The Broholmer, a large guardian breed of dog calls Denmark home. This ancient breed of mastiff is called slagterhunden (Butcher’s dog) in its country of origin as the dog assists in driving cattle to the market. This is an excellent guard dog, ably watches and protects the livestock as well as the people it considers as his family. This dog that was the result of crossing a German mastiff with an English mastiff became the favored pets of royalty. English royalty gifted the Danes with English mastiff and the German royalty gave the English German Mastiffs. These Danish Broholmer dogs were portrayed in renaissance paintings of Danish kings. Several Broholmers were owned by King Frederik VII and Countess Danner. Tyrk, a favorite Broholmer was shown on a painting of the couple done in 1859. Tryk was stuffed and is now displayed in the Copenhagen Zoological Museum.
A mature Danish Broholmer stands from 27½ to 29½ inches and weighs between 90 to 130 pounds. This breed has heightened senses that make them an outstanding and dependable livestock guardian. These are well muscled handsome dogs. The coat may be short and rough but it does have a striking appearance because of its vivid black, yellow or golden red color. These dogs are most sought after because they make wonderful pets. A Danish Broholmer is calm, friendly, loving and very observant. To be a Danish Broholmer owner, one must first be a member of the Broholmer Society. All Broholmers that meet the standard specified by the Boholmer Society are given a tattoo on the ears as identification. For the purpose of reviving the breed the breeding committee of the Broholmer Society requires male and female dogs that meet the standard to breed. These registered Broholemers should not be castrated or sterilized. Likewise, medications should not be given to prevent the heat of the dog.
A Danish Broholmer is a healthy breed. Most dogs live longer than the 11 years life expectancy of the breed. The Broholmer like any other breed of large dog grow quickly. A four to five month old puppy would appear to be a half grown medium sized breed of dog. Owners should not over exercise a puppy as it would put too much strain on the bones that are not yet fully developed. This could cause problems later on.
When you see a Broholmer you will notice at once the dog’s muscular appearance. This is a large breed of dog whose appearance is made even more striking by the massive head. A resting Broholmer would appear to be stooping as the head is carried low and the tail hangs down like a saber. When a Broholmer is alert the head is carried high. The tail is raised horizontally but not over the topline when the dog is on the move. This dog has a long back and a straight topline, a deep chest and an impressive well developed forebreast that ripples with muscles. The powerful neck has some loose skin.
A Broholmer has a flat and broad skull, a large muzzle and a well developed black nose. Round eyes that show the confident personality of the dog have a light to dark amber color. Set on high medium sized ears hangs close to the cheeks. The dog’s coat is rather short and lies close to the skin. The undercoat is very thick. Coat color ranges from black, yellow and golden red. Yellow coated dogs can have black masks. White marking may also appear on the chest, feet and tail tip.
Other mastiff breeds are noted for being rambunctious and gawky. This is not so with a Broholmer as this dog is calm and seems to ooze with confidence. These dogs are very friendly and affectionate although known to be wary of strangers. This dog is a through and through guardian of the livestock as well as the home. A Broholmer is always alert, always watchful. The dog may appear to be calm but you never know what the he is thinking and what his next move will be. These dogs are not really aggressive but they have the inherent trait to protect their territories. This dog does not have the propensity to bark. This makes a Boholmer even more intimidating. As they say, a barking dog seldom bites.
This dog is affectionate with the human family but because of the size, small children should not be kept in close proximity with the dog. As mentioned, a Broholmer is highly territorial. This breed is not comfortable with other dogs, especially male dogs. A Broholmer though is known to tolerate smaller animals. Did you know that a female Danish Broholmer nursed and raised lion cubs in the Zoological Gardens in Denmark? The aggressive attitude towards other dogs can be tempered with training. This breed though can be a challenge to train. An owner has to be decisive and conduct the training in a positive, firm but kindly manner.
This breed should never be allowed to live in an apartment. Apart from being large in size, the dog is very active and would need a large area to play and to run.
A Danish Broholmer does not have extensive grooming needs. Because the coat is short, a once a week brushing would suffice. However, these dogs are heavy shedders. During shedding season, brushing must be done everyday to remove dead hair. Bathing the dog frequently during this time would accelerate the shedding process.
The Broholmer is an ancient breed of dog. It was believed that ancestors of this breed were the dogs brought by the Vikings. It was believed that when Vikings occupied the British Isles they brought English mastiffs to Denmark and Scandinavia. Skeletons of large dog were found by archeologists in the graves of Vikings. Vikings have this belief of bringing their most prized possessions when they die. One of these possessions is the dog that is deemed to serve them in the after life. Mastiffs during those times are much fiercer than what we have these days. Vikings who are fierce themselves would be impressed with the dogs.
Centuries later, the descendants of the mastiffs brought by the Vikings were crossed with German mastiffs. During the 17th century, the English aristocracy gifted the Danes with English mastiffs. These mastiffs were bred with the existing Danish mastiffs. The dogs that were developed are strong, powerful and swift. These dogs were used to guard castles and estates as well as to drive cattle to the market thus the name butchers dogs. These are versatile dog, they were also used to hunt wild boar. Because of the breed’s impressive appearance, it has attracted the attention of artists and royalty. Paintings of Christian IV and Frederik II, the Danish renaissance kings portray this elegant and powerful dog.
In spite of the popularity numbers of this breed tremendously decreased until it almost got extinct. Fortunately, Count Neils Frederik Sehested of Broholm-Funen, an archeologist and the Royal game keeper decided to rehabilitate the breed in 1850. The rehabilitation program was slow and expensive. Count Sehested travelled around Denmark to look for remaining dogs that can be used to reconstruct the breed. The program succeeded after many years. To further improve the population of the breed, Count Sehested distributed puppies to Danish people on the condition that they will continue the breeding. In honor for the efforts of Sehested, the breed was named Broholmer, after Broholm, the estate of Sehested.
The Broholmer has enjoyed tremendous popularity. It became the favorite dog of the king of Denmark. King Frederik VII and Duchess Danner owned several Broholmers. The dog was given other names, Frederik VII’s dog and Jaegersprisdog.
Distemper and the strife caused by the two World Wars cause Broholmer numbers to decrease. Raising large dog became out of fashion because of their expensive feeding habits. It was even thought the breed was completely lost. The breed has another savior in the person of cynologist Jytte Weiss who encouraged the reconstruction of the breed. In 1974, restoration of the breed was commenced when the Danish Kennel Club appointed the Committee for National and Forgotten Breeds. Through the committee’s efforts two Broholmer were found. Jytte Weis and OleStaunskjar travelled extensively to look for other specimens that matched the 1886 standard. Manne, a black Broholmer became the foundation of the modern Broholmer. In 1982, the Standard was officially approved by FCI.
The breeding program has gained ground. Selling Broholmer outside Denmark was allowed in January 1998 but with the stipulation that only 10% of the puppies born can be sold and exported.