12 Official Great Dane Colors & How To Spot Them

We all known Great Danes are the gentle giants of the dog world.

But did you know that there are 12 different Great Dane colors and patterns? They can be spotted, solid colored or a mixture of different colors.

The Great Dane is a descendant of Irish Wolfhounds and English Mastiffs. This gives them a variety of colors as both of these breeds are known for their coat variations. Many genes have been passed down over the years which has also created brindle and merle spotting.

Keep reading to learn about the seven recognized colors. We also share five unofficial colors and how to spot them…

How Many Great Dane Colors Are There?

Great Danes have 12 possible coat colors.

Seven colors are recognized by the Great Dane Club of America in their breed standard and five are not. The Great Dane Club of America does not recognize any colors other than those recognized by the American Kennel Club.

The seven official Great Dane colors are as follows:

  • Harlequin
  • Merle
  • Black
  • Blue
  • Brindle
  • Mantle
  • Fawn

The harlequin Dane is a white-coated dog with black spots, almost like a Dalmatian. Merle Danes have a gray coat with black spots in a merle pattern.

A black coat should be solid black with no other markings or patterns. Similarly, a blue should be a solid blue color with no markings.

Brindle Danes will have a yellow-gold coat with black tiger stripes, while a fawn will have the same yellow-gold color with a black muzzle. A mantle Dane will have a black coat with a white muzzle, legs, chest/neck and tail tip.

Great Danes can also come in five more colors, but they are not recognized by the Great Dane Club of America. These colors are not official because they are often combinations of colors or are undesirable. The five unofficial colors are:

  • Black and white
  • White
  • Piebald
  • Grey (Silver)
  • Fawnequin

The black and white will have a solid black coat with white markings on the paws, face, and chest. It will not have as much white as a mantle Dane.

White Danes are a solid white coat with no other markings. They are different from the harlequin because they have no black spots. The white coat is not recognized because of health issues such as blindness and deafness associated with the color.

The piebald Dane has a mostly a white coat, but with small patches of color. However, it will not have as many patches as a harlequin. To tell a harlequin and piebald apart you must look at the markings. A piebald will have very few colored patches of hair and they may only appear on the head. A harlequin will have many patches of black hair.

Silver or grey Great Danes are a dilute blue that appears silver in color. This dilution is common in other breeds and is how you can get silver Labradors.

Fawnequins are like harlequins except the spots will be a caramel-brown color, not black.

Below is a summary table of all twelve colors:

ColorDescriptionOfficialRare
BlackSolid black with no white markingsYesYes
Black and WhiteBlack coat with small white markingsNoNo
BlueSolid blue coatYesYes
BrindleGold coat with black stripesYesNo
FawnYellow-gold coat with black muzzleYesNo
FawnequinWhite coat with gold-brown spotsNoYes
HarlequinWhite coat with black spotsYesYes
MantleBlack coat with white legs, chest, and muzzleYesNo
MerleGray coat with black spotsYesNo
PiebaldWhite coat with a few colored spotsNoNo
Grey (Silver)Solid grey or silver coatNoYes
WhiteSolid white coatNoYes

Any of these 12 colors can be seen in puppies.

Puppies are usually born a slightly lighter shade than they will be as adults. Great Danes do change color before they are one year old, however the coat color just becomes a darker, richer shade. They do not undergo a complete color change.

Official Great Dane Colors

Harlequin

Harlequin Great Dane

A harlequin puppy will have a white coat with black patches and spots. The spots will be randomly placed throughout their coat and may be large patches or tiny spots. Pups sometimes have a pink nose, but the easiest way to spot one is by their black and white spotted coat.

The harlequin is one of the most expensive colors with a price tag of up to $3,000!

A solid white neck is the most desirable trait. The patches of black on a harlequin should not become a blanket and take up large portions of their coat. If the black areas cover the dog’s entire back, then that would most likely be a mantle Dane.

Only white dogs with black spotting are official harlequins.

Harlequin Great Danes can also come with a solid white coat and black hairs mixed into the coat. This gives them a salt and pepper look, but is less popular.

Merle

Merle Great Dane

A merle great Dane will have a gray base coat with black spots in a merle pattern. Merle puppies are easily recognized because their coat will be gray, not white like a harlequin. A white Dane with patches of merle is not an official color, but it is commonly called a merlequin.

Merle is the latest official color and was recently added to the breed standard. It was recognized by the Great Dane Club of America as of January 1st, 2019.

A merle Dane will have patches and small spots of black on its gray coat. Sometimes the merle coat is confused for blue, however it is always gray.

Black

Black Great Dane

A black great Dane will be solid black and should not have any white marks on it. The lack of white marks or patterns helps to make them unique, especially when compared with black and white, mantle or harlequins.

The back should be a solid, glossy black coat.

This dog will have no white markings and will be a jet black color, it will be far darker than a blue.

The Great Dane Club of America prefers a solid coated black dog with a glossy black coat. Black is the sleekest coat color and shows off their powerful physique. Some people even believe they look like “batman” with their sleek coat and tall ears!

Blue

Blue Great Dane
Astro from “The Jetson’s” was a cartoon blue great Dane!

The blue great Dane is always lighter than a black Dane. Its coat will appear blue or gray and will have no white markings on it. This coat color is described as a steel blue and should have blueish to it.

Steel blue coats with no markings are preferred.

Sometimes blue great Danes can be mistaken for a weimaraner when they are puppies because of their similar coats. This steel blue shade is also seen in French Bulldogs, Pitbulls and German Shepherds.

Their blue coat color is produced by a dilution gene which affects the black coat. Black coats appear watered down, but will not be as light in color as the silver. It should have a blue-tinted coat which is darker than silver.

Brindle

Brindle Great Dane

A brindle great Dane will have a golden-yellow base coat with heavy black stripes. The breed standard will only recognize brindle Danes with a fawn base coat and black stripes. Sometimes brindles have a black muzzle and chin.

Brindles are often called tiger striped. Their unique coat looks like a chevron pattern of black stripes across a golden coat.

Sometimes the striping is not very heavy and can be confused for a fawn Great Dane. But, a brindle will always have stripes, even if they are small, thin or faint. Fawns will not have any stripes or other markings besides a black muzzle. Other times the dog may have a lot of brindling that creates a strong chevron pattern.

Heavy brindling can create a reverse brindle that makes the Great Dane’s coat completely black as if the stripes took over!

The Great Dane Club of America prefers brindle Danes with a gold or yellow coat, black stripes and a black mask. The eyelids and eyebrows should be black along with black ear and tail tips.

Mantle

Mantle Great Dane

A mantle puppy will have a black body with white legs, chest and muzzle. The white on a puppy’s legs may not extend as high up towards their body as an adult mantle would have.

Mantles used to be called “Boston” because of their resemblance to the color of a Boston Terrier!

The mantle Great Dane has a black body with white legs, nose, chest and tail tip. The black hair covers the entire body and top of the head. They must also have a white muzzle.

This white muzzle makes them easy to spot when compared against black, black and white, and harlequin great Danes. They are different from the harlequin because they will not have a spotted coat. Instead it is a solid black color on their back and head.

The breed standard describes this official color as white with a black blanket. Their muzzle should still be white along with their chest, legs, and tail tip in order to be recognized.

Fawn

Fawn Great Dane

A fawn great Dane will have a yellow base coat with a black muzzle. They will also have black eyelids and eyebrows and some can have black ear and tail tips.

Scooby Doo was the most famous fawn Great Dane. This led to the rise of the fawn color making it one of the most common and popular colors.

Fawn is easy to spot because it is the only solid-coated Dane with a golden color.

White marks on the fawn coat are not accepted as part of the official color. They also should not have black markings on their chest. The Great Dane Club of America calls this a “dirty” fawn and they are not as desirable. A deep gold coat is the preferred color, but any yellow Great Dane with a black mask on its face is considered fawn.

Unofficial Great Dane Colors

White

White Great Dane
The white coat is not recognized by the breed standard.

White Great Danes are born when two merle Danes have a litter of puppies. This results in a double merle puppy which can be either a harlequin x harlequin, harlequin x merle, or merle x merle mix. Any one of these mixes will produce a white puppy.

Double merle puppies are generally bred by mistake and are the result of bad breeding. They should not be bred as the double merle gene can lead to deafness and blindness in white great Danes.

This dog will have a pure white coat with pink-colored lips, inner ears and eyelids. They do not have a pink nose as that is actually an albino trait. Albino Great Danes do exist, but they are very rare.

A white puppy will be pure white in color with a black nose and no markings. If it has markings then it may be a harlequin, piebald, or black and white.

Black and White

Black and White Great Dane

The black and white Great Dane is simply any black Dane with white markings. As it is just a solid black coat it does not have the harlequin pattern of white and black patches. It is also different from the mantle because the legs will not be white all the way up to the body.

Its white markings most commonly occur on the paws and chest. Some dogs also have white on their face.

Black and white puppies are mostly black with white on their paws and chest. It is not just a blanket covering the dog’s body and back like a mantle.

This color is not recognized by the breed standard because the black coat must be a solid black. It should not have any white markings or patterns.

Fawnequin

Fawnequin

The fawnequin great Dane is a fawn-colored harlequin. Their coat will be white (like a harlequin), but the spots will be fawn instead of black. The golden-yellow spots will appear as large patches on a pure white coat, just like the black spots of a harlequin.

Fawnequins are a harlequin x fawn mix. They get their harlequin pattern and fawn color from their parents. Because they are a mix they are not an official color and are a very rare Great Dane color.

A fawnequin puppy will be born with a white coat and caramel-brown colored patches. These golden-brown spots make them easy to recognize!

Piebald

Piebald Great Dane

A piebald Great Dane is caused by a gene that creates a white coat with small patches of color. The white coat will cover most of their body and it will have small patches of any coat color anywhere on the dog’s body. Most often color patches are found on the head.

The piebald looks like a harlequin, but they will have far fewer patches of color. Harlequins also only have patches of black, while a Piebald can be any color. Also a piebald will not have as many patches.

Grey

Grey Great Dane

The grey Great Dane is very similar to the blue as they are both the result of a dilute black coat. The grey Great Dane just has much more dilution so it looks silver, gray, or gray-white in color. None of these colors are official or recognized.

Blue and silver puppies can be very hard to tell apart and must be compared against each other to see the difference. Gray puppies will be lighter in color and less blue.

Grey dogs may have white markings, but will not have spots or merle patterns.

Does Coat Color Matter?

Coat color is important if you would like to compete with your Great Dane in American Kennel Club dog shows.

If you are looking to compete in dog shows then you must choose one of the seven recognized colors. You could choose a black and white spotted harlequin, a gray and black spotted merle, a black-masked fawn, solid black, solid blue, brindle, or a mantle Great Dane.

The great Dane also comes in five unofficial colors. If you do not want to show your dog and instead want a family pet, four of these colors make a great choice. Gray, fawnequin, piebald and fawnequins all make wonderful pets.

Most families looking for a healthy puppy will be able to pick from:

  • Harlequin
  • Merle
  • Black
  • Blue
  • Brindle
  • Mantle
  • Fawn
  • Black and white
  • Piebald
  • Grey (Silver)
  • Fawnequin

White Great Danes should not be purchased as they are a double merle. The white coat is associated with health issues such as blindness and deafness.

Which of the twelve Great Dane colors is your favorite?

Comments

  1. Our Dane is a harlequin, but also has large spots of blue. I thought this was referred to as merlequin, but I’m wondering what would he be called? He does not have the appearance of a Merle, only the obvious appearance as a harlequin, but, again, with large blue patches around his hips.

    Reply

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