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…this phrase, contained in the British Great Dane standard, is the Great Dane’s character in a nutshell.
Typical Great Danes should be capable, mentally and physically, to go anywhere and do anything we ask of them.
They should be supremely athletic and intelligent – extremely versatile dogs. Trainability should be the sine qua non selection priority in dog breeding, as it is the fundamental basis of our interaction with dogs. Versatility should be a synonym for the breed, the Great Dane’s middle name – from hunting to family dog and everything else in between, anything the owners’ lifestyle might require. The Dane is a legendary “bon viveur” – a dog of sunny disposition, a positive soul full of joie de vivre, embodiment of “impossible is nothing” (as all dogs should be). This magnificent, benevolent, multi-faceted, multi-talented, deeply perceptive and caring nature, combined with majestic structure and superb physicality is what makes them GREAT; we mustn’t suffer the compromise or loss of these breed type-defining qualities, or allow them to become handicapped by indifferent, unbalanced breeding selection and practices.
Health, wholesomeness, soundness of body and mind, are essential for quality of life and that is the basis for all dogs’ well-being and therefore, ultimately, their longevity. Form follows function so their beauty results from and depends on fitness for purpose. Confidence, steady nerves, reliability, trustworthiness, are the elements of temperament that we can’t do without, because they are the essential cornerstones a well-adjusted dog’s behavior and a positive, mutually beneficial relationship between dogs and humans are built upon .
Is it true that Great Danes are no longer a working breed? While it’s true that, with some exceptions, most of them no longer hunt large game, I’m not sure that equates with losing the hunting instinct or working ability altogether. I personally never had one that wasn’t by nature a hunter and that is also the testimony of many people I talk with. Canis familiaris is supremely adaptable and that phrase included in the standard reflects the Great Dane’s potential, as the breed has always been used for a great variety of tasks. Breeding dogs better should focus on maintaining this broad, multi-purpose scope, the all-around good, able-bodied, useful dog, as the bedrock of selection. The fact that there are so many typical Great Danes out there who more than satisfy these essential criteria, is evidence that the breed, generally speaking, has retained the wonderful ability described in this phrase and that the ability can and must be preserved. The FCI requires that dogs are fit for their original function. Breeders that neglect to serve this goal do so at the breed’s peril. The fact that there are so many people around the world willing to work with their dogs offers hope and inspiration.
There are over 80 photographs in this post. Some are just fun activities, others are practical work, day-to-day usefulness or official competition standard, but what all have in common is the Great Dane’s mental & physical fitness. Working ability, performance, team work, joy, purpose, action, communication, cooperation, companionship, motivation, affection, trust, stability, versatility, speed, power, stamina, affinity, responsiveness, uncanny perception, alertness, courage, game sense, pack instinct, toughness, fearlessness, mental equilibrium, “beauty and brains” – everything that’s truly precious about our relationship with Great Danes, their physical and mental aptitudes and their unlimited eagerness to please and work with us and have fun with us are contained in these pictures – everything we should value and must, at any cost, not fail to preserve:
Dogs that can go anywhere and do anything.
7 year old Dane “Cain”, a.k.a the Cainonball, dock-diving
“Cara” (Bourntwyn Wanderin Star at Katira), backpacking. Alistair & Kate Stevens photo.
Therapy Dane. Jacqueline Faubert photo.
6 year old “Olanis”, retrieving. Birgit U. Matthias Krome photo.
Great Dane “Pharaoh”, lure coursing. Jonesbillies Rogers photo.
“Spark” flying at the frisbee. Photo courtesy of Olga Maderych. Spark is CH Chroma Let’s Get This Show on the Road BN RA OJP OFP CGCA NW1 NW1-V SPK SPJ ETD NCO-1
Hunting & retrieving. Katrine Lawaetz photo. Watch the video
Obedience. FI & EE CH EE VETCH BH Dogiwogin Laodicea. Photo Sanna Tevaluoto.
Racing at the lure-coursing track. Tuija Nummi photo.
“Ceci” Herding. She also enjoys tracking & obedience. Mirek Kucera photo.
Tricks & balance. “Flynn”. Kayla Bannister photo. You can follow Flynn here
“Guy” babysitting like a good dog.
Lifeguard Dane. Source
Search and Rescue training, Laodicea at the rubble course. Sanna Tevaluoto.
Weight pulling (3800lbs). Kristen Kenney photo.
Agility by “Spark”. Photo courtesy of Olga Maderych.
Trekking with the family. “Cara” & Co. Alistair Stevens photo.
Tracking “Olanis”. Birgit U. Matthias Krome photo.
Laodicea in Obedience. Sanna Tevaluoto.
Agility, frisbee, tricks by Flynn & Kayla Bannister.
The “Penny express” backpacking, carrying supplies for the cabin. Ruben Alfonso Bernal photo.
Therapy assistance Dane. Jacqueline Faubert photo.
Trail dog. Tera Allen photo.
Bloodtracking. Swedish Bloodtracking Champion Dane. Sanna Persson photo.
“Cara” horse-whispering with a foal. Alistair Stevens photo.
Running with the horse. Dunja Staničić photo.
Coursing. Natalie Alves photo.
Backpacking & mountaineering. Ruben Alfonso Bernal photo.
Agility teamwork. Leevindane Fabulous Mr Darcy at Curdane. Ciara Curtin photos.
“Pharaoh”, lure-coursing. Jonesbillies Rogers photo.
Swimming & keeping an eye on the family. Jacqueline Faubert photo.
Cara going over the fence while trekking. Kate Stevens photo.
Obedience. Photo of “Spark” courtesy of Olga Maderych.
Barn hunting. Natalie Alves photo.
Laodicea at the Agility course. Sanna Tevaluoto.
Jumping. Kayla Baxter photo. This Dane also does other disciplines.
Gundog, “Reno”. A HPR Dane. Petra Jaakonsaari photo.
Backpacking. Ruben Alfonso Bernal photo.
“Spark”, Tracking. Photo courtesy of Olga Maderych.
“Sweety”, Fin. Est. Ltv. Rus. Ch. Fainomenon Attiki Kallevalla the Agility Dane. Photo courtesy of Immonen-Vitikainen.
Frisbeeeeeee! Kayla Bannister photo of “Flynn”.
Pulling carts was one of the traditional Dane uses. Malin Gustavzon’s photo of her Dane at fun-carting practice.
Therapy dogs. Jacqueline Faubert photo.
Search & Rescue. Flynn at the off for finding the victim. Kayla Bannister photo.
Laodicea & Sanna Tevaluoto in competitive Obedience.
Weight-pulling practice. Tuija Nummi photo.
“Spark” lure coursing. Photo courtesy of Olga Maderych.
“Olanis” jumping to retrieve. Birgit U. Matthias Krome photo.
“Cara” negotiating obstacles on the trek. Kate Stevens photo.
Hunting & retrieving. Katrine Lawaetz. More photos
“Spark” & Olga Maderych in Obedience.
Hunting jackrabbits. Nellie Messerly photo.
“Flynn” Barn-hunting (ratting).
Swimming. Courtney JoAnn photo.
Running with the horse and rider. Petra Jaakonsaari.
the backpacking hound. Ruben Alfonso Bernal photo.
Agility “Spark”. Olga Maderych photo.
after swimming out to the float to safeguard the child. Jacqueline Faubert photo.
the bloodtracking hound. Katrine Lawaetz photo.
“Charm” dock-diving. Chroma Three Times Charmed, RN, TD, R1, MJ, TT, CGC, TDinc is the current “Big Air” world record holder for the breed and has achieved the Master Jumpers level of title (requiring jumps of over 20 feet) ! Chromadane photo. See more of Charm here
“Reno” skijoring. Petra Jaakonsaari photo.
“Flynn” the clever trickster. Kayla Bannister photo.
the water dog, retrieving. Dunja Staničić photo.
the coursing hound, “Pharaoh”. Jonesbillies Rodgers photo.
the Agile jumper. Sanna Tevaluoto. Sanna’s Dane is INT & FI & SE & EE & LV & LT & BALT CH TLNW-12 RTK1 RTK2 Dogiwogin Ft. Ja’Quealah
“Flynn”, sledding. Kayla Bannister photo.
Agility practice with Yasmeen Gjelsvik and her Dane.
“Hessu” searching the rubble during SAR training. Niina Malmivuori photo.
jumping for fun. Tuija Nummi photo. These Danes also do obedience, lure coursing & weight pulling.
all three puppies, grandchildren of “Ceci”, pictured previously and children of “Snehu” who was also a HIC holder, Razor, Vicky and Tatos, earned the Herding Instinct certificate at just 6 months old . Mirek Kucera photo.
Obedience with Sanna Tevaluoto.
she-saw 🙂 “Sweety” the Agility Dane. Immonen – Vitikainen photo.
Reno at the track! Petra Jaakonsaari photo.
5 months old baby “Noora” (Noble Aristocrat Back With Attitude) tracking. Her mom is pictured further on. Anja Kvamme photo.
Tricks by “Spark”. Olga Maderych photo.
Water Rescue – “Mimmi” during Lifeguard Dane training. Lea Haanpaa photo. Mimmi’s owner is Niina Malmivuori.
obedience with Sanna Tevaluoto.
“Noomi” (Highesteem Bitch Is Back), tracking. Anja Kvamme photo.
swimming. Kayla Bannister photo.
“Cara” turning on a dime. Essential athleticism & skill of a hunting dog. Kate Stevens foto
attentive & obedient. Sanna Tevaluoto.
“Ceci” herding. Mirek Kucera photo.
“Penni” at Water Rescue – Lifeguard Dane training. Lea Haanpaa photo. Penni’s owner is Niina Malmivuori.
Water Surfing ! (or paddle-boarding with a Dane) Watch the fun video 🙂
MANY THANKS to all the breeders & families of these amazing dogs, for making this post possible with the photographs of the variety of their activities, working and sporting disciplines, demonstrating the breed’s outstanding beauty & brains, learning capacity and willingness to please! It is immensely important for Great Dane preservation that owners continue to use their dogs’ skills, versatility, intelligence and fitness for purpose (and fun!) and that breeders select for these traits.
This small tribute to the astonishing adaptability of the Apollo of Dogs could not be complete, of course, without a small mention of the person who, more than anybody else before or since, has shown the world that the breed is truly “Almost Human“. We will dedicate a future post entirely to Barbara Woodhouse and her unforgettable, awe-inspiring, extremely clever Great Danes.