Animals, Breed Standards, Denmark, Deutsche Doggen, Dog Breeding, Dog Breeds, Dog Judging, Dog Shows, Dogs, Europe, Genetics, Germany, Great Dane, Health, Hyper-Type, Mastiffs, Natural History, People, Social History
Dear Mr. President
The Great Dane breed is suffering from an extreme hyper type drift. Breeders, owners, exhibitors & judges of the breed have been raising concerns for a long time but our pleas have been ignored. The problem has reached a point of effectual breed division into two distinct types – the standard type and the pseudo-Dane. Many voices in the Great Dane community are calling for a breed split, to save the true Great Dane. Our breed is transforming into a dysfunctional, extreme Mastino look-alike.
Professor Denis has spoken against this phenomenon – the drift towards hypertypes – that plagues many breeds. Yet a number of breeders & judges operating under the auspices of the FCI are not only blind and indifferent to the damage but actively promoting the deviation. The Chairman of the DDC has admitted the Club’s failure to contain the problem; EuDDC shows, judges and breed wardens have failed to safeguard the breed from gross distortion and excess; entire National Breed Clubs in regions of Europe have become staunch supporters of hyper-typical pseudo-Danes, facilitators of poor breeding practices that are against the European Convention for the Protection of Companion Animals.
We are writing to you in the hope that you will not refer us to the National Kennel Clubs and Breed Clubs that are complicit in this breed assassination, or merely indifferent bystanders, but that you will instead look at the facts objectively, taking the appropriate measures via the Scientific Commission. The situation can no longer be contained or micro-managed within the breed. The solution has to come from above with no delay. The breed standard of the Great Dane must be applied. The dogs’ welfare and the breed’s integrity must be protected.
There is an unscrupulous minority operating within our breed, propagating corruption, contradicting everything the FCI stands for. All-breed Clubs and Dog Show hosts have betrayed the breed on numerous occasions, inviting only those judges who are complicit in its destruction, serving greeders who swap judging appointments and guarantee entries. It’s a small number of judges and breeders but they exert a disproportionate, unfair and negative influence. We are confident that the plethora of evidence we submit in the documents and files accompanying this letter are adequate proof of the urgency with which the matter must be addressed.
There is only one standard, only one correct breed type. To accept this gross misinterpretation would be a catastrophe that we abhor – the death of the ancient, classic, noble Great Dane. Yet we are at gunpoint; the Hyper type is advancing, spreading to more regions with the help of misguided, uneducated or callous promoters and poor judging. Our breed in Europe is at the brink of a monumental disaster that threatens to push it beyond saving, as the Dilated Cardiomyopathy frequency is increasing and in combination with other fatal hereditary disorders spell imminent doom.
Even at the most prestigious events, European Winner and World Winner shows, both types participate side by side, making a mockery of the standard, of the FCI and of reason. Often the judges officiating are disrespectful of all three. In some countries those who continue to serve the breed with honesty and adhere to the standard type are marginalized, threatened and driven away from shows – because the Hyper Type has been firmly established and standard dogs have no hope of being judged fairly by the corrupt judges who officiate there.
Please reaffirm the FCI’s principles; compare these pseudo-Danes with standard No. 235, with typical dogs fit for their original function, and we are confident you will reach the inevitable conclusion: this obscene situation must be rectified and our breed’s destruction avoided. Please call a joint Scientific & Standards Commission meeting to take action against the Great Dane’s demise. The Breed Standard states: “Any dog clearly showing physical or behavioral abnormalities shall be disqualified”. Under Disqualifying faults it lists: “Ectropion, entropion or macroblepharia”. If these provisions were applied the problem would be eradicated. The vast majority of the Hyper type specimens suffer from these abnormalities.
A mere circular would be inadequate to counterbalance the trend but essential as a clear declaration of intent nevertheless. We ask you further to consider a temporary measure of Veterinary examinations for Great Danes at FCI shows before CAC, CACIB, Best of Breed & Championship awards are confirmed, similar to the provisions in place for ‘problem’ breeds in the UK. Our breed has become a problem breed: only this measure can control Hyper Type extremism and stop grossly deformed dogs from winning and becoming popular sires.
It’s impossible to tell what breed these unfortunate dogs belong to. This obscenity is bringing the FCI to disrepute. The breed’s populations are effectively split: breeders on either side of the divide will not use each others’ dogs – and on the Standard side there are very good reasons not to use Hyper Typical abnormalities: the substandard dogs are deformed, chronic sufferers of painful debilitating conditions (entropion, ectropion, macroblepharia, skin infections, joint & spinal problems, cow hocks, lack of soundness resulting from poor conformation and weight excess, affecting their welfare and further impacting on heart, circulation, neurological and digestive issues), certainly not fit for the breed’s original function – not even fit to live as normal dogs any more.
The genetic integrity of our breed is suffering the dire consequences of this division. Available diversity is shrinking dramatically because more and more specimens are driven beyond the edge of what is physically acceptable and fit for function. The original description of the breed standard reads: BREED DESCRIPTION OF THE GREAT DANE (1897) 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. (DDSB VOL.I)
It is clearly obvious from the above, that the Great Dane / Deutsche Dogge was never a mastiff breed and was never intended to become a heavy mastiff breed: our breed is a Giant Hound. Breed type is eternal. Morphological type does not change, it is determined by the breed’s original founders and should never be altered at a whim, by fashion or corruption. We are witnessing a tragic mockery of the Apollo of Dogs. Removal of this very important type reference above from the breed standard facilitated the inclusion of the Great Dane in the mastiff subsection of the Group II, which has effectively given the green light to the hyper type deterioration of our breed. Yet still the standard calls for the “Apollo of dogs” while dogs winning at FCI shows in many regions are anything but.
Finally, we ask you to remove the breed from the “mastiff type” subsection of the 2nd Group, where it clearly does not belong. The Great Dane is an ancient archetype large game hunter, formed by the same function as its partial descendant, the Dogo Argentino; preeminent Dogo Argentino expert Dr. Otto Schimpf has also made a rational plea against his breed’s hyper-type drift into excess and distortion: please reclassify the Great Dane to a more appropriate group, under “Large Game Hunting Breeds” or other suitable designation. Breeds like the Smoushond and the Tchiorny have been deemed worthy of their own unique sub-grouping. Surely the historical Dane and the Argentino are also worthy of the same respect.
Mr. President we are looking forward to your reaffirming the FCI’s founding principles, coming to the Great Dane’s aid and restoring our faith in the federation.
The following signatories are Great Dane breeders, owners, exhibitors and breed-specialist judges, as well as dog lovers in general.
The letter is addressed to the President of the FCI, Mr. Rafael De Santiago.
Dear reader PLEASE SIGN & SHARE THE PETITION here
It’s important to add your name, relation (owner, exhibitor, breeder, judge, etc) to the breed (or other breeds) and country of residence when signing and ask your friends to do the same when sharing.
Notes, supporting documents, evidence and photographs:
- The statutes of the FCI state the following:
Article 2 Objectives
The aims of the FCI are :
(1) to encourage and promote the breeding and use of purebred dogs whose functional health and physical features meet the standard set for each respective breed and which are able to work and to carry out different functions in accordance with the specific characteristics of their breed;
(2) to protect the use, the keeping and the breeding of purebred dogs in the countries where the FCI has a member or a contract partner; to support the non-profit exchange of dogs and of cynological information between the members and to initiate the organization of shows, tests, trials and other activities like sport events, the use of dogs in rescue operations, etc.
(3) to promote and support dogdom and dog welfare worldwide
By issuing special regulations, the FCI shall in particular ensure :
c) the promotion of ethics and scientific research, which is of fundamental importance in cynology, and the free exchange of scientific information between the members and contract partners ; the observance of the breed standards as approved by the FCI. Those breed standards must be recognized by all the members and contract partners as far as they are not in contradiction with the laws of their respective country;
f) seeking to maintain high standards of judges appointed to officiate at international shows, working tests and trials;
h) defining and publishing the characteristics of each breed after previous approval by the FCI (General Assembly or General Committee) based on the breed standards of the country of origin or of the country of patronage. The standard of a new breed or any change in an existing standard will only be internationally acknowledged by following the specific rules of the Standing Orders. Under any circumstances, the welfare of the dogs must be of the utmost priority;
2. In 2011, the president of the DDC, Mr. Gügel (breeder of the famous Heiko von der Burg Thann), wrote the following prologue of the illustrated standard published by the Deutsche Doggen Club 1888 e.V.:
“The (standard) of the Great Dane stayed the same in most of its parts, even if sometimes with different wording, especially the definition of the general appearance hasn’t changed. But if one compares the Champions of earlier times with the Champions of today one can obviously see differences. The bodies are bulkier today and the heads heavier. We haven’t paid enough attention to the angulations and the movement. So faults appeared, which we don’t recognize anymore today. That’s something we have to change together: the officials of the clubs, the judges and the breeders. It is not our task to only manage the breed. We have to preserve and promote it and protect it from an overinterpretation of the standard. Expertise and sound judgement is recommended therefore. It was the goal of the founding of the EUDDC Club in 1981 to gain all friends of the Great Dane for a uniform interpretation of the standard. (…) Judged objectively we couldn’t achieve this goal in the last 25 years. Some countries still prefer very different phenotypes.”
3. In November 2011, celebrating its Centenary, the FCI published the Manifesto for the Welfare of Dogs. On it’s first paragraph we read:
“On the occasion of its Centenary Year, the Fédération Cynologique Internationale does confirm its mission across the globe : to preserve the health of dogs and to promote the relations between dog and man thanks to its international activities. Through its 86 members and contract partners (one member per country), it cares about the welfare of all dogs worldwide. The FCI considers health, temperament and behaviour to be the essential points to reach this welfare and it promotes dog activities and dog sports which it considers beneficial to the dogs. ”
4. In October 2013, the General Committee of the FCI approved and published the Basic Statement for Show Judges: Dogs Fit For their Original Function. The document states:
This statement concerns FCI show judges and other show judges who act at shows and activities organised by the FCI members.
The task of a show judge is to help preserve the inner and outer characteristics of each breed within the approved breed standard. In other words, the judge’s main task is to judge and evaluate dogs, according to the breed standard and to consider them as potential breeding dogs for future generations. This must never be done at the detriment of the welfare and well- being of the dogs. Dogs must always be fit for the function for which they were originally meant, developed and bred for.
It is therefore the responsibility of the judge to be acquainted with the breed standard as well as the health and behaviour problems which can occur in each breed. A judge must particularly pay attention to the breed-specific characteristics which have a tendency towards exaggeration, which can creep into a breed and have a negative effect on the health of the individual dog.
In addition, in order to contribute to the preservation and the development of a breed, the judges are asked to take into account, in the best possible way, the health and welfare aspects of the breed and to express this clearly in the written critique of the dog. Dogs have to be fit for their original function at all times.
While judging at shows, all the severe deviations regarding the breed-specific behaviour should not be tolerated and should result in the disqualification of the dog(s).
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.”
When a judge notices problems in the breed he is judging, he can ask for a form on which he can make a brief list of the breed-specific problems that he found during his judging. The list will be used by the national canine organisation where the dog is registered to adjust breeding and to enhance the health of the breed concerned.
POINTS TO BE PAID ATTENTION TO
It is of utmost importance that each judge continues to judge as positively as previously and selects winners of correct type and overall quality, dogs that represent the ideal type of the breed, according to the adopted FCI standard for that breed.
The critique must always be written in a positive form, but it is important to be precise and open about relevant health and welfare matters, if these have affected the evaluation and/or placing of the dog.
As previously, the judge should evaluate what he sees when qualifying and placing the dog, deviations must be judged on their degree of imperfection, and no faults are linked to a certain award. Exaggerations in conformation and faults which have an effect on the dog’s health are more serious than cosmetic problems. Judges are requested to consider health aspects to a higher degree than previously, particularly when awarding CAC and/or CACIB.
These common health and behaviour instructions must be applied at all times, even if a breed is hardly represented at shows in the country where the judge is acting. We need judges who will assess and judge dogs in a similar way, regardless of the number of entries of a breed at shows. Only then can we manage a good and healthy breeding policy.
The list of common points to be taken care of must not be seen as a list of disqualifying faults in breeds whose standards contain disqualifications!
Frequently existing faults, not linked with health and exaggeration concerns in individual breeds, have not been listed here but must also be noted when judging.
UNIFORM REQUIREMENTS FOR ALL DOGS
Judges are expected to pay attention to the following problems in ALL breeds. Dogs with those problems should preferably be awarded with a “Good” and can never get more than a “Very Good”. They will never qualify for a CAC and/or CACIB.
DISHARMONY AND CONSTRUCTION
When standing or moving the dog should be balanced.
All dogs should be able to move without problems and every dog should show it sufficiently when being judged.
All dogs should be able to breathe normally while standing and moving.
Particular attention should therefore be paid to exaggerations which might prevent healthy breathing such as:
– very noisy breathing and/or audible respiratory distress ;
– very small and pinched nostrils or nostrils covered with skin.
The teeth of the dog should be developed according to the standard.
Particular attention to dogs with jaw and dental exaggerations as:
– too narrow and weak underjaws;
– inverted canine teeth, sometimes even going straight up into the roof of the gums (palate);
– extremely small teeth;
– not closing jaws.
All dogs should have bright and dry eyes without any sign of discomfort.
Particular attention to dogs with exaggerations that can cause irritation(s) of the eyes, such as:
– overly large and protruding eyes;
– eye rims too loose and droopy eyelids;
– visible inflammation and/or humid eyes
– too small and/or too deep set eyes
SKIN TOO LOOSE
All dogs should have a healthy skin without any sign of discomfort.
Particular attention to dogs with exaggerations that can cause irritation of the skin, such as:
– too many skin folds and loose skin, so that the nose and/or eyes are covered with skin;
– too much loose skin on body, limbs and head
Lately there has been an increase in overweight dogs. In the show ring some dogs cannot move/breathe properly due to overweight.
A wrong diet is often the problem, but also lack of exercise or health problems. When the judge is not able to feel the ribs anymore, when the loin is not marked anymore and the dogs are not able to move/breathe properly, these dogs should never be qualified with an “Excellent”.
TEMPERAMENT AND BEHAVIOUR
All dogs should have a good temperament in the ring as well as suitable for life in present society. Breed specific behaviour must be allowed, but excessive shyness, reluctance or sharp temperament is not desirable.
Aggressive or overly shy behaviour must never be tolerated during breed/dog judging and must result in the disqualification of this/these dog(s).
ABUNDANT COAT AND GROOMING
The coat should not be so abundant as to impede movement and/or its ability to see
PRESENTATION OF THE DOG
It is increasingly common that breeds, standing as well as moving, are presented in the ring on a upstraight and neck-tight leash. This does not promote the welfare of the dog, and moreover it inhibits correct movement and makes natural and breed specific movement impossible to be achieved.
A dog should be shown on a loose leash in a natural way with a correct and breed specific movement. Pulling the dog up at the neck and/or tail is prohibited.
It is forbidden to prepare a dog with any substance that will alter the structure, colour or form of the coat, skin or nose. Only trimming, clipping, combing and brushing are allowed.
An exhibitor, who does not follow the usual rules for presenting a dog, should leave the ring. Although this does not affect the dog’s health or behaviour directly, the judge has the possibility not to judge the dog or award it with a lower qualification.
It is of utmost importance that every judge realizes that he/she contributes to the development within the breeding and the health of a breed. Judges often form the basis (positive or negative) of the development within a breed.
Therefore we ask the judges after judging a breed in which they remark health and/or behaviour problems, to fill in a uniform document. The results can then be transmitted to the breed clubs, so that these clubs will be able to take the development of the breed into account.
This document will be made available at national and international shows. Breed clubs are also asked to use it because most dogs of their breed are likely to be presented at their speciality shows
The English version is the authentic one.
5. The International Breeding Rules of the FCI (binding on all member countries and contract partners), approved and published in 2013, state, among other things :
“The only dogs which are considered to be healthy in hereditary terms are those transferring breed standard features, breed type and temperament typical of that breed without displaying any substantial hereditary defects which could impair the functional health of its descendants. The members and contract partners of the FCI are required in this regard to prevent any exaggeration of breed features in the standards which could result in impairment of the dogs’ functional health”.
6. The International Breeding Strategies of the FCI, approved and published in 2010, state, among other things:
The goal in dog breeding is functionally healthy dogs with a construction and mentality typical to the breed, dogs that can live a long and happy life for the benefit and pleasure of the owner and the society as well as the dog itself. Breeding should be carried out in such a manner that it promotes the health and well-being of the progeny, as well as the welfare of the bitch. Knowledge, honesty and cooperation, both on national and international level, is basic in healthy dog breeding.
Breeders should be encouraged to emphasize the importance of the combination of dogs as well as selection of the individual dog to be used for breeding. The FCI members and contract partners should conduct education programmes for breeders, preferably on an annual basis. Education of breeders is to be recommended rather than strict breeding regulations and stringent demands in breeding programmes, which can easily result in reduced genetic diversity in the breed as well as exclusion of excellent breed representatives and reduced cooperation with conscientious breeders. Breeders and breed clubs should be encouraged to cooperate with scientists in genetic health issues, to prevent combination of dogs from lines that will result in unhealthy offspring.
Any dog used for breeding or screened for inherited diseases, must have identification (chip or tattoo). The breeders should keep the breed standard as the guideline for the breed specific features; any exaggerations should be avoided.
2. Only functionally and clinically healthy dogs, with breed typical conformation, should be used for breeding;
(the Breeding Regulations & Strategies documents can be downloaded in full here)
7. In 1999, Germany adopted legislation against breeding that causes pain and suffering to vertebrates (qualzucht).
8. In June 2013 the DDC wrote a letter to the EuDDC members detailing that exhibits of the merle (grautiger) color are not to receive the grade “excellent”. The justification in a nutshell is contained in the next phrase:
The note excellent can only be awarded to an exhibit that is very close to the standard.
In other words the DDC in its wisdom thought that the matter of Great Danes of an undesirable color getting the “excellent” grade at FCI shows was of the utmost importance and worthy of a circular to make sure that “the note excellent can only be awarded to an exhibit that is very close to the standard”.
The DCC however, has not, to date, issued a single circular addressing the Hyper Type deviation. Not once.
Let that sink in.
The DDC has not to date sent a SINGLE letter to the FCI, or to its EuDDC partners, or to every Great Dane Club in the FCI, or to every Kennel Club on the FCI, addressing it to every judge officiating at FCI shows, to ensure that hyper type specimens, grossly deviating from the standard, are not awarded the grade excellent, and are not awarded FCI National and International titles, and are not allowed to become “popular sires”.
The DDC decided that the grautiger Danes getting the “excellent” grade was a serious issue that necessitated urgent action.
But the issue of Hyper type dogs getting the excellent grade, becoming National and International Champions and popular sires, has not been deemed equally serious or important.
The issue of dogs with disqualifying , hereditary defects getting the excellent grade practically every weekend, the issue of dogs clearly not only “not close to the Standard” but contrary to normal dog conformation in serious, health- and even life-threatening areas, was not treated with the same decisive action and urgency as the matter of, well, the earth- shuttering issue of… color.
Despite the fact that the same letter, stamping the DDC’s authority over the grautiger color issue, bears the signature of the same President, who in 2011 (see above) admitted the same Club’s failure to arrest the misinterpretation of the standard.
Misinterpretation that in 2011 was numbering 25 years of gross standard deviation. And today it numbers another five. Bringing it to the total of thirty years misservice to the breed.
Misservice that is life threatening.
Misservice that brought the breed to an effective split in two distinct and very different breeds. Great Danes and pseudo-Danes.
Misservice that has been allowed to continue for so long that it has now reached the point of being a death sentence. Because extinction is the fate of breeds that lose huge chunks of breeding populations so dramatically over a mere three decades.
Failure of such monumental and scandalous proportions that it practically spells the imminent destruction or even extinction of a breed once so noble that it had earned the distinction, enshrined in the breed’s standard, of being considered the canine equivalent of classical beauty: the Apollo of Dogs.
And yet no action has ever been taken about that. No judges threatened with excommunication. No trends reigned in. No circulars issued. For all intents and purposes the issue of the breed’s systematic distortion was not, has not and continues to be not a matter treated with the same seriousness as the all-important matter of, well, (and this is embarrassing to rational people) ….mere color. The matter of the wrong color dog getting an “excellent” grade – what could be more important than that, eh ?
In fact the issue of hypertype was met with silence. Utter indifference. Tolerance. Even acceptance.
How else can we explain the fact that this dog was crowned DDC Club Champion in 2006?
Or the fact that his litter brother was also crowned DDC Club Champion the same year?
This dog is sired by the above and is an FCI Champion and approved for breeding.
Here is a direct comparison with the 1985 DDC Club Champion.
How is it allowed that this dog (clearly displaying disqualifying eye issues), is a multi- FCI champion and approved for breeding by the EuDDC?
How can anybody explain why this dog is approved for breeding by the EuDDC?
Please bear in mind, at all times, that the standard calls for the Apollo of Dogs. Not for a balloon or tyre to be inflated at will to the user’s preference. So how come the Apollo of dogs has been transformed to the Michelin type inflatable caricature?
We can’t call these dogs “Great Danes” any more. They don’t fit the description.
What, we wonder, happened to the ideal embodied by the immortal German Ch. Heiko v d Burg Thann, elected by the DDC to model for the Centenary figurine, and bred by the very same Herr Gügel, the Club’s President ?
Even modestly educated people, reading the description “Apollo of Dogs” expect to see a living statue of classic beauty, not, we’re sorry to say, a gargoyle with sagging flesh.
These pseudo-Danes, those pseudo-Apollos, are only a few examples of the caricatures winning at FCI shows under the pseudonym “Great Dane”. Tragically, they are sires. They determine the breed’s type, health, soundness and genetic integrity. They are spreading their tortured physiques and deleterious genotype.
Are these unfortunate disabled dogs closer to the standard than a “grautiger” ?
Where does it say in the standard that color is more important than functioning eyes ?
These dogs are winners if the “excellent” grade and other awards at FCI shows.
The above specimen recently received the grading “excellent” at an FCI show. In Germany.
This dog, registered as a harlequin, is an FCI multi-champion and Club champion – a champion of reproduction, no less.
They all have disqualifying eye defects. And yet they are champions and popular sires.
Just a few examples of the monumental mockery of the breed standard and the travesty taking place under the auspices of the FCI.
BOS (Male) at the European Winner show 2016
This photograph sums up the European Winner dog show 2016 perfectly: two different breeds in the same – in the Great Dane – ring…
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The present, and any future the Great Dane may have, is in your hands.
Is it going to be a future worthy of its past, or a future filled with pain and suffering?
It’s your decision to make.
Thank you for your attention.