Great Dane Judges Education

Great Dane Balance and Type: 

The Dane, once a strong, Working Dog, a boar and bear hunter, is now essentially a companion. This does not mean he can have poor structure. He is too large a breed and size combined with poor structure leads to an unhealthy dog. In competition he must compete in the Working Group. He needs to have good movement and be put together properly to win.

The discussion under general appearance in the Illustrated Standard states clearly what we as breeders are striving to achieve. It also tells the judges what we expect them to look for:

"The essence of Great Dane "Type" is created by the "Balanced" combination of sculptured head; long tapered neck ;well developed body; all clothed in a glossy coat of correct color and "Moving" with precision and grace. The presence or absence of breed type is the single most important factor in assessing the "Overall" quality of the Great Dane." 

"The essence of Great Dane "Type" is created by the "Balanced" combination of sculptured head; long tapered neck ;well developed body; all clothed in a glossy coat of correct color and "Moving" with precision and grace. The presence or absence of breed type is the single most important factor in assessing the "Overall" quality of the Great Dane." 

There is a lot of confusion sometimes as to what we mean by TYPE. Type is defined as "Typical of the breed, how the breed should LOOK, ACT and MOVE".

Danes may be of different STYLES. Style is defined as how, within the parameters of the Breed Standard, we achieve a final appearance, one that will please our individual tastes. Style is a preference as long as you remain within the parameters of the breed standard. It would be boring to have Every Dane look alike. We are individuals with individual likes and dislikes. This is human nature. However, when we judge, we must judge by the Standard and that keeps us TRUE to TYPE...TYPE- "typical of the breed, how it should LOOK, MOVE and ACT according to the Standard."

The other key word we have used is BALANCE. It goes with TYPE. Some of the Danes are tall, some not as tall, some have more bone, some less, but they should be BALANCED. Balance includes the whole dog; head size to body size, body size to bone size, length to height, front angle to rear angle...

MOVEMENT is a combination of TYPE and BALANCE, TYPE-"typical of how a breed should move." The Standard calls for a gait that denotes strength and power with long easy strides. The backline should appear level to the ground, no tossing or rolling. The head should be carried forward. There should be no twisting in or out at the elbow or hock joints. This cannot be attained without proper structure which is type and balance. When we watch a Dane move we should be aware of the whole dog, front, rear, topline and attitude.

In using the word BALANCED, we like to include mental balance as well. A Dane should be a steady, dependable companion. Spirit and courage are breed characteristics, he must always be friendly never timid and NEVER aggressive.

TYPE, STYLE and BALANCE, three important words to remember when judging our Danes.

By Dale Suzanne Tarbox
Great Dane Club of America 2002 - Judges Education Committee 

Judging Education Program (updated 5-21-17)