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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.

raro

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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