Words of Great Dane Wisdom

Assets of Genome Initiative Based Research

Our Canine species is a diverse animal. All breeds were evolved by "Man” from foundation groups, which included mixed bred, multi-colored dogs. Breeding Pairs were selected by body strengths, behavior, size, sensory organs, until desired functional "type" for each breed was "fixed" and definable.

Each breed was "Standardized" and a Canine Breed Registry - AKC - founded in 1884 for "Purebreds", promoting the sport of purebred dogs, breeding for "type and function". Conformation Shows originated - breeds judged on how close they conformed to their Breed Standard.

Eventually, Colors were Standardized in many breeds. This limited the gene pool for our individual Dane colors, but the Harlequin gene is unique in that it carries the merle gene. Endeavoring to conform to the AKC Standard, and produce the defined Harlequin color - white neck/chest, and clear black/white body markings, many 'Old time' breeders culled merle and white whelps, leaving only Harlequins and mismarks for breeding stock. Limiting a breeding pool to this extent provides environment for the "bad" genes, hat exist in all animals, to surface. The value of Merles and whites as breeding stock has since been re-evaluated, at least in the US. However, Harlequin breeders still breed on a hit or miss strategy, with an 0 to 25% chance of getting show color, plus possibility of defective puppies. "Pot-Luck" litters!

The German Deutscher Doggen Club handled this "pot luck" problem - the old fashioned way - declaring Harlequin to Harlequin breeding verboten! Our GDCA could never impose any breeding restrictions without a membership vote. With the great advances made in Genome Research, our GDCA believes we have a more acceptable answer. Dr. Keith Murphy, Texas A & M Univ. recently identified the merle gene - an exciting prospectus for many breeds, and is now focusing on locating the Harlequin gene. With tests for the Merle and Harlequin genes available, breeders are given the tools to identify the "color genetics" beneath the skin. Theory being that, irrelevant of coat color, a "double Merle"gene exists in some of our breeding stock, which causes blind and/or deaf progeny, and a "double Harlequin" gene could possibly be lethal to fertilized eggs before they advance to fetuses. If they are identified, and 'not doubled up on' in a breeding pair, we can maximize our harlequin litters' potential for healthier puppies, decrease/eliminate number of defective progeny, and possibly improve color ratio.

Our GDCA, is very enthusiastic, and has agreed to fund 50% of $50,000 the total estimated cost, through the GDCA Charitable Trust, thus all donations will be Tax Deductible. No other Health Project has, or is, being funded through our C.T., but our Club feels this is a small amount to pay for such great potential return, giving breeders a tool to alleviate many heartaches of producing our beautiful harlequins, and reduce the "Pot-Luck" litters.

Breeders Worldwide, anyone who loves and admires our Apollo of Dogdom, who wish to participate in this progressive research, may do so, by sending donations to: Lourdes Carvajal, Admin., GDCA Charitable Trust, Harlequin Gene Project,6800 E. Pony Creek Rd. Freeman, MO 64746-6274.
Comprehensive information on this important research and details on our 2006 National Specialty Show and Futurity is posted at www.gdca.org.

Mrs. Paddy Magnuson,
POB 292 Delhi NY 13753

(Reproduced with permission)