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Vonriesenhof Great Danes


Asking Hazel’s opinion about the state of the breed today, she feels it is in a declining state. Her concern is that newer judges and breeders don’t understand “true breed type” in a Great Dane and as a result, the breed is suffering. She uses the example of her young dog, Ch. Von Riesenhof The Boomerang, which just recently finished his championship. This dog exudes breed type and some judges just didn’t know what to do with him in the ring. He would either win his class or go last in his class . . . there was no in between. Hazel feels this is one of the best dogs they have bred. She says he is bred to produce himself. Although he just recently finished, Hazel says there were times when she could see that his preponderance to the extreme was just too much for some judges seeming to lean more to common look alike individuals.

We spent some time talking about health problems and nutrition. Not surprisingly, Hazel is very concerned with HOD. She feels this is a bacterial infection that enters the system through a cut or opening (like when teething) and starts the nightmare. She does not feel it’s genetic or something that is contagious. Hazel has many theories and beliefs about HOD and its treatment and she has been very successful helping many breeders bring their puppies through this life-threatening situation. She encourages anyone with questions or problems to contact her for help. On the topic of nutrition she feels the best thing you can do for your dogs is to select a good quality dog food (well rounded) and keep the protein around 25% or less. She explains the problem with protein is that most people don’t take caution to watch the crude protein. You want to make sure the protein source is refined protein such as yogurt, fish, meats and cottage cheese, which is easy on the system and easy to digest. High crude protein is the problem! We ventured into the topic of vaccines and Hazel feels you need to use your own common sense about vaccination schedules. You don’t want to do anything that will compromise the immune system of your young puppies. She generally gives a combination shot about 1 week to 10 days before cropping and then repeats the shot at about 5 or 6 months and then again at 1 year, as a booster.

Moving more into “breeder mechanics” we discussed Hazel’s views of what is important to her as a breeder. She feels a Great Dane has to have it all. Sound mind, sound body, good health and most importantly type. Type is what makes the dog or bitch a Great Dane and she feels that you cannot sacrifice type. When judging, she explained type is very important to her as well, but she will not put up an unsound typey dog over a sound dog with less type. Also another very important thing to remember is that your stud dog needs to be able to produce himself or better. She urges people to be careful about breeding to the “popular”, “convenient local” or “fad” dog. She feels this is so much of what is wrong with our breed today. We have too many new breeders with too little knowledge of what is behind their dog or bitch. They don’t know the pedigrees well enough to know what will be produced from a particular breeding. She could not stress enough the importance of knowing your pedigree forwards and backwards.

She advises that you learn as much truth as you can about the dogs from the past, so you can make intelligent decisions about the future. Not every breeding will produce “great” every time and even sometimes it’s a disaster, but it could just be that particular mix … she was very clear about not “throwing the baby out with the bath water”. On the subject of producers, Hazel feels her best producer to date has been Ch. Von Riesenhof The Boss. He was prepotent, predictable and dependable in everything he produced. She is hopeful and feels that her young dog Boomerang will be equally as good of a producer. In discussing “great” Great Danes of the past, Hazel feels that a few certain breeders have produced dogs that “carry through the years”. Breeders such as Rose Robert of Dinro, Laura Kiaulenas of BMW, Eva Robinson of Riverwood, Ray Cataldi of Rojon, Anna Mary Kauffman of Mountdania and Jerry & Mary Johnston of Marydane, just to name a few.

Hazel’s life in dogs has spanned over 50 years. In addition to the many wonderful Great Danes that she has produced, she has also had Standard and Toy Poodles. She began judging in 1975 and still enjoys every assignment that she receives. She is very definite about “doing her own thing”. She looks for the best dog with the most type and soundness and states that color does not make a difference. She has seen a lot of style and type changes in 25 years of judging and she really feels that most Dane’s have a common look. They are losing their type and elegance. She admits the structure and movement in most cases is vastly improved, but she would like to see the norm move from the moderate Dane to that of the exquisite dog that takes your breath away. The kind of dog that makes you stop and look.

Hazel and Greg are still very active in the breed and she says they plan to breed as long as they can. She and Greg currently have six dogs. I asked if she had some good advice for today’s breeder and she offered the following. First she recommends a book that was recommended to her over 50 years ago. It is called “The Dog In Action” by McDowell Lyon. She feels this book is more like a textbook because you learn something new every time you read it. Secondly she recommends that you pay close attention to “what you have”. Is it what you want to go forward with? If not, start with a foundation that you can build upon. Be sure to start with a reputable breeder that is going to be a supportive mentor and most importantly go to dog shows and watch and learn. You want to look for a breeder that is honest and will stand behind their dogs. Look for consistency in their dogs and when you start breeding, always be watchful of your “breed type” . . . you want a Great Dane that looks exciting and stands out!

Hazel concludes that their dogs have been a huge part of their life. The dogs have given them goals to reach for and satisfaction when many of their goals have been obtained. She said it gives them “family” even though their children are grown. Her hopes for the future is that through DNA we will be able to eliminate a lot of the problems in our breed and that we will move closer to that “perfect Great Dane” every day, "inch by inch"!.


Our puppies come occasionally. They are bred with love and care for a loving family. We care for our puppies and their future. We provide long term support for them and their well - being. They will grow up to be outstanding specimens of their breed, if only you take the time and efforts to follow the simple guidelines that we provide.

You may get puppies for a lesser cost but you ultimately get only what you pay for. Hence, kindly do not bargain with us.