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1983 - 2013

A mere 30 years separate the two dogs above, yet so much damage has been done in so little time – the relatively short span of roughly a single human generation. On the left stands -majestically – the graceful and statuesque Ninette v.d. Eremitage, born in Germany in 1983. A Great Dane bitch that truly exemplified the aristocratic breed character of the Apollo of dogs and the efficient structure of a dog fit for purpose. On the right is struggling to stay up on his suffering feet what passes as ‘Great Dane’ nowadays in some parts of Europe and beyond: a truly sorry sight.

This is how some repay our best friends for their unconditional trust; for their generosity of spirit and deeds of kindness, their wholehearted loyalty, their non-judgmental affection, their heroic sacrifices and service, their steadfast comforting presence and protection,  their silent yet deep and true caring, the many moments when our faithful dogs are the only ones there for us; this is how some people punish innocence and purity of soul that themselves don’t possess. And worse even.

Up until the 1980s, Great Danes around the world were, more or less, of a universal type. Surely, differences in style existed, and it wouldn’t exactly be a sign of rude genetic health if they looked as identical to each other as clones, yet pre-80/90s, if you turned up with a Great Dane anywhere in the world, from Belgrade to Belgravia, Berlin to Boston or Brisbane to Bangkok, chances your dog being mistaken as an Ibizan Hound or a Mastino Napolitano were pretty slim.

You know you’re becoming a bit long in the tooth when the character, both behavioral and physical, of your favorite breed, has been intentionally changed that much. It was alarming at first. Now it has become commonplace. And worst of all, people are getting used to it.

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With all due respect to any proper, sound mastiff – type dogs, that I know and love,

debilitating, extreme mastiffication and brachycephalisation (yeah, I know, neologism, intentional pun: sic as in sick) rhymes with aberration

Alienation (from rationality -for us and functionality – for them) results in extreme

Abnormalisation. Or should I say, degeneration…I better not use that term though. It has an unpalatable connotation. 

There is a code name for that deviation today in Great Danedom:

Mediterranisation’. They are becoming a bit too Latin in style. No, not in the positive, vibrant and vigorous sense – quite the opposite. A bit too Ancient Rome towards the end. Decadent. Heavy. Crude. Coarse. Prone to excess. And not likely to live long, due to betrayal by their closest ‘friends’.

This viral infection began in France, where it has since been allowed to thoroughly and completely dominate and replace ‘the norm’ (as in, typical Great Danes);  it then spread quickly to Italy, Spain, Portugal, Eastern Europe, the Balkans, Russia & other places. It engulfed countries whole. It’s invading, or at least trying to, infiltrate Britain and the Nordic lands. It has a number of fans in Scandinavia, of all places, or so I’m told (‘the grass is greener on the other side’ logical fallacy at work – there will always be some everywhere who feel fed up with soundness & desperate to try something different, even falling off a cliff; novelty for novelty’s sake) – they are just not too visible in the show scene because judging there is fairly good on average and judges’ education second to none; if they increase in numbers though, and continue to do so, and go over a critical mass, they could apply considerable pressure and demand their own ‘kind’ of judges. Of course there are people desperate to outcross so they’d use anything, even if it’s crippled. That’s another weakness hypertypicity exploits to sell its wares. Or, you could say that’s another ill effect of inbreeding. You would be right – as these obscene dogs are often also terminally inbred, too.

The disease has contaminated whole parts of the EuDDC and even took hold in Germany (some say that it caused the split which created two national breed clubs there – the DDC & the KyDD). It has established itself in South America, in non-AKC events in the USA (it’s biggest country market) and sporadically tries it’s luck elsewhere. Australia, India and New Zealand seem resistant, if not immune, so far. But wherever you look it seems to be there like an epidemic, knocking on the door, lurking, seeking a way in, a crack to push open and fill the place up like a flood.

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Not surprisingly, the exploiters of these disaster-stricken dogs are not very fond of the term “hypertype“. ‘Euro’ is their trademark of choice and the ‘EuroDane’ export business is thriving. Mediterranean, South-European, East-European, are some of the euphemistic designations Euro-connoisseurs use among themselves for localized fashion trends in pachyderm farming. They seem to compete against each other in a lunatic race of who is going to be first in producing the most extremely distorted dogs and puppies, in time for the next parade of mutants in the Great Dane ring.

Of course there are also some self-proclaimed ‘moderates’ who shrewdly occupy the continuously shifting middle ground of hypertypicity – driven steadily to the mastinoid side of things of course. Clever commercial move to offer the sneaky option of pseudo-moderation. These are the infiltrators – the first to become accepted in foreign markets. Let’s get this clear: ‘moderate hypertypes’ are an oxymoron, a contradiction in terms: they don’t exist in reality because a dog is either typical or outside type. If it’s outside type, it’s another breed (or no breed). What does exist are dogs that occupy the slim borderline space between typical and untypical. But good breeders don’t aim to produce such dogs and these specimens would be downgraded by a competent specialist judge. ‘Moderate Euros’ is another marketing ploy to sell dogs that look something like over-sized Boxers, with heads three sizes too big for their bodies, usually with over-curvature and inflexibility (ankylosis) of the neck, struggling to carry the head’s weight (the relation of an overly heavy head to wobblers has been suggested). They are moderate-looking only compared to the full-blown hippopotamus blueprint (solely in looks, mind you, because real hippopotamuses are extremely fit for purpose, functional animals). Head & chest emphasis, the all-front no rear model & enhanced imbalance is the name of the game.

But, in this business, anything and everything goes: their failed attempts at uniform elephantiasis can still be shifted across the Pond and prepare the ground for the heavy Orc army to follow; the ones who end up with bovine heads atop middling bodies can still get a ribbon or two at a minnow exhibition with a conveniently indifferent or ‘matey’  adjudicator; they could be exchanged on breeding terms with some obscure dual-purpose (byb & show) establishment in outer Mongolia, or even dumped into a puppy-production line premises somewhere, at a converted pigsty supplying the pet shop-window trade. It’s a steady market, despite the crisis: ‘freaks’ always titillated the empathy lacking, thrill-seeking dark side of the human psyche, so there’s room for all sorts – and the ‘moderates’ (who are equally, but in a different way, distorted) are well positioned to attract customers from all directions. The truly big guns, though, operate in the South and South-West of the EU and the Mastino look is all the rage there.

There could possibly be a bit of Mastino blood at work, if there are any embers of truth fueling the smoke of rumours. Some dogs, especially of the blue and black varieties, show some kiss-and-tell type features, like suspicious-looking vertical folds (“the most typical and best marked goes from the outer palpebral angle down to the lip angle” says the Mastino standard). But the gossip could be totally unfounded; the features could indeed merely be the cumulative result of selection for extreme characteristics. Not likely to see any DNA evidence to solve the puzzle and put the myth to rest, anyway. In all likelihood, we will never know.

Truth is, no matter where they come from, or what label they’re sold under, or how exactly have they been ‘concocted’, these untypical dogs are so overdone, over the top, coarse, poorly assembled from mismatching parts & misshapen, such utter biomechanical failures, that disabled dogs is a far more accurate term to describe them. How does ‘Euro-disabled Danes’ sound ?

It’s not funny. It’s gut-wrenching.

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A large number of dogs suffer this devastation. From anatomical exaggerations, malformations and painful deformities that cause pain and discomfort, impaired vision, ulcers, oral abnormalities, difficulty breathing, excessive salivation, problems in movement, skin infections, joint problems, spinal issues, inflammations, shortened lifespan, early death. It’s adding insult to injury to even debate about their ‘quality of life’. Their day to day status is permanently set at a single inescapable mode: suffering. They are examples of animal cruelty, torture breeding, qualzucht. It’s actually illegal in Europe: breeding practices likely to cause discomfort / pain / suffering are clearly against the EU directive which has been implemented by national legislation in most states.

I would like – no, I would expect, that people do everything in our power to ensure that dogs live normal, pain-free lives. If we allow this abomination to continue, we are as guilty as the greeders themselves.

I would love to see someone actually go to jail for doing this to dogs. Locked away for a long time. Out of business. Banned from keeping dogs. Few businesses are more offensive or disgusting.

Great Danes are particularly magnanimous, soft-natured and tolerant, people-oriented dogs. They don’t complaint even when in agony. They  never moan or whine. They take whatever life throws at them with dignity and forbearance. They are big, powerful dogs, perhaps scary-looking to people not familiar with the breed. Yet for their families, they are as sweet as newborn lambs. Totally defenseless. Devoted, gentle, stoic, quiet, meek.  The perfect, silent victims for torture, unfortunately.

What kind of twisted sadists enjoy inflicting such sickening misery on the dogs they claim to ‘love’ so much?

What kind of monster would sentence any sentient being to lifelong suffering ? What kind of person, in their right mind, would advertise such a sad excuse for a dog, exhibit and parade it, shamelessly, cynically gloating ? Presuming that everyone around is either blind or an accomplice ? Blatantly insulting everyone’s intelligence and common decency ? Nobody is that ignorant. They have seen what normal dogs look like, even if they are too young to remember typical Danes in their neck of the woods. They know very well what they are doing. They have intent. They have motive. They are ruthless. Worse – they are utterly selfish and totally heartless, serial criminals.

And yet it’s quite OK to do this to dogs – under the radar of the Kennel Clubs and the FCI that have a duty to protect them, according to their statutes and codes of ethics – but nobody seems to have looked down from their ivory towers to notice. And even where it’s not illegal, it should be. It’s totally unacceptable, destructive and vile.

No breeder or judge has so far faced any consequences for inflicting such terrible trauma to innocent dogs. Yes there are cases where people who treat dogs inhumanely,  keep them in awful conditions, etc, who are caught and punished by courts of law and canine institutions. But this specific mistreatment, mistreatment by intentionally breeding for deformity and disease, is equally vicious if not more: it is inescapable. A dog can be rescued from a cruel owner but can never escape it’s own body
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Of course some percentage of followers are, unfortunately, brainwashed, misinformed, unsophisticated people. They simply don’t know any better and maybe some of them are not even interested to educate themselves. But how about the members of the veterinary profession ? the judges, the canine organisations, the show organizers ? there is a huge amount of people turning a blind eye, facilitating or even actively participating in the torture. And that is inexcusable. We can improve a situation caused by ignorance with education. But those who do know better and just refuse to care, are guilty of allowing this to happen even when they are not themselves doing it. They are guilty of neglect. The instigators, on the other hand, those who profit by the proliferation of this virus, in monetary terms or in terms of fame and glory, the active brainwashers and bullshit generators are everywhere, luring and initiating newcomers into their cabal, damaging competition, instilling fear, promoting corruption, discouraging good people, driving them out of the sport. Their influence is catastrophic for the best interests of dogs and of good, honest breeders.

I think that they can’t continue with impunity for much longer, one way or another.I hope I’m not going to be proven wrong. If I am, dog breeding as we know it hasn’t got much time left.

The FCI has issued very clear instructions to judges: they are required to take action when the welfare of dogs is at stake. The Kennel Club in Britain, too,provides judges with forms to submit reports after each judging appointment, detailing any abnormalities and health problems they’ve encountered.

We simply can’t continue business as usual. We need to put our own affairs in order before the extremist anti-dog lobby does it for us and to us, not with care and fairness but with a hatchet.

Breed preservation is supposed to  respect the dog’s original function and include some common decency and good sense, above all. If dogs are allowed to disintegrate below the level of viable, sound structure and ability to live normal lives, what is left to preserve ?

I would like to see ‘greeders’ go out of business. They are worse than back-yard-breeders: they wear a cloak of respectability. They boast trophies from legitimate shows on their mantelpiece. They hold positions of power. They are responsible for education in clubs and societies, using their influence to stop any real criticism and discourage real education. They operate under a presumed ‘licence’ for their shameful practices, facilitated by bizarre interpretations of perceived normality in typical dog morphology. What they promote is abnormal and abhorrent. They taint every aspect of the healthy human-dog bond. They set terrible examples; and yet they appear respectable because they amass wins at the highest level – they abuse, they blackmail, they extort, they buy, they exchange favoritism every step of their way, in every way imaginable and unimaginable. They sell a product that is not as advertised – it’s untypical for its breed, traumatized and likely to cost the owners a fortune in veterinary bills. Why are such people tolerated within our community of dog lovers ?

 

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I’m grateful to Ruben Alfonso Bernal, Gt. Dane breeder from Mexico, from whom I heard  the brilliant neologism “greeders” that I shall be using from now on, to differentiate from true breeders. 

Continued in: Breeding Dogs Better, here

 

 

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