10 Things You Should Know Before Getting Your Own 'Marmaduke'

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Great Dane dog picture "Marmaduke" Joe Lederer, Twentieth Century Fox

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.

The live-action movie 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.

The American Kennel Club and the 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 Marmaduke?

Arlene Scarbrough, a longtime Great Dane breeder in Atlanta, recommends you consider that:

1) Great Danes generally weigh 150 to 200 pounds at adulthood.

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."

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