Did you know these Great Dane Facts?
The following data has been compiled by Norvel Benoit in the capacity as GDCA Historical Chairman. It is for informational and entertainment purposes only and copyrighted to The Great Dane Club of America, Inc. Unless quote credited otherwise informational source was Donald Gauthier, a former GDCA President.

THE FIRST STANDARD

I WAS A FRIEND OF A GROUP OF GERMAN GREAT DANE BREEDERS THAT MIGRATED AND SETTLED IN THE NORTHERN PART OF THIS COUNTRY DURING AND AFTER WWI. I WAS PARTICULARLY CLOSE TO JACK STEINBACHER. OTHERS WERE CHARLES KAPP, CHARLES LUDWIG, JOHN HARTMETZ AND GUS KLEV. ALL THAT I AM GOING TO TELL YOU WHAT WAS TOLD TO ME BY THESE GREAT GERMAN BREEDERS AND IS AUTHENTIC:

THEY WERE ALL EMPLOYED IN THE MEAT INDUSTRY IN GERMANY. IT SEEMS THAT THE BUTCHER SHOPS, BEFORE ELECTRIC REFRIGERATION, ONLY HAD THE ABILITY TO KEEP A ONE DAY SUPPLY CHILLED WITH ICE. EVERY CITY HAD A CENTRAL REFRIGERATING FACILITY WHERE ALL MEAT WAS STORED AND IT WAS THE DUTY OF ALL BUTCHER EMPLOYEES TO TRANSPORT A ONE DAY SUPPLY OF MEAT BACK TO THE RETAIL SHOP. THEY USED CARTS IN THE SUMMER AND SLEDS IN THE WINTER. SINCE IT WAS A HEAVY LOAD TO PULL THEY USED ANIMALS AND SOON FOUND THE GREAT DANE WAS BETTER FOR THAT PURPOSE THAN ANY OTHER DOG. EVENTUALLY THE GREAT DANE WAS BEING USED BY THE RETAIL MEAT MARKETS ALL OVER GERMANY AND THE EMPLOYEES THAT NEEDED TO USE THEM BEGAN TO BREED THEM BY SETTING RULES AND A STANDARD FOR THEM TO PRODUCE THE BEST DOGS. SO THIS, MY FRIEND, WAS OUR FIRST “STANDARD” FOR BREEDING BETTER GREAT DANES.

WHY LOYAL, SPIRITED AND COURAGEOUS?

THE FOLLOWING WAS TOLD TO ME BY THOSE THAT WERE “OLE TIMERS” IN THE NINETEEN-THIRTIES:

GREAT DANES WERE OWNED BY PEOPLE ASSOCIATED WITH THE CIRCUS NOTABLY JOHN RINGLING AND PAUL BERLINGBACH. A FAVORITE PART OF THE CIRCUS WAS THE TRAINED LIONS AND TIGERS. WHEN THE TRAINER OF THE CATS WAS TEACHING THEM HE ALWAYS HAD A GREAT DANE IN THE RING WITH HIM AND IF ONE OF THE CATS BROKE AND WENT FOR THE TRAINER THE GREAT DANE WOULD JUMP IN AND TACKLE THE CAT. NO MATTER WHAT THE OUTCOME FOR THE DOG THE TRAINER WOULD HAVE THE EXTRA MOMENTS NEEDED TO ESCAPE. REMEMBER, THE GREAT DANE WAS BRED MAINLY FROM BOAR HOUND AND THIS “REACTION” IS IN HIS BLOOD. GREAT DANES HAVE TO BE BRED FOR ALL 3 CHARACTERISTICS:
TO BE LOYAL, SPIRITED, AND COURAGEOUS OR , HEAVEN FORBID, THEY WOULD HAVE SIDED WITH CATS, RAN TO SAFETY OR ATTACKED THEIR OWN TRAINERS!

DANES IN DOG SHOWS

A MAJOR EVENT IN THE EARLY HISTORY OF THE GREAT DANE CLUB WAS THE FIRST SPECIALTY IN 1910 AT ROMERSER PARK IN WOODSIDE LONG ISLAND. EIGHTY DANES WERE ENTERED AND JUDGE JAMES MORTIMER BESTOWED THE BREED WIN ON HELIOS VON WURTEMBURG FROM OMAHA, NEBRASKA. THE CLUB WAS PROUD OF HAVING A GREAT DANE PRINTED ON THE COVER OF EACH PROGRAM.

THIS GROWTH PERIOD FOR THE BREED SAW A CONTINUED INCREASE IN SHOW ENTRIES AND COMPOUNDED REGISTRATION OF GREAT DANES BY THE AMERICAN KENNEL CLUB. CONVERSELY, CLUB MEMBERSHIP WAS EXTREMELY LIMITED WHEN THE PARENT CLUB OF NEW YORK TOOK A FIRM POSITION AGAINST ANY OTHER CLUBS BEING ORGANIZED.

ONE OF THE OUTSTANDING DEVELOPMENTS IN THE CLUB AT THIS TIME WAS THE GREAT INTEREST TAKEN IN PUPPY SWEEPSTAKES. THE CONTEST WAS A CONSTRUCTIVE AND TANGIBLE EFFORT BY THE CLUB TO ENCOURAGE THE BREEDING OF BETTER “AMERICAN-BRED” GREAT DANES. ONLY MEMBERS OF THE GDCA OR ITS AFFILIATE CLUBS COULD COMPETE FOR THE COVETED TROPHIES AND CASH AWARDS. UNFORTUNATELY, SWEEPSTAKES WAS DISCOUTINUED WHEN THE WAR YEARS CREATED A SCARCITY OF YOUNG STOCK.

DURING THE NINETEEN THIRTIES THE MOST POPULAR COLORATION SHOWN WERE THE FAWNS FOLLOWED BY BRINDLES AND HARLEQUINS. I NEVER SAW MORE THAN TWO BLACKS AND ONE BLUE. IN FACT, THERE WAS ONLY ONE BREEDER OF BLUES IN THE ENTIRE WESTERN HEMISPHERE. HE WAS A MAJOR COWAN IN BRITISH WEST COLUMBIA, CANADA.

THE EARLY YEARS OF GDCA

WHAT YOU MAY NOT REALIZE IS THE FACT THAT NO FEMALES WERE ALLOWED TO JOIN THE CLUB OR ATTEND MEETINGS. THEY ALSO TOLD ME THAT OUR FIRST PRESIDENT SERVED FOR 14 YEARS AND TOWARD THE END OF HIS REGENCY, IF YOU WANTED TO SERVE ON A COMMITTEE, YOU SAT IN THE FIRST THREE ROWS SINCE HE MADE ALL HIS APPOINTMENTS FROM PEOPLE SITTING IN THOSE SEATS BECAUSE HIS SIGHT AND HEARING BECAME SO POOR.

THE FAITHFUL KEPT THE MEETINGS AND SHOWS ALIVE DURING WWII BUT THEY WERE TOUGH DAYS. DUE TO THE GASOLINE RESTRICTIONS I RECALL A MEETING WHEN ONLY SEVEN MEMBERS ATTENDED. I ASKED GEORGE FOLEY, THE SUPERINTENDENT OF THE LARGEST DOG SHOW ORGANIZATION AT THAT TIME, IF HE COULD GET CONGRESS TO LOOSEN UP ON THE GASOLINE FOR DOG SHOWS. HE RESPONDED: “CONGRESS WOULD THINK I AM CRAZY”. SO BY HOOK OR BY CROOK THE DOG FANCY OBTAINED ENOUGH GASOLINE TO CAMPAIGN THEIR ANIMALS. A DEAR FRIEND OF MINE WAS A MEMBER OF THE GASOLINE RATIONING BOARD ON STATEN ISLAND, WHERE I LIVED IN THOSE DAYS, AND HE BECAME INTERESTED IN DOG SHOWS. NEED I SAY MORE?

THESE PROJECTS WERE IMPLEMENTED DURING THE DIFFICULT WAR YEARS AND SPEAK WELL FOR THE VITALITY OF THE PARENT CLUB AND ITS NINE AFFILIATE CLUBS AT THAT TIME:
- FIRST YEARBOOK PUBLISHED
- FIRST ILLUSTRATED STANDARD
- FIRST INAUGURAL CLUB DINNER
- FIRST WOMEN MEMBERS PERMITTED

DURING THIS PERIOD THE CLUB DEVISED THE CODE OF ETHICS AND CAMPAIGNED AGAINST MIXED COLOR BREEDING BY FURNISHING PEDIGREE BLANKS SHOWING COLOR. IT WAS THEIR BELIEF THAT COLOR MIXING OTHER THAN AS SET FORTH BY THE CLUB WAS INJURIOUS TO THE BREED ESPECIALLY IN THE THIRD, FORTH & LATER GENERATIONS.

IN 1944 THE ILLUSTRATED STANDARD WAS PRESENTED TO THE MEMBERSHIP. DESIGNED FOR ITS SIMPLICITY OF LANGUAGE AND ILLUSTRATION. IT REPRESENTED AN UNPRECEDENTED DISPLAY OF COOPERATIVE RESULTS BY A SPECIALTY CLUB.
1952 FACTS & FIGURES OF GREAT DANES COMPETING AT DOG SHOWS:

- DANES COMPETING AT ALL-BREED SHOW ……….4,491
- DANES COMPETING AT SPECIALTY SHOWS………. 199
- CHAMPIONS FINISHED……………………………………… 64
- COMPANION DOGS……………………………………………. 28
- COMPANION DOGS EXCELLENT……………………….. 4
- UTILITY DOG…………………………………………………….. 1

THE 50TH ANNIVERSARY DINNER WAS SUCH A SUCCESS THAT THE CLUB DECIDED TO HAVE A DINNER EACH YEAR CLOSELY ALLIED IN DATE TO THE WESTMINSTER SHOW OF FEBRUARY. AT THIS TIME THE NEWLY ELECTED OFFICERS WOULD BE INAUGURATED. THIS ANNUAL EVENT CAME TO BE KNOWN TO MEMBERS AS THE "BEEFSTEAK DINNER" AND WAS AVERY FORMAL AFFAIR OFTEN HELD AT THE HOTEL ASTOR IN NEW YORK CITY.

THE TWO LARGEST GREAT DANE ENTRIES WERE WESTMINSTER AND THE MORRIS & ESSEX SHOW, THE LATTER BEING OUR GDCA SPECIALTY WITH APPROXIMATELY 100 GREAT DANES ENTERED.

1960-1970

"THE MOST SIGNIFICANT ASPECT OF THESE DECADES WAS THE METAMORPHOSIS OF THE GREAT DANE CLUB OF AMERICA FROM A REGIONAL TO A NATIONAL GROUP IN SCOPE, PURPOSE AND GOVERNMENT. CREDIT MUST BE GIVEN TO THOSE STALWARTS OF THE GREAT DANE FANCY IN THE NORTHEASTERN UNITED STATES FOR THEIR DEDICATION OVER A PERIOD OF MANY YEARS IN NURTURING AND SUPPORTING A UNIQUE ANNUAL SPECIALTY AND FUTURITY." (By Robert Matchett)

"GETTING TO KNOW YOU MIGHT WELL BE OUR THEME SONG AS WE BECOME MORE FAMILIAR WITH EACH OTHER. WITH AFFILIATE CLUBS SPREAD OUT ALL OVER THIS VAST COUNTRY OF OURS I LIKE TO THINK THAT ALL ROADS AND BYWAYS ARE LEADING TO ONE GREAT ARTERY WHERE ALL GOOD AND INTERESTED GREAT DANERS WILL MEET TOGETHER AS ONE FOR THE BETTERMENT OF THE BREED." (By Rose Sabetti)

THE INCREDIBLE NUMBER OF AFFILIATE CLUBS SEEMED TO INDICATE THAT POPULARITY OF THE GREAT DANE WAS SPREADING INTO NEW TERRITORIES.

WHY THE PARENT CLUB?

"I THINK YOU WILL AGREE THAT PEOPLE ALL OVER THE U.S.A. WHO ARE INTERESTED IN THE BREED AND WANT TO SEE IT MAKE PROGRESS SHOULD NOT EXPECT A SMALL GROUP OF PEOPLE TO CARRY THE TORCH AND TO DO ALL THE WORK WITHOUT THEIR BACKING AND COOPERATION. SOME OF THESE PEOPLE DO LOTS OF WORK AND TRAVEL MANY HOURS TO HELP CARRY ON THE BEST INTERESTS OF THE GREAT DANE. CERTAINLY THEY GET NO PERSONAL GAIN OR REMUNERATION, BUT THEY MAKE THE SACRIFICE PURELY BECAUSE THEY LOVE THE BREED. NOT TO BELONG TO THE PARENT CLUB WOULD BE LIKE EXPECTING TO GET BENEFIT OF YOUR GOVERNMENT WITHOUT EVER PAYING ANY TAXES. LET US ALL WORK TOGETHER FOR GREAT DANE AND ALWAYS BEAR IN MIND OUR SLOGAN: BE AS LARGE AND AS NOBLE AS YOUR DOG." (By J. Wen Lundeen)

"THE GREAT DANE CLUB OF AMERICA MORE THAN LIVED UP TO ITS REPUTATION OF BEING ONE OF THE MOST PROGRESSIVE BREED CLUBS IN THE NATION." ( By Alexander Feldman, former Pres GDCA and Pres AKC)

"YOU MAY PASS A THOUSAND DOGS BUT YOU WILL ALWAYS STOP TO ADMIRE THE DISTINCTIVE APPEARANCE AND THE FRIENDLY ATTITUDE OF A WELL-BRED GREAT DANE." (By Lina Basquett)

"I AM A HEART AND SOUL GREAT DANE MAN AND I RECALL MY FIRST DANE, FAN, AS HAVING TAUGHT ME ABOUT COMPANIONSHIP AND LOYALTY. SO I IMPLORE THE GDCA MEMBERS TO ENCOURAGE CHILDREN NOT TO FEAR GREAT DANES SINCE THEY WILL DETERMINE THE FUTURE OF OUR BREED." (By Pop Gilbert)

THE GDCA’s DIAMOND JUBILEE AWARDS DINNER WAS HELD AT THE SKYLINE-TERRACE HOTEL SHELBORNE AND FEATURED A LIVE ORCHESTRA, DANCING, COCKTAILS AND AN ELABORATE MENU WITH WHIMSICAL NAMES:
- SHRIMP COCKTAIL A LA MINOR FAULT
- GARDEN SOUP A LA MIXED BREEDING
- SIRLOIN STEAK A LA DROOPY CROUP
- NEW PEAS A LA NOVICE
- STUFFED POTATO IN WHELP

1980-1990

"AS THE YEARS WENT BY THERE WAS A GROWING DISSATISFACTION AMONG OTHER EQUALLY DEVOTED GREAT DANE PEOPLE THROUGHOUT THE COUNTRY ABD A SENSE OF DISENFRANCHISEMENT FROM THE WORKINGS OF THE NATIONAL CLUB AND AN EXCLUSION FROM ITS PROGRAMS AND ACTIVITIES. OUT OF THIS UNREST CAME THE CONCEPT OF REGIONAL SPECIALTIES AND EVENTUALLY THE TRANSITION TO A FLOATING NATIONAL. LIKEWISE THE OFFICERS, DIRECTORS, AND COMMITTEE CHAIRS OF THE PARENT CLUB TOOK ON A NATIONAL FLAVOR AND BY THE END OF THE 1980s ALL SECTIONS OF THE COUNTRY WERE REPRESENTED IN ITS GOVERNMENT, OPERATIONS AND ACTIVITIES. THE FIRST NATIONAL SPECIALTY OUTSIDE THE NORTHEAST AREA WAS HELD IN ST LOUIS IN 1989, APPROPRIATELY ENOUGH IN THE CLUB’S CENTENNIAL YEAR. ALONG WITH THAT ACCOMPLISHMENT HAD BEEN ADDED THE TOP 20 COMPETITION, EDUCATIONAL PROGRAMS FOR JUDGES AND BREEDERS AND AWARDS OF MERIT." (By Robert Matchett)

"THE STRENGTH OF THE GREAT DANE CLUB OF AMERICA IS DEPENDENT UPON THE STRENGTH OF OUR INDIVIDUAL MEMBERS AND AFFILIATE CLUBS AND ON THEIR DEDICATION TO THE WELFARE OF THE BREED, AND THE PROMOTION OF GOOD SPORTSMANSHIP AND ETHICAL BEHAVIOR." (By Sandy Lady)

"WHEN INVOLVED FACETS OF THE ENVIRONMENT ARE QUESTIONING OR DENYING OUR RIGHTS AS BREEDERS/OWNERS/EXHIBITORS, WHEN WE HAVE MANY NEW NOVICE OWNERS/BREEDERS, WHEN WE HAVE HEALTH AND LONGEVITY PROBLEMS IN OUR BREED TO BE ADDRESSED, IT IS ESSENTIAL FOR THE SURVIVAL OF THE BREED THAT THE GDCA PRESENT A PROGRESSIVE, EDUCATIONAL AND INFORMATIVE PLATFORM TO THE MEMBERSHIP AND THEREBY CONTINUE TO FULFILL ITS PRIMARY PURPOSE – TO PROMOTE THE BEST INTEREST OF THE GREAT DANE." ( By Nancy Carroll-Draper)

MISCELLANEOUS FACTS

THE GREAT DANE CLUB OF AMERICA, INC.
INCORPORATED IN NEW YORK
APRIL 1,1929

First GDCA President:
Charles Mantler
Served from 1923-1938

First GDCA Honorary members:
Jack & Nellie Steinbacher
They bred or imported over 50 champions

First Great Dane in the world to become a Utility Dog:
This dog once achieved a perfect Utility Dog score
Pharaoh of Graycliff, C.D., C.D.X., U.D.
9/25/38 – 8/28/46
owned by Dewey Satterfield of Cleveland ,Ohio

Our thanks to Norvel for sharing this information with us, we hope you have found it to be an interesting look back into a part of the history of the GDCA.