HISTORY OF THE GREAT DANE
By Mrs. Paddy Magnuson
T he history of the Great Dane includes such extensive evidence that takes it so far back, although not claiming it was the original dog, his resemblance to the first authentic descrip- tion, and pictures of dogs, is so close, one cannot doubt his early ancestry. A Grecian coin in the Royal Museum at Munich, coined in 5th Century BC, shows a dog closely resembling the Great Dane. Dogs depicted in some of the oldest Egyptian monuments, dating from about 3000 BC, are cited by Cassel’s Book of the Dog as clearly to be considered ancestors. From second century of the Christian era, in Greece, is preserved a beautiful sculpture, representing a favorite dog of Alcibiades. Th is work of art by the great artist Myson, clearly resembles the Great Dane of today—convincing evidence of a common ancestry. History and pictures indicate the Sax- ons hunted wild boar in the forests of Eng- land before the Norman Conquest, with dogs clearly resembling the Dane. Th ese dogs are pictured in hunting scenes on tap- estries and paintings, of the 15th Century Historians believe ancestors of the Great Dane and other Masti ff breeds such as the Masti ff of Tibet, as indicated by Grecian statuary. In 1780, Reidel shows a spotted dog resembling a Harlequin Dane and calls it English. Blome, 1686, in his Gentlemen’s Recre- ation , shows a plate of a boar hunt in Den- mark and the dogs depicted resemble the Great Danes. Th is is the first evidence we have that Denmark contributed to devel- opment of the breed. A plate that was a gift to Prince George of Denmark. Whitaker, 1779, acknowledged a Danish dog, similar in type, shown on the Cunobeline coin of AD 43. A year later (1780) Riedel shows
“Edwards, 1800, describes the ‘GREAT DANE DOG AS 31 INCHES HIGH, FORM BETWEEN THE GREYHOUND AND THE MASTIFF, USUALLY CROPPED’, and alludes to ‘a beautiful variety called the Harlequin Dane’.”
a “Danish Jano-hund” that resembles a Great Dane with cropped ears. Edwards, 1800, describes the “Great Dane dog as 31 inches high, form between the Greyhound and the Masti ff , usually cropped”, and alludes to “a beautiful vari- ety called the Harlequin Dane”. Th is distinction between the breeds is interesting, as is Edwards’ statement (1800), “I do not know when the Danish Dog and the Harlequin Dane were intro- duced into England.” Taplin, however, in his Sportsman’s Cabinet (1803) illustrates a beautiful Har- lequin Dane, but calls him a “coach dog”. In 1847, Richardson in his handbook on dogs, shows a Great Dane of the “square muzzle”, much desired in the present stan- dard, while the “square muzzle” was not in evidence in the older illustrations. Cuvier gives the origin of the English bred Great Dane as the Matin, but Buf- fon says the Matin, exported to the North, became the “Great Danish” dog, and when acclimated in Ireland, developed into the Great Wolf Dog, known as the “Irish Wolfhound”. Histortorians frequently called Great Danes “Irish Wolfhounds”.
Cuvier (1769-1832) wrote later than Bu ff on (1707-1789), one believes Cuvier had proof of Bu ff on’s mistake, the confu- sion being caused by the fact that the Great Dane was known in France for many years as the “Grand Danois”, i.e., Great Dane. Apparentedly, instead of the Matin, it was the “Great Danish Dog” he referred to, as having developed in Ireland. Th at Cuvier is correct is borne out by Youtt (probably the greatest English authority on quadru- peds), when he says, “the French consid- er the Matin as the progenitor of all the breeds of dogs that resemble, but cannot be precisely classed with the Greyhound.” Of course, he meant the Greyhound of his day. He classified the Matin as “a species in which are included a variety of dogs—the Danish, the Irish Greyhound, and the pure British Greyhound”, (of his day), then con- tinues to give a good description of a Great Dane, even concluding with “they are of several varieties of color, being fawn or patched with brown, grey, black or white, they are employed in France and Germany in hunting the Bear and Wolf”. It is important that these discrepan- cies be explained in order that one may
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