Correspondence (April 1883)

The Great Dane Club to the Editor of The Kennel Gazette

I read with great interest Mr. Adcock’s letter in the last Kennel Gazette concerning the formation a Great Dane Club, and having always been a great admirer of this noble breed, I was glad to see it is on the best way to be cultivated in England. I have no doubt that this breed, which combines in such a marvelous way strength, bone, substance, and elegance, and on the other side high courage with intelligence, will soon become quite a favourite amongst English dog fanciers. Your countrymen are such experienced breeders, and so full of energy in all their undertakings, that I am sure also this breed will be brought in a short space of time to it’s highest perfection, and will take a similar position in the canine world to the grand and noble St. Bernard.<br> Mentioning this, I presume that the starters of the club wish to understand under “Great Dane” that breed we call in our country, and at our leading shows, “Deutsche Dogge”, which is one of our oldest and finest breeds, and mostly known in England under the name of “German Boar Hound”. I am well aware that one of our German authorities on the breed, who has written about it some time ago in the Live Stock Journal, is very much opposed to the name of “German Boar Hound”, as in our days he says no such dogs are used for “wild boar hunting”, but all sorts of ferocious mongrels. This is true, but in the middle ages such dogs were used for this kind of sport, and were called “Kammerhunde”, also “Hatzruden”, and were the favourites of our noblemen. Some good specimens are to be found represented in the old pictures of “Van Dyck”. The same gentleman proposed to call our “Deutsche Doggen”, in English, “German Mastiffs”. I am very much opposed to this name, as I am afraid this would give quite a false opinion of the breed, and lead to a false standard of points, as the real type of the “Deutsche Dogge” is nothing like that of a Mastiff, but, on the contrary, nearly just the reverse. The “Deutsche Dog” is rather like a dog between a Mastiff and a Greyhound, and built like a racehorse. He has great size, substance, and bone, plenty of muscle, beautiful loins, and is full of elegance – in fact, built to jump any fence and ditch like a good hunter would do. If well trained for defense, what we call “auf den Mann dressert”, there is no better dog to protect his master against the attack of several men, as he always attacks, on command, the assaulter from behind and at the neck, and pulls him down with great ease; otherwise, these dogs are like the St. Bernard, very good tempered and affectionate. I know several cases of men’s lives saved by such a dog.<br> Some years ago there was still great confusion concerning this breed in Germany, as the same dogs went under the names of “Dantsche Dogge”, “Ulmer Dogge”, “Hatzruden”, and “Saupacker”, therefore, it was decided at a general meeting of our leading clubs and breeders to recognise only one breed, under the name of “Deutsche Dogge”, and the points of this noble and ancient breed were fixed by all the members present. Very good specimens of the breed were shown at Berlin in 1880 and at Hanover in 1882, and one of the best specimens I know at present is Dr. Caster’s Leo, winner of first prize cup at Hanover and Spa in 1882. I send you a portrait of this dog, which, in my opinion and that of our best judges, is quite a model specimen of the breed we call “Deutsche Doggen”. Perhaps it would interest your readers to see this portrait published. Dr. Boddinus proposed last year at a meeting to form two distinct classes of “Deutsche Doggen”, one, like the now recognised breed, of which Leo is a representative, the other more Mastiff-like, with broader skull, shorter and more massive head, short neck, throaty, etc. in the belief that this breed also did exist, and I dare say he was right, but he was seconded by no one. The difficulty for the new proposed club will be to start under the right name, and to make it clear if only one distinct breed is to be patronised, and which are to be the points, or if the name “Great Dane” means no distinct breed, and is merely a collective name for different breeds or types. I should think the best name would be “The Great German Dogge Club” (why not use that name as well as the name of “Dachshund”, which had been accepted for another German breed), or to keep the name under which the breed seems to be known in England, “German Boar Hound”, and to patronise only one type, making separate classes as to colour, and to do away with all the suspicious names of “Tiger Mastiff”, “ German Mastiff”, and others.
To be able to unite our efforts with those of the English breeder, it would be of the greatest importance to have the same standard of points, and I think the one unanimously accepted by our clubs and breeders for our “Deutsche Doggen” is very good to start with. At the end of May, when the Berlin show takes place, a grand class of this breed will appear, and all the breeders and German judges will be present. This, I think, would be the best opportunity for the gentlemen who intend to start a club of the breed in England to come over and discuss the matter in the presence of a large collection of fine specimens. If the English club is willing to unite their efforts with our German breeders I do not doubt we shall easily come to terms as to the desirable types and points of the breed, and a great many of our breeders will certainly be happy to join the English club. The committee will certainly with pleasure arrange at this occasion, if desired, a special meeting of all the breeders and fanciers of the “Deutsche Doggen”.<br>
Prince Albert Solms, Braunfels, Prussia.