THE GREAT DANE 45
The Kennel Club has classed the Great Dane amongst the Non-Sporting dogs, probably because with us he cannot find a quarry worthy of his mettle ; but, for all that, he has the instincts and qualifications of a sporting dog, and he has proved himself particularly valuable for hunting big game in hot climates, which he stands very well.
Respecting the temperament of the Great Dane and his suitability as a companion writers have gone to extremes in praise and condemnation. In his favour it must be said that in natural intelligence he is surpassed by very few other dogs. He has a most imposing figure, and does not, like some other big breeds, slobber from his mouth, which is a particularly unpleasant peculiarity when a dog is kept in the house. On the other hand, it must be admitted that with almost the strength of a tiger he combines the excitability of a terrier, and no doubt a badly trained Great Dane is a very dangerous animal. It is not sufficient to teach him in the haphazard way which might be successful in getting a small dog under control, but even as a companion he ought to be trained systematically, and, considering his marked intelligence, this is not difficult of accomplishment.
The Great Dane attains his full development in about a year and a half to two years, and, considering that puppies have to build up in that time a very big skeleton and straight limbs, special attention must be given to the rearing of them. The dam whelps frequently eight puppies, and sometimes even a few more. Mr. Larke's Princess Thor had a litter of seventeen, but even eight is too great a number for a bitch to suckle in a breed where great size is a desideratum. Not more than four, or at the outside five, should be left with the bitch ; the others should be put to a foster mother, or if they are weaklings or foul-marked, it is best to destroy them. After the puppies are weaned, their food should be of bonemaking quality, and they require ample space for exercise and play. Nothing is worse than to take the youngsters for forced marches before their bones have become firm.