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Evolution ensures the survival of the fittest.

Natural selection does not produce biologically unfit organisms because the unfit perish and don’t pass on their defective genes.

Artificial selection allows humans to shape animals faster than natural selection. The development of dog populations ideally suited to perform tasks set by humans is one such example.

Form follows function in both kinds of selection. Desirable traits are those traits that enable to animal to be biologically successful and – in the case of domesticated dogs – capable to perform the functions required by us. Undesirable traits are those that compromise the animal’s health, fitness, chances of survival and longevity – plus, again in the case of domesticated dogs, their suitability for domestic life.

When form is divorced from function the results can be bizarre and biologically compromised. We now have dogs that would not be able to survive in the natural environment. That’s OK as long as we don’t require them to do anything that a normal dog would be able to do – run, catch their food, defend themselves (and us, and our homes / livestock / property, as the case may be) from danger, mate and whelp and rear their young naturally.

For as long as we’re around they can survive. Sort of. They may be crippled, suffering and short-lived, but for as long as they are connected to our permanent life support system they can have a life of sorts. It does cost us a lot of money, it has environmental side-effects too, but hey, we’re weird enough and twisted enough to entertain that sort of thing for our amusement (and profit).

Just don’t call it evolution though.

I hear a lot of excuses from people who fancy a dysfunctional type of dog that they insist on calling a Great Dane although it neither fits the Breed Standards we ourselves set up for them and agreed upon to define them, nor is it an evolutionary successful and biologically fit dog. It’s a biological failure. It’s a bizarre, malformed, misshapen creature.

These people say it’s an evolved form of Great Dane. Check out what they consider evolution.

Well, neither is it evolved nor is it a Great Dane.

Evolution is a process that favors fitness. Great Danes are supposed to be the Apollos of dogdom. They are supposed to be able to go anywhere and do anything, they are supposed to be fit canine athletes.

People who say that such cruelty represents evolution are either idiots themselves or taking you for one.

These people say that their distorted, sick, disabled dogs are the result of the cropping ban in Europe. What a shitload of bull manure.

So the cropping ban necessitated the development of mastinoid pseudo-Danes ? How did that happen, exactly ? Did people get together the day after the ban and said OK, we can’t crop ears anymore, let’s breed dogs that are completely unrecognizable as Danes and physically disabled to boot ?

The ban on ear-cropping in the United Kingdom is over a century old. Almost as old as the history of the (official) existence of the Great Dane breed in that country. And during that century no real transformation of the Great Dane took place that would make these dogs unrecognizable, to the extend that the relatively recent hypertype trends coming from certain continental regions of Europe have made them.

This transformation, the breed type dichotomy that created two distinct kinds of dog, one that looks like a Great Dane and another that doesn’t, is quite a recent phenomenon. It started in France in the 70’s (long before the cropping ban) and progressively gotten worse and spread to other countries – mainly in the South and Eastern Europe. It’s a conspiracy of greed, corruption and twisted, malicious exploitation of innocent dogs.

There is absolutely no rational excuse for it. This cruelty is indefensible.

It is quite possible to maintain breed type as it was originally – at the time when the landrace became a breed. That is the “original” type, the type shaped by function, formed by the breed’s original purpose, bred for by the practical users of these dogs who hunted big game with them; the type observed and described and recorded in the original breed standards, the type set in stone by the breed’s foundation stock, the type agreed upon and approved when the Great Dane became a recognized breed. Not the type of its multitude of ancestors going back many hundreds, even thousands of years. Not the type arbitrarily preferred by you or I, but the type set forth in the standard which describes what a Great Dane is and what it isn’t, the standard that we are all supposed to apply and uphold.

Breed type is eternal. It doesn’t change by fashion and fickle human preference, because if it did there would be no point to have a written description: the standard describes an ideal form of a dog shaped by a specific function and anything else is not a Great Dane but a different dog shaped by a different function and adapted to different specialist requirements. If we could change a breed beyond description and get away with it then a small, erect-eared, hairy, bob-tailed, black and tan lap dog could be a Great Dane, right? Where do we draw the line ?

The Great Dane is, essentially, a big game hunting dog and as the original standard described him, “neither a mastiff nor a greyhound but occupying the middle between the two extremes”.

Anything else won’t do.

So is it possible to maintain that form, I hear you ask, without essentially changing it, to make it something else that it wasn’t in the beginning ?

I think we can safely say that indeed it is not only possible but it’s also the reality that we observe around the world, in places where the Great Dane enthusiasts and their organisations have actually maintained the original breed type and upheld the breed standard.

In the Americas, for example, Canada and the USA, in Britain, in the Scandinavian countries, Australia and many other places, most countries around the world, in fact, for over a hundred years, Great Danes have remained, well, Great Danes.

They did not become, in the space of thirty years, toads or hippopotamuses, gargoyles,  half-blind, amorphous lumps of suffering flesh and excessive wrinkle.

The question is, therefore, why those who are supposed to maintain breed type and uphold the standard in Europe, have failed so miserably?

p.s.: the photo above, on the right, shows Ch. Dantrydanes She’s Full of Beans (“Java”) and Ch. Dantrydanes La Belle Vive (“Bella”), two beautiful Great Danes, daughter and dam, bred by Danielle Yule in Canada and photographed by Mary Feline. Thank you for allowing me to use the photo to illustrate timeless, eternal, classic and true Great Dane type. More about Canada and Canadian Great Danes, in my next post! 

Please read – sign and share the petition – do your duty for the Great Dane !

And watch “The Great Dane Story”…