Some sources state that dogs similar to Great Danes were known in ancient Egypt, Greece and Rome. Various sources report that the Great Dane was developed from the medieval boarhound, and or the Mastiff and Irish wolfhound lines. It is also reported that the Great Dane was developed from mastiff-like dogs taken to Germany by the Alans. The breed may be about 400 years old.
The Great Dane is the large hunting dog of the Danír tribe, "Dene" in the poem "Beowulf", today's Danes.
In Old Norse (ON) and Old English (OE) the male is always referred to as "Hund" in etymology from "the Hunt/Hunter", and the female as "grey/grig". This division can still be seen in the hunting protocols from the Royal Kennels of the Royal Court of Denmark year 1710-36 (may be seen at the National Archives, Denmark).
Thus in Norse and Old English literature, specifically the compilation of sagas known as Elder Edda (Poetic Edda), the hound is named in variations over these words, for example "hvndar" and "greyiom" ( Skírnismál , verse 11, Elder Edda) "mjóhundr/myo hwnd/mjøhund, meaning "slender hound" or sighthound (Scanian Law from 1200/1250)
As the original purpose of the hound was to be able to take on the wild boar, the Deer and the wolf we often see kennings applied that identify Odin's two hounds as wolfhounds. As the king's personal hounds it is the very same hound that guards the entrance to the next world in both Denmark and England, the folklore of which forms the basis for "The Hound of the Baskervilles" (see Black Shuck).
The large hound, alongside the horse and the raven, is holy to the kings of Denmark and England. We see this both in the common language at the time and in the buried treasure of the kings and queens.
The large hound appears to be a migration dog. It arrives in the landscapes of the Danes in two migrations: Firstly with the Celts in the 5th Century BCE (see the Gundestrup cauldron, "Plate E: Warrior Initiation" under the cauldron) and secondly with the Danes as they begin to settle year 40-77 ACE.
Uniquely The Zoological Museum, University of Copenhagen Faculty of Science has a collection of dog skeletons from both periods and thereafter well in to the Middle Ages. The dogs were buried alongside their owners, male and female, as guiding spirits to the next world. None exists prior to this period. The large hounds are 61-70 cm tall over the shoulder (see the Ladby ship).
The most treasured hound, as is the case with the horse, is the white colored with black markings. Today we know this hound as "Harlequin/Harlekin" (English/ Danish). However the origin is "Herla Cyning" (OE) or "King of the Army". The word evolves because the human king is titled Hariwalda (ON/OE), in the new kingdoms in Britannia evolving to "Bretwalda" or "ruler of the army/Britannia". His personal hounds in white are rulers of all dogs.
Two large hounds can be seen on "The Royal Purse Lid" (The British Museum) as guiding spirits to the king buried in Sutton Hoo, East Anglia, presumably (H)Rædwald in the 7th Century ACE.
Likewise the large hound is depicted on the engravings of the Golden horns of Gallehus from Southern Jutland, Denmark dated to the 5th Century ACE and on numerous rune stones (see the Tjängvide and Ledberg Runestone) and engravings on Viking ships used for burial purposes (see Oseberg ship). The depictions continue uninterrupted in church paintings and murals up until today.
The original large hound was lighter in construction than the current one. We know this both from art and from the royal hunting protocols. We also know what caused this to change, when and how. Great Danes Gislev church, Denmark 1500-25
Towards the end of the 16th Century the Royal Court of Denmark introduced the new fashion of the Parforce Hunt - an unnatural hunt where the hunting dogs were no longer allowed to run down and kill the deer. On the contrary the dogs were expected to hunt the deer, knock it down and hold it firm until the human huntsman arrived to make the kill.
We can see from the protocols of the Danish court that the large hound is not well equipped to perform this new role in the Parforce Hunt. It is too light in build to hold down a deer or wolf without killing it. To solve this problem King Frederick II of Denmark (regent 1559-1588) sends a ship to London in 1585 to bring back "Englandshvalpe" (English puppies) given to him by Queen Elizabeth I of England (regent 1558-1603). The English puppies are the far heavier English mastiffs. The Royal Tapestry from 1585-6 depicts King Frederik II. with his new "English puppy" (see Danish Broholmer). The tapestry can be seen in the National Museum of Denmark. (Source: C. Weismann: Vildtets og Jagtens Historie, Copenhagen, 1931, p. 438-440).
The protocols of the Royal Danish Kennels maintain two separates lines in the kennel in the breeding programme; the Danish and the English line. The cross breeding becomes known as "Blendinge" (same word and meaning as the English word "blend"). This new line of large hounds is the foundation of the present day Great Dane as we see them in Denmark, England and the United States.
The large hound was imported in to the Roman Empire and thus correctly is referred to as Alano in Italian (see Gaston III of Foix-Béarn and his treatise "Livre de la chasse" from 1389. He refers to the large hound in three working functions: "Alan Gentil", "Alan Vautre" og "Alan de Boucherie"). The Great Dane Raro, Denmark 1655
We have a record of the hound acting as a wolfhunter very late in history. Johan Täntzer wrote "Der Dianen Hohe und Niedere Jagdgeheimnüsz (1682-89 in three books). He worked for King Christian V of Denmark (regent 1670-1699), initially as "Birdcatcher" (Fuglefænger) at the hunting lodge Jægerborg Castle (see Lauritz de Thurah). Later on, from 1677-85, he acted as Wolfhunter (Ulvejæger) in Jutland, Denmark. He was tasked with controlling the wolf population. He retired as Inspector of the hunting grounds on Amager, Copenhagen and wrote his book on his experiences of hunting wolfs with the large hound in Jutland, Denmark ((Source: C. Weismann: Vildtets og Jagtens Historie, Copenhagen, 1931, p. 467-470).
The hound was highly treasured and a tribal competitive advantage. Thus the hound did not exist in Denmark until King Christian VI of Denmark (regent 1730-1746) ceased the Parforce Hunt in 1741 and gave away all the large hounds from the royal kennels.
The records from the royal kennel at Jægersborg Castle (see Lauritz de Thurah), Denmark shows us who received the hounds as gifts: The Great Dane Sultan, Denmark 1699
King Frederick I of Sweden - 11 pack of hounds Markgraf Friedrich (Brandenburg-Bayreuth) - 25 pack of hounds The Duke of Pløen, Friedrich Carl - 6 packs of hounds King Charles Emmanuel III of Sardinia - 4 large "Blendinge" (Blended) hounds
This event distributes the large hound throughout Europe amongst the aristocracy and forms the basis for all later rewritings of history. Up until this event in 1741 the hounds were only to be found in the original landscapes, including Normandy from year 912 (hence why the hound can be seen in hunting scenes on the Bayeux Tapestry depicting year 1064, prior to The Battle of Hastings).
In 1749 Georges-Louis Leclerc, Comte de Buffon begins publishing his large thesis on evolution called "Histoire Naturelle, générale et particulière". His uses the large hound as an example of evolution (Book 4) and since he cannot find it anywhere in France or in Germania he seeks it in its home turf Denmark. It is he who for the first time coins the name "le Grand Danois". In the English translation of his work by William Smellie (encyclopedist) the same word becomes "Great Dane". Up until that time the hound was referred to in England as "Danish dog" (see "Canine Madness", 1762). Le Grand Danois
We know from a thesis by the Dane Jacob Nicolay Wilse titled "Fuldstændig beskrivelse af stapelstaden Fridericia - efter pålidelige underretninger og egne undersøgninger." (page 176) and published in 1767 that the Danes called the dog "large hound", a terminology continued well in to the 20th Century.
In Germany in 1780 the hound is referred to as "Grosse Dänische Yagd Hund" or "Large Danish Hunting Hound" (see Edward C. Ash : Practical Dog Book, 1931, "The Great Dane").
The first dog exhibition was held in Hamburg 14-20 July 1863. 8 dogs were called "Dänische Dogge" and 7 "Ulmer Doggen".
The records of FCI from this meeting shows that all documentation was published in Bulletin Officiel de la Société Canine de Monaco, August 1937.
At some point, either during or immediately after World War II, the country of origin of the hound is changed from the original Denmark to Germany. FCI would appear to no longer have the records that would be able to explain why that might be.
"Ðéah þe haéðstapa hundum geswenced heorot hornum trum holtwudu séce" (Beowulf, Old English, written about 755-757 ACE, line 1368-69)
"Though the heath-stepper harassed by hounds, The hart with strong horns, seeks the forest (Modern English translation by Benjamin Slade) Appearance i got this info From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia