We asked the following questions to people in the Great Dane community. Here are some responses.
- Where do you live? What do you do “outside” of dogs?
- How many years in Great Danes? Showing? Judging? Breeding?
- What, in your opinion, is the secret to a successful breeding program?
- What do you feel is the condition of the Great Dane breed today? Pros and Cons?
- What do you feel breeders need to concentrate on to improve the quality of Great Danes?
- How do you feel about the influx of new judges, specialists and all breed, to our breed? Do you feel they have a grasp of the standard, do they know what compromises a good Great Dane?
- What is your favorite dog show memory?
- Is there anything else you’d like to share about the breed? Please elaborate.
My love affair with Great Danes started as a child, but it was not until the 1970s that I acquired my ﬁrst Gentle Giant, a Rescue named Morisca Moon of Carpa, CD who allowed me to share in her inﬁnite wisdom.
Danes then became my passion and in the late 1970s, I was in the show ring. My successes in the breed have been many for which I am very grateful and under the kennel name Rochford, together with Janet Quick, we have been committed to the health, longevity and quality of Great Danes. However, we do not breed anymore.
I have been very actively involved in Puerto Rico and the United States in dog legislation, animal abuse laws, responsible ownership through the public school system, Great Dane Rescue, Chairperson of National Specialties, the Board of GDCA and have also administered the GDCA Charitable Trust, but it is as a judge, that I feel I have culminated my dedication to Great Danes as I can give, with my opinion, something back to the Breed that I have chosen to dedicate my life to.
We show actively with great success be it owner handled or at the level of campaigning.
I live in Freeman, Missouri. Outside of dogs, I volunteer for a battered woman’s shelter that happens to be one of the few that has built a shelter for dogs and cats. And involved with several KCs , Great Dane Rescue and
I have 48 years in Great Danes, 45 years in showing, 20 years in judging and 19 years in breeding. I do not
The secret to a successful breeding program is total evaluation of the faults, no kennel blindness. Stay with the correct balance of a GD and do not breed for any reason than to improve your get. And that includes health, longevity and temperament.
Loose line breeding and go to the correct stud when necessary to breed out. Always looking to improve, not perpetuate faults. Not all Champions are correct.
What I you feel the condition of the Great Dane breed is today? A more elegant Dane that provides a lovely side view. An extreme head should not be their only asset.
The Dane has become too extreme and other issues are going down the wayside: balance, shoulders, rears, topline
What I feel breeders need to concentrate on to improve the quality of Great Danes? All of the above and concentrating on health. Good Danes do not happen overnight. Patience, study, mentoring and commitment to creating good Danes to be proud of through a lifetime is most needed. Overnight success only lasts that.
HowI feel about the influx of new judges, specialists and all breed, to our breed? Do I feel they have a grasp of the standard, do they know what compromises a good Great Dane? Some all breed judges understand the Breed, new non breed judges are that, provisionals, unless breeders, do not have a clue. I only blame AKC for giving licenses without enough demands on education to acquire one.
My favorite dog show memory? Too many to mention. But overall the joy of success in an extremely limited breeding program and that those show dogs all came to bundle up with me in bed. Being companions is of outmost importance for this Breed of ours.
Anything else I’d like to share about the breed: education, education and always by the Standard. The few left established lines through years are the correct mentors. Ask, understand what it takes for a breeding program.
I acquired my first Dane in 1970. She started my lifetime commitment to this breed. Together with Helen and Tiffany Cross we have have bred or owned 80 Champions in three colors along with obedience and performance titles. I am a member of the GDCA
I am most proud of the many accomplishments our dogs have achieved at National Specialties, a showcase for our magnificent breed. Also, proud of the dogs we have bred who have attained HOF and
It has been an honor to be selected by my peers to judge bitches in 2000, breed in 2006, Top Twenty 2013 and bitches again in 2014. May I always have a Dane in my life!
I live in Merrimack, New Hampshire. Now retired, I enjoy traveling to Florida in the winter, time spent with family and friends, reading and walking, but that is still with dogs!
I bought my first Dane in 1970, started showing in obedience then breed soon after that. I have been Judging for over 20 years, breeding since mid 70s.
Always start with the best quality dogs you can find. Dogs offering correct breed type, good health and stable temperaments. Be able to fault your own dogs, love them, but know their faults and always look to improve on them. Surrounding yourself with top quality dogs will keep you aspiring to that level
Right now there are many Danes with beautiful Dane type and this improvement is in all colors. For the most part movement has improved and I see far less shyness then even a few years ago.
We need to continue to improve on croups, straight upper arm and correct eyes for that expression we all love to see.
Concentrate on a total package. Strive for true Dane type, balance, strength and the regal appearance that sets Danes apart from any other breed, with masculinity in dogs and femininity in bitches.
All breeder judges should know the true essence of our breed and hopefully carry that knowledge into their ring. I hope judges new to Danes take the opportunity to mentor with Dane breeders and at our National Specialty. It is important they award Danes with the majestic look and movement that we all strive for. Unfortunately this is not always the case and common Danes lacking in type are being awarded wins. Recently our standard has accepted a new color, now seven, and some changes to our standard. All judges must keep in mind that lack of true Dane type is the most serious fault. It is important that judges review standards and stay up to date on all revisions.
I have been fortunate to have had many favorite dog show memories, but this one stands out. In 2013 at our National Specialty I decided to handle our young male myself in BOB. I do not handle regularly, nor should I. We started early AM and I was hoping for perhaps a cut or two with my handsome young dog. Now late afternoon and we are still there, making all the cuts into the final group. We were awarded BOS to a top
winning bitch who continued to show the same way she did six hours earlier. Us, not so much, but still a memory I will
I can share that I have been involved with this magnificent breed for almost fifty years and I would do it all again. Danes are Great!
I live in Massachusetts and enjoy many things outside of dogs. Most sporting events, gardening, cycling recently with some friends that do Indianapolis to Pittsburgh type rides (not me), travel and very much enjoy being home
I purchased my first Great Dane in the late 60s and she went on to win the National Specialty as Winners Bitch owner handled and was a wonderful brood bitch and foundation for Justamere Great Danes, my kennel name. Breeding would always be my first choice if I had to make one. I enjoyed successful litters and some not so much, as all breeders do but enjoyed the possibilities of the combinations and the ones that work, you know how that feels. I began professionally handling dogs in several breeds and was a member of the PHA, no longer bred Great Danes and fell in love with the Australian Shepherd breed and specifically the Propwash Aussies. When I retired from handling and began judging in 2000 there have been Aussies in my home.
The secret to a successful breeding program is to be a good judge—by that I mean you must be able to evaluate the good points and the faults to know what combinations might produce what you want and need. But even more important is to know the pedigrees that you are combining in the strengths and weaknesses of the lines.
Since most Dane exhibitors know what I like I seldom have an entry that isn’t a quality entry. My recent judging entries have been very encouraging in that I have had some outstanding dogs and bitches in all colors. I did a very large entry in the Chicago area a year ago and I would say that the breed is in better shape now than it was a decade ago. I believe that Great Dane breeders have consistently bred for good breed head type on the pro side. On the con side, I find straight shoulders and lack of good sound drive in the rear more frequently than I would like.
I feel breeders need to concentrate on a combination of the physical characteristics along with the now numerous health and genetic evaluations and tests that are available now to make wise decisions. Nothing is written in stone and there are some things that may be worth taking a chance on and others not worth it at all but you need all of the info to make informed decisions.
The judges that have taken the time to be mentored and truly care about doing a good job (and truly most all do want to do a proper job) have a good grasp of the breed. I have always appreciated getting a call from someone who has judged and has a question about some decision and wants clarification of a question. It means they care. Give new judges a few tries, it’s all a learning process and they won’t know a breed after seminars, visits, and mentoring over a short period of time the way you will with 30 years of experience.
My favorite dog show memory is going Winners Bitch with my first Great Dane, Lovett’s Bitta Amber, owner handled at the Great Dane Club of America Specialty in New York under Nancy Carroll Draper with Lina Basquette going 2nd in Open Fawn and telling Nancy she did the right thing!
A lifetime of memories, friends, travel, great dogs, and the amazing dog show family of support that we all have was sealed that day.
The Great Dane is one of the most magnificent dogs on the face of the Earth! They command admiration and with their large size have an amazing elegance and carriage. The gentleness and loyalty are beyond compare and when this is combined with sound structure and movement the visual will be memorable.
As a child, I’d always wanted a large-breed dog, but was never allowed one while growing up. Once an adult, I decided to pursue my dream of owning a
My involvement with Great Danes began with the purchase of a pet fawn male, “Jake” in 1974. I well remember the day I went to get him—he was in a pen with about 20 other puppies. I got a deal on him because he was small and didn’t have a mask. Time soon taught me that what he lacked in size, he made up in attitude! He was a joy, a love, and a challenge, and I learned much from sharing my life with him. Much of my focus on education can be attributed to him—I was so unprepared for Dane ownership when I got him. Much of the “think before you get a Dane” and care literature I have since authored stemmed from my experiences with Jake.
It soon became obvious to my relatives and non-doggy friends that Danes had become a lifestyle and not just a passing fancy. Five years after getting Jake, I was sharing my life with four Danes, active in the local Dane club, involved in rescue, and trying my hand in both the conformation and obedience show rings. While my involvement in obedience ended with a judge saying “I didn’t know Danes could heel in their sleep,” I was more successful in conformation. Currently, I handle both my own dogs and those of others in the conformation ring. I also have a busy “home style” boarding facility operated out of my home.
In the course of my “career” in Danes, I’ve owned, bred and/or co-owned numerous AKC and CKC champions, along with obedience and agility-titled Danes, Honor Roll and Register of Merit holders and Top Twenty contenders, therapy dogs and movie stars (in the Marmaduke movie). One of my most memorable weeks was when “Troy” (Am. Can. Intl. BIS Ch. Penadane Daynakin Solitary Man) went Best in Show, and then won the GDCA’s 2000 Top Twenty a little over a week later. He was piloted to those wins by the late Jane Chopson. (I will always be grateful for her help, advice and mentoring.)
However, the most important thing is the joy, love and companionship these wonderful gentle giants have given me over the years. Through all the good times and bad, I hope to continue to share my life with Danes for as long as I live.
My husband, Jack Henderson, and I live in Ferndale. This is located in the lovely agricultural area in the northwest corner of Washington State.
Honestly, we don’t have much of a life outside of dogs! We either are going to dog shows, caring for dogs, or doing some other dog-related thing. Once every 4-5 years we go on a dog-less vacation and then I don’t know what to do with my time!
I obtained my first Great Dane in 1974, a fawn male I called “Jake”. I started showing in conformation and obedience with him. While not a show dog, he was a great start in the breed and I learned much from him. I know for a fact he was MUCH smarter than I was. Being the owners of a Dane pet morphed into being serious about showing and then breeding. My first litter was in 1976 and produced my first homebred Champion. From there I was hooked and have continuously shown and bred Danes since.
I have been extremely honored to have been chosen twice by my peers to judge the Great Dane Club of America’s Futurity. However, I have no aspirations to become a licensed judge. I enjoy showing my own dogs and also handling for other people and do not want to that up.
Wow, so many aspects go into a successful breeding program, it’s hard to recap them and not forget
I think there are two important factors a new breeder/exhibitor should do to aim towards success. The first is to obtain your foundation bitch from a long-term breeder with extensive experience and a successful breeding program. The second is to have a good mentor. There simply is no substitute for starting with a quality Dane and having experienced guidance along the way when starting a showing and breeding career. The new person will be so far ahead of those who have not.
Of course, it goes without saying a person entering a breeding program should have a good working knowledge of their breed; know the standard, what breed type is, what proper structure and temperament should be and what potential health issues might be in a line. Research pedigrees and research again. Talk to people who actually owned dogs in those pedigrees and ask about them. Do your research on health history.
I think a good breeder doesn’t breed for just one thing but strives for the balance of a structurally and temperamentally sound dog, with good breed type, and good health history in the pedigree—who could do the job he was bred for if needed.
One trait never really mentioned in a successful breeding program is emotional strength and the ability to fall down and get back up. Breeding is hard and there can be much heartbreak involved. Knowing when to make difficult decisions, made logically and not necessarily with your heart, is very important.
What I feel breeders need to concentrate on to improve the quality of Great Danes? That actually is a hard question. I think overall we have some great quality in our breed. I think rears are much sounder than when I first started in the breed, but that good shoulders are now hard to find. Heads are much better and there are some dogs out there with truly lovely heads.
I think more breeders are doing health testing as recommended by the GDCA and that’s certainly a good thing. Hopefully as time goes on we will actually have genetic testing in our breed for some of the more concerning health problems. Life span still is in that 7-to-10 year old range. What I call the “core four” serious health issues continue to be the same; cancer, heart problems, wobblers and bloat.
I do find it distressing one seems to see a number of dogs exhibiting shy or aggressive behavior. This should never be tolerated in a breeding program. I also find it disconcerting the great gap in breed type among the non-show breeders; specifically the “Euro Dane” which is very incorrect.
I think breeders need to avoid breeding just for one trait, and look at “the big picture”, aiming for breed type, soundness and ability. Pretty is nice, but the dog has to be functional and should be athletic enough to perform either as a pet hiking with the family or a performance dog doing agility or Fast Cat. I think a breeder can have a dog with breed type that can also be athletic.
I also think a breeder needs to be careful about not “throwing the baby out with the bathwater”. Carefully determine what the problem is before removing a quality dog from a breeding program. Having a good mentor to talk through things like this is very helpful.
How I feel about the influx of new judges, specialists and all breed, to our breed? I have mixed feelings; I think there are some new judges who do a great job and do have a handle on the breed. However, I feel there are an equal number who don’t have a handle on the breed and could perhaps use some more judges’ education. I feel all our various colors are confusing to some judges. I’ve always felt the handful of nice dogs within a show should always place somewhat consistently and that’s what I would expect within a show circuit. However, when a dog who couldn’t even get out of the classes then wins breed—well, that just doesn’t equate in my mind.
My favorite dog show memory: winning my first point! That was so exciting to me. I was so nervous in the ring, did the individual gaiting pattern wrong, and did the “who, me?” thing when pointed at for Winners. It was thrilling and I try to remember that when a new person wins now in current shows.
I think each serious breeder/owner/exhibitor of the Dane breed owes it to the breed to do the best possible job they can when entering a breeding career. Proper breeding practices, health testing, interactive puppy raising techniques and correct placement can go a long way in “doing right” with our beloved breed. Each person should “give of themselves” and strive towards education.
I was raised in New York with English thoroughbred and Tennessee Walking horses and taught riding in my young adult life. When I met my first Great Dane, my passion did a total turnaround. Instantly falling in love with the harlequins, I took on the challenge (and what a challenge it is!). “Two roads diverged in a wood and I, I took the one less traveled by, and that made all the difference.” Fifty proud years of breeding/showing and 20 years of judging. And I have just begun.
I live in a southern suburb of Ohio. I can’t say that anything occupies my time like my dogs! Maybe a trip to the Casino now and then.
I have 50 years in Great Danes; yep, I am old! I have been judging about 20 years. Another passion of mine.
The secret to a successful breeding program is linebreeding, if I were to pick the most important factor. Researching a pedigree with a fine tooth comb; and tightly linebreeding on your highest quality dogs. I have only outcrossed about 3-5 times in my whole breeding program. You will never have real consistency on a regular basis if you continue to outcross and never know where your faults are coming from. My highest form of a compliment is somebody saying “they can recognize a GMJ dog”!
The condition of the Great Dane breed today: can I plead the 5th? Breeding today is to the flavor of the month; a best friend, to spare somebody’s feelings, a “pretty” head, convenience of being down the road—thinking a faulty bitch can be corrected by breeding to a dog that doesn’t have those faults. No! An exhibitor sitting beside me said: “my bitch has no head—look at that dogs head, I need to breed to him!” Not even knowing his sire or dam. Nor his pedigree studying pedigrees and getting to know about what the dogs in their pedigrees have produced
in the past.
As in every field, some are so very willing to learn they want to learn all aspects, not just read the standard and look for a pretty head. I have mentored some great new people that are truly interested in the ‘soundness’ of a Dane and the structure required for good movement. They focus on doing it correct. While others I feel, do not have the betterment of the breed
My favorite dog show memory is probably the honor of judging two Great Dane Nationals.
Breed for the sole reason of keeping a dog of excellence for yourself. Show only dogs that you have evaluated carefully and find sound and good moving. Place the mediocre ones. Pick a mentor carefully for his/her consistent success and experience and listen to what they have to say; for more than six months! Don’t become a breeder that “settles” for second best because of convenience or friendship. If possible; evaluate your keepers at 6-8 months of age, rather than 6-8 weeks. Keeping and breeding a mediocre dog is the slow downfall of our breed.
I’ve owned, bred, and showed Great Danes for nearly thirty years. I have been judging Great Danes for ten years. I’m approved for some other working breeds as well. I live in Atwater, Ohio which is in the Cleveland area. I’m a retired commercial/industrial electrician and I’m currently enjoying life with my four remaining danes.
To answer your question about the current of the breed, I would have to say that there many nice dogs out there and there is a fair amount of consistency due to the fact that many breeders are choosing to use a limited number of sires. That being said, sometimes perfectly acceptable specimens are being overlooked due to the fact that they are “different” than the competition.
Sometimes, the one that is “different” is the correct one. Currently, in the breed, I would like to see more substance overall, more masculinity in males, more stop on heads, fewer gay tails, and more ground covering, effortless movement.
I think the influx of new judges can be a good thing if they have a good idea of what the standard says. When I’ve mentored prospective judges, I always stress that the Great Dane is the apollo of dogs and should be judged as a package, not as pieces and parts.
My favorite dog show memory, was at my first show. My bitch took second in a class of six and I was oblivious to the fact we needed return to the ring when the class winner took the points.
Some helpful person, told us to go into the ring So we did. The judge told me to take my bitch around the ring. When we got to the end of the line, we just stood there looking at the judge. She walked over and pointed at us and said that we would be reserve winners . “Is that good?” I asked. She then asked me how many shows I had been to. She was kind enough to explain what was going on. I cried all the way home. After that I was hooked!
Great Danes are a giant breed. There is a minimum height requirement, 30 inches for dogs and 28 inches for bitches. All things being equal, bigger is better.
Susan Davis Shaw
I have been involved with Great Danes since 1976. I breed and show harlequins and mantles and, with a small breeding program, have finished approximately 25 champions. I strive to dual title and have titled many of my dogs in obedience and rally. I have been active in my local all breed dog club and specialty club and I have served the Great Dane Club of America in many capacities, including 16 years on the GDCA board of directors, recording secretary, corresponding secretary, affiliate club secretary, and served on several standards committees. I am also a GDCA breed mentor.
I have lived in Massachusetts my whole life. I am retired from the local school department as administrative assistant to the superintendent of schools and before that I was secretary to the high school principal. I have taught puppy preschool, obedience, and show handling.
I purchased my first Great Dane in 1976, 43 years ago. He was a pet harlequin who died during his ear crop (by a vet, by the way). The replacement puppy turned out to be show marked.
It’s so interesting how one event will change your whole life’s direction. I went from garden clubs to dog shows. I started to show that dog, not very successfully by the way, but I was hooked. I have now been showing Great Danes for 42 years. I am about to apply for my judging license and I have judged many Great Dane specialty sweeps, all breed matches, and 4-H dog shows for many years. I was honored to be chosen by a Great Dane Club of America’s membership vote to judge the Futurity in 2006 and again in 2018. I am also a CGC evaluator for AKC.
The secret to a successful breeding program is knowing the standard inside and out and understanding breed type. Knowing your dog’s strengths and weaknesses and going to a dog who not only has those traits that you need but have those desired traits strong in the pedigree. Don’t breed to the exaggeration of what you need; instead breed to what is correct. Health test and register those results with OFA to benefit future generations.
I think the breed is in good shape. I feel that fronts and heads are better than I have seen in years past. All colors are now consistent in their conformation. When I started in the 1970’s the harlequins and blues were heavy in head and coarse in body and looked like another breed entirely. I love that so many Danes are involved in companion and performance events—even doing Fast Cat, Barn Hunt and Dock Diving. I’m disappointed that so many dogs look great standing still and then their
Breeders need to breed for type, soundness, and temperament. They need all three, as well as good health, to be successful. We are fortunate to live in a time where we can screen for certain diseases to eliminate or reduce them in our breeding programs. OFA has an excellent registry for health results where a breeder can look up a dog’s test results and do a vertical pedigree to see test results of dogs back in the pedigree. Without health and temperament, it doesn’t matter if your dog is beautiful.
I think those who participate in judges’ education at our national get to see the best of the best and get a very good overview of the breed. Judges need to understand that breed type is most important. We have so many color variations and now with the addition of the merle, some new judges may be uncomfortable putting up a color that they just aren’t sure about in fear of doing something wrong. Color should always be the last consideration and used as a ‘tie breaker’ if necessary. When I started in this breed, I heard the following quote and it has stuck with me all these years: “A good dog is a good color.”
My favorite dog show memory: at the Great Dane National in 2010, my seven month old homebred harlequin puppy, CH Davisdane’s Rubber Ducky You’re the One, CD, RN, BN, CGCA, was Best Puppy in the Futurity, handled by me. I had two full sisters from the same breeding a year prior, a mantle and a harlequin, who won their large open classes and one, GCH Davisdane LongVue Abigail, was awarded Best of Winners. My girls were the only get behind their sire in Stud Dog class and he won first place Stud Dog. It was a national that I will
Great Danes are truly gentle giants. Although they are very large and everything with a Dane costs more, in my mind they are very worth it. They do, however, clearly need serious training and clear boundaries as youngsters. An untrained and undisciplined 150 lb. dog is not easy to live with and is the reason so many adolescent Danes end up in rescue.
I began my involvement with the Great Dane in the late 60s. My wife and I, primarily due to our good fortune with having a wonderful mentor, had a lot of good fortune with our dogs. One of them was ranked #1 in the nation and several of them were in the Top 10. I began judging in 1986. I currently am approved for the Working and Herding Groups and thoroughly enjoy the opportunities I have to be in the show ring. Later this year I will have the opportunity to judge our National for the second time. I also have had the privilege of judging dozens of Specialties. I was on the Board of the GDC of South Florida for approximately 25 years and was a member of the Ft. Lauderdale DC. I am currently a lifetime member of the Ann Arbor Kennel Club and was on the Board of Directors of the Great Dane Club
I was involved with Judges Ed for the GDCA for several years, have assisted in Breeder’s Ed and am the coordinator for the Breed Mentor program. I write a regular article for the only printed Dane magazine still in existence and occasionally have had articles in some of the all-breed magazines as well.
I retired in 2012 and now have the ability to devote more time to an avocation which has become a vocation.
I live in Port St. Lucie, Florida. I am now retired and, other than my activities related to dogs, I am on the Board of the HOA where I live.
I have been in Danes for 50 years. I bred and showed until the time that I was approved to be a judge (1986).
The people that historically have had consistent success are those that have had great mentoring from the beginning and have utilized those suggestions to further their
All breeds go through changes over periods of time. There are aspects of the Great Dane that are either better or not as strong as they were years ago. Today our Danes have consistently good head pieces, much more so than a few decades ago. Strong breed type is not as consistent as it should be. I believe this was a stronger asset of Danes years ago. However this better breed type was not necessarily an attribute of a good quality dog. Our Danes today have better overall quality. One issue which continues to be a problem over several decades has been proportions. This is a square breed but a truly square dog (or one that is very close to being square) is not as common as what we would like.
I would like to see breeders do more homework with regards to knowing the historically consistent pros and cons of the bloodlines they are planning to use for their breeding programs. In some cases this is fairly easy since, like most breeds, we have a number of wonderful breeding programs that have produced top quality dogs for decades. Using the stud dog du jour may not always be the best answer for what a program needs in order to move forward.
For a couple of years judges were using a program where they were able to obtain a large number of breed approvals in one application. Personally I believe that this was not in the best interests of the sport. I don’t know many people, myself included, that could obtain sufficient knowledge of 20-25 breeds (or more) at a time. I know in Danes there are some approved judges to whom I have spoken that simply don’t get it. I receive messages from members of the GDCA about incidents that have occurred at shows with judges that, in some cases, don’t understand some of the primary factors that make a Great Dane what it is supposed to be.
There is probably no individual situation that stands out over the rest. I simply love the sport and our wonderful breed. My involvement with Danes has afforded me a great deal of pleasure and opportunities.
Like most people I think that my breed is the best you can find. In reality all dog enthusiasts feel that way about their own breed. I do like to paraphrase Rodgers and Hammerstein from a song in South Pacific when I describe our breed…“There is nothing like a Dane…”
Dale Suzanne Tarbox has been showing Great Danes for over 50 years. There are dogs of her breeding in the pedigrees of many of the top show dogs and producers here in the US and in many foreign countries.
I live in Connecticut. I am just retired from 52 years in the Medical Laboratory field.
I have owned Great Danes for 52 years, as soon as I finished college. I have been showing since 1970 and bred my first litter in 1972. I have been judging since 1990.
The secret to a successful breeding program is knowing the history of the Danes you are using in your program. And, knowing what you have and what you need , and that you always need to improve.
I have judged some large Specialties in the last few months and I was pleased to see some improvement in quality. I see some people striving for correct Danes.
But there are those that seem to be making no improvement. For quite a few years I was discouraged with what I was seeing happen, straight fronts and rears, bad croups, leading to bad movement and bad tops. I have seen some improvement in these areas and it needs to continue to preserve this great breed!
Breeders need to look at the over all dog, learn balance and movement and strive for it. Good “flow” comes from the correct set of neck flowing into a correct shoulder, level topline and correct croup and a well angled rear. Learn it and strive for the overall dog !
I took my time learning the nuances of our breed before I applied to judge. I had already bred way more than the required number of champions. I think that quite a few of our newer judges could have waited a while longer to apply so that they fully understand the breed.
I think opening the gates for all breed judges to get our breed quickly does us more harm than good as I look at many dogs winning and finishing that are not good Great Danes!
I took six years to study and learn the important aspects of Dobes before I applied for them. I feel that I don’t want someone stepping into the Dane ring and doing a poor job, so I should make sure I am comfortable with a breed before I step into their ring to judge !
My favorite dog show memory? I have many, but perhaps, Best In Show from the classes on my Dane, BIS, BISS Ch Saul Sandale The Divine Ms O, was as exciting as anything ! She was handled in the Breed by my friend Terry Silver and in the Group and Best by her Breeder. It took my breathe away when Angela Porpora pointed to her and said “ I’ll have the Dane!”
A second would be, when judging the Breed at the National. A Harlequin male stepped into the ring, fidgeted in true Harl fashion but every foot returned to the correct position. He moved and the hair on my arms stood up! Effortless, correct movement on a beautiful dog. He was my BISS; BISS Ch The Architect Of Jericho, “AJ”. He also became a top producing male and added, ROM and Hall if Fame sire to his name !
I am and have been in love with this breed since seeing my first one when just out of high school. I have spent a lifetime preserving the breed and sharing the joy they bring with their tremendous hearts ! They are amazingly loyal! Please learn the Standard and judge the dog !
I live in Marysville, Ohio. What I do outside of dogs: this question was the most difficult, I work to afford the dogs.
I got my first Great Dane right after I was married in 1972, a rescue merle. I bought my first bitch to show in 1974 and have been exhibiting since. I was approved to judge in in 1998. Although I breed mostly fawn and brindle, I have dabbled in black. I am lucky that my dear friends and co-owners have helped me develop the Krisda line through all the pitfalls of life.
Buy the best bitch you can, preferably a line bred bitch. I discovered early on the “20 Basic Breeding Principles” by Raymond Oppenheimer and I found it a very valuable and still adhere to it. Know what your bitch needs and look for a dog, preferably with similar lines that won’t hurt her. I am not an advocate of outcrosses, it usually does not do what I thought it would and the offspring lack prepotency. I personally don’t have the time to waste trying to get back to what I want.
The condition of the Great Dane today is pretty good. We still have the shoulder issues but it has been worse. The harlequin family, the blues, and the black dogs have made amazing improvements in the past 40 years with the exception of the eyes. I would like to see a tighter almond eye without haws. In general they are up to and many time surpassing in quality the fawns and brindles today.
Most of us older breeders are quietly still trying to build a better dog and maintain type. Type is a very iffy subject as my type may not be your type. I think if you do your homework, study your pedigrees, and look at the family of a line i.e. littermates, and offspring etc. the breed will continue to improve. Don’t beat yourself up over a breeding that is a disaster, it happen to everyone.
The many new judges I can only hope had good mentors. The Dane exhibitor will very quickly determine if they understand type or choose the generic dog. Unfortunately, we have lost quite a few great judges lately.
My favorite dogs show memory is probably the honor of judging the Breed at the 2016 National.