The Great Dane Club of America is working on revising the breed standard. One of the biggest pieces to the revisions is the addition of the color merle. This means that, hopefully in the near future, merles will be in the show ring!
Harlequin breeders have long realized that merles are part and parcel of the harlequin breeding program. We love our merles.
Why is the addition of merles so exciting? To understand that, one must first understand the importance of the merle gene in the harlequin world. In order to produce a harlequin (over simplified explanation), we must have one copy of the merle gene, along with a harlequin modifier gene.
That means, we need the merle gene to produce a harlequin. This also means that even when breeding two show-marked dogs together, right now, we always have the potential to produce non-showable puppies. This is problematic to harl breeders because we cannot pick the best puppy in our litter…we have to pick the best show marked puppy. We might be placing a better puppy in a pet home, merely because of their color. This removes wonderful dogs from the gene pool.
When merles can be shown, harlequin breeders have much better odds of producing an all show-marked litter, allowing them to pick the best puppy overall. Not just the best pup of a certain color. There are still some harl family colors that cannot be shown (like pie-balds, whites, “merliquins”, etc.).
The newest revision, presented at the general membership meeting at the Great Dane Club of America National Specialty, has some great wording, making patterns and markings less important than structure and breed type.
The GDCA Standards committee is doing a wonderful job writing up changes and listening to the membership’s feedback. They have went through multiple revisions and I think we are getting very close to a final version.