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What Great Dane standard does this International Champion conform to ?

This is extracting the urine by the gallon – nay, by the tanker ! FCI, championship titles, breed standard, breed clubs, this is monumental mockery… The joke is not even remotely funny. It’s just adding insult to injury. It’s beyond surreal and obscene – it’s completely insane. You want a definition of insanity? It’s reading the standard below and visualizing a dog like the above. That’s certifiable insanity.

FCI standard no. 235 – GREAT DANE: 

“GENERAL APPEARANCE: The Great Dane in his noble appearance combines a large, powerful well constructed body with pride, strength and elegance. By substance together with nobility, harmonious appearance, well proportioned outlines, as well as an especially expressive head, the Great Dane strikes the onlooker as a noble statue, never coarse or with refined elegance. Perfect in balance and always with clearly defined sexual dimorphism. He is the Apollo amongst all breeds.”

A rational human being reading the above description does not expect to see a dog looking like THIS. No matter how unreasonably one is prepared to misinterpret the description, a Great Dane is not supposed to look like a Mastino. Not even an original Mastino, before that breed became a synonym for exaggeration & disfigurement.

Where is the nobility ? where is the balance ? where is the well-constructed body? the elegance? the proportions? the lack of coarseness ? the unfortunate dog is the very definition of coarse. It’s the exact antonym of elegant. Crude, unbalanced, clumsily put together, misshapen, disproportionate in parts and as a whole, especially disproportionate and untypical in the head-to-body size ratio, dysfunctional, with no harmony, moderation, unity or quality whatsoever. It’s a messed-up disabled dog.

Anyone with a functioning brain reading the description in the breed standard would expect to see the canine equivalent of Apollo. APOLLO. As in, well, Apollo: not as in, gargoyle or Sumo wrestler. Get it ? Apollo means NOT like THIS ! Who in their right mind would class THIS as an Apolloesque canine ? who would ever consider it a noble statue, a work of art, classically proportioned and harmonious? “Apollo represents harmony, order, and reason“. “Apollo is often associated with the Golden Mean. This is the Greek ideal of moderation and a virtue that opposes gluttony.” (source)

OK, I get it – someone with zero education; someone who never went to school, never been near a museum, or seen even a single picture of classic art; never seen a Greek or Roman statue; never watched an art documentary or read a book. Yes, people lacking the basics of education wouldn’t know what Apollo means in this context. An illiterate person, or someone without culture & taste, with no interest in art, history, philosophy et cetera might think that Apollo could mean a shapeless blob. A lump. Or a potato. Hulk. Maybe even the Elephant Man.

But comprehension of a breed standard requires at least a minimum degree of education. Requires the ability to read and understand the meaning of the written word, doesn’t it? So someone actually reading the standard, would normally make an honest effort to comprehend the written word, and, if they didn’t already know, look up and see what Apollo means, wouldn’t that be a fair assumption ? And then, they would read and ought to be able to understand this:

HEAD: In harmony with the general appearance. Long, narrow, distinct and expressive. Never wedge shaped. Finely chiselled, especially under the eyes. 

Now, that wasn’t too hard to comprehend, was it ? It simply means Not like THIS ! It means exactly the opposite of that abnormal, coarse, disharmonious, hypertypical head…

Eyes: Of medium size with lively friendly intelligent expression. Almond shaped with close fitting lids.

The description again is very clear – it means NOT like THESE eyes  !

 SEVERE FAULTS: 

Apple head and too prominent cheek muscles.

Slack eye lids and showing red haw. Pretty clear huh ? 

Croup sloping too much.
Is that too difficult to grasp ? Croups can’t actually slop any more than THIS. They couldn’t possibly be any steeper. That croup is the steepest of steep – it allows no soundness, no fitness, no functional movement of the hindquarters – and that alone renders the whole structure useless and unfit for purpose – unfit for any purpose – for any kind of normal, coordinated canine motion… therefore the dog doesn’t comply with the FCI requirement for dogs to be “fit for their original function“, either…

DISQUALIFYING FAULTS: 

Any dog clearly showing physical or behavioural abnormalities shall be disqualified.

Ectropion, entropion or macroblepharia. In other words, exactly like THIS !

No need to go over any of the other grossly exaggerated and untypical features on that head, the excess skin folds that cause discomfort and infection – the eyes alone spell it out loud and clear:  D I S Q U A L I F I C A T I O N. Anybody with even a single brain cell not totally burned, with a minimum capacity for intellectual thought, with some basic care and love for the breed, would disqualify this dog. Would not approve this dog for breeding. Would not use this dog at stud. Would respect the breed enough to spare it from such atrocities and health problems. Would care enough for the puppies and for the prospective puppy buyers – would be responsible enough to not load such a burden of misery (and humongous veterinary bills) onto them. Aren’t breeders supposed to educate, inform, set good examples, strive for excellence and soundness of mind and body, health and longevity,  promote responsible dog ownership, instead of merely, selfishly, exploit people’s feelings and ignorance?

No matter how warped someone’s personal vision – preference – taste – fancy – idea may be about what’s natural and normal and biomechanically sound among dogs, there’s still the issue of a breed standard that actually describes the exact opposite of a train wreck – and the fact that breeders are supposed to breed according to that description and not attempt to breathe life into their worst nightmares and Frankensteinian monsters and freaks for their cruel amusement.

In the previously mentioned FCI instruction we read: The judge must be aware of the fact that a pedigree dog with exaggerated breed characteristics which can lead and result in health, behaviour or movement problems, should be excluded from breeding and therefore never be awarded a qualification “Excellent.” 

And yet this dog is a Champion, an international champion, no less, approved for breeding by the European Union of Great Dane Breed Clubs (the EuDDC), winner of conformation titles, therefore graded “excellent” numerous times – and a stud dog to boot. Are all the EuDDC member clubs okay with this? Are they happy to be part of it? And there is a Great Dane Club – Clubs, plural – in charge of the breed, with the duty to safeguard it from such deviations? While something as gross and as inappropriate and irregular as this dog becoming a champion and an officially qualified stud dog is allowed ? While I distinctly remember a mini civil war breaking out because some breed specialist somewhere dared award the excellent grade to a merle ? Oh, – gasp – the horror, a dog of the wrong -well, not desirable- colour ! And yet a dog of this level of gross non-conformity to the standard becoming an International FCI Champion and an approved sire, warrants no action? A mastinoid ‘Great Dane’ champion is shrugged off and it’s just Tuesday ? Do these priorities sound sensible, reasonable, even, measured and justifiable to the reader? To me, I confess, they don’t. I feel that something isn’t right. Something isn’t working. Something is broken. And that’s an understatement. It’s not just worrying, it’s alarming. It’s infuriating. It’s unacceptable. Something needs to be done, chère fédération cynologique, et tout suite…Some people somewhere need to take a good hard look and say enough is enough !

Because it’s insulting to every genuine dog lover who does have principles and does give a damn about dog suffering and does make a conscious effort to breed healthy, happy, sound, typical dogs; because genuine people expect a semblance of fairness from the system and the institutions that hold these shows and issue these championship titles. They expect Breed Clubs to look after the breed. Not allow such things to happen. Protect the dogs. Protect the dog-buying public. Protect them, breeders and exhibitors, from being associated with such scandalous goings on. Protect the community from disrepute. Promote responsible breeding and ownership. Observe the laws, if nothing else.

Take a look, I suggest, at the list of National Great Dane Clubs that are members of the EuDDC. And if you are a Great Dane lover, and a resident in any of these countries, get involved: ask your clubs, if they really approve of such phenomena, if they are happy to collude in the standard being so grossly misinterpreted and the breed harmed in such a way. Ask yourself if you really want to contribute to this tragic farce. Please, for the love of the Great Dane, think about what this means for the breed you love and the dogs that love you unconditionally with their every breath. Think and act and do what you can – what is your duty, our duty to do for these dogs that live and die for us. We ought to respect that, and protect them.

The dog is no Great Dane. There’s actually no breed standard that this dog conforms to. It doesn’t conform to the FCI’s guidelines and instructions about the dogs’ welfare. There are, to our shame and horror, many tragic dogs that are being exploited by qualzucht greeders, despite the legislation that exists in Europe against it. But at least dogs that are as untypical of their breed as this dog is of the breed it’s supposed to be, are not shown and if they are shown they don’t win and they don’t become international champions and they are not given breeding approval by breed institutions, right? How else would the abusers be discouraged? How else can greeders be stopped from entering any nondescript sick cripple and running away with prizes to advertise their dog torturing puppy factories by ? How are governments and the public supposed to take dog breeding and showing seriously, when such outrageously unsound and untypical dogs are crowned champions, demonstrating utter disrespect for standards and rules and regulations and legislation and common sense and decency ? The FCI international championship title is supposed to mean something, no ? It’s supposed to mean that the dog is typical of its breed, at the very least. It’s supposed to mean that the dog is sound and it doesn’t suffer from visible abnormalities and disqualifying conditions, does it not? The reason these conditions are listed as disqualifying faults, is because they are debilitating and hereditary. I wonder, have the officers of the FCI seen photographs of the dog they approved these titles for? Would the scientific commission of the FCI stand by these titles, if they had seen the dog they’ve been awarded to?

Do you think this dog would pass the veterinary inspection at Crufts ? Now there’s a thought, as International FCI Champions automatically qualify for that prestigious show…The Kennel Club calls them “Beauty Champions”. Which in this particular case is especially ironic…

Here is a critique from a lady that has known the breed for the longest of time, a very respected connoisseur of Great Danes who has studied the history and development of the Apollo of dogs like no other person alive today; her monograph is a truly classic work of Great Dane literature and one that every enthusiast should have in their library. This is what she had to say when I asked her esteemed opinion about this dog:

“What kind of a critique would an honest FCI judge give to this dog shown as a Great Dane, Deutsche Dogge, Dogue Allemand, or Alano? Not being one, this is my guess, when comparing with the FCI Standard for the breed (one must find positive characteristics first):

As far as one can see from still photographs this dog appears to be well muscled and has a firm topline,well filled forechest without prominent breastbone, has correct coupling and good tuck-up, but the croup appears narrow and falls away quite steeply. Although the shoulder blade seems sufficiently angulated it appears not to be close fitting. The feet seem to be somewhat splayed. The rear is over-angulated and the hocks appear to turn inward. The front legs do not appear to be parallel and have feet that turn outward. The blue coat colour is acceptable although the large white markings on the chest are considered undesirable in some countries.

The head and neck of this dog deviate enormously from the breed standard, which says the head should be long, narrow, and finely chiselled, and the neck should be long and clean, never short or thick which is what it is in this case. The distance from the nose to stop and stop to occiput are nowhere near similar as they should be, and there is not a hint of parallel planes, just a rounded skull with excessive wrinkles and skin covering the area and contributing to the enormously pendulous lips, dewlaps, and eyes which are nearly hidden and seem to suffer from severe entropion, a disqualification. The expression of this dog appears to be that of misery.

As for general appearance, there is nothing noble or Apollonian about this coarse specimen and it does not fit the description of a Great Dane.”

No, the poor dog definitely doesn’t deserve the title “Apollo of dogs” and no amount of ‘beauty’ titles can change that, as it’s quite glaringly obvious. It’s a pseudo – dane. Its miserable state and unconditional love for the treacherous humans who have failed him so utterly invokes immeasurable pity, sadness and indignation. It may be a dogue français, or dogue allemand, or whatever else you may want to call it, but it’s no longer a Great Dane. It’s, literally, a crying shame.

I implore anyone and everyone to do what we have to do, together, to stop this happening to more innocent dogs. We owe them that much. Our breed has enough of an uphill struggle as it is with three major health problems – it certainly doesn’t need this gross type deviation which will cause more massive loss of genetic diversity…

the epilogue is best written, again, by Jill Evans. A bit of humour helps to take heart and continue the fight against this desperate situation our breed finds itself in… because fight we must and fight we will and win we shall…

This is nothing like a Dane.
Nothing in the world.
There is nothing you can name
That is anything like a Dane.

Nothing else is built the same.
Nothing in the world
Has a strong and graceful frame
Like the silhouette of a Dane.
This is absolutely nothing like the frame
Of a Dane.

So suppose this dog ain’t bright
Or completely free from flaws;
He’s as faithful as a bird-dog
And as kind as Santa Claus.
It’s a waste of time to worry over things that he has not —
Be thankful for
The things he’s got….

Unless you or a judge think he’s a show dog or should be bred from…

(Apologies to Rogers and Hammerstein’s “South Pacific”)

 

 

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