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European Danes vs. American Danes

2 different styles explained

What does "Full Euro" or "100 % Euro" mean?

There are a lot of advertisements for puppies these days that stress that their puppies are 100% or full Euro, or 60% Euro, or any variety of percentages. Most people don't know exactly what this means, so I thought I would give it a shot to explain what all of this means to puppy buyers, breeders and owners. I recently googled "European Great Danes" and the first 3 or 4 pages are all breeders in the United States selling their "European" Great Danes. Yikes!

In my experience, most breeders consider their dogs to be full European if the lineage is all European or both parents were imported, or the puppy itself was imported. Generally they are not distinguishing from different countries in Europe, but just using importation as a guideline to say European. It appears to have evolved from a description into a selling point, or selling strategy. There are claims that European Danes are healthier, better temperaments, etc. But the only way to know the difference in all of these dogs is to know their bloodlines. The majority of puppy owners are not going to understand the subtle or not so subtle differences in different bloodlines and breeders, etc. So let's continue to explore different European countries, the difference in Great Danes and also what does it mean to have an American Great Dane or American "style" Great Dane. 

In my further research and addition to this page, is that according to the following descriptions and difference, the American style Dane is actually bred to Standard and the Euro style Dane (Mastiff) is a Pseudo-Dane and not a correct representative of the breed. The styles SHOULD be the same, but many breeders have changed the shape of the true breed standard and have changed our breed to a disgusting caricature of it's real self. I support the preservation of the classical/original style Dane and do not breed for this Pseudo-Dane type. This has all been explained very well on a blog that is not mine, but one that I very much enjoy reading. I will post some links to it on the side of my page. Enjoy!

What does it mean when they say American Lines?

Typically breeders will differentiate their American Danes from the breeders saying they have Full European Danes for sale. For an easy description, the obvious answer is that the dogs originated in the United States of America, and they have been bred to other dogs in the USA and thus they are American Danes. Interesting enough, all of the Great Danes in the US were all originally imported from Europe, but they looked the same as what the American Danes look like today. The standards (the blueprint of what a Great Dane should look like) are identical in the FCI Standard (European) and the AKC standard (American Kennel Club). So this begs the questions as to why the two types of the same breed vary so much in looks, when they should be identical if they are following the standard. I will split up different body parts and different regions of the World in order to show the difference between the two styles of Danes. In fact, many American style Danes can resemble the European style as well. So in my opinion, selecting the style you like, by evaluating the parents and their offspring is more important than asking if they are "Euro" or not. So education on this subject I feel is necessary, so that people are not purchasing 100% Euro or full Euro puppies and they are getting a poorer quality dog, and they do not realize this, because they are buying based on a description, not the actual dog itself. (Pictured here is my gorgeous black bitch Peep, who is of American lineage.)

The Heads! This is where most people can see the difference between a "Euro" Dane and an "American" Dane.

Baron has a more "European" style head than most of my dogs but he has less than 25% European bloodlines. He does not have a pseudo-hyper type head though. I like his style of head, but you do not have to have "Full Euro" in order to get this type of Dane.

Fitz is an American male with a nice broad chest, elegant movement and proportionate head piece.

An American style Dane had less lip, a more delicate bone structure and more of a rectangular head vs. the more square head of the European style. Body types as well can be lighter. The one on the left is a male, so that does not make a straight across comparison with this lovely American line bitch.

Winny has a very American style head. Little to no wrinkles and the muzzle will show not much lip at all, at this stage. The baby's nose will start out pointier at birth, but it will straighten out as they mature. Heavy head dogs will generally have the heavier nose at birth.

Comparison Pictures

The Written Standards "Great Dane Blueprints"

Here is the Great Dane Club of America's Illustrated Standard:

Here is the FCI (Federation Cynologique Internationale) Illustrated Standard:

If you read through both standards, you will see that they are virtually identical although the GDCA standard is more in depth. So it seems to come down to how different people and judges interpret this standard, as to what is produced and wins in conformation shows around the world.  

What Countries have different styles of Great Danes?

Since we have started with the difference between American and European Danes, I will start with American Danes. (This list is not meant to be all inclusive. I will do my best to add the main areas that Danes commonly come from.)

In my experience and research, the following countries show a more refined version of the Great Dane:

  • USA
  • Canada
  • Mexico
  • Scandinavian Countries that consist of : Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland and Denmark

The heavy "Pseudo-Dane" mastiff style Danes generally originate from these Countries:

  • Germany
  • Hungary
  • Poland
  • Ukraine
  • France
  • Italy
  • Spain
  • Portugal
  • Russia
  • Serbia
  • Croatia

Interesting enough, in my opinion there are several countries that appear to breed a heavier American type:

  • The United Kingdom
  • Ireland
  • Australia

So What Does This Mean To Me As A Puppy Buyer?

There are many things to look for when you are selecting a puppy, and the main thing is your breeder! But we are not talking about breeders right now, let's talk puppies. I do not advertise my puppies as "Euro" anything, because there are some many different varieties, and when someone asked me if I breed Euro or have Euro puppies, then generally I don't have time to educate them, and they will choose someone that uses the catch phrases. So I hope this page will help educate a buyer that might find this part confusing. You are really looking for a type of Dane, not necessarily a bloodlines unless you are someone that has done extensive research on different bloodlines. So when searching for a puppy beware of some breeders that sell Full Euros, because I have noticed that there are several kennels that import a LOT of Great Danes into the USA, and they will sell them to anyone and anybody. Of course they are not sending their best dogs over here! They are keeping their best dogs and selling, what I deem, a bunch of "crap" to uneducated breeders who think that importing or getting some Full Euro bloodlines, they are getting the best. These Danes do NOT fit the standard conformation wise, although they may have large heavy, droopy heads. Most of them look like mastiffs to me. So please take a good look at the parents, if you want to see what your puppy will look like. Take your time in your search and do not buy Full Euro just because you think it might be something extra special that you cannot get in the USA, but in reality many are not something extra special, but the dogs they don't want to have over in Europe. Now this in not saying ALL imports are like this. Some breeders are very selective about who they sell to, and if they export something they will export good quality dogs. If you start looking, you can start to see the difference.

So What Does This Mean To Me As A Breeder?

Don't import or buy something at face value. Please look at the parents that you are purchasing from. Is it from a kennel that von W or von S? Do they import over a 100 dogs per year into the USA? Do you think you are getting a special or unique dog without actually taking a look at the parents? Just because they say they are Champions, are they really Champions? If so, what kind of Champion? Do some research and make sure you are getting something that will better the breed and improve your program. (Pictured is a mantle bitch that was imported from a very well known kennel in Europe. Both of her parents were Champions. She is so small to be outside the standard, although she had correct conformation. Just because they are listed as European, does not mean they will be BIG. )

Euro/American Links