to understand the difference between “purebred” and “registered” and also the difference between “pet quality” and “show quality”.
A lot of people don’t understand that a dog can be purebred without being AKC registered. When you buy a purebred, non-registered dog, you are essentially getting the same type of dog as you would if you purchased a registered animal, but he will not come with papers. A registered animal will probably cost you at least three times as much as a non-registered one, and that’s for a pet quality animal. A show quality dog could cost five times as much as a non-registered purebred. What that translates into, when it comes down to what a purebred Great Dane will cost, is usually anywhere between $600 and $3000.
Okay, I know, you’re saying, “There goes Ash again, with another one of those famous digressions!” Hey, it’s what I do, so here goes.
Janice and Leroy are purebred Boxers. They are not registered. And it just makes me crazy when I quote a price for a puppy out of my dogs, and someone says, “Are the puppies registered?”
I frequently want to respond with something along the lines of, “Aren’t you a special kind of stupid? Do you really think that you’re going to get a papered dog for what you’re paying?” I do stifle myself, though, because sometimes people honestly don’t know how expensive a registered animal can be. I’d never turn someone away just because they lack knowledge.
I do kick them to the curb, though, when they turn up their noses and say something along the lines of, “So, you’re a backyard breeder, then!”
Yes. Yes, I am. And as I pointed out in How to Get the Right Dog From the Right Breeder, there’s nothing wrong with that. There is no guarantee that you’re going to get a healthy puppy from an AKC registered breeder, and no reason to think that you’ll get something substandard from a person like me, who is passionate about a certain breed and very committed to placing good puppies in good homes. A registered dog is just that – registered. Registration is not, in and of itself, a guarantee of quality.
Please keep this in mind when you are considering purchasing a dog. A purebred Great Dane from a breeder like me will not cost you all that much. One from an AKC breeder, even if it’s just “pet quality,” will cost considerably more, and a “show quality” dog exponentially more. If you’re not planning on showing, you can go “backyard.” Just make sure that the breeder will allow you to see the mother. It’s good if you can also see the sire, but if the breeder doesn’t own the sire, that might not be possible.
If you can’t see the mother, and if you’re not welcome to visit your puppy any time you want before bringing it home, that’s “bad backyard,” and you should run as fast as you can in the opposite direction. This is where “backyard” is probably tipping over into “puppy mill.”
Okay, digression over! I know that was a bit lengthy, but I think it needed to be said.
There are, of course, other ways of getting a purebred Great Dane that won’t cost you a whole lot. While it’s not often that purebred dogs end up in animal shelters, it does happen. Marriages break up and neither party can keep the dog. People die, and there is no one to take the dog. And sometimes, people take on “too much dog” and once they discover that the dog doesn’t fit their lifestyle, the (asshat) owner ends up giving the dog to a shelter.
If you do happen to find a Great Dane in a shelter, you’ll have to pay an adoption fee, which is usually around $400. If you’re not stuck on the idea of getting a puppy, you can sometimes find a nice purebred adult Great Dane for just the cost of the adoption fee.
Another way of getting a purebred Great Dane at not much cost is by contacting a rescue group. Again, it’s highly unlikely that you’ll get a puppy, but remember – adult Danes need love too. The other thing to keep in mind here, though, is that you might end up taking on a dog with issues. Perhaps he’s been abused, or he’s been dumped because no one took the time to potty train him or socialize him. You might be in for a bit of work, but Great Danes are very intelligent, loving dogs, and will usually respond to positive reinforcement. If you can open your heart to a Great Dane who needs some TLC, you’ll be rewarded beyond measure, and again, you’ll only have to shell out an adoption fee. Sometimes, shipping is even included in the fee.
So, by now you understand that you’re not likely to get a Great Dane for nothing. Of course, I’ve heard of situations where a dog had to be re-homed immediately, for whatever reason, and ended up being “free to good home.” This doesn’t happen very often, though, and usually there will be some cost involved. Great Danes are highly desirable dogs, so you probably should expect that your purebred Great Dane will cost you at least a $400 adoption or rescue fee.
Now, if that seems like a lot of money, I’d have to agree – it is, for most of us. That’s why, before you make a commitment, you should be sure that a Great Dane is the right dog for you, and that you’re willing to incur the other costs that go along with owning this wonderful breed.
A purebred Great Dane costs more, usually, than other breeds to start with. Then, the costs go up over the course of the dog’s life, simply because you’ve bought a lot of dog. A male Dane will usually weigh anywhere from 140 to 180 pounds, and a female generally in the neighborhood of 110 to 140 pounds. If you think this is going to add up to a hefty food bill, you’re right!
A male Dane, at maturity, will probably need anywhere from 7 to 10 cups of food daily. A female will need between 6 and 9 cups. Usually, this translates into about $80 per month just for food.
Another word on food –you’ll have to feed your Great Dane a bit differently than you would a dog of almost any other breed. From the very beginning, a Great Dane needs a diet that is low in fat, protein and calcium. What this means is that a Dane should be fed an adult maintenance formula from the outset – the usual “puppy chow” is far too high in those nutrients, and that could cause your puppy to grow too fast. This can result in health problems later on. Also, in order to prevent bloat (which is a common problem with Danes), you will need to feed on a schedule – spread the daily food allotment out over two or three meals. This is one instance in which I advise against free feeding.
Great Danes are also prone to health issues other than bloat. In old age, they can be vulnerable to heart disease, hypothyroidism, and bone cancer. Epilepsy is also somewhat more common in Danes than in other breeds.
Generally speaking, veterinary costs for large breeds of dogs are higher than they are for most breeds. Medication, for instance, is administered according to weight. It costs more to spay or neuter a large dog than it does a small one. X-rays can be costlier because of the dog’s size. You get the idea.
Along with higher food and health care costs, just about everything is going to cost you more if you have a Great Dane than if you had chosen a smaller breed. If you need a crate for your dog, it will cost more because it’s bigger than what you’d need for a small dog. Bigger dog dishes cost more than small ones. Leashes for Great Danes have to be stronger than those made for small dogs, so they need to be made from sturdier materials, and therefore cost more.
Unless you’re a very good dog trainer, you should also consider enrolling your dog in obedience classes. Now granted, obedience training for a purebred Great Dane won’t cost you any more than it would for any other breed, but it’s more important than it is for most breeds. Think of it this way – if your Maltese jumps up on someone, it’s likely not a big deal (unless he ruins a really cool outfit because his paws are muddy). If a Dane jumps up on someone, he could cause a serious injury.
If you need to board your Dane, you should expect to pay more than you would for a smaller breed, simply because he’s going to eat more and require longer exercise periods. And if you should have to ship your dog by air – see Flying the (Pet) Friendly Skies – you’ll be paying by weight, the same as you would for any other type of cargo shipment
It’s adding up, isn’t it?
A purebred Great Dane will cost you a fair bit of money at the outset. Then, he’s going to cost you a lot more than a small breed would over the course of his lifetime. If you think money (or lack thereof) could be an obstacle to your owning a Great Dane, then you might do well to consider another breed.
If, on the other hand, Great Danes have a firm grasp on your heartstrings, the way Boxers do on mine, you’ll probably think that any amount of money is well worth it. So, follow your heart. You don’t want to find, at the end of your days, that you’re saying, “It was only money, and I really, really wish I’d gotten that Great Dane.” A purebred Great Dane will cost you a fair chunk of change. But you’ll be rewarded so many time over with the love and devotion that your gentle giant will bring to your life.
Life is short and often filled with regret. Ask yourself just one question – “Do I really, really want a Great Dane?” If the answer is an unqualified “Yes,” then spend the money. After all, you can’t put a price on true love.