This section is from the book "A History And Description Of The Modern Dogs Of Great Britain And Ireland. (Sporting Division)", by Rawdon Briggs Lee. Also available from Amazon: A History and Description of the Modern Dogs of Great Britain and Ireland: Sporting Division.
Again it is not unusual for the Dane to be trained to find truffles, a well known edible fungus which grows underground.
A friend of mine who has kept the variety for years, and still owns some exceedingly fine specimens, says the Dane appears to have a peculiar dislike to pigs of any kind, and coming across either one or a "sounder" is pretty certain to lay himself out to attack them. This scarcely gives the impression that he has had any connection with Ireland, where the pig is so common.
As special attention has been called to the Great Dane as a companion, allusion to that dog belonging to Prince Bismarck may not be out of place; still Tyras, the dog, was, in his palmy days, not a very much greater favourite than his master came to be later on. Maybe, the happiness of two countries was on at least one occasion placed in jeopardy by the action of the German Chancellor's hound. It has been said that a somewhat spirited conversation was proceeding between Bismarck and the Russian Prime Minister Gortschakoff. The latter, gesticulating rather more violently than usual, led Tyras, who lay reposing on the rug, to suspect an attack on his master, so, springing at the proud Russian, he brought him to the floor. Apologies were profuse and accepted. Prince Gortschakoff was not bitten, only frightened, and the peace of Europe remained undisturbed.
A writer in the Kennel Gazette gives the following interesting description of Prince Bismarck's favourite dog: I reproduce it here, as it will assist my readers in arriving at the character and disposition of the ordinary Great Dane:
"Of all the dogs that have a place in history, Tyras, the noted Ulmer dog of the German Chancellor, is the only one whose death has been deemed of sufficient interest to be cabled round the world as an event, not merely of European, but of cosmopolitan interest. Indeed, the record of Tyras hardly ended with his life, for the cable has since told the world that the first visitor to Prince Bismarck on his recent birthday was the youthful emperor, who brought as a present another dog, of the type of the lamented Tyras. For nearly sixty years Prince Bismarck has owned specimens of the Great Dane, and generally has had one or more of unusual size. His first hound, acquired while living with his parents at Kniephof, was one of the largest ever seen, and was an object of awe to the peasantry of the district. This dog afterward accompanied his young master to the college at Gottingen, where he speedily made his mark. Once when Bismarck was summoned to appear before the rector for throwing an empty bottle out of his window, he took with him his enormous hound, to the great dismay of the reverend dignitary, who promptly found refuge behind a high-backed chair, where he remained until the hound had been sent out of the room. Bismarck was fined five thalers for bringing this "terrific beast" into the rector's sanctum, in addition to the punishment meted out to the original offence.
"As a law student and official at Berlin, during his travels in many lands, throughout his diplomatic career at Frankfort, St. Petersburgh, Paris, and elsewhere, as well as at Varzin and at Friedrichsruh, Bismarck has always had the companionship of one or more of his favourite dogs. Probably the one to which he was most attached was Sultan, which died at Varzin in 1877. Tyras, who was of unusual size, and of the slate colour, which is most popular in Germany, was then quite a young dog, and he was the constant companion of his illustrious owner till the time of his death, sharing his walks, his rides, his business, and his meals, and keeping guard in his bedroom at night. Owing to his uncertain temper, he was not often seen in the streets or gardens of Berlin.
"He was, indeed, regarded more as belonging to the "Pomeranian Squire" side of the Prince's life than to his official establishment. At Varzin or Friedrichsruh, however, the two were inseparable. No sooner was the most absolutely necessary business of the morning dispatched, than the Reichskanzler sallied off with the "Reichshund" at his heels, and for the rest of the day, the long light coat, and the battered felt hat of the famous statesman, were not greater objects of interest than the huge dog which followed him everywhere, on horseback or on foot."
At the present time the best Great Danes in England are owned by Mr. Reginald Herbert; Mr. R. Hood Wright, Frome; Mr. and Mrs. H. L. Horsfall, Diss; Mr.C. Petrywalski,London; Mr. R. Leadbetter, Berkshire; Mr. S. Pendry, Windsor; Mr. R. Coop, St. Helen's, and some few others. He is not in many hands, and, although the entries in the Kennel Club's stud book keep up their numbers fairly well, the old Great Dane Club itself had but twenty-seven members when it ceased to exist in 1895, consequent on the rule the Kennel Club adopted with regard to the abolition of cropping. Another club was immediately started, and at the time of writing, it has over forty members. Now the classes at Birmingham, the Crystal Palace, Brighton, Liverpool, etc, secure entries quite equal in number to any since the introduction of the Dane in this country, the new club evidently popularising the Dane as a show dog.
Perhaps the best all-round Great Dane we have had here was the brindled bitch Vendetta, first exhibited by Mr. Reginald Herbert, and sold by him to Mr. Craven for a large sum. She was not a particularly big bitch, though perhaps taller and heavier than she looked by reason of her lovely symmetry. She stood 31½ inches at the shoulder and weighed 1401b.; but in general form and correctness of type of head, without lippiness or hound-like appearance, she was pretty nearly perfect. Windle Princess (Mr. Coop's) is another beautiful bitch, and again not a very big one. Mr. E. H. Adcock's Ivanhoe, a richly coloured brindle dog, has repeatedly and deservedly won prizes at our leading shows. Mr. Wilbey's Hannibal the Great was thought to be the best of his year, an enormous animal of immense power, but perhaps a little heavier and too mastiff-like in head to quite please some of our insular prejudices. He came to this country with a reputation as the best of his race in the land of his birth, which was Germany. This dog unfortunately got strangled in his kennel in August, 1892. Other good dogs are, or were, a Belgian dog, Herr Dobbelmann's Bosco Colonia, fawn in colour, who won prizes at the Agricultural Hall in 1897; War Cry, Corsica, Harlequin Nero, Bouchan, Sea King, Leal, Baron of Danes, Norseman, Queen of Saxony, Windle Princess, Earl of Warwick, Windle Queen, Selwood Sambo and Selwood Ninon, Count Fritz, Hannibal of Redgrave, Mammoth Queen, Snow King, and Senta Valeria, the latter a harlequin bitch of great excellence which, when shown by M. Aaron, took leading honours at the Crystal Palace in 1895; she is now the property of Mr. R. Leabetter.
As to the heights and weights of prominent winners, the following may, perhaps, not be without interest: - Norseman was 33 inches at the shoulders, weight 1551b.; Sea King, 32½ inches, weight, 1681b.; eal 33¾ inches, weight, 1821b.; Young Leal, 33½ inches, weight, 1541b.; Prince Victor, 33 inches and 1501b. weight; Cedric the Saxon, 33½ inches and 170lb. weight; Baron of Danes, 33½ inches and 1551b. weight; Ivanhoe, 33 inches and 1681b. weight; Marco, 34 inches and 1901b. weight; Earl of Warwick, 33 inches and 1751b. weight; Dorothy, 30½ inches, 1251b. weight; Challymead Queen, 30½ inches and 1251b. weight; Corsica, 31 inches and 1401b. weight; and Ranee, 29 inches, 1051b. weight.
The original Club had a hard and fast rule absolutely disqualifying any dog with cankered teeth or with a joint or more removed from the end of the tail. These disabilities have, however, been removed by the new club, who elect to leave disqualification or otherwise for such defects altogether in the hands of the judges. I do not know that Danes are more afflicted with "cankered" teeth than any other dogs; but, with respect to their "tails," cases have occurred where a dog has had a joint or two amputated, in order that the appendage did not curl at the end. The sore or bare place remaining was accounted for by the hound dashing his stern against the kennel walls or benches, a habit which frequently causes trouble to the caudal extremity of some big smooth-coated dogs.
As to cropping, the rule of the Kennel Club is to the effect that no dog born after March 30th, 1895, can, if cropped, win a prize at any show held under Club Rules.