Judging THE MERLE GREAT DANE
BY JASON HOKE, PRESIDENT, GREAT DANE CLUB OF AMERICA
Effective January 1, 2019, the Merle Great Dane will be permitted to be exhibited in the conformation ring. The Merle has always been an integral part of the Mantle/Harlequin Family and is a necessary genetic component to produce Harlequin.
T he Great Dane Club of America is proud to introduce the Merle Great Dane to the fancy. It must be prefaced that the Merle has always existed in our breed. Unlike some other breeds where Merle is not present in the breed and is only present by cross-breeding, our breed, the Great Dane, has always had Merle present. So, judges must understand this very important fact. As with anything, science advances our knowledge. Genetic testing over the past twenty years has allowed us to further understand the Merle/Harlequin family. What we have learned is that Merle is the “Mother Color” of Harle- quin. Therefore, without Merle there would NEVER be a Harlequin. So, judges should understand that when you are judging Harlequin, you have, in your ring, a Merle that has the Harlequin modifier attached to it. The basic principle is that you always start with a Merle, then the Harlequin modifier is attached which then, in essence, bleaches or erases the Merle base coat background. It is a simple concept to grasp when one thinks of it in this manner. Merles will have a place in a breeding program as there are numerous options at a breeder’s disposal to produce approved colors while still using Merle. It was a great effort with commentary from the membership and numerous edits, but the Merle approval passed with strong support within the GDCA and was approved in 2019. Since then, numerous other countries have approved the Merle with an expected approval within the FCI as well for full privileges in the upcoming years.
Ideal Mantle Merle
UNLIKE SOME OTHER BREEDS WHERE MERLE IS NOT PRESENT IN THE BREED AND IS ONLY PRESENT BY CROSS-BREEDING, OUR BREED, THE GREAT DANE, HAS ALWAYS HAD MERLE PRESENT.
Ideal Solid Merle
SHOWSIGHT MAGAZINE, NOVEMBER 2021 | 325
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