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front cover of the Club Magazine of the Great Dane Club of Denmark
A very important meeting took place at the headquarters of the Danish Kennel Club on the 31st of March, 2018. At this meeting, a very historical decision was taken and a new, international, Great Dane body was formed: The Great Dane Alliance, dedicated to the preservation of the classic Great Dane, quite a significant development for the breed. The movement is spreading, and now it has a union… People no longer hesitant to take a stand and be the Great Dane’s voice is this struggle for historical fairness, breed preservation and restoration…
The initiative and invitation came from the Great Dane Club of Denmark.
A Great Dane specialty clubs meeting was held at the offices of the Dansk Kennel Klub in Solrød, Denmark, Saturday 31st March 2018.
Mrs. Ane Marte Bjornerem, President
Great Dane Society of Queensland Inc. (Australia)
Mr. Kim Pensdal, Chairman
Mr. Per Tøjberg, Treasurer
Mrs. Mona Mønster Hauge, Secretary
Mr. Flemming Rickfors, board member
Grand Danois Klubben i Danmark (Denmark)
Mrs. Teija Salmi-Aalto, President
Mrs. Netta Keyriläinen, Vice President
Ms. Olga Toppinen, Secretary
Suomen Tanskandoggi ry (Finland)
Mrs. Monica Stavenborn, board representative
Svenska Grand Danois Klubben (Sweden)
Mr. David Simpson, Treasurer
The Great Dane Club, United Kingdom
Mr. Bo Lasthein Andersen, Chairman of the Committee for National breeds, the Dansk Kennel Klub
Mr. Jørgen Hindse, Chairman of the Dansk Kennel Klub (the “DKK”) and member of the Fédération Cynologique Internationale (the “FCI”) General Committee.
Mrs. Maria Gkinala, FCI Group II judge and breed advisor of the Great Dane Association of Ireland
Invited but unable to attend:
Mr. Jason Hoke, President
Great Dane Club of America
Mrs. Heidi Lund, Chairman
Mrs. Nora Skotaam
Norsk Grand Danois Klubb (Norway)
Mrs. Kärt Ojamaa, board member
Mrs. Mirjam Kangur
Estonian Great Dane Association
• The country of origin of the Great Dane – history and FCI actions and responsibilities.
• The dogge-type (“hyper-type”) breeding in Central, Southern and Eastern Europe – history, where are we, what can be done.
Summary of Speeches and Presentations
Mr. Jørgen Hindse*, Chairman of the DKK (Danish Kennel Club) and member of the FCI General Committee, on this occasion representing himself, confirmed that the Great Dane has always been a national breed of Denmark. This was also the case at the FCI until about 1961.
In 2010 the DKK once again raised the issue of the country of origin of the Great Dane at FCI level. Despite several written requests from the FCI General Committee, the German national kennel association, Verband für das Deutsche Hundewesen (the “VDH”), has refused to comply with the FCI’s request that Germany explains to the FCI how and when Germany were handed the breed standard from Denmark. The latest request to the VDH was issued in 2014.
In October 2014 the VDH moved to prevent Mr. Jørgen Hindse from getting re-elected to the General Committee of the FCI because of the Great Dane origin issue. The VDH failed and Mr. Hindse was comfortably re-elected.
On 22nd December 2015 the FCI invited a representative from the Great Dane Club in Denmark to the headquarters of the FCI in Thuin, Belgium to review its archives. This invitation enabled the Great Dane Club and the DKK to collect copies of the minutes of all FCI Annual General Assemblies from 1933 to 2015. The evidence collected allow the DKK and the Great Dane Club to state categorically that there has been no subsequent annual general assembly at the FCI that changes the decision made in July 1937 where the country of origin of the Great Dane was confirmed as being Denmark, and where Germany furthermore waived the right to the Deutsche Dogge as a national German breed.
However, despite indisputable evidence having been presented to and understood by the FCI General Committee, it remains a political reality that the VDH/Germany has political clout to prevent the FCI from returning the country of origin to Denmark. This is the reality facing the Great Dane at this point in time.
Flemming Rickfors, board member of the Great Dane Club of Denmark, presented The Great Dane Booklet and briefly reviewed the Great Dane’s historic origin as the hunting dog for big game and a hunting dog that could only be owned by the Danish royal family.
The foundation for the present day Great Dane began at the royal Danish kennel in 1585 with the breeding of a new “blending” to partake in the newly introduced Par Force Hunt at the royal Danish court. The “blend” was the original large sighthound from Denmark blended with a small mastiff imported from England (today’s Broholmer, FCI-Standard N° 315). It is for this reason that the first modern standard for the Great Dane in English from 1887 starts out by explaining that “The Great Dane is not so heavy or massive as the Mastiff, nor should he too nearly approach the Greyhound in type”. The first Danish standard from 1886 furthermore adds that the Great Dane “shall be bred somewhere between the two mentioned breed types”.
The first and only standard ever to be approved by the FCI was submitted by the DKK in 1937 and approved at the AGM of the FCI in Paris in July 1937. The transformation of the Great Dane from being primarily a hunting dog for big game to primarily being a companion dog during the 19th Century, and at the same time ceasing to be the proprietary right of the Danish royal family to now becoming a sought-after dog by private citizens meant that a race for breeding ever taller dogs began. We can document that the Height at the withers of the Great Dane increases by about 18 cm (7 inches) or by 26% during a very short time span. We suspect this increase in height may have come at the expense of a decrease in longevity. This is an important issue to discuss further.
Mrs. Maria Gkinala, FCI Group II judge and breed advisor of the Great Dane Association of Ireland, addressed the subject of the advance of the dogge-type (“hyper-type”) breeding in Central, Southern and Eastern Europe – how did it emerge? What is the current situation and what can be done to address the unfortunate development?
The present FCI-Standard N° 235 describes the Great Danes in the past tense as “midway between the strong Mastiff of English type and the fast, handy Greyhound”, implying that this important distinction is no longer applicable today in outlining a clear and precise type range. Post-WW2, breeding has been increasingly focused on size, substance, amount of bone, strength, stop, lips and other such parameters
that are pushing the DNA towards the mastiffoid end of the spectrum, while “elegance of outline and grace of form”, as eloquently defined in the British standard (and in the Danish FCI-Standard from 1937), have been steadily going out of fashion in continental Europe, emphatically so during the past three or four decades.
The seeds of the hyper-type deviation were sown by Madame Micheline Pincemin Mérat, President of le Club français du Dogue Allemand from 1958-1986. Her husband, veterinarian and professor of zootechnics Yves Pincemin authored and published his “Morphologie et esthétique canine” (Canine Morphology and Esthetics) in 1965 and his work became the raison d’être for the hyper-type as he described the Great Dane
as a “dogue” like the Boxer and Bullmastiff. Due to Madame Mérat’s 28 year reign and continuous promotion of hyper-types in Central and Southern Europe, subsequently adopted by Eastern Europe, the hyper-type deviation managed to get a foothold in many countries.
In 1981, Prof. Raymond Triquet, member of the FCI Scientific commission, set out to propose a new classification and this became the new FCI nomenclature in 1987. Note that the classification system arose and was developed in France and hence why the Great Dane is today misplaced in Group 2, section 2.1 “Molossoid breeds, Mastiff type”.
It is also worth pointing out that in the long history of the Great Dane, it was only recently at the 1987 AGM of the FCI in Jerusalem that the Great Dane was transferred into a subsection of “Molossoid breeds, Mastiff type” dogs. Not surprisingly, it is at this time that the surge in selection pressure towards a more mastiffoid Great Dane gets a decisive boost.
The VDH’s deliberate attempt to re-write the Great Dane’s history and it’s FCI monopoly allowing it to get away it with it, has led to a general lack of knowledge about the breeding evolution of the Great Dane as a “blend” of a large sighthound and a small mastiff. From being a fully understood breed up until WW2, the Great Dane post-WW2 entered into the Dark Ages. With lack of clarity in the breed standards, a new interpretation of the wording of the standards emerged, with judges and breeders either ignoring the standard or reading it to fit their own image of what they would like a Great Dane to be.
Other factors that have allowed the hyper-type to flourish include:
• Lack of sufficient judges’ education
• Breeding to win rather than breeding to the standard
• Rewarding the most mature-looking young exhibits. Potentially catastrophic for a giant breed.
• Possible recent cross-breeding to Neapolitan mastiff (Mastino Napoletano)
• Fabrication of false pedigrees
• Isolation of breeding populations: Minimal exchange of stock and inbreeding
• Transformation from an athlete to a couch potato
• Winning by differentiation to allow for puppy mills and economic considerations as the main driver, common in Southern and Eastern European regions
• Mismanagement of the breed by deficits in communication, democracy and participation
• A lack of effective monitoring of the assessment process. Who is judging the judges? Who is judging the breed wardens?
• Failure to implement a rational evaluation & selection process.
In 2016, we petitioned the FCI and presented the very serious hyper-type threat to the Great Dane. The petition gathered 3191 signatures from Great Dane breeders, judges, exhibitors, owners and supporters worldwide.
What can be done? Mrs. Maria Gkinala believes we need to return to the original breed definition and characteristics. The classic type, the one we recognize as a Great Dane, still exists in many countries and remains the majority. But we need to clean up our act in Europe and return to moderation. The breed standard needs changes. The classification is an issue. A directive must be sent to all the FCI countries condemning the hyper-type specimens as non-typical and instructing judges to disqualify them. We know who these breeders and judges are. They must be black-listed by all the specialty clubs that serve the classic Great Dane.
Plenary Discussions and Closing Statement
Flemming Rickfors moderated the subsequent plenary debate.
There was universal agreement that the only way to preserve the Great Dane is to split the breed into two breeds:
The classic Great Dane
FCI-Standard N° 235 Den Danske Hund
(Great Dane, Grand Danois/Chien danois,
Dänischer Hund, Gran Danés, Cão dinamarquês)
Standard to be revised.
The hyper-type (dogge-type):
New FCI Standard to be written and N° to be
allocated. Deutsche Dogge (German Mastiff, Dogue Allemand, Dogue alemão).
With the formation of an international alliance, the Great Dane Alliance (the “GDA”) during the course of 2018, this solution will allow the classic Great Dane to be protected by its country of origin Denmark and worldwide.
The solution will also allow for the dogge-enthusiasts in all countries worldwide to continue down the path they have already embarked upon away from the Great Dane, in pursuit of a large mastiff-like companion dog.
The GDA will ask the FCI to approve this split as it was done with the Akita in 2015 when the Akita (FCI N°255) and the American Akita (FCI N° 344) standards were approved. The Akita split took two years to complete.
The first step will be to invite specialty clubs in countries who share the GDA’s values and visions to join the fellowship. The Great Dane Club of Denmark will assume leadership and coordinate this global effort to preserve Great Dane’s breeding for future generations in accordance with its historic working function and historic standards.
Once the like-minded countries/specialty clubs have been identified, whether part of the FCI or not, the Dansk Kennel Klub on behalf of the GDA will be tasked with requesting the FCI to split the breed into two breeds.
The GDA has tasked itself to seek to ensure a physically and mentally sound Great Dane, fit for their Original Function. To further this cause a Great Dane presentation will be prepared by the GDA for all FCI judges that will guide the judges as to how they are expected to judge the breed. To the extent that a judge fails to comply with judging in accordance with the standard, the judge is to be excluded from further shows. The presentation made by Mrs. Maria Gkinala is to form the basis for this brochure.
Further down the line the GDA will explore if DNA testing can be done to identify if cross breeding to Neapolitan mastiff (Mastino Napoletano) has taken place.
• The Great Dane Booklet (March 2018, the Great Dane Club of Denmark, 104 pages) handed out during the meeting. More info and how to order a copy: click here.
• Maria Gkinala: Keynote address (see attached Maria Gkinala Keynote address ).
* (Mr. Hindse is also President of the European section of the FCI).
Please note that all images on this page are registered for copyright and belong to the Great Dane Club of Denmark.
To learn more about The Great Dane Booklet please visit its dedicated website. Click on link: http://greatdanebooklet.dk/
To read, sign & share the Very Important Great Dane petition, please click here – thanks!