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Great Dane

The Great Dane (18th Cent. French: Grand Danois), also known as German Mastiff (German: Deutsche Dogge) or Danish Hound (German: Dänischer Hund), is a breed of domestic dog known for its giant size. The Great Dane is one of the world's tallest dog breeds; the current world record holder, measuring 109 cm (43 in) from paw to shoulder; 220 cm (7.2 ft) from head to tail, is George.

Great Danes have naturally floppy, triangular ears. In the past, when Great Danes were commonly used to hunt boars, cropping of the ears was performed to make injuries to the dogs' ears less likely during hunts. Now that Danes are primarily companion animals, cropping is sometimes still done for traditional and cosmetic reasons.

There are six show-acceptable coat colors for Great Danes:

  • Fawn: The color is yellow gold with a black mask. Black should appear on the eye rims and eyebrows, and may appear on the ears.
  • Brindle: The color is fawn and black in a chevron stripe pattern. Often also they are referred to as having a tiger-stripe pattern.
  • Blue: The color is a pure steel blue. White markings at the chest and toes are not desirable and considered faults.
  • Black: The color is a glossy black. White markings at the chest and toes are not desirable and considered faults.
  • Harlequin: The base color is pure white with black torn patches irregularly and well distributed over the entire body; a pure white neck is preferred. The black patches should never be large enough to give the appearance of a blanket, nor so small as to give a stippled or dappled effect. Eligible, but less desirable, are a few small grey patches (this grey is consistent with a Merle marking) or a white base with single black hairs showing through, which tend to give a salt and pepper or dirty effect. (Have the same link to deafness and blindness as Merle and white danes.)
  • Mantle (in some countries referred to as Bostons due to the similar coloration and pattern as a Boston Terrier): The color is black and white with a solid black blanket extending over the body; black skull with white muzzle; white blaze is optional; whole white collar preferred; a white chest; white on part or whole of forelegs and hind legs; white tipped black tail. A small white marking in the black blanket is acceptable, as is a break in the white collar

Breed Information - Great Danes

A dog resembling a Dane can be seen in many carvings and pictures dating back as far as 2,000 years ago. Most of these seemed to belong to tribes in Asia, predominantly to the Assyrians.

Probably one of the closest links to the Dane of today from yesteryear was a mastiff style of dog that originated in England at Lyme Park, around the 1500s, known as a Lyme Mastiff.

As time went on, the English type of mastiff, known as the "English Dogge", decreased in popularity and by the 1700s they were no longer favoured as a suitable cross with their European counterparts, notably the German stock.

It appears that at this time the Germans became increasingly in favour of developing their own bloodlines, declining to import any more dogs from England.

From the Middle Ages right through to the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, the Great Dane gradually evolved, eventually to emerge at the first show to be held in Germany. This show took place in Hamburg in 1863.

In 1876 an important stage in the history of the breed was reached when it was decided that it was virtually impossible to carry on with the breed segregated into Danish and Ulmar, and it was proposed that they be officially "christened" the Deutsche Dogge.

In 1879 the name was altered once again. It was decided that the heavier-built dogs woud go under the name of Danish Dogs whilst the lighter dogs became Ulmar Doggen - the whole process has almost turned full circle.

It was also decided that the brindle-coloured dogs would go under the name of Hatzruden (or "wolf dog") and fawns and occasionally blues were placed in the category of Danish Dogs, regardless of size.

The harlequins, which had now become recognised and were very well favoured, were known as Tiger Dogs.

The breed continued to grow in popularity in the 1880s untl in 1887 at a show in Stuttgart a staggering entry of 300 Danes was recorded.

Great Danes have been associated with the famous, including notables such as Alexander Pope, the 18th century English poet, and the German Chancellor Prince Otto von Bismark.

The original English standard that was drawn up made little of colour - this was particularly noticeable since Harlequins were not even referred to.

The first Dane recorded in the USA was owned by a Francis Butler of New York, and was called Prince.

The Great Dane had entered the 20th century as a well-established and popular breed, especially in Germany.

The breeding lines and programmes were well set and on course for the enhancement of the breed when, with the intensity of the war (1914 - 1918 ), the breeding of the Deutsche Dogge was practically wiped out, with its English cousin being severely restricted.

But, although these animals almost became extinct, interest in the Deutsche Dogge never wavered. From the armistice in 1918 up until the Second World War, the torch was picked up and rekindled by fanciers and breeders devoted to the restoring and encouraging the breed as we know it today.

Temperament

The Great Dane's large and imposing appearance belies its friendly nature; the breed is often referred to as a gentle giant. Great Danes are generally well-disposed toward other dogs, other non-canine pets, and humans. They generally do not exhibit a high prey drive. The Great Dane is a very gentle and loving animal with proper care and training. They are also very needy. Some may find them frightening because of their huge structure and loud bark, but they generally have no intention of harming people.

The UK Breed Standard

General Appearance
Very muscular, strongly though elegantly built, with a look od dash and daring - of being ready to go anywhere and do anything. Head and neck carried high, tail in line with back, or slightly upwards, but never curled over hindquarters. Elegance of outline and grace of form most essential.

Characteristics
Alert expression, powerful, majestic action displaying dignity.

Temperament
Kindly without nervousness, friendly and outgoing.

Head and Skull
head

  • Muzzle or foreface broad, skull proportionally narrow. Skull flat, slight indentation running up centre.
  • Decided rise to brow over the eyes; face well pinched; foreface long, of equal depth throughout.
  • Underline of head, viewed in profile, runs almost in a straight line from corner of lip to corner of jawbone, allowing for fold of lip, but with no loose skin hanging down.
  • Bridge of nose very wide with slight ridge where cartilage joins bone.
  • Nostrils large, wife and open.
  • Lips hang squarely in front, forming right angle with upper line of foreface.

Eyes

Fairly deep set, not giving the appearance of being round, of medium size and preferably dark. Wall or odd eyes permissable in harlequins.

eyes

Ears

Triangular, medium size, set high on skull and folded forward, not pendulous.

Mouth

Teeth level. Jaws strong with a perfect regular and complete scissor bite.

Neck

Neck long, well arched, quite clean and free from loose skin, held well up, well set in shoulders; junction of head and neck well defined.

Forequarters

Shoulders muscular, not loaded, well sloped back, with elbows well under body. Forelegs perfectly straight with big flat bone.

Hindquarters

Extremely muscular, giving strength and galloping power. Second thigh long and well developed, good turn of stifle, hocks set low, turning neither in nor out.

Tail

Thick at the root, tapering towards end, reaching to or just below hocks. Carried in straight line level with back, when dog is moving; slightly curved towards end but never curling or carried over back.

Feet

Cat-like, turning neither in nor out. Toes well arched and close, nails strong and curved. Nails preferably dark in all coat colours, except harlequins, where light are permissable.

Body

Very deep, brisket reaching elbow, ribs well sprung, belly well drawn up. Back and loins strong, latter slightly arched.

Gait/Movement

Action lithe, springy and free, covering ground well. Hocks move freely with driving action, head carried high.

Coat
Short dense and sleek looking, never inclined to roughness.

Weight and Size
Minimum height of an adult dog over 18 months: 76cms (30in); bitches 71cms (28in).
Minimum weight over 18 months: dogs 54kg (120lb); bitches 46kg (100lb).

Colour

Brindles
Must be striped, ground colour from lightest buff to deepest orange, stripes always black, eyes and nails preferably dark, dark shadings on head and ears acceptable.

Fawns
Colour varies from lightest buff to deepest orange, dark shadings on head and ears acceptable; eyes and nails preferably dark.

Blues
Colour varies from light grey to deep slate; the nose and eyes may be blue.

Blacks
Black.

Harlequins
Pure white underground with preferably all black patches or all blue patches, having appearance of being torn. Light nails permissable. Wall eyes, pink noses or butterfly noses permissable but not desirable.

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