As you may be able to tell, we’re big fans of BIG dogs! Great Danes come in a variety of colors and patterns, but only 6 of these are recognized by the AKC (meaning these are the only colors that can be shown). We’ve compiled a list of the recognized colors as well as some of the other dane colors that exist. The non-recognized colors are not *rare* and any breeder who is charging more for a pup of a different color is only out to make a buck. What it does mean is that there is no standard set for these dogs (at this point in time- it doesn’t mean there never will be) and in some cases the variety cannot be consistently reproduced. Or in the case of the white danes, genetic faults (deafness and eye issues) has led the Great Dane Club of America to BAN the breeding of this color, as it is unethical to create puppies who are likely to be born with handicaps.
Enjoy this guide to the many varied looks of the Great Dane!
Recognized Colors/Markings - Below are the 6 AKC recognized colors and markings of Great Danes, plus the AKC standard for each.
Black: AKC Standard -The color shall be a glossy black. White markings at the chest and toes are not desirable.
*A black Great Dane with a healthy coat should appear to shimmer in the sun. This striking color makes the massive dogs musculature stand out.
Blue: AKC Standard:The color shall be a pure steel blue. White markings at the chest and toes are not desirable.
* Blue Danes are very popular – they have a striking appearance that people are drawn to.
* Other breeds come in this color including: American Pit Bull Terriers, Doberman Pinschers and even Chihuahuas!
Photo by tvtrayart
Photo by imtoobigtoo
Brindle: AKC Standard:The base color shall be yellow gold and always brindled with strong black cross stripes in a chevron pattern. A black mask is preferred. Black should appear on the eye rims and eyebrows, and may appear on the ears and tail tip. The more intensive the base color and the more distinct and even the brindling, the more preferred will be the color. Too much or too little brindling are equally undesirable. White markings at the chest and toes, black-fronted, dirty colored brindles are not desirable.
*There are less hearing/sight issues involved in breeding Brindle Great Danes than breeding Harlequins or Merles.
*Other breeds that display this marking are: American Pit Bull Terriers, Mastiffs and Boxers (just to name a few!)
Photo by shel_munro
Photo by naturgraphics
Fawn: AKC Standard: The color shall be yellow gold with a black mask. Black should appear on the eye rims and eyebrows, and may appear on the ears and tail tip. The deep yellow gold must always be given the preference. White markings at the chest and toes, black-fronted dirty colored fawns are not desirable.
*Scooby Doo, Brutus from the Disney film “The Ugly Dachshund”, and Duke & Turk of Swiss Family Robinson were all Fawn Great Danes.
*This is the most recognizable color of the breed.
Photo by brettinoz30
Photo by marylene222
Mantle: AKC Standard: The color shall be black and white with a solid black blanket extending over the body; black skull with white muzzle; white blaze is optional;whole white collar is preferred; a white chest; white on part or whole of forelegs and hind legs; white tipped black tail. A small white marking in the blanket is acceptable, as is a break in the white collar.
* The name “Mantle” may have originated from the piece of clothing by the same name. It is a sleeveless robe that is left open at the front – the description is fitting with this dogs appearance.
* In some countries this marking is called “Boston” because of it’s resemblance to a Boston Terrier.
Harlequin: AKC Standard: Base color shall be pure white with black torn patches irregularly and well distributed over the entire body; a pure white neck is preferred. The black patches should never be large enough to give the appearance of a blanket, nor so small as to give a stippled or dappled effect. Eligible, but less desirable, are a few small gray patches, or a white base with single black hairs showing through, which tend to give a salt and pepper or dirty effect.
*These big spotty dogs are often confused for dalmatians (if you can believe that one!).
*Great Danes are the only breed of dog bred for this color pattern.
*When 2 Harlequin’s are bred together they may or may not have Harlequin marked offspring.
Merle: Merle Great Danes appear to have black spots on a grayish back coat. The shade of grey can range from very pale to a dark grey. Merles can vary in patterns as well – there can be Merle Mantles and even Merlequins.
*The merle coat pattern occurs in other breeds besides the Great Dane including: The Australian Shepherd, Catahoula Leopard Dog, Collie, and Shetland Sheepdogs.
*Breeding a Merle to a Merle can produce white puppies that often have congenital defects.
White: When 2 Danes that carry the merle gene (Harlequins, Merles, Whites) are bred together, the pups that inherit 2 copies of the merle gene are considered white pups (even if they have a slight amount of markings). White danes are usually deaf and have various eye issues (they can be totally blind). Thus the Great Dane Club Of America has a Breeders Color Code of Ethics to try to prevent these types of defects from occurring. There is also a genetic test available that is able to predict if a dog carries the merle gene.
Fawnequin: A Fawnequin is a Dane with “Harle” like markings but with fawn patches instead of the usual black. Occasionally you can find a “Brindlequin” or a “Merlequin” as well.