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An Interview With
The Great Dane Lady (aka Linda Arndt)
More and more dog owners today are choosing large, or giant, breeds - often as their first canine companion.
dogs are fascinating and magnificent creatures - and their puppies are
hard to resist with those huge paws, big eyes and adorable clumsiness!
these enormously cute puppies have a whole set of unique and individual
needs. Needs that must be recognized, and met properly, if they are to
grow up to be happy, healthy adults.
Although an accomplished
artist, and formally trained as an Art Educator, Linda Arndt (otherwise
known as 'The Great Dane Lady') has spent the last 35 plus years
devoting her time, energy, creativity and passion, to help dog owners
learn more about, and overcome, the unique challenges of owning a large
and giant breed dog.
Since childhood, Linda has been fascinated by Great Danes and under the name Blackwatch Kennels,
she spent years as a professional breeder of champion Great Danes.
Linda has been very heavily involved in researching and tackling the
incidence of nutritionally caused bone diseases, and the effects of high
calorie diets on the growth of large and giant breeds. The Eagle
Natural Pack dog foods were developed as a direct result of Lindas' own
analysis, tests and feed trials, and her Blackwatch Puppy Feed Program and Blackwatch Adult Feeding Program are used by many of the top breeders, in large and giant breeds, in both the USA and overseas.
Great Dane Lady' is also in high demand as both a writer and speaker.
Linda has had articles published in premier magazines such as DaneWorld
Magazine, The Great Dane Reporter, Whole Dog Journal, Pet Health News,
Pet Product News, Animal Wellness and numerous animal health and many breed specific
magazines. She also conducts seminars and lectures for the AKC, All
Breed Clubs, National Breed Clubs and Training organizations and has
been one of a panel of experts presenting seminars on the K9 College Cruise in 2007 and 2009.
Lindas' website, www.greatdanelady.com
is an amazing resource for large breed owners everywhere, with an
unbelievable amount of information, articles, and research presented in a
straightforward and down-to-earth way.
I'm very grateful to
Linda for taking time out of her extremely busy schedule to talk with
us, and to give such thoughtful and comprehensive answers to my
questions. If you own (or are thinking of owning) a large breed
puppy/dog, this interview is a 'must read'!
Okay, let's get this interview started......
The questions I ask Linda are shown in bold type, her answers follow.As a trained and accomplished artist, can you tell us what led
you to become so involved in, and to devote so much time and energy to,
the study of canine nutrition?
Well, this will be the longest answer of all of them all....
year I was born my parents purchased the Encyclopedia Britannica. It
was the thing to do during that era, I suppose to get a jump start on
your child’s education. I know for me one volume of the Encyclopedia was
read over and over again. Recently, I was cleaning out old files and
closets and came across that one book, Volume 7; Damascus - Education
was printed on the binding. I don’t know what happened to the other
volumes and don’t remember even looking at them as a child but this one
was worn from use, it had traveled with me for 60 years tucked away in a
In the middle of this book, on page 495 was the section
entitled; DOGS and the pages were worn, taped, glued and yellowed from
being looked at over and over as a child. One page in particular was in
disastrous condition, hanging by a thread. In the upper left hand
corner was a photograph of a fawn Great Dane. I remember as if it were
yesterday. I asked my mother if we could get a Great Dane, we had
always had a dog or two and I loved them, but I was fascinated with the
image of this magnificent creature. Whenever I asked, the response was
always the same - when you are grown and you have your own house, you
can get your own Great Dane. My nagging request always fell on
deaf ears so I learned to live with and loved a toy Manchester named
Pepper - she was my friend and confidant and constant companion for 18
years. When she died I decided to save my baby-sitting earnings to
someday get a Great Dane.
Of course as a teen, a portion of my earnings
had to go toward Aqua-Net hairspray for my “ratted flip hairdo”; it was
the 60’s after all! In 1969 I left to go to San Francisco to finish my undergraduate degree at the Art Institute. It was there I actually encountered my first Great Dane. There was a man walking
on Fisherman’s wharf with this huge, black, male Great Dane and I was
mesmerized by this magnificent creature (the dog, not the man) and
remember standing there with tears in my eyes thinking some day, some
day, I will have my Great Dane. Now that I had experienced being in the
same space with this animal, there would be no turning back. It was that afternoon I decided as soon as I graduated from college
and had secured a job, the very first thing I would do is get a Great
I had saved up $500 just for this purpose - thank God the hair styles
changed in the 70’s because we went from using 4 can’s of Aqua-Net
hairspray a week to ironing our hair like Cher, that meant all my
Aqua-Net money was banked towards the purchase of my own Great Dane. In the summer of 1973 I was offered a position as assistant professor at Ball State University. During the months before I was asked to teach summer school at Edinboro University
near Erie, Pennsylvania. My undergraduate professor Donna Nicholas had
invited me to Edinboro to teach her summer classes and also told me
about her friend in the psychology department that had a litter of 4
month old Great Danes. I could not stand it... the money was burning a
hole in my pocket. I was not in town 2 hours before I begged her to take
me to see this litter of puppies.
As we drove down the road this
gorgeous black Great Dane female , even by today standards, greeted us
at the end of the driveway. That night I came home with my first
Great Dane, a 4 month old black female which I named Neige, which in
French means snow. I loved that dog more than life itself. I had waited a
lifetime for her and when I lost her at 3 years of age to bloat, it
destroyed me. I mourned for a year as if this dog was my own child.
was a handful, never socialized properly from day one. She and I had to
learn together how to make her a good citizen but she went to school
with me daily, slept in my office, visited in my classroom and became
loved and known all over campus. She made me love this breed - they are a
part of my heart and soul and the impetus for my dedication to all
canines and what I do today for this breed. Years later I
realized the reason Neige came into my life was to challenge me to learn
all I could about what made the giant breeds so compelling, so exotic,
so magnificent yet so fragile. Her episode with bloat was truly one of
the worst I have witnessed yet to this day and I am tormented by the
fact that I could not help her in her horrible pain.
I knew nothing
about bloat and the veterinarian I was using at that time knew even
less. I read one article in Dog World and kept asking him if this could
be what they call Bloat. When I realized he did not know and I heard
him on the phone with another colleague asking what this could be, I
decided then and there, no matter what the outcome, I would never again
rely on another individual to know what was wrong with my dog. I would
never again be afraid to be assertive, to ask questions and push for
answers when needed. That day my dog died, I became an advocate for my
breed and all canines. To this day I tell people when you look for a vet
they do not have to know about giant breeds but they do have to be a
vet that is approachable, one you can ask questions, take articles to
and be able to dialogue with without their ego’s getting in the way.
have to have someone that is willing to make phone calls to other
resource people if you ask them. You have to have someone that is not
put off when you want to seek a second or third opinion about your dog’s
condition. In short..you have to be your dog’s advocate. If you have a
vet that is like this, and they are out there, you have won half the
battle. I can deal with a vet or physician making a mistake or
misdiagnosis as long as they are not condescending, as long as together
we make decisions with as much information as we can bring to the table.
The loss of my first Great Dane Neige, really set in motion
what I do today with my website GreatDaneLady.com. This loss made me
take responsibility for learning as much as I could about this breed and
it‘s health, yet be open and humble to the health care professionals I
used for my animals. We are blessed to have the veterinarians Kent
Wisecup and Rob and Nathan Rich of Country Acre Animal Clinic in New
Castle, Indiana. Together, we have learned so much about dogs in general
and giant breeds in particular over these past 36 years. I have owned
other breeds along the way; Borzoi, Whippets, Shelties, and Pugs, with a
rescue Beagle thrown in there for a year, and most recently a wonderful
Collie that makes Lassie look dull by comparison!
I have learned if you
can feed and raise a giant breed you can raise anything else. They are
by far the most difficult creature to get up to a year of age – they are
a freak of nature that is for sure but they are worth every bit of
effort. I guess that answers the question…. I have always had 3
parallel lives, that as an educator first and foremost, which is carried
over into my website, and professional artist (examples of work are at
my website) and a professional dog breeder. Not being trained or
thinking like a liner thinker has been an asset to me – here is where
the creative side of me has played such an important part in dealing
with dog issues.
One of my greatest gifts in this life is that I am a
terrific creative problem solver and have a hunger and curiosity for
information and then I want to share it with others – get the word out. That is what www.GreatDaneLady.com
is all about. It is 36 years worth of articles, research and
information, an educational website with common sense based information
for all pet owners, breeders and pet care professionals.
You founded Blackwatch Great Danes in
1973, and produced many conformation and obedience Champions over the
years. In my experience, good breeders strive to improve their chosen
breed, aiming for their own idea of the ‘perfect dog. What did you see
in your minds’ eye as the perfect Blackwatch Great Dane?
We are very fortunate in Great Danes to have one of the most detailed,
verbally and illustrated, AKC standards as our guide to work with in
developing our breeding programs.
Some breed standards are so vague it
is next impossible for a breeder to know what is “correct type” as
called for. Therefore you have different breed types in the show ring
and judges end up putting up what they like as opposed to what is the
best example of the breed. So to say I breed for a specific
type of dog, well besides working for function as well as beauty, we
really try to work with the breed standard in mind when selecting for
our breedings. It is important to me that the breed “looks” like the
breed standard, that there is NO mistake it is a Great Dane and it has a
presence about it that is grand and noble.
I have noticed with breeders
that do not have an “eye for a dog”, they tend to prefer dogs that look
like the original dog they started with – using that as the “model”.
For most of us our first dog was strictly a pet and lacked breed type so
hopefully, people will not use that as their “standard” and continue to
grow working toward their breed’s standard guidelines.You know,
years ago I developed a college course called “Visual Vocabulary” –the
premise is, everyone sighted has a group of preferential images, colors,
shapes, forms, textures that they are drawn to and this dictates many
of their choices in life.
They frequently do not even know they have a
Visual Vocabulary so in this class we set out to determine what each
individual’s Visual Vocabulary is, and how that translated to their art
work and to every day life including their choices in cars, clothes and
mates. So, knowing everyone has a set of images they are
automatically drawn to in life can be a negative thing when it comes to
breeding dogs if you are not aware of it.
People will put their own
“spin” on breed type based on what they like as opposed to working
toward the Standard that has been set up by the Parent club to preserve
and improve a breed. That’s my take on it.
Beauty is often in the eye of the beholder, however temperament is less
subjective. Do you feel that an emphasis on conformation (for showing)
is at odds with the overall betterment of a breed?
You know we were just discussing this at dinner the other night with
friends. This really depends on the breed itself because some breeds
really encourage performance work as well as conformation. In our breed I
am proud to say we have a large number of individuals involved in
performance work, from obedience, agility, service dogs etc and this
number is growing. This is true in Herding and Hounds as well. I
think now there is even more encouragement to have multi-functional
animals, not just beauties but those that can do what they were bred to
You will always get a few breeds that get extreme in the breed type
and breed only for looks, say what they might look like from the side
view versus being able to actually gait properly or function as a
working or herding dog. Now there is little use for a Great Dane
to take down a bear or wild boar thank goodness, but they have adapted
well to sitting in the back seat of my mini-van and guarding the
groceries while I run into Target!
Temperament is the most important
thing to me as a breeder – I want our dogs to be good citizen of the
breed at all times and that means not only good breeding choices but
lots of hard work on our part in the developmental stages (under 10
weeks) to make sure they are handled, exposed to things, people, sounds
etc. Before our dogs leave us, the work is done and the owners just need
to reinforce it with consistent verbal commands.
For 25+ years I
took a Great Dane to the University with me every day. I had a bed in
the office and classroom and the kids loved it. As universities changed
their structure from being a seat of learning to a large corporate
mentality, there was no tolerance for animals on campus other than a
service dog. I stopped bringing a Dane to work and to this day when I
run into former students they talk about the dogs I brought to school.
Many new owners get very excited at the thought of bringing a
new puppy into their home, and don’t do enough research before rushing
out to buy one. For people interested in owning a Great Dane, what would
you say are the most important things to look for in a breeder, and in a
Oh boy, even I have been guilty of that one !! Again
here is where the Visual Vocabulary comes into play again in making
decisions, ….sometimes wrong ones (be it picking a dog or a mate).
The reason people gravitate to a specific breed is they usually like the looks of a dog, it is something visually about that breed that they are attracted to. Kind of how men and women pick each other while dating in college – even though the function of the breed may not be inline with the physical characteristics or what they should own – it’s the looks they gravitate to first. Give you my own personal example.
The other breed I wanted as a child was a Collie and I was devastated
when I did not win the “Name Lassie’s Puppies” contest and win a free
Lassie puppy. One of the few times in my life I have ever gone over the
edge in hysteria and I JUST KNEW I was going to win one of those
After all, I had come up with the best names “ Queenie,
Blackie, and Princess, right?! Of course I should have won – it was a no
brainer! WRONG, that puppy went to some kid in Ohio and I was not only
mad, I was just hysterically disappointed.
After a few shakes
from my mother, “Straighten up”, I snapped out of it and decided some
day I will get a Great Dane AND a Collie, I’ll show’em!! Years later I
purchased what I thought was the next best thing to a Collie, it was a
Borzoi (Russian Wolfhound), after all it was just a taller, flatter
version of a Collie.
WRONG --- boy was I wrong, there was no way my
Borzoi would save me if I fell down a well, lead me home if I got lost
in the woods or drag us out of the house if it were a’blaze, like
That is when I learned to read, read, read about the history, the
function and the temperament of a breed before you get one, and of
course meet one in person.
So many dogs end up in the shelter or
rescue because the people that got them had no idea what they were
bred to do or what special needs they have that need to be met. So I
always tell people, investigate first and forget about the looks, make
that secondary on your list.
(As a side note, I now have a 15 month old
Collie and he would save me if I fell down a well!). You were heavily involved in creating the Eagle Pack Natural
dog food that you feature in your Blackwatch Feeding Program. Can you
tell us a little about that, and why this particular food is the only
one that you wholeheartedly recommend?
Yes, in the early days of owning dogs and trying to learn about showing
and caring for them, I had friends that expressed the same fears about
bloat and short life expectancies in this breed. When I lost my first
Dane to bloat I dedicated my energies to understanding why and how it
happens and how to feed them so they could live longer. This meant much
research analyzing diets, doing lab tests, running feed trials. The
whole thing just gained momentum and a life of it’s own by the late
I ran a 6 year national survey in my breed and out of that
came some information that showed us how to slow down growth in these
large/giant breeds so they develop slow and even with no developmental
diseases. I sent the 6 year research info to several companies but only
Eagle and Mr. Joe Cocoquyt took a genuine interest. He asked me to
meet him at Denny’s in Kokomo, Indiana the next day and out of that
meeting the Natural Pack was born. We ran the only long term feed trials
on giant breed puppies. It involved several litters across the country
for up to one year of age. The success was remarkable!
over 20 yrs ago. Now we have so much less growth problems knowing what
we need for large breed growth. Dogs can develop orthopedic disease on
any food if feed too much, it is a matter of intake vs. output, but
better quality foods have quality food sources, usable minerals and
micro-minerals which are needed for slow even growth. Joe
Cocoquyt (Eagle) had died in 2008, the company was sold and history
shows us what happens.
When Paul owned Iams it was a wonderful food for
the time it was made. Now, well - let's just say Paul Iams would turn
over in his grave. I am a staunch supporter of the family owned
smaller companies, where the employees work together with a common
purpose and there is a sense of humanity. As a business owner, I have
always found if you do the right thing, do the best you can for the
benefit of the whole, the profits will come, but not at the expense of
our pet's health. In this industry (dog foods and supplements) I will
only endorse companies with " a purpose and a heart".
I have an
award that will be given out starting May 1st, it's called the "Company
With A Conscience Award" - and these companies and/or products will
be endorsed by GreatDaneLady.com - watch for this award on websites
that you visit, it is a guide to those companies who focus on quality
principles and practices and who give back to the community.
April 2009 I made the decision to dedicate my efforts to a quality
company that makes holistic products. I am now consulting for the
Precise & Precise Plus on the domestic side, and for Precept
Plus/ANF on the International side. It is a terrific lineup of foods
that I can believe in andstand behind, they have feed out very well in
my feed trials and I am excited about consulting for the Precise/Precept
family of foods.
I get many
questions from new puppy owners on a daily basis. A topic that arises
pretty consistently is the incidence of adverse reactions to vaccines in
young puppies. You have come up with a regime that helps to prevent
this. Can you tell us a little about this?
Many years ago I went with a friend while she took her granddaughter to
get a vaccination. As we waited in the office the nurse gave the little
girl a glass of orange juice. I thought she was being polite but she
said “it helps prevent a reaction, we have found they are not as tired
or lethargic after if they have Vitamin C supplements or drink juice 20
minutes before the shot”. This really got me to thinking about
the detoxification process and how important antioxidants are in
preventing vaccine reactions, not only in humans but pets as well, so we
started using Vitamin C in our dog’s diets in the late 1970’s.
years went on and the more I learned, the more important I realized it
was to have a nice cross section of antioxidants (not too much of one
kind to cause a pro-oxidant effect), but a good array of antioxidants to
keep the body cleansed. When I started using the Nzymes (dietary
enzyme) product 25 years ago I was astonished at it’s ability to
detoxify the body from toxins, so the Vitamin C and Nzymes treats or
granular became a staple in the Blackwatch Feed Programs. It is a
natural way to help prevent any vaccine reactions in our dogs. Now we know it is the bovine carrier in vaccines that is the
problem for dogs and spacing them apart is important plus backing up the
system with Vit C and Nzymes.
Thankfully with this protocol we have
never had a vaccine reaction, be it seizure or auto-immune disease. We
also adhere to the vaccination schedule of Dr. Jean Dodds.
Many large and giant breeds have a tendency towards developing bone and
joint problems. There is a genetic component, and prospective puppy
owners should only buy from breeders who have their breeding dogs
undergo the appropriate health screenings. However, environmental and
dietary factors can also cause these kinds of issues, what do you think
are the most important things the new owner of a large breed puppy can
do to help protect their pet?
your homework on the breeder that you are buying from and make sure they
not only do the heath checks, but that they are willing to give you
copies of the results. Don’t buy from a breeder that sends the puppy
home before 8 weeks of age – it’s too young! Don’t take a checkbook
when you go get a puppy and don’t buy to try and save a puppy from a bad
breeder, this never works out well especially with the giant breeds.
nothing in life is a guarantee- even with health checks – but you can
minimize your chances of problems and optimize your dog’s chances of
survival and living a longer comfortable life if you provide them with
nutrition that supports the whole system, not just parts of it. Based on
my feed trials over the years and personal experience, I do NOT feel
HOD, OCD or Pano is genetic. When I can create these “conditions” with a
shift in nutrition then reverse them, they are not genetic in my
I do believe some forms of Hip Dysplasia are genetic in
that the parents did not compensate each other for a breeder, so it
could simply be an “engineering problem”, the parts don’t fit. We see
this sometimes in bites when breeders put two very different types of
dogs together, say a slight headed bitch bred to a very heavy headed
stud (more mastiff type), there will be a significant problem with bites
as the head pieces are too dissimilar and create structure problems.
This puzzle part and that puzzle part do not fit together….that’s all.
So in that respect it would be genetic, but not necessarily GENETIC, if
you get my drift. I know of one breeder who is in her 80’s and
still active in showing and breeding in England. Since the importing of
Eagle Natural, her dog’s % of hip dysplasia went from 42% in the 1980’s
to 6% currently in 2009. Yes, nutrition can play an enormous roll in
what is often seen as genetic. The study of how nutrition affects
genetics is called Nutrigenomics.
That is why I am adamant about using what I call the CORE 4
supplements in the Blackwatch Feed Programs, regardless if feeding raw,
semi raw, homemade, or top of the line dry food.The Core 4
includes a good probiotic/digestive enzyme product (4 in 1 Probiotics or
BakPakPlus), dietary enzymes (Nzymes granular or chewable treats) to
put the living component back in a processed diet and to take the load
off the pancreas, and Ox-E-Drops to help keep the gut’s pH where it
should be to prevent leaky gut or systemic yeast over growth and other
depilating diseases’. The pH of a system is where the health and
Another topic that shows up on my question
page pretty regularly, concerns allergies in dogs. It seems that more
and more dogs are showing allergic responses to food and other
substances. What do you recommend puppy owners do to prevent their pup
from suffering the misery of allergy symptoms?
I keep thinking I have to keep this short for Sue or they will lose
interest, now we have a topic I can give a 3 hour seminar on.
discuss it we need some background... In the statement above I
said we need “dietary enzymes to put the living component back into a
processed diet. It is the living component – enzymes – that cleanses the
body of toxins and takes the load off the pancreas for the digestion of
nutrients”. (humans and animals). Side note: this is one of the main
causes of diabetes today in human and pets. I digress.....When a
system lacks critical “living enzymes” there is a breakdown in the
immune function and the dog’s body can’t detoxify or cleanse itself.
The toxins leave the body through excrement, urine and the skin, which
is the body’s biggest filter organ. Toxins end up on the skin and it
changes the pH of the surface of the skin causing itching and
scratching. When it starts to spiral out of control the veterinarian
sees the skin being inflamed and gives a diagnosis of a “food allergy”.
They put the dog on a prescription diet (grain based) along with
steroids and antibiotics for a secondary infection and the cycle starts
all over again because the meds kill off the beneficial bacteria of the
gut, making more room for yeast to grow!
Now we have the next
stage which is 'Leaky Gut Syndrome', where the overgrowth of pathogens
has allowed the mucus lining to be destroyed and the toxins now leach
out of the intestinal walls into the bloodstream, making these toxins go
systemic (all system). The main by-products of Leaky Gut
Syndrome is Yeast Overgrowth. The over growth of a fungus, called
Candida albicans, is normally within the digestive tract but when it
over grows it affects the whole system of the dog (human) making it go
septic with yeast die-off .
Actually allergies are very rare but
systemic yeast infections are the biggest health problem today, not only
for pets but for humans as well. It is now being recognized but only if
you have an alternative therapy physician or holistic veterinarian,
they do not understand or recognize this problem. Sometimes what
appears to be a food allergy is actually a contact allergy. Some of the
things that cause allergies are carpet products (sprinkle kind), like
Carpet Fresh. I know of a breeder who spent thousands of dollars trying
to figure out what was wrong with their show dog and it was a reaction
to Carpet Fresh.
Tide detergent, as well as other detergents can be a
very big problem if used on dog bedding. Just wash bedding in bleach,
no soap and NO softeners which can trigger respiratory reactions in
young animals and children in particular. Any aerosol sprays, like air
freshener and especially Lysol and other kinds of disinfectants, do not
use them. Yard, flower, bug sprays and sprayed fields in agricultural
areas…all of these things can cause serious contact allergy reactions.
And lastly, swimming pools with chemicals/chlorine can also be a serious
problem for skin and coats.
If you have a dog that you suspect
is allergic to something 1) have the thyroid tested first and if low
normal treat the dog with meds. 2) switch foods to a single source
protein food – a holistic diet is best. 3) check the environment for
cleaning products etc. If that does not do it then use the Yeast
Removal Kit - 9 chances out of 10 your dog has yeast overgrowth.
more about this in my article: A Mini-Course in Systemic Yeast. You can get the yeast kit at www.firstchoicenaturals.com or www.nzymes.com
Large or giant breeds are also vulnerable to another very serious
condition called Bloat or Torsion. Many owners are unaware of, or
unfamiliar with, this problem and this can have fatal consequences. I
understand that you’ve had personal and heartbreaking experience with
this. Can you explain to us the symptoms of bloat, what to do if you are
concerned that your dog is experiencing these, and what can be done to
prevent, or at least reduce the risk, of it occurring?
First, all breeds can bloat and torse (stomach and/or spleen turns). It
is more of a problem in large breeds because many large breeds (giants)
do not handle stress well, they are not fed as well (eat more food than
tiny dogs) and this can all add up to a breakdown in the dogs system,
causing a change in the pH of the gut. This then allows pathogenic
bacteria and yeast to overgrow in the gut causing bloat/torsion.
week I talked to a woman who’s dog has bloated 3 times, she said when
the dog was stuck with a trocar (to let the gas out in an emergency
situation before operating), she said “Linda, it smelled just like
yeast and so did the dog’s breath!” Yes, there is a disruption of the
normal flora of the gut and overgrowth causes bloat. This is why
Probiotics are critical to keeping the incident of bloat down in these
dogs. Stress is always the trigger, sometimes it is unseen stress – it
can be hormonal as well, this is why unspayed or unneutered animals are
more susceptible to this problem.
Hormones fluctuate during seasons and
can change the body’s pH balance in the gut and there you go.....
overgrowth of pathogens and bloat. This is why grain based diets of the
yester year were such a problem and why so many kennels lost dogs to
bloat. I do not believe grains, whole grains of high quality and
in moderate amounts are a bad thing for dogs. I do not like grain based
diets, especially grains that are not human grade but feed grade which
makes them lack nutrients and are high in glutens which are an issue
with systemic yeast – see how this is all interconnected. A healthy gut
is the basis of all wellness for them and for us.
At the risk of making
this interview longer than a best seller, here is a link with the
symptoms of bloat. Any dog owner should know this, not just big dog
owners. It is important to have a vet that is knowledgeable about
it, can do the surgery and has an emergency clinic because when this
hits time is of the essence – literally you have to get them to a vet
Great Danes are obviously ‘your’ breed, and your love and respect for
them is clearly immense. They’re very impressive dogs, but I would
imagine that owning one has its’ own unique challenges (as of course is
true with any breed). Do you have an opinion as to what sort of home or
environment is most suitable for one of these beauties?
I have always had a couple breeds at one time, but I am most familiar
with the challenging giant breeds. I have owned Pugs for years, shown
some and had a few litters – I currently only have one. I used to take
at least one Dane with me everywhere, but the traveling got to be a
problem because if they get sick and you are out of town, or bloat
perhaps, good luck finding a clinic that will take them. They don’t
board well which is why most Great Dane owners have dog sitters.
Boarding kennels don’t like to take Danes because they get stressed and
bloat. This breed does not handle stress well, they are so people
oriented that even when well socialized, they are still kinda big
The kind of homes that get Great Danes need to be owners
that can spend time with them, make them an integral part of the family
and keep them well socialized. They do need room to play so a large
fenced yard is critical for wellness and keeping up muscle strength as
they age. I have had other breeds, my Collie is wonderful but he
is much more of a “working dog”, he needs a job all the time and in
spite of his classy pedigree, he is much more of a “Dawg” than my Danes –
a Dane is like having a 4 year old in a dogs’ body. They can be
needy..oh so needy….and sitting on your lap is a Great Dane thing – it’s
genetic not learned. Sitting in the back seat of the van, on the bench
at the vet’s office or on your lap when they are frightened – that is a
Great Dane, they think they are little.
Right now we have a 5
week old singleton puppy (only 1 in the litter) and her socialization
process has to be different because she has no siblings. The bad thing
is she gets all our attention, which she will expect as an adult. All
she wants to do is be held…we have probably babied her too much, but
gosh what are you going to do – she is so precious……but when she is
100lbs at 6 months and wants to crawl up in the lazyboy with someone, we
There is something about Great Danes, they
always want to be near your face, their presence is like that of a human
being – they take up that much space, when you talk to them their face
is often eye level to yours. When you lose one, you know it, there is
an enormous presence/energy gone from your home, it’s like losing a
human. They don’t take the heat or the cold, they must have comfortable
bedding available to them, they are not like a beagle that you can let
out and know they will be fine.This breed, like all giants are
fragile, people think because of their size they are like a horse, but
they are not. They are a freak of nature and man has intervened.
are genetically meant to be about 40-60 lbs tops, when you get out of
that size range then orthopedic and heart issues do occur. This is why
diet is so critical to keeping these dogs healthy and long lived. When I
started in Danes, a 5 year old dog was very old. Now it’s nothing for a
10 -12 or older Dane to still be active.Having a Dane is like
living with a special needs child, so know that before you ever venture
into owning one.
Everything has to be bigger. A bigger yard, car, bed,
crate, food bill and vet bill. All require more, more, more to house
one Great Dane properly. But along with their size goes their huge,
sweet heart and it makes them all worth while.
Finally, Linda I know you are very heavily involved in educating dog
owners. You often give seminars and lectures, and have been featured in
many well-known publications. What is on your ‘to do list’ for the next
couple of years, any up-and-coming projects or new ventures that you’d
like to share with us?
I retired from
the University in 2006 – hoping for more time to write and work in the
studio. That never happened, in fact I have never been busier but I am
hoping for more time to do those things in the future months. Joe and I
just returned from the K9 College Cruise to the Caribbean (sounds fun),
but I am exhausted. The preparation for the seminars, then the seminars,
then the interaction with dog breeders – it’s so fun -- but I am worn
want me to write a book, that’s going to wait! I also have a human
nutrition website I want to get up and running and then move my human
articles which are on GreatDaneLady over to that website. It’s all
designed, just waiting for updated text.
So, I have way too much
to do – too much to research and write about and as always, help people
with their dog’s problems. The new science of nutrigenomics, which is
to make feed programs to support dogs with all kinds of conditions and
heritable diseases, be it epilepsy, diabetes, heart problems etc and
there is a nutritional way to ease the pain and suffering of these dogs.
This is what I am doing with my Feed Program and Supplement Kits for
specific problems or prevention of problems which Dr. Wagner carries at www.FirstChoiceNaturals.com.
Currently, we are working on a cancer kit – that is a big project.So....
that’s what I am doing and right now, I can’t want until April so we
can bring the boat out of storage, no laptop, no cell phone – just quiet
days floating on the lake with good food, wine and good friends, where
nobody knows 'The Great Dane Lady'..... where I am just Linda.
Thank you so much Linda!
I can't thank 'The Great Dane Lady' enough for devoting her time and
energy to giving us such an fascinating interview. As the owner of large
breed dogs, I've found the information VERY interesting!
wish you all the best with your future plans and projects... and I hope
you get to enjoy a little bit of that 'quiet time' you so richly
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