The beautiful and extra large Great Dane is currently at it’s peak of popularity after a slow but steady rise in the ranks. According to the AKC (American Kennel Club) rankings, it peaked at #14 on the most popular breed list in 2016 which it held onto through 2017. This is up from #28 in 2002. The top 3 dog breeds have been the Labrador Retriever at #1, the German Shepherd Dogs at #2 and Golden Retriever staying at #3 for the last 5 consecutive years and very close to the same in 2002 as well. The breed was first recognized by the AKC in 1887.
The breed’s popularity continues to rise, and it’s easy to see why they are popular. They are big and bold and make a statement. You get attention everywhere you take your dog. You get asked “Do you have a saddle for that thing?” on a regular basis. They are sweet, kind and loyal. A “velcro” dog with undying love for their owners and loyalty towards their family.
Although there are only 7 approved colors for show, Danes come in a veritable rainbow of colors, which appeal to many pet owners and breeders alike. Due to breed club standards, they disallow many of the beautiful and unique colors that are specific to this breed, and this breed alone. The harlequin color is one of a kind in the dog world. The origins are speculative, and wall paintings of boar hounds of Ancient Greece do appear to have the harlequin pattern.
As with any rise of popularity in breed, a new generation of breeders join in to see what the fuss is about. Being owned by the breed for over twenty years now and breeding this glorious beast for over ten, I’ve seen many breeders come and go. Breeding is not an easy process, and the “breeders” looking to make a quick buck are generally gone before they get started. So be careful when you are looking for a Great Dane, selecting someone that is not a flash in the pan, so you’re not left without any breeder support a year or two down the road.
There has also been an influx of a hyper type of the breed from European countries. When looking for a Great Dane you may be faced with what looks like two different breeds, a European breed and an American breed. This is actually a fairly complicated issue right now, and I will write more on these specific topics in another post.
In my opinion, the “Keepers of the Breed”, i.e. show breeders and their Champion dogs have basically kept their dogs for a specific target audience, and left many wannabe breeders without an outlet to get a really nice dog or dogs to start their breeding program. Therefore, new breeders looking to get a good quality dog look to Europe to get a Champion sired Great Dane because they cannot buy them in the USA. Therefore the problem is being exacerbated because they do not have the opportunity to purchase quality stock that might actually improve the gene pool.
I think that Great Danes will continue to rise in popularity as more people meet them and see what beautiful colors and personalities they come in. I’ve been told that how much having a Great Dane has been a goal of someone’s, and now that their popularity and availability is higher, keep an eye out for the continued rise of the Apollo of Dogs, The Great Dane!