10 Things you should know before getting your own "Marmaduke"
The movie "Marmaduke"
hits the big screen this weekend
and pet experts and Great Dane breeders are bracing for a
"101 Dalmatians" style run
on the pony-sized dogs.
tells the story of Marmaduke as an awkward teenager who has
trouble fitting in when the family moves from the Midwest to
Southern California. (One of the plot points naturally
involves a surfing competition.) Actor Owen Wilson voices
the dog and Lee Pace, Judy Greer and William H. Macy star as
several of the humans.
Even though the original comic strip and the new movie show
the trouble the big dog gets into, breeders and rescuers
expect that the film will spark a huge interest in Great
Danes. The concern is that while at first, people will adore
these amazing animals, once the new owners realize how large
the dogs can get and how expensive they can be, they'll dump
the unwanted pets in shelters. Serious breeders also fear
that opportunists with little knowledge of the dog will race
to breed the next hot commodity.
American Kennel Club
Great Dane Club of America
urge movie-goers "not to get star struck" by the breed and
make an impulse purchase.
"Everything is bigger when you own a Great Dane,"
says Dave Miller, President of
the Great Dane Club of America. "They eat a lot
of food and take up a lot of space in your home and car," he
adds. Families interested in adopting one of the dogs should
spend time with several grown adult Great Danes "to make
sure they understand how large the breed is," Miller says.
What else should you think about before getting your own
Arlene Scarbrough, a longtime
Great Dane breeder
in Atlanta, recommends you consider that:
1) Great Danes generally weigh 150 to 200 pounds at
2) At 6 months old, a Great Dane can knock you down the
stairs if it jumps on you.
3) The dogs can be destructive. They'll chew on furniture,
clothing and even sheet-rock. "We call them termites,"
Scarbrough says. If they aren't properly trained, she notes,
"They can eat your house."
4) They consume two 40-pound bags of dog food per month.
5) The breed is prone to health problems that often require
6) Great Danes need constant companionship. Scarbrough
recommends a second dog of the opposite sex if an adult is
not at home with them.
7) Even when they're young, you can't leave a Great Dane
puppy loose in the house and go to work, says Scarbrough.
They will get into too much trouble. But puppies are also
unhappy if you crate them. This puts new owners in a tough
8) If the dog is accustomed to being in air-conditioning, he
or she can be very susceptible to heat stroke. Scarborough
notes that you can't leave the dog outside on a hot day for
longer than it takes to go to the bathroom without risk.
9) Although the dogs are big, they aren't athletic. "They
can't jog; it will tear up their hips," Scarbrough explains.
10) Finally, before you welcome a Great Dane into your
family, contact a breeder or another Great Dane owner and
get to know the breed to make sure it's right for you. "We
don't mind people coming here and not buying," Scarbrough
says. "If I get too many after the movie, I'll just set up
an hourly tour."
David McCarthy, an Atlanta musician and long-time Great Dane
owner, clearly adores the breed but agrees there are
challenges. The dogs sleep on a queen-sized mattress in the
master bedroom and he admits that they pretty much run the
"They let us stay in our house so long as we feed them,"