Posts Tagged ‘boarhound’

From British Dogs, Their Points, Selection, and Show Preparation (1903) by W.D. Drury:

Great Danes have very strong sporting instincts, and they may be easily taught to retrieve. Curiously enough, the writer has known them have tender mouths, and many times her dogs have brought rabbits they have caught, quite unhurt; while the same dogs would kill a strange cat with one bite of their strong jaws. She has also noticed that some of them, whilst walking upwind and getting the scent of birds or rabbits in front, will draw on them very like a Pointer. The Great Dane hunts mostly by sight, but he can also use his nose with quite remarkable success in tracking his master or while hunting in covert (pg. 49-50).

In that same section on the Great Dane, there is mention of one of the Dukes of Buccleuch owning a Great Dane that lived to be 18 years old.  Although we have no confirmation of that, we know that modern dogs of this breed have real issues with longevity.

The author of this section is Violet Horsfall, the owner of the brindle dog in the photograph at the top of this post. There is often a tendency in certain sectors of that fancy in those days to exaggerate a bit, especially if there were questions about the health and longevity of this breed in the eyes of the dog owning public. She is quite cavalier about inbreeding them (which isn’t that unusual, especially in those days), and she seems to go out of her way to point out how hardy they are. Is she accurate or she being defensive?

However, that is not why I mention it here.

The Dukes of Buccleuch were those who refined the various smooth-coated St. John’s water dogs that were found in England at their properties and those of the Earls of Malmesbury into the modern Labrador retriever.

There is no mention of this Great Dane doing retriever work or of this dog being crossed with the Labradors.

But it is pretty interesting.

Likely nothing more than an interesting coincidence.

But still interesting.


I should mention that I detest calling this breed the “Great Dane.”

It is a German breed that is more accurately called the German Mastiff, the direct translation of its German name (Deutsche Dogge),  or simply call it the “boarhound,” which was the common name for this breed in much of the English-speaking world.


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If merle Great Danes can’t be shown, what’s the point in cropping them?

It’s not easy to care for long show crops, and all the work in this case goes to nothing.

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If this movie is popular, Great Danes are in deep trouble:


Well, like they weren’t already.

I swear Lady Gaga is also going to have some effect on the Great Dane. (Yes, I am tacitly admitting to watching a Lady Gaga music video.)

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The Broholmer dates to the 1400's in Denmark.

The Broholmer dates to the 1400's in Denmark.

Everyone gets confused about a dog named the Great Dane. The Great Dane’s name in anglophone countries dates to the work of Buffon, who called the big, lightly built boarhound a Grande Danois.

The truth is the dog we call the Great Dane is actually a German breed. Its name in German is Deutsche Dogge (German mastiff).

However, there were Scandinavian mastiffs. The Swedes and Norwegians had a farm mastiff called the Dalbo Dog. It is possible that another breed existed in other parts of Norway that was known as the Norse dog.

There is also possible that the Norse during the Viking period had mastiffs, and it possible that when they raided England, they procured some of the big mastiff dogs that were common there.

The Danes developed their own mastiff for use on their farms. This breed is the last survivor of those Scandinavian mastiffs, although it is pretty obvious that English mastiff had a stronger role in this breed’s development.

I think the confusion between the German boarhound and this Danish breed led in part to the name confusion in English.

Boarhounds were also owned by Danish nobility. King Frederick III of Denmark had a boarhound named “Raro.” Raro was given to princess Magdalena Sibylle.


It is probably because of the association with the Danish royal family that the term “Great Dane” was developed for the dog.

However, the German boarhound has a really close relationship to the “Irish wolfdog” or Irish wolfhound. Some depictions of smooth-haired Irish woflhounds really strongly resemble the modern Great Dane.

So the real Great Dane is the Broholmer, but  the German mastiff or German boarhound was once favored by the Danish court. Our language help us much, does it?

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