all about GREAT

Merle Gene Testing Soon

This press release on merle gene testing is reprinted with permission from the Great Dane Club of America.

Linda Ridder, President, GDCA.
2933 Archer Lane, Springfield, OH, 45503
Phone: 937-342-1535, Fax: 937-878-4806

Dear Members,

What and amazing era we live in! In late January, I returned from our board meeting in Dallas where we had as our speaker, Dr. Keith Murphy. He and his research team are the ones responsible for identifying the merle gene many of you have heard about. You can find more information on this important discovery on the Health & Research area of our website. The GDCA did not fund this research because there were other breeds with the merle gene who were also interested. A commercial test will soon be available to test for the merle gene, this test will likely retail for less than $100.00. The blue gene has also been identified by another researcher and that test is already available. Again please see our website for complete information.

Now that this has been accomplished, Dr. Murphy feels that they can find the harle gene within a relatively short period of time, perhaps a year to eighteen months. Identifying the harle gene along with the merle will give breeders the tools to breed healthier litters and dramatically increase their control over the color of puppies they produce. How exciting for our beloved breed!

This project was brought to the board by the Health & Research Committee and has the full support of the chairman, Dr. Neil O’Sullivan and the former chair, J.P. Yousha. They have been very enthusiastic about the project and the opportunity to work with such a renowned researcher as Dr. Keith Murphy and his team. Dr. Murphy also has recently sent AKC a proposal on DCM for review and hopefully funding. Since the research for the harle gene affects only our breed, we need to be responsible for funding it. Dr. Murphy’s initial estimate was $69,000 but since he is so committed to this project, he has generously offered to reduce the cost to $50,000 by conducting his research in a different manner.

The board was very interested in the project but felt that we could not afford to fund the entire amount. It was suggested that we do matching funds with the GDCA Charitable Trust up to half the cost of the project. By funding it through the Trust, donations are tax deductible. Just this week, the board made a motion, seconded and voted to recommend to the GDCA Charitable Trust that they fund the revised Harle Gene Research and the GDCA will match independent funding of the project, dollar for dollar, up to a maximum of $25,000.

The majority of the board members felt that this is important for us as a national breed club to be more proactive in funding research that would benefit the Great Dane. On the recommendation of our Health & Research Committee and Chairman Dr. Neil O’Sullivan, we have chosen this research. The club is fortunate to have Dr. O’Sullivan and J.P. Yousha to guide us through the difficult arena of canine genetics. Hopefully this is just the first step in helping all Great Danes.

Let me assure all of you that there is no agenda other than advancing research on our beloved Danes. No other changes to current practices have even been discussed and there is no plan to do so. Any major changes could only be made by a membership vote and none is anticipated. This is purely and simply an investment in the future of our breed.

Your help is needed to achieve these goals. I encourage you to please make a tax deductible donation, and mark it for the Harle Gene Research and mail to:

Lourdes Carvajal, Administrator
GDCA Charitable Trust
6800 E. Pony Creek Road
Freeman, MO 64746-6274

Your donations will be personally acknowledged and listed on our website. If you have any questions about the Charitable Trust please contact Lourdes Carvajal (

Affiliate clubs could also promote fundraising through donations and various events such as auctions, raffles and judge’s gift specified for Harle Gene Research. The possibilities are endless. bake sales, cookbooks, etc. Put on your thinking caps! This could be a fun club project. We have already received several club donations.

Thank you so much for your help in funding this important research.


Linda Ridder, President
Great Dane Club of America

Permission to reprint or link to the President's message above is granted. 
GDCA, 2006