The St Dane ???

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Every thirty years or so, things go horribly wrong. War breaks out. Famine strikes. Stock markets crash. The usual stuff. I'm not talking about that.

I am talking about the trend in Central Europe, the heartland of our breed, of some people trying to turn our beloved St Bernard into something I can only describe as a weird "St Dane". This effort is being led by a group of Swiss, German, French and Italian fanciers known as "The Forum". These self-appointed zealots have managed to impose their bizarre notions of what our breed should be on the WUSB. You think I am being paranoid perhaps? Well let's have a look at some of the top winners from the WUSB and Forum shows over the past few years. The first dog was Best In Show at a recent Forum Show.

 

And this bitch was the Best In Show at the WUSB show.

And here is a group shot of recent top winners....

Please note that the dog on the right is the female that was considered the BEST dog of them all at the last WUSB show by a panel of European judges.

Not to insult the Great Dane people, but it seems to me that the Central European breeders have decided that they want  to have a dog as tall as a Great Dane with the markings of a St Bernard. In other words, they are creating the ST DANE!

Where is the heavy leg bone? Where are the chests? Where are the powerful bodies? Where is the level topline? Where is the angulation? WHERE IS THE TYPE?

I wrote about this trend after attending the WUSB show in Holland in 2006. Since then, others have sounded the alarm, including Horst Vogel and Paul Bodeving in more recent Saint Fancier articles. At the last National in New York, several of the top breeders from Belgium and Norway also expressed in no uncertain terms that this is indeed the situation in that area, and it is rare that a Standard-type dog wins there anymore. The St Dane model now rules. I was told by a reliable source that the president of one of those national breed clubs told him that there should be no difference between a Saint Bernard and a Great Dane, except for the markings! 

I am confounded utterly. How is it possible to look back at pictures of the great old European dogs, such as the Leberberg dogs, and then want to breed these St Danes? I am at a loss to explain how this has happened except to say that it is some form of collective misguidance. Fortunately there are still good Saints of the old Standard type to be found, particularly in the Scandanavian countries but they are being increasingly marginalized. And heaven help the breeder over there who has North American bloodlines in their pedigrees. A great protest was raised when the dog below had the nerve to win TWO Best In Shows at the largest all-breed shows in Switzerland.

This is Int Ch Lasquite's Dakota, a Canadian dog sired by our Iceman, who went to the Heezedoorn kennels of Holland. After he had those great wins, The Forum and WUSB executives wrote a protest to the powers that be. What nonsense.

Two World Wars couldn't destroy the breed type in Europe. But these Forum folks seem to be doing it all by themselves in a time of peace and prosperity. Ironic, isn't it?