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**NOTE: The articles in the section on "Great Dane SPECIFIC Coat Color Information" are intended specifically as a practical aid to those breeding & exhibiting Great Danes. They may not always be relevant to other breeds & the information is deliberately not technically minded.
DRAPP FARBUNG: A LOST COLOR IN THE GREAT DANE?
There are numerous comments in the early German studbooks about a color of Great Dane simply referred to as Drapp or Drappfarben. Jill Evans has documented these comments numerous times in her series of articles in pedigrees and coat colours of the Great Dane (see GDR for the "Time Traveler" series). In these articles, she also notes the regular referrence to Rot as opposed to Gelb; Gelb being (presumably) the common golden-fawn we now know. This Rot may have been a distinctive color (russet) rather than simply a darker shade of yellow given the very specific references to both yellow and red in the stud books. Further, Jane Chopson has documented the presence of recessive "chocolate" , also called liver or brown or red, in the Great Dane. Yet, brown, in German Braun (including Rehbraun, i.e. fawn-colour) is rarely mentioned in the breed's history, although red and yellow specifically are each used to decribe typical colors commonly seen. The term Rehbraun (for fawn) is not recorded and when Braun is used, it is seperated from the usages of Gelb or Rot and typically describes some "brown and white" or "brown" offspring of harlequins; plus the term Braun seems to be only found in Germany in the era between WWI & WWII.
The longest standing description of the breed's colors is from the 1860s and specifies "the recognized colours [in the Great Dane] are the various shades of Grey (commonly called Blue), Red, Black, or pure White...with patches of the aforementioned colours....the above ground colours also appear in Brindles, and are also the ground colours of the mottled specimens. The mottled specimens have irregular patches, or clouds, upon the above-named ground colours; in some instances the clouds or markings being of two or more tints. The whole-coloured reddish-yellow, with black muzzle and ears, is the colour least cared for, as it is indicative of the Mastiff cross." (Translation courtesy of Jill Evans.)
Note although fawn with black mask is mentioned, it is not among the "recognised colours" & seems to have been (then) a recent introduction, judging from its exclusion from the list of the recognized colors, and from that last comment that cross-breeding of the Great Dane to Mastiffs resulted in the introduction of the color commonly called fawn. Yet Gelb (yellow), that is the fawn, soon became a standard color registered and dominates the breed today. The standard for fawn states the deep gold (the original Rot-gelb or "reddish-yellow" presumably?), is always to be preferred, but lighter shades of fawn, even to buff, (i.e. various yellows/creams), are commonly enough seen, (and allowed); indicating that not only masking,1 but perhaps chinchilla dilute (ch) may have been picked up along with the fawn/yellow color at this late date. (Note this is the a^y "yellow" or sable being referred to when generally talking of the Great Dane, and not the ee "recessive yellow" being discussed.)
But where did the recognised color of "red" go? If the "red" is not fawn (yellow), then is it might well be the "chocolate" still occassionally seen in the breed, that is the recessive (bb) (distinct also from the <ee> "gundog red"): called liver/red/chocolate or even brown now and again (depending on the breed). Like the Braun offspring of some harl litters, these two color descriptions seemed to have eventually dissapeared in the studbooks. It seems likely one (or both?) represent the "chocolate" (bb), a recessive "red" of the breed.
This dilute may have become unpopular, obscured by the coming dominance of fawn, or simply become rare for some unknown reason(s),2 as well as the obvious one that such a dilute has to be actively cultivated to prosper and to be seen in a breed (as we have done in Danes with our "blue" (dd) Maltese dilute) with any regularity. But, as Jane Chopson and Jill Evans have both noted, the b allele is certainly not extinct in the breed if it is rarely seen these days. As Jill Evans has pointed out, "before the [modern] Dane Standard was written to define the 5 <sic> permissible colours we still have, there was...an English champion, Ch. Orus of Lockerbie. His colour was brindle-harlequin...but it doesn't say what colour [the] stripes were! Ch. Orus was used for breeding, and so was his brindle sister, Pandora, who is behind some top English dogs." (Recall the original description of the breed allowed for various colors, plus brindles and patched danes in all possible combinations.) Even more recently a Champion-sired "chocolate" striped Great Dane was shown in California (in the early 1970s).
So now we come to some conclusions on that elusive color Drappfarben. This is not a cognate, so "drab" is not the correct translation for Drapp and there simply seems to be no clear idea in the literature of the breed of what this word was to convey. But some (rather vague) descriptions do exist & convey the notion of a dilute of some kind. The coat is described as "cafe-au-lait" or "lilac." Considering the above recessive alleles that are documented in the breed, the Drapp-coloured dane would most likely the "double dilute" (bbdd) of the Weimaraner "mouse" or Doberman "fawn": a coat color perhaps more properly referred to as dilute chocolate or blue-liver. The other possible (even additional) explanations for this Drapp is a chinchilla dilute blue--c^chc^chdd, or an albionic version of the double dilute perhaps (bbc*c*dd)--colors that have also been referred to typicaly as Isabella.3 A lot would depend on whether the nose leather was still dark or more of a flesh tone; the latter lending credence to the idea that the Drapp-coloured dane was blue-liver (bbdd) dilute:4 the best guess for Drappfarben is the <bbdd> double (blue-chocolate) dilution.
Thanks to Camilla Karnstein I can now (2002) add the following etymological data concerning the term DRAPP:
"[T]his is what the dictionaries have to say:
I. Deutsches Wörterbuch von Jacob und Wilhelm Grimm, vol. 11 (Lexer, Kralik ed.), Leipzig 1935: 'trappfarben': adj. 'bräunlich-gelblich-grau', das im deutschen Sprachgebiet des ehem. Österreich-Ungarn von Südtirol bis Nordböhmen allgemein gebräuchlich ... ist.'
Translation: Adjective, 'brownish-yellowish grey', commonly used in the German
language area of the former Austria-Hungary from Southern Tyrol to Northern Bohemia." (Strangely enough, the
word is written with a 't' here; maybe the editors thought the 'd' of 'drapp' a weakened, voiced 't', since this
is common in the Southern German dialects.)
II. Brockhaus-Wahrig Deutsches Wörterbuch' (Wahrig, Krämer, Zimmermann ed.), vol. 2, Wiesbaden/Stuttgart 1981: 'drappfarben ... österr.: sandfarben (zu frz. 'drap' 'Tuch')." and "Drap": lederähnlich gemachtes Gewebe (frz. 'Tuch').'
Translation: 'Austrian: sand coloured (cf. french 'drap' 'cloth, fabric')';'Drap':
'a kind of fabric made to look like leather.'
"The Grimm dictionary is unusual and also outdated, but the 'Wahrig' is still in use. There are several things one can learn from the explanations above: far from being 'coined' especially for Great Danes, the word drapp is an old dialect expression to describe a sandy, yellowish grey colour (like the leather-like fabric 'drap' - also an old-fashioned word). Probably.....the stud book where this expression was originally found (or at least the breeder) came from the region of the former Austrian empire ........ 'The truth' about the colour 'drapp' gets even more problematic, if you think about it from a linguistic or philological point of view. Language IS often unprecise, and in case of an old dialect word this is even worse, for they are defined by common sense (everybody in the region knows the right use; if the word gets out of everyday use, the 'precise' meaning is lost). Colour terms, for example, tend to be rather inexact (e.g. 'red' hair). And as far as I [know], the breeding of Great Danes as we know them had started in the 19th century. So the breed was not as standardized as today, when the drapp variety was a recognized colour. Drapp may well have been a regional colour, and it may have been used to summarize different genetic varietes giving a sand-like colour.... As far as I understand this problem, a drapp Dane must be some dilute variety of blue, a 'lavender' dog (which looks like a 'yellowish grey'). So, your ideas to the Drapp mystery get some support from the language point of view. " [Personal correspondence, 9-11-2002]
The rarity of the color at present also supports the idea of a blue-liver dilute, as both blues and fawns are hardly a rarity, so presumably, if Drapp were only a chinchilla blue dilute, i.e a "washy" blue-fawn that a yellowish blue considered a fault of colour, it would have not been recorded as a fault of color that is still with us; which is the case. So the best guess for the Drapp-coloured dane is the blue-liver "double dilute." As there are very occassional reports of people claiming to own "lavender" harlequins the color may still occur and could continue, given that the occassional "chocolate" Dane is documented as well; but these dilute colors seems mostly lost to the breed. However the loss of such color seems little to be mourned, considering the health problems so commonly associated with extreme dilute and albionic animals. But it does make an interesting historical puzzle. And learning a bit more about the history of one's breed can never be a fault.
1Clearly true (ebr) brindling, like masking (EM) would have to have had a^y (fawn) present in the breed to be expressed and recognised, if it was true brindling that was described and not a merle (Mm) phenomenon, or some sort of recessive agouti wild-type (a^g) allele. Tan-point (a^t) Danes have been registered, and black pups from "fawn" to "fawn" breedings have been documented, so it may well be that some other eumelanin-restricting alleles (e.g. e, a^g, a^b) have been "lost" to the breed as well.
2One obvious reason bb=recessive red is not seen in the breed is the standard for the breed universally calls for a black nose (but on harlequins), which permits the dark slate (blue-black) of a blue (dd) Dane to remain as a viable colour potentially, but certainly would discriminate against a red (bb) Dane, whose nose would necessarily be obviously self (brown) coloured.
3 Jill Evans notes both the terms Isabella & Drapp are used in the old German Studbooks for the breed, but as Isabella in Europe generally describes what we think of an a Palomino colour, I image what was meant by this color term at the time is a chinchilla dilute fawn, with perhaps blue or chocolate points, (to give a pale gold-to-cream dog), rather than the sort of cafe-au-lait "mouse" color with beige-to-brown nose leather that Drapp implies. Confusingly this color I imagine as Drapp (genetically bbdd) is sometimes referred to as both Isabella and fawn. And, of course, in all fairness, I may have it backwards: Drapp may be the chinchilla dilute, with Isabella the actual liver-blue dilute. But it's less likely as Isabella has long been though of as a bright sort of cream-and-gold while Drapp is some sort of "faded" shade. Both Drapp and Isabella registered dogs came from blue x blue and blue x fawn (from blue) breedings (some of which recorded also black pups). Hans Friedrich in 1923 describes Drappfarben as having light nails & nose, and the coat between blue (blau) and fawn, that is yellow, (gelb) in color. This also suggests Drapp could well be blue-liver (bbdd) dilute, i.e. Doberman "fawn." The Isabella then might be an albionic variant of Drapp (bbc*c*dd), or something simpler like a chinchilla-dilute, blue-faced fawn (a^ya^yB-c^chc^chdd), both of which could give a pale gold to wheat coloured coat. Drapp is commonly described as a milk-coffee color coat, not gold at all, & the name Drapp may have been incorporated in Dane literature just to be able to distinguish between the two variants.
4Note I am making the assumption that some C Locus alleles can affect eumelanin, given the multiple comments about yellowish blues. This exception to the rule that the C Locus doesn't affect but phaeomelanin may, of course, not actually exist. For the most up-to-date & extensive info on the sort of color-minimal dogs produced by these recessive dilutes, see Ione Smith, DVM's site on Albinism: http://www.geocities.com/~amazondoc/albinism/#albinoinheritance
This message written and prepared by JP Yousha for the purposes of education and
can be reprinted to that end. Thanks to those authors annotated and especially to Carmilla Karnstein for the 2002
update and etymological data.
All copyrights © remain with the author.
CHROMADANE 2000: updated 2002
*multi-titled/certified harlequin family danes*
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