Breeders of the 30s - 50s eagerly brought their progeny to the breed rings for trusted, judicial evaluation. They, primarily, breeder/owner handled, and Benched Shows of the era provided an educational platform, where bloodlines, pedigrees, diet, everything pertaining to breeding Great Danes, was openly discussed. The desire to Breed to improve and develop continuity of their bloodline was a breeder's total aspirations.
In that era, and through the 60s and 70s, the rings were filled with many beautiful Danes. It took a very knowledgeable, experienced Judge to select the "Best of the Best". Judges took their work seriously, aware that their judicial choices affected the progress of the Breed as a whole. They could and would, withhold ribbons on unworthy exhibits.
How things have changed! That great educational collaboration that the Benched Shows presented is gone. Showing Dogs today is a gamble. "Show" kennels spring up, breed nondescript litters before folding. Number of exhibitors/shows has quadrupled, not all Judges are knowledgeable, or are aware/care how their decisions affect the Breeds they judge. Politics, affluence, influence, egos, naivety, political correctness, have all entered the arena, Quality has been effected so, that Judges are now often given the "Best of the Worst" to adjudicate. Fact is, mediocrity has become the norm in the ring today, not just the Dane ring, it is the norm in most breed rings. Dane Judges comment on the structural faults they find in our breed ring. Obviously "breeders" are not thoroughly researching their breeding stock, or/and they need to study "CORRECT STUCTURE" as per our Standard.
The GDCA is requesting members to vote on changing our Standard because of observations that a longer legged Dane is appearing in the ring. 80+ Danes measured exhibited a slightly longer leg from ground to elbow than length from elbow to withers. Our Standard calls for equal length. This is only one of the variations from the Standard that may be observed, which leads to the question - Where will we draw the line? A longer legged Dane does not lend itself to the "Square and Balanced Dane our Standard calls for.
Breeders with established bloodlines, who research breedings, are appalled at the idea of changing the Standard because Danes, not truly representing the Standard, are being bred, shown and winning by their very dominance in the ring. Back in the 90's, Laura Kialuanas, who developed the beautiful BMW Harlequin bloodline, remarked, while standing ringside - "One should leave their best Danes home if they want to win". Has anything changed?
Our Standard represents a Dog that is sound, strong, athletic, with an elegance of outline, making it fit to lie by a King's Throne. A dog with strong bone, not too tall, but square and balanced, able to hunt wild boar, wolves, even bears.
Surely we do not want to lose the beautiful flowing gait, the reach and drive, the level, hard top line, the athletic elegance our square and balanced Apollo of Dogdom personifies. Should we not be concentrating on education - structure, type, soundness, balance, so breeders can interpret our Standard, and learn what they should breed for and exhibit, thereby giving our Judges the opportunity, once again, to adjudicate the "Best of The Best".