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 Created: 12/02/02


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– Euro Dane, Euro Dog, Part 2 –

December 2, 2002 – For the past two weeks, we've been talking about Euro Dog 2002, a prestigious all-breed dog competition that was held in Paris last month. Last week I shared my observations about the exhibition behavior in and around the Great Dane rings. Shortly after the story ran, one person wrote to tell me she would have expected a European dog show to be much "stuffier" than an American show. She was surprised to learn otherwise. Another person told me she had a similar experience in England, "I went to a show in England. After watching for a while, I decided that it must be a 'fun match' – only to find out it was their equivalent of an AKC Show!"

European Dog Shows
The most interesting response, however, came from a Finnish exhibitor who wrote, "You made observations about the style of exhibiting Danes in Europe. You were quite right, in that double handling is the norm. Dogs are more-or-less walked in the ring without being stacked. Blue Great DaneThe handlers stand behind them while their owners try to attract their attention. However, it should be noted that this practice applies only to Central Europe! In my native Finland, and in Scandinavia in general, Danes are stacked and the ring procedure is quite formal. Double handling, if it occurs at all, is much more subtle. There are virtually no professional handlers, dogs being owner/breeder handled, and in my opinion this in not necessarily a negative. The vast majority of handlers are extremely proficient and competition is keen."

It seems, then, that there might well be significant regional variations in how dogs are exhibited at major shows in Europe. I have attended two championship dog shows in Europe – okay, make that Central Europe – one in Germany (VDH Europasieger-Zuchtschau 2000) and one in France (Euro Dog 2002). Both were multinational all-breed competitions, and both shows were similar in terms of handling, etc. Is my limited experience enough to provide a valid generalization about "European" dog shows? Probably not. I would very much welcome additional comments and observations from other European exhibitors. Email me!

European Danes
Harlequin Great DaneIf the shows are so different, then what about the Great Danes? Whahoo, what a question! I would have to say yes, the Danes are quite different in appearance. Generally speaking the heads are larger, the fronts are more solid, and the overall body type is heavier. In some individuals these traits are more exaggerated than others, but my overall impression is that Central European Danes manifest closer ties to the Mastiff than do American-bred Danes. There can be no doubt that the standard/aesthetic is quite different from our own. My personal view? I happen to like them a lot within their own context, but not everyone will. It goes both ways, though. I've heard it said that American-bred Danes lack substance and bone, that they have a "whippety" (if not wimpy) body type, straight shoulders and poorly angulated head plains. It's all a matter of taste, folks – and the standard that's being applied.

At this point in the discussion I'd like share some additional comments from our Finnish exhibitor: "As you must have observed, the Central European Danes are considerably more coarse and mastiffy than those in the States. The distinction between Central European and Scandinavian Danes applies here as well; harelquin Dane #2Scandinavian Danes as a whole are extremely well-balanced and in type they more closely resemble their American cousins; in fact quite a number of Finnish Danes have American bloodlines."

When I read those comments, the phrase "extremely well-balanced" jumped out at me. At the risk of alienating some visitors to this site (I'm sorry!), I think I would be remiss if I failed to mention a startling characteristic I observed in some of the Danes at Euro Dog 2002. They were cow hocked! (Cow hocked means the rear feet face outward and hocks face inward. Jill Swedlow offers good pictures of this problem in her Conformation Clinic. Just scroll to the bottom of the page to see some examples.) I was very surprised by the number of slightly – and sometimes overtly – cow hocked Great Danes I saw in and around the ring. There were more than a few. While cow hock is considered a fault in both the American and FCI standards, Two fawn great danesit is not a disqualifying fault. Still, in the States, I haven't seen many cow hocked Danes competing in major championship shows. Possibly this condition is more common in some parts of the world. (Anyone care to comment?)

The Bottom Line
Hopefully everyone understands that I am simply reporting my observations, which are influenced by my culture, my experience and my personal aesthetic. I really enjoyed seeing so many Danes from so many countries. Despite their physical differences, they were all splendid animals. And when it comes to presence and personality, a Dane is a Dane is a Dane, no matter what language it speaks.

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