, , , ,

I + II

image source: i & ii

In the May-June 1985 issue of the Great Dane Reporter the following English translation of the first German Great Dane (Deutsche Dogge) Breed Standard appeared.

You can view the pages (click on the plus symbol to enlarge) here: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6.

The article is entitled “The First Great Dane Standard and how it grew” and is authored by Jill Evans, the Canadian breed authority & historian who also gave us “The Time Traveler”. Many thanks to the author for kindly offering this very valuable resource to the blog, as the Great Dane Reporter magazine is no longer in print and that was probably the first ever translation of the original German standard in the English language to be published.

The article reads :

“Recently all members  of the Great Dane Club of America received a survey form about classifying a list of faults as minor, serious and very serious, which may prove to be the tinder to spark some discussion of the Standard. So, to help in knowing “where we’re coming from”, it might be interesting to go back to the source and see what was important to the earlier movers and shakers of our breed, and why. Below is a rather literal translation of the first “Breed Description” published.  It appeared in Volume I of the Deutsche Doggen-Stammbuch issued in 1897, but this original version underwent a few small but very significant changes of wording over the next few years, which we are also shown below separately. The first changes were published in Vo. II (1901) and the second batch in the double-volume IV/V (1913). This last version lasted until 1931 and was the basis of the early American standard. Then in 1931 in Germany there was a major revision of the Standard, particularly with regards to colour descriptions, which as you will see had been going through considerable evolution in the early days.



  1. General Appearance – The Great Dane combines in its overall appearance size, power and elegance as in scarcely any other breed of dog. It does not have the heaviness and clumsiness of the Mastiff, nor the lankiness and light weight reminiscent of the Greyhound’s shape, but holds the middle ground between either extreme. Notable size with strength and yet elegant build, long stride and proud bearing, head and neck high, the tail is carried downwards at rest, in excitement stretched and upwards or with possibly a slight curve.
  2. Head – Moderately elongated and rather high and appears pressed together at the sides rather than broad and flat. Seen from the side the forehead appears to be markedly removed from the bridge of the nose, and proceeds parallel with this backward or only slightly ascending, seen from the front not strikingly broader than the stoutly developed muzzle, cheek muscles not too strongly prominent, the head should appear from all sides angular and definite in its outline. Nose large, bridge of nose straight or only slightly bent overall, lips as perpendicular as possible in front, blunted, and not too strongly overhanging at the sides, however with well pronounced folds at the corners of the lips, lower jaw neither overshot nor undershot. Eyes medium large, round, with penetrating expression, eyebrows well developed, ears high set, not too far apart, when cropped, tapered and standing upright.
  3. Neck and Shoulders – Neck long, strong, slightly arched, with well formed nape, slightly tapered from the chest to the head, flowing slenderly into the head without dewlaps and without strongly developed folds of throat skin. Shoulders long and set on a slope.
  4. Chest – Moderately broad, ribcage well rounded, elongated, deep in front, reaching as much as possible down to the elbow-joints.
  5. Body – Back moderately long, slightly arched in the loin area, croup short, slightly sloping and flowing in a beautiful line with the tail. Seen from above the broad back joins well with the considerably rounded ribcage, the loin area is powerfully developed and blends well into the strongly pronounced hind leg musculature. Belly well drawn up toward the rear forming a beautifully curved line with the underside of the ribcage.
  6. Tail – moderately long, reaching downward only a little above the hocks, broad at the root, but slender and ending as slim as possible, yet never raised high above the back or carried curled into a ring in excitement.
  7. Forelegs – Elbows well let down, i.e., standing as much as possible at right angles to the shoulder blade and turned neither inwards nor outwards; upper arm muscular, the whole bearing sturdy, seen from the front apparently slightly bent because of the strongly developed musculature, however seen from the side completely straight down to the ankle.
  8. Rear Legs – Thigh muscular, shank (2nd thigh) long and strong, joining with the hock joint at not too obtuse an angle. Seen from the rear, the hocks appear completely straight and are set neither inwards nor outwards.
  9. Feet – Roundish, turned neither in nor out, toes well arched and closed, nails very strong and well curved. Rear dewclaws not desired.
  10. Coat – Very short and dense, lying down smoothly, not markedly longer on the underside of the tail.
  11. Colour – A) Brindle Danes: Ground colour from lighter yellow to darkest red-yellow, always brindled with black cross-striping.                                                                                                                                        B) Single-coloured Danes: Yellow or grey in various shades, either solid single-coloured or with a darker tinge on the muzzle and the eyes (ears?) and stripe down the back, also single – coloured black. The nose is always black with brindle and single-coloured Danes. Eyes and nails dark, white markings are only allowed as long as they are on the chest between the forelegs, and if need be on the feet. For the grey Danes lighter eyes are permitted but by no means glass-eyes.                                                                                                     C) Spotted Danes: Ground colour white with irregularly torn black or grey patches distributed as evenly as possible over the whole body. With the spotted Danes glass-eyes, flesh-coloured and spotted noses, and light nails are not faulted.

12. Size – The shoulder height of a dog should not be under 76cm (29.9”), if possible 80cm (31 ¼”), that of a bitch not under 70cm (27 1/2 “), if possible 75 cm (29 ½”).

Point Score of the Great Dane, set in 1891 at a meeting of the Deutschen Doggen-Club:

Head                             20pts

Neck                             10pts

Chest & Ribcage              15pts

Back & Flank                  10pts

Rear End                       10pts

Tail                              10pts

Legs & Feet                    5pts

Movement                     5pts

Coat & Colour                 5pts

Size                              5pts

TOTAL   100pts . ”

However, before the publication of the first German Studbook, we find the 1891 version of the first German Standard in the book  “Geschichte und Beschreibung der Rassen des hundes. Unter Mitwirkung der namhaftesten Zuchter und Preisrichter und in Ueverinstimmung mit den officiell anerkannten Rassezeichen der massgebenden Vereine des In- und Auslandes”, by Ludwig Beckman (1822-1902), published in 1894.

You can read the book here

the book is beautifully illustrated by the author. Some of the illustrations appear below:

The dog pictured below is Erik II (4616 – his studbook number), a white & black (harlequin) dog, by Erik I x Diana, born July, 1887. First Prize-winner in 1891 & 1892.

Plate A

next, we see Harras I, Prize-Winner in Berlin, 1880.

plate 1

Two more, Harras II (2713) , described as ‘golden brindle’ and Juno v. Leonberg, desribed as “bunt gefleckt” (multi-colour dappled)

plate 2

next comes Alexander (5854) by Cäsar & Tiga & Hannibal I (by Thoreau x Flora), 1887

Plate 4

Perle, a blue (“blaugrane” = blue grey) Prize-winner in Hannover, 1893


and Hannibal, a dark brindle (“duntel gestromte”) by Ador x Flora, 1891


a great skull drawing included in the standard page





The only changes at this time were in the Feet section where it says “nails short, very strong”, in the Colour section, where in B) Single Coloured Danes, the first sentence was changed to read: “Yellow or grey (“blue”) …” and in the Size section the words “and over” were added to the sizes given for both dogs and bitches.


In this volume there were no actual changes to the Standard, but the Stud-Book Chairman, Fritz Kirschbaum, wrote a short article about the Point Score. He said he had been asked in 1904 to write publicly in the sport papers and invite interested parties and fanciers to a conference on “possible re-evaluation of the individual points of the body of our National Dog”. To quote him (in translation) “This appeal caused one to hear it said by Dane people that the 1891 table was obsolete, and people today place keener demands on the correctness of individual parts of the body of our Great Dane”.

“The interest of the fancy in this cynological work, which requires good judgment, was not particularly great. Although individuals were directed to evaluate parts of the body by means of a diagram, only 10 interested parties submitted their work to the editor; to be sure, they represented among the best experts…so that the points don’t get lost, we reproduce them here accurately”.

General Appearance & Nobility      12pts

Head     18pts

Neck      8pts

Chest & Ribcage          5pts

Back & Flank       7pts

Legs & Feet        9pts

Skeleton & Muscle          6pts

Croup    4pts

Tail         7pts

Movement         8pts

Size        6pts

Colour & Markings           6pts

Condition & Coat              4pts

TOTAL   100pts.

Herr Kirschbaum went on to say “The first cynological work of 1891 set up 10 criteria, during 1904 20 were set for evaluation. In no case should these tables be the sole authority because evaluation is a matter fpr the Dane experts, for the judges. But even these men [cc: No women!] should be provided with a guide, in case they seek a way out when they have two almost equivalent specimens competing for a prize. The judge with this table in hand can draw on the points and the result may soon be deduced for the benefit of one specimen over the other”.


Here we get more extensive revisions, and our imagination can provide ideas as to the the lively discussions that went on in those years to produce them. To save space and provide those of you who care with some mental exercise, I shall only set out the CHANGES below, in italics, with references back to the Vol. I version above as to where they were inserted, OK ?

  1. General Appearance – first sentence, “The Great Dane combines in its overall appearance nobility, size ….” – last sentence, “proud, noble bearing, head quite long, slightly arched neck carried high, the tail is carried downwards at rest, in excitement stretched out upwards or sabrelike”.
  2. Head – the first and last words, “moderately” and “flat” were deleted, so the first sentence reads: “Elongated, finely chiseled, rather high and appears pressed together at the sides rather than broad”. In the next sentence the word “appears” is deleted so it begins “Seen from the side the forehead is markedly removed….” And the sentence ends after “ascending”, when a new sentence starts: “Seen from the front not substantially” (instead of “strikingly”) “broader than the stoutly developed muzzle; cheek muscles only barely prominent” (instead of “mot too strongly”)….” After the end of that sentence is an addition: “Rounded top of the head is faulty”. Then the next sentence is changed to “Nose large, bridge of nose straight or with scarcely noticeable curvature (instead of “only slightly bent overall”), lips as perpendicular as possible in front, blunted with well pronounced folds at the corners of the lips ( deleting “not too strongly overhanging at the sides”)…After “undershot” is another addition: “The foreface, from the tip of the nose to the stop, should be a long as the backskull from the stop to the back of the occiput”. Then the word “penetrating”, describing the expression of the eyes, is changed to “with keen, lively expression”, and the ear description is changed to “high set, cropped to a point and standing upright”, deleting the “not too far apart” and the optional crop implied by the phrase “when cropped”.
  3. Neck and Shoulders – Added after “neck long” is “muscular” and after “strong” is “nevertheless dry and sinewy”. The nape is described as “well developed” instead of “well formed” and “flowing slenderly into the head, without dewlaps” is deleted, although the rest of the sentence, about throat folds, remains.
  4. Chest – after “reaching” there is a deletion of “as much as possible” and “downward to the elbow joint” is emphasized.
  5. Body – the first sentence is changed to read: “Back only moderately long, so that the proportion between the length of the back and the height is as square as possible, slightly arched and strong in the loin area, croup short, sloping as little as possible and flowing in a beautiful line with the tail”. The next sentence ends after “the considerably rounded ribcage”.
  6. Tail – Changed to read “Moderately long, reaching down to the hocks, high and powerfully set, but slender…” After “excitement” a sentence is added: “(Shortening the tail to obtain the aforementioned length is forbidden)”.
  7. Forelegs – “Strongly developed musculature” is changed to “strong musculature” and the word “seen” is deleted so it reads “however from the side…”
  8. Rear Legs – “Thigh broad and muscular…”
  9. Feet – “….toes short, well arched and closed, nails short, very strong, well curved, and as dark as possible. Rear dewclaws not allowed”. (In another article, on coat colour, in Vo. IV/V, light nails had been associated with fading of pigment and the appearance of “albinism” and a pale bluish-beige colour called “drapp-farben”. Isabella colouration is also mentioned in articles around that time and distinguished from fawn or “drapp”. Incidentally the German word for our ‘drab’ is ‘trueb’, so “drapp” is not the same thing).
  10. Coat – “…lying down smoothly, and lustrous…”
  11. Colour – Here there were big changes and an almost complete rewriting, although the divisions remained the same. So here is the entire section as revised in 1913:

1.“A)  Brindle Danes: Ground colour either silver-coloured (Silber-strom) or yellow, light yellow to red-yellow (Goldstrom) , always with black cross-striping, white markings not desired, only allowed on the feet and the chest.

       2. B) Single – coloured Danes: Yellow or blue (grey), black, and white permissible. White markings are not desired, but allowed in the manner of brindles. Black tinge on the muzzle and eyes and possibly a black stripe on the back is allowed and desired with yellows. When white Danes have black or grey markings, even only small ones, they are to be classified with harlequins (spotted).

Eyes and nails with brindles and single-coloured Danes are as dark as possible. With blue (grey) Danes lighter eyes are permitted but by no means glass-eyes.

The nose must always be black with all brindle and single-coloured Danes. (with the exception of white). For single-coloured white Danes find the regulations applied to nose, eyes and nails under C) spotted Danes.

  1. C) Spotted Danes: Ground colour pure white with irregularly torn black patches distributed as evenly as possible over the whole body. Allowed, but not desired are a few small, not too pronouncedly prominent blue (grey) patches, also light glass-eyes or differently coloured eyes, spotted or flesh-coloured noses and light nails. Red eyes are faulty. “
  2. Size – More changes – the Dane had grown by 2cm (3/4”), so this section reads: “The shoulder height of a dog should not be under 78cm (30.7”), but if possible 82cm (32.2”) and over, that of a bitch not under 72cm (28.3”), but if possible 75cm (29 ½”) and over, all body proportions in comparison.”

There was no change reported in the point score, and actually 1904 was the last mention made of it.

As mentioned before, the next revision of the DDC “Breed Description” was not published until 1931 in Vol. XVI, and a sweeping one it was indeed. It took a form much closer to the present-day German Standard, and became the basis of the 1944 American revision. Colour revisions took the present form. I won’t go into all the 1931 and subsequent revisions in detail here, except with respect to the matter of blacks with white markings. (The other colour wordings are virtually identical with today’s). It has frequently been ointed out that in Germany nowadays (and in all FCI countries) so-called “Bostons” are shown and often win titles. Let’s look at the history of this, starting with the 1931 descriptions of blacks and harls.

“Black Danes. Colour as far as possible shiny lacquer-black, Eyes dark. Faults: Yellow-, brown-, or blue-black; light eyes; lightly coloured nails. Danes with too many white markings should be lower in the list of awards. Under white markings it should be noted that a white stripe on the throat, and white spots on the chest and feet are allowed, but Danes with a white blaze, white ring on the neck, white “shocks” or white belly, are debarred from winning.

Spotted Danes (Harlequins). The ground colour should always be pure white, without any ticking, with well-torn, irregular, lacquer-black patches well distributed over the whole body (a few small grey or brownish patches are permitted but not desired). Eyes should be dark, lighter eyes or eyes of different colours are permitted but not desired. Nose should be black, but a nose with black spots or a flesh-coloured nose, are allowed.

Faults: White ground colour with large, black plates (Plattenhunde), blue-grey ticked ground colour; light watery, red or bleary eyes.

The following Danes should be excluded from winning:

  1. White Danes without any black markings; albinos, as well as deaf Danes.
  2. “Mantle” harlequins (Mantel-tiger), i.e. Danes having a large patch, like a mantle, over the body, and only the legs, neck and tip of the tail are white.
  3. So-called “porcelain” harlequins (Porzellantiger), i.e. Danes with predominantly blue, grey, yellow or also brindle patches.
  4. So-called grey-harlequins (Grau-tiger) – what we call “merles”), i.e. Danes with grey ground colour.”

That was 1931, and it’s not hard to recognize where some of our present-day disqualifications came from. But in 1954 there had been some drastic changes made in Germany. In the description of faults in blacks, after “lightly coloured nails” the rest was deleted and the following substituted:  “White markings on chest and feet are allowed. Mantle Danes are awarded prizes along with the black colour-family”. The 1954 description was entitled “Black-and-white spotted Danes (Harlequins” and after “eyes of different colours are permitted but not desired” it continues “Danes with white ground colour and large black plates (Plattenhunde) are awarded prizes along with the black colour family, the same as for Mantle-harlequins (Manteltiger), which have black like a mantle over the body and only the legs, neck and tip of the tail are white.” The list of faults then continues as in 1931, but starting with “Blue-grey ticked ground colour” and excluding Mantle harlequins from those who should be debarred from winning. So – enter the Bostons, or what the Brits call Magpies!

As to faults mentioned in the present-day AKC and CKC Standards which some people may think are no longer applicable, such as, perhaps, “rickets” – let’s go way back again. It might be pertinent to point out that in the old 1913 studbook (Vol. IV/V) there was a remarkable up-to-date article on the subject written by one Edwin Ruez, a practicing veterinarian of that time who was well acquainted with bone metabolism, balanced diet, calcium supplementation and cod liver oil, and who suspected that in spite of proper diet there can be a metabolic predisposition to rickets passed on from a rickety bitch to her pups, and he describes the crippling results in detail. They sound remarkably like bone diseases we now hear of bearing other jawbreaking names. Fritz Kirschbaum (who had been involved with Danes all his long life) also wrote in Vol. II (1901) “One does not use rickety Danes for breeding, because seldom are the results correct as to movement.”

He then adds “Rear dewclaws, also called “wolf-claws”, give every Great Dane a poor, often cow-hocked gait, therefore one avoids the possibility of breeding from such animals. If there are puppies with rear dewclaws in the litter, one immediately trims the unpleasant adjunct by cutting them off, unless the breeder has preferred to put such puppies down”. And in case anyone has never seen or heard of rear dewclaws on a Dane, rest assured they do still exist!

So now we have an opportunity to aerate our roots and do some serious thinking about our Standard. Let’s hope today’s Dane fanciers have been more responsive about the survey of fault lists than the 1904 people were to the reevaluation of the point score!

In closing, I would like to thank Nick and Midge Cassevoy for the loan of their invaluable set of original – edition German studbooks going all the way back to Volume I. This is a treasured legacy bequeathed to them by Nick’s father, John Cassevoy, and passed on  to him years ago by some of the eminent Dane-experts who made up the GDCA’s 1944 Standard Revision Committee, such as the late Charles Kapp and Charles Staiger. Most of the books originally belonged to the late Josef Stehberger of St. Magn-Obertraubling fame, and thus is the heritage of the Great Dane passed down from generation to generation, in trust for the breeders of the future.”


And so (or should I say, “und so”), with the help of my preeminent friend and mentor in all things Dane, the incomparable Jill Evans (Titandanes, Canada), we come to the present day and age.

Now you can see all the current Great Dane breed standards on the blog. Also, our Great Dane time-machine made two more very important stops, to the United States, for the first American Breed Standard, and to Denmark, for the original FCI standard of the breed.  Enjoy !