The Great Dane, also denoted as Grand Danois, is a German breed of domestic dog (Canis lupus familiaris) known for its giant size. The name of the breed in Germany is Deutsche Dogge (German Mastiff). They are known for their enormous bodies and great height.
The Great Dane is one of the world's tallest dog breeds; the current world record holder, measuring 112 cm (44 in) from paw to shoulder, is 'Zeus'. Their large size belies their friendly nature, as Great Danes are known for seeking physical affection with their owners.
As described by the American Kennel Club:
The Great Dane combines, in its regal appearance, dignity, strength and elegance with great size and a powerful, well-formed, smoothly muscled body. It is one of the giant working breeds, but is unique in that its general conformation must be so well balanced that it never appears clumsy, and shall move with a long reach and powerful drive. The Great Dane is a short haired breed with a strong galloping figure.
In the ratio between length and height, the Great Dane should be square. The male dog should not be less than 30 in (76 cm) at the shoulders, a female 28 in (71 cm). Danes under minimum height are disqualified.
From year to year, the tallest living dog is typically a Great Dane. Previous record holders include Gibson, Titan and George however, the current record holder is a black Great Dane named Zeus who stands 112 cm (44 in) at the shoulder. He is also the tallest dog on record (according Guinness World Records), beating the previous holder who was a blue Great Dane named George, who stood 110 cm (43 in) at the shoulder.
The minimum weight for a Great Dane over eighteen months is 120 lb (54 kg) for males, 100 lb (45 kg) for females. Unusually, the American Kennel Club dropped the minimum weight requirement from its standard. The male should appear more massive throughout than the female, with a larger frame and heavier bone.
Great Danes have naturally floppy, triangular ears. In the past, when Great Danes were commonly used to hunt boars, cropping of the ears was performed to make injuries to the dogs' ears less likely during hunts. Now that Danes are primarily companion animals, cropping is sometimes still done for traditional and cosmetic reasons. In the 1930s when Great Danes had their ears cropped, after the surgery two devices called Easter Bonnets were fitted to their ears to make them stand up. Today, the practice is common in the United States but much less common in Europe. In some European countries such as the United Kingdom, Ireland, Denmark, Germany, parts of Australia, and in New Zealand, the practice is banned, or controlled to only be performed by veterinary surgeons.
Brindle Great Dane (male)
There are six show-acceptable coat colors for Great Danes:
Fawn: The color is yellow gold with a black mask. Black should appear on the eye rims and eyebrows, and may appear on the ears.
Brindle: The color is fawn and black in a chevron stripe pattern. Often also they are referred to as having a tiger-stripe pattern.
Blue: The color is a pure steel blue. White markings at the chest and toes are not desirable and considered faults.
Black: The color is a glossy black. White markings at the chest and toes are not desirable and considered faults.
Harlequin: The base color is pure white with black torn patches irregularly and well distributed over the entire body; a pure white neck is preferred. The black patches should never be large enough to give the appearance of a blanket, nor so small as to give a stippled or dappled effect. Eligible, but less desirable, are a few small grey patches (this grey is consistent with a Merle marking) or a white base with single black hairs showing through, which tend to give a salt and pepper or dirty effect.
Merle Great Danes (Grautiger) are acceptable in conformation shows under the F.C.I.. Their status is that they are 'neither desirable nor to be disqualified'.
Mantle (in some countries referred to as Bostons due to the similar coloration and pattern as a Boston Terrier): The color is black and white with a solid black blanket extending over the body; black skull with white muzzle; white blaze is optional; whole white collar preferred; a white chest; white on part or whole of forelegs and hind legs; white tipped black tail. A small white marking in the black blanket is acceptable, as is a break in the white collar
Other colors occur occasionally but are not acceptable for conformation showing, and they are not pursued by breeders who intend to breed show dogs. These colors include white, fawnequin, brindlequin, merle, merlequin, blue merle, fawn mantle, and others. Some breeders may attempt to charge more for puppies of these 'rare' colors. The breeding of harlequin, merle and especially white (homozygous merle) Great Danes is controversial, as these colors are associated with the merle gene. In some European countries, for example in Germany, is the mating of two merle specimen forbidden by animal protection law, because this will produce a litter of puppies with a quarter of 'double merles', which are often deaf or blind.
Source of information: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Dane
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