Myth 1: I have small children, so I want a puppy.

Without a doubt, this is the most common reason people want a puppy. A sweet, small puppy just seems like the best choice for sweet, small children.

You know that cute Kodak commercial with the puppies climbing all over the giggling little boy? Have you ever noticed how short it is? Thatís because they could only film for a few seconds before the welts rose, the blood dripped, and the boy began to scream for his mother. Puppies have needle-teeth that they happily sink into anyone who walks by. They also have sharp nails that scratch when they jump up -- and on little Ryan, those front feet land right around his face.

Puppies leave "presents" that your toddler always seems to find before you do. Puppies wake your children during the night. And a puppy doesnít know the difference between his stuffed toy and Sarahís Piglet that she MUST have to fall asleep.

And suppose you get a puppy when little Morgan is 2. In six months, Morgan will be about 1 inch taller and 3 pounds heavier. However, the 8-month-old puppy will now be taller than Morgan and outweigh her by 60 pounds. And big snappers that need to chew will have replaced those baby teeth.

Of course, puppies and small children do successfully co-hebitate. But, in our experience, your child will go through far less Neosporin and Band-Aids with a calmer 2 + year old dog who is road-tested with children.


Myth 2: Itís better to get a puppy. With an older dog, you never know what youíre getting.

Seems to make sense, except the exact opposite is true.

All puppies are cute; all puppies love everyone. Itís not until a dog hits sexual maturity that some innate behavioral problems start to surface.

We canít even estimate how many calls weíve had from people who paid thousands of dollars for a purebred puppy, who is now a two year old and biting people, attacking other dogs, or engaging in some oddball neurotic behavior. Purebred is not the same as well bred, and sometimes it feels like the disreputable breeders grossly outnumber the responsible ones.

The truth is this: when we list a 4-month-old puppy, we can only guess what kind of adult sheíll make. When we list a 2-year-old dog, we can predict pretty accurately what kind of dog youíll have forever.


Myth 3: If you train your dog right, heíll stay in the yard without a fence.

Many people believe this, right up until the moment the dog is hit by a car, eats poison in the neighborís garage, or is stolen.

We insist on a fence. PERIOD. Rescue dogs are typically either strays (which means they have a history of wandering) or owner-surrenders (which means theyíre going to go look for their ex-owner first chance they get). We just canít risk it.


Myth 4: When I was growing up, we had a PERFECT Great Dane.

No, you didnít.

Trust me, he was only perfect because you were 8 and didnít have to clean up after him and be responsible for him. I know you believed he was perfect, but you also believed in Santa and honest government then, too.

I had a perfect Dane named Max when I was growing up. He died in my freshman year of college, and has since, in family lore, gone on to be canonized.

St. Max. Bow your head when you say it.

Everyone in my family seems to forget the time St. Max was hit by a car he was chasing. Or the time he bit the kid biking by. Or how he used to sneak in and sleep on the furniture when no one was home. Or the time he had diarrhea all over the hardwood floors. Or how he used to eat the Christmas ornaments off the bottom half of the tree.

Since Iíve been an adult, Iíve never had a perfect Great Dane--but every single one of them was perfect for me.


Myth 5: I need a one-acre yard to exercise a Great Dane.  Heíll eat me out of house and home.

BUUUUZZZZZ! Iím sorry. A brisk 30-minute walk once a day will do.  Danes are the epitome of couch potatoes.  Danes are more suited for apartment dwelling than, say, a Jack Russell terrier.  Many live very happy lives with no more than a side-fenced yard for potty breaks.

Because of their low energy level, a full-grown Great Dane eats less than an active German Sheppard, Lab, or Border Collie.



Myth 6: I want a dog without dominance issues, so I want a female.

In the wacky world of dogs, thatís just not true.

For starts, itís impossible to make gender-based absolutes. But once you spend time around them, youíll start to notice there are plenty of hyper, dominant females out there. Youíll also notice lots of mellow, roll-with-the-punches males (especially after they make that all-important trip to Dr. Knife).

It all depends on the individual dog, but donít think for a minute that a female is a sure ticket to a passive, submissive pooch.


Myth 7: Great Danes are ďOutside DogsĒ.

Great Danes have the same fur and skin as a Chihuahua.  They have no subcutaneous fat layer.  They suffer GREATLY from too cold AND too hot.

Danes are people oriented dogs, and must feel a part of the family.  Danes have developed mental disorders from being kept in the yard, on a chain, or even kept in a separate area, the garage, or an outside kennel.  Itís called ďkennel shockĒ and several of our foster homes have worked months with dogs with this problem, sometimes, with patience, it can be worked through.  Sadly, some have never recovered.

Danes are heavy dogs and lying on the ground causes them pain.  Itís even painful to lie on a padded carpet without a cushion. They must have a bed at least 4Ē thick, or hip, elbow, and arthritis problems will occur.  


Myth 8: My 8 month old Great Dane is biting people. Heís not lunging or growling, but he makes little nips on arms and legs with just his front teeth. I canít keep an aggressive dog.

This is called ďflea bitingĒ. Itís what happens when those cute little puppy bites go uncorrected. And if your dogís doing it, he will continue to do it--and do it harder and stronger--until you DO correct it.

Fortunately, it is relatively easy to fix in most dogs. Just tell him ďDonít biteĒ in a very firm voice when he starts, itíll startle him, then pet and praise when he stops. If the problem is really out of hand, you may need to call in a trainer for a few sessions.



Myth 9: Iím unsure about getting a rescue dog, because Iím afraid he wonít bond to me.

That sound you hear is all the people with rescued dogs falling over laughing. Because the exact opposite is nearly always true--your rescue dog will CLING to you.

Look at it from the dogís perspective. Heís spent the bulk of the last year on a 6-foot chain in someoneís back yard because he committed the unconscionable sin of no longer being a puppy. At some point during the day, someone may remember to bring him food and water. The only attention he gets is when they yell at him for barking.

Finally, they take him for a car-ride--dumping him in a wooded area where he can have a "fighting chance." Despite everything, he waits there for their return or tries to get back home. He finds water somewhere. He raids trashcans and gets sick. If heís extremely lucky, he survives long enough for an animal lover to find him and bring him to the shelter.

Then he sits in the loud, scary shelter run, starting to lose faith that his family will ever find him. The kennel people are nice, but he is one of a hundred needy dogs they have to care for.

Finally, the shelter calls us. And you take him home.

You not only bring him into your house, you give him his own bed and bowl, and a crate where he feels safe. You speak quietly. When he messes on the carpet, you donít seem to mind--you just take him outside and then clean it up. You feed him regularly AND give him toys and treats and Nylabones. He sleeps in your room. He may even have a big brother or sister to play with. He gets kisses. And when he goes out in the car, he always comes back.

Your rescue dogís biggest fear is that you will spontaneously combust.

Heís not going to let you out of his sight for one minute. People with rescue dogs learn to function with a 150 pound shadow following us everywhere.

That said, there are some dogs who just never learned to connect with people, but that becomes apparent very quickly--long before we place him with you.


Myth 10: I don't want to have my rescue dog spayed or neutered because it's not natural/ she should be able to have a litter/I want my children to see the miracle of birth/etc.

MAGDRL's spay/neuter policy is not negotiable. If everyone prevented irresponsible breeding, we'd be happily out of business. Do not humanize your dog--no one's asking you to neuter yourself. Your dog will be healthier and more comfortable once s/he's shifted into neutral--and will also be a much more pleasant companion.

Neutered male dogs roam less, mark less territory, and are generally less aggressive. Spayed female dogs avoid the messy and annoying heat cycles, associated personality changes during the cycle, and are not at risk for unwanted pregnancy. And both males and females are less likely to get certain illnesses.

As for the miracle of birth, well, there's another rite of passage occurring to 20 million dogs a year in this country, 25% of them purebred. It happens every day at your local animal shelter. But most parents are not as eager for their children to see that.


Article by Betsy Morris of MAGSR. Reprints (and modifications for breeds) permitted as long as you give us credit!

MAGDRL thanks Betty for her kind permission to change for our Danes, and for permission to reprint