great dane Q&A
with PAt CiAmPA, KAthleen DAvis, John & Jesse GerszewsKi, Joy lobAto, susAn DAvis shAw, bill stebbins, DAle suzAnne tArbox & susAn yotive
good dogs—beautiful with much breed type. I’m afraid to mention any names as I don’t want to leave any out, but in my area alone three that come immediately to mind are Ch. Rojon’s The Hustler, Ch. Dagon’s I’m Pixie and Ch. Rojon’s Oh Boy. Did they have faults? Of course they did—all dogs do; however, their virtues outweighed their faults. You had to study them to find the fault. You didn’t have to study them to find the virtue. JL: Yes and no! When I first started judging, the Great Danes looked different in different sections of the country. In some areas, there would be no bone; in some areas, they had too much substance; in other areas all they thought of was having a big head. Now, when I travel to judge sweepstakes, or compete with my dogs, I feel that even though shoulders are still a problem in our breed, for the most part, I like that we are getting more constancy in the breed. SDS: Yes, I have seen tremendous improvements in the harlequins, blues and blacks over the past 40 years. Dane type is now very consistent between the colors. I see heads that are outstanding and fronts that are improving. WS: Comparing today’s dogs with those of the past is some- times a slippery slope. The Danes of today, especially in certain areas of the country, have good quality. There have been dramatic improvements in the overall quality of heads and in some of our colors (previously referred to as AOAC’s) the improvements have been simply incredi- ble. We now have 6 colors which are approved for exhibi- tion. The classic breed type was probably stronger in the 60s and 70s but many of these dogs did not possess the overall beauty that we see today. Most breeds go through periods of peaks-and-valleys with regards to overall qual- ity or specific aspects. One area that is troublesome is the number of dogs that are not totally stable. This is a trait that is not uncommon amongst many breeds in today’s world of dogs. Lack of socialization and “mommyitis” sometimes create a dog that is not completely stable or even legitimately shy. This cannot be condoned in this breed. My personal “big 3” when I judge are Breed Type, Proportions and Temperament. DST: I think the dogs of the 70s and 80s were better overall then they are now! We have extreme type without soundness now. SY: I feel they are much better now. The harlequins, blues and blacks have made tremendous improvements and today stand evenly in the ring with the fawns and brindles. 5. What do you think new judges misunderstand about the breed? PC: I think new judges need to keep in mind that lack of true Dane type as defined in our standard, is a serious fault. We should not be common, as that is not “The Apollo of Dogs”. Also, they should never award timid or aggressive behavior.
KD: Color and pattern. Unfortunately, in an attempt to be clear about colors and patterns (some of which exist in other breeds, as well as ours), we’ve become so pos- sessive and wordy in our standard, that it’s daunting. I believe it creates a false impression that color/markings should be of equal priority in judging. Variances in color and markings, within eligible, are cosmetic. For the health and welfare of our breed, please judge our gentle giants by type and soundness, which will serve them for a lifetime… then break a tie as needed, by idyllic color and markings. J&JG: I think it’s the Great Dane head. They read the stan- dard, understand what they are to look for, but unfortu- nately not always able to find it. JL: Some judges forget about the whole dog. They concen- trate only on one part of the breed. Also, even though we have a color code in our breed, structure comes first. SDS: Great Danes need to be more than just a pretty face. They need to look like they can do what they were bred to do, which is hunt wild boar. Poor, inefficient move- ment and lightweight, Whippet-like Danes should not be rewarded. Also, the last consideration in judging our breed should be color. Learn the color/pattern descrip- tions, but don’t obsess over them. WS: One of the things that new judges need to develop is an understanding for proper breed type. The Great Dane does not have much in the way of unusual aspects to their anatomy. What we look for in most areas is all but identical to many breeds. However, to some people coming into the breed, every Great Dane is a giant dog. Attending a parent club-approved Judges Ed presentation and obtaining an approved breed mentor prior to apply- ing for the breed is of invaluable assistance in tuning the “eye” of a prospective judge for proper breed type. There are sometimes concerns for people coming into the breed with regards to color and markings, in particu- lar with the Harlequin. Again, an approved breed mentor and/or attendance at a parent club approved Judges Ed presentation will be of invaluable assistance. DST: Color and patterns for one! They are confusing, but the standard explains them pretty well. SY: I spend a lot of time with new judges on color, especially the Harlequin. Most understand structure and movement but the description of the Harlequin color and the range of acceptable expressions of the color can be quite confusing. 6. Is there anything else you’d like to share about the breed? PC: They are a wonderful dog to live with—friendly, loyal, dependable and easily trained; but still a giant breed that needs training and proper socialization. I hope to always have a Great Dane in my life. KD: I am certainly biased, but beware, like potato chips, you can’t have just one!
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