Zeus, the tallest-ever Great Dane recorded, was a pure black. But his present successor Freddy has a merle coat, which is not on the show-dog list of the Great Dane Club of America. It recognizes only six show-acceptable Great Dane colors. However, the “Apollo of dogs” come in a wider variety of coats. The American Kennel Club lists 17 purebreds – nine standard and eight registered – Great Dane coat colors.
The GDCA dog shows allow participation of these “Gentle Giants” with only six coat colors – black, blue, fawn, brindle, harlequin, mantle. The AKC acknowledges three more – white, black and white, merle – as standard Great Dane colors. It accepts registration of as many as eight coat varieties. While many of these colors are the result of conventional breeding, some, such as blue-brindle, mantle-merle, blue-fawn, and chocolate-brindle, are due to unplanned or deliberate cross color breeding.
Here are the most prevalent nine types of Great Dane colors.
Great Dane Colors: Black Coat
This type of Great Dane coat color looks glossy and shines as you groom your dog. Some of these black dogs may spot markings on their chest and toes. However, these markings are not recognized as a desirable sign of pedigree. Also, these dogs should not have fawn, brindle, harlequin, mantle, or blue marks on them.
Black Great Danes are the most likely to give birth to puppies of the same coat color. Blue, harlequin, and mantle families are also likely to have black puppies.
Great Dane Colors: Blue Coat
Blue-colored Great Danes are viewed as a diluted version of black ones. According to the AKC standard, such dogs must have a pure steel blue coat. Dogs with fawn, brindle, or harlequin colors or white spots on chest and toes are not recognized as having the true pedigree of blue Great Danes.
Blue puppies are more likely when two Great Danes with the same color family are bred. Even black and blue breeding results in puppies with this Great Dane coat color. Blue pups are also born in the black Great Dane families.
Great Dane Colors: Mantle Coat
A mantle Great Dane, according to the AKC standards, must have the following physical appearance.
- Two colors – black and white
- Black skull
- A solid black blanket covering the upper body
- A white muzzle, a white chest
- Extensive or partly white markings on legs
- The tail tip is white
- May or may not have a whole white collar, white blaze
A tiny white marking on the black blanket is allowed. However, more variation in given color or markings is not accepted as a true mantle Great Dane pedigree.
These Danes were previously referred to as Boston Terriers. They got the recognition as mantle Great Danes only in the late 1990s.
If you want to have a mantle Great Dane, meet breeders with harlequin or mantle Danes. However, make sure you are not sold a mismarked black pup, which is common in these families, as a mantle Dane.
Great Dane Colors: Harlequin Coat
White coat with torn patches of black markings make harlequin Great Danes easy to identify. While the neck remains more or less pure white, irregular black patches are prevalent across the body. However, these are not large enough to give an impression of an overwhelming black coat with white marks.
Harlequin Great Danes differ from Dalmatians, which has smooth rounded black spots.
The AKC standard for Great Dane colors allows a few gray patches or heavily black marked on white. But it is not desirable for dog shows.
Harlequin Dane pups may have a pinkish nose that turns black or dark pink as he grows up. Eyes of these dogs have varied colors – blue, brown, or dark eyes. Even two eyes may have two colors.
It is not easy to breed harlequin Great Danes, as these dogs carry genes of many other color families. A harlequin family may have mismarked black, mismarked white, merle, and mantle pups apart from the original colored dogs. Until a puppy matures, it is difficult to identify his harlequin pedigree.
Great Dane Colors: Fawn Coat
A fawn Great Dane is most likely to come to your mind when you read or think of these big dogs. With a coat exhibiting light grey-brown color (yellow gold), fawn Danes may or may not have black masks, though it is desirable. The deeper the color, the more preferred it is. Ears, tail tip, eyebrow, and face rims are black in color. It is not desirable to have white chest and toes. These dogs must not have black, blue, or harlequin markings superimposed on their coats.
Crossbreeding of fawn, brindle, and harlequin Danes are likely to result in fawn puppies.
Great Dane Colors: Brindle Coat
With strips of a tiger on yellow golden coats, brindle Great Danes look unique. Strips are strong black in color and look similar to the chevron pattern. Their face has a black mask or dotting lines much similar to their fawn brothers. Black markings may also be there on the ears and tail tip.
Dog lovers prefer the deeper yellow-brown base color of the coat. However, white markings on chest and toes are not preferred. Dirty, too much, and too little brindling are also undesirable.
You may get a brindle puppy only when a fawn is bred to a brindle or fawn.
Great Dane Colors: Merle Coats
Often sold as rare-colored Great Danes, dogs with merle coats are not accepted as show dogs. However, these are registered as purebreds. Merle Great Danes are born in harlequin families and their planned breeding is discouraged, as these dogs also are predisposed to health problems.
Each merle Great Dane is different from the other in color pattern and markings. This is due to breeding of different color-crossed Danes.
There are different types of merle Great Danes primarily due to the difference in color spots, such as fawn, chocolate, brindle, mantle, blue, silver, tri-colored, etc.
Both parents carrying the merle gene are likely to have deaf, blind, and genetically flawed puppies.
Great Dane Colors: White Coat
White Great Danes born out of harlequin- harlequin, harlequin- merle, and merle- merle breeding. Such dogs carry two merle genes, which is the reason for their pure white coat color. It is not accepted as show-dog Great Dane color.
White dogs are prone to deafness and eye problems.
Great Dane Colors: Black and White Coat
These types of Great Dane colors are a reversal of harlequin coat. Due to the predominance of the black gene, the harlequin characteristics remain in the background. The dog looks to have a black coat with irregular white markings. It is not accepted as a show-dog Great Dane color.
Other Great Dane Colors
Apart from these nine standard coats, the AKC list has many registered purebred Great Dane colors, such as chocolate, merlequin, blue brindle, chocolate with white marks or brindling, mantle merle, and silver.
Remember, all Great Danes are awesome dogs and true to their characteristic loving temperament.