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People & Pets

A nice-sized puppy: Great Dane is youngest to win an Award of Merit

1/4/2017

jan-2017-pets-great-dane-castle-44Have you ever wondered what it’s like to have a really big dog?

Meet Castle, the 8-month-old Great Dane puppy and its owner, Sonia Gens. The pair recently traveled to Tulsa, Oklahoma, for the National Specialty Show, and Gens says her dog is the youngest Great Dane to receive an Award of Merit at the Great Dane Club of America’s National Specialty.

“He has his American championship,” she adds. “So we’re really proud of him.”

Gens has even higher hopes for the future.

“We’re hoping that when he matures, he will be a very beautiful show dog,” she says. “That’s my goal, provided he turns out to be what I’m expecting he will be.”

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But Castle still has some growing to do. Great Danes reach their prime between 3 to 4 years old, and Castle currently weighs 140 pounds.

“He’ll probably grow another 2-3 inches in height,” she says. “And then he’ll body up, so he could be 170 pounds at least.”

Gens is no stranger to big dogs. Thirty-nine years ago, she bought Max, her first Great Dane, and she’s had a “fair number” of the breed since then. She also heads a local Meetup.com with more than 100 Great Dane owners.

“I’ve been in this breed for 39 years,” says Gens.

She explains that when owners bring one of these puppies home, it’s usually only 8 weeks old and still quite small.

“And then they grow, and you don’t really realize how big they are,” she laughs.

Taking such a big and powerful animal for a walk might seem like an undertaking. After all, Castle is much bigger than Gens. But Gens explains that, with the proper leash, owners should have no doubt about who is walking who.

“I walk the dog,” she says. “Definitely.”

Big dogs attract attention and comments from passerbys and crowds.

“It’s big as a horse!”

“Does he eat you out of house and home?”

“That’s the biggest Dalmatian I’ve ever seen!”

“Can I ride it?”

“I get that at least once every time I take it out,” she laughs.

And that’s not all they ask. She says people will sometimes politely pause, scrunch their faces, and ask, “[Excrement]?”

“Believe it or not,” says Gens. “People do ask that question.”

She informs them that Castle eats 10 cups of food a day.

ABOUT GREAT DANES   

It is unknown why the Great Dane is associated with Denmark, as it was bred in Germany to hunt wild boar.

“They went out in packs with hunters on horses,” says Gens. “And they would bring down the boar so that the hunters would be able to kill it.”

Despite its origins, the breed is generally regarded as friendly, patient and dependable. Over years of careful breeding, the dogs have evolved into a social animal with a nice temperament, says Gens. She adds that the dogs do well in obedience and agility.

Great Danes tower over most other dog breeds. Castle is already 34 inches tall at the shoulder.

“He’s a nice-sized puppy,” she says. ♦

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