Great Dane colors are as bold and beautiful as the dogs themselves. This affectionate, loyal breed comes in combinations of black, white, blue, chocolate, fawn, silver, Harlequin and Mantle. Today we’ll share pictures, photos and videos of the coolest Great Dane colors. You’ll see that their patterns vary a lot, with the most distinctive markings being caused by the controversial merle gene. Great Dane colors are often different at the eyebrows, muzzle and rims of the eyes, giving a distinctive appearance to an already impressive pup.
- Great Dane coat types
- List of Great Dane colors
- Health problems linked to Great Dane colors
- Great Dane colors with pictures
- Blue Great Danes
- Black Great Danes
- Fawn Great Danes
- Brown Great Danes
- Brindle Great Danes
- White Great Danes
- Spotted Great Danes
Great Dane Coat Types
Great Danes have short, easily maintained coats that require only a moderate amount of grooming. The coat is thin and doesn’t shed excessively, so all you’ll need to do is brush your Great Dane with a slicker brush occasionally to get rid of dead hair.
Because the Great Dane has a very fine, thin coat, he may feel the chill during winter and if his home is in colder climates. You can keep your dog warm, dry, and cozy by kitting him out with a smart coat or vest.
Great Dane Colors
The Great Dane comes in a variety of eye-catching colors, including:
- Black and white
- White and blue
- Blue brindle
- The Blue merle
- The Chocolate and white
- Chocolate brindle
- The Mantle merle
The famous black and white patchwork coat pattern is known as “harlequin.” As you can see, there’s a bewildering array of shades to choose from!
Merle Great Dane Colors
Before you choose your pup, you must know about the merle gene and how it affects coat color and health. Merle undoubtedly creates one of the most strikingly beautiful coat patterns in the dog world. This is a dappled pattern where random splashes and spots of dark pigment are overlaid with a paler shade of the same color.
Merle-coated dogs often have blue or odd-colored eyes. Dogs that have two copies of the merle trait gene are predominantly white and can be prone to several health issues, which we’ll discuss later in this article.
Breeding Merle Great Danes
Merle Great Dane colors are all down to genetics. The merle coat pattern occurs when a Great Dane parent carries a single copy of the “M<allele.” All merle dogs carry the genotype “Mm.”
That means they have one allele for non-merle and one allele for merle. All non-merle dogs are “mm.” If your dog comes from a litter bred from a merle (Mm) to a non-merle (mm), half his litter-mates will receive the “M” allele and will have merle coloration. The other half receive the non-merle allele, so will most likely be solid colored.
Health Problems Linked To Great Dane Colors
If you breed two merle dogs, you’ll finish up with a quarter non-merle, half merle, and a quarter double-merle pups. The double-merle puppies don’t look like your regular merles. Instead, they will be mainly white with a few merle patches.
The main reason you don’t want a double-merle pup is that they frequently have some hearing and visual problems.
Also, double-merle dogs can have a condition called, microphthalmia. In this condition, the dog’s eyes are abnormally small and are often nonfunctional. So, if you decide to buy a merle Great Dane, check out the genetics of his parents with the breeder first.
Deafness In White Great Dane Colors
Within the dog’s middle ear sound waves are translated into nerve impulses that the brain interprets as sounds. Sound waves at the eardrum cause the fluid in the middle ear to move.
Tiny hairs that sit in a bed of pigment detect this movement. As the hairs move, they cause the pigment to move too, which is then detected by the nerves.
The electronic pathways of the nerves transmit signals to the dog’s brain that are interpreted as sounds. So, it’s the absence of pigment that prevents the sound from being picked up by the nerves and transmitted to the brain.
Hence the dog is deaf. The merle gene can also cause eye abnormalities, including cataracts and a condition collectively known as merle ocular dysgenesis.
Blue Great Dane Colors
Gorgeous blue Great Dane puppies are highly prized! This unusual color varies from deep steel blue through slate, charcoal, and paler grey. Grey Great Danes are just another shade of blue.
If you’re planning on showing your Great Dane, note that a white chest or paws are considered undesirable under AKC guidelines.
The unusual blue color is down to genetics. To produce a blue puppy, both parents must carry the recessive “blue” gene. A blue Great Dane’s eyes can be dark brown, amber or even pale blue.
But watch out for a blue-eyed blue Great Dane, as this quirk could be down to a rogue merle gene somewhere in his breeding and is commonly seen in blue merle Great Danes.
Black Great Dane Colors
The jet-black, shimmering coat of a true black Great Dane is a sight to behold! If you’re buying a black Great Dane puppy intending to show him, note the AKC’s insistence that:
“The color shall be a glossy black. White markings at the chest and toes are not desirable.”
Pure black Great Danes are only produced by breeding a male and a female black Great Dane. Did you know that you can also get a blue Great Dane if one or both of their parents have the “blue” gene?
Fawn Great Dane Colors
Fawn is the most common of the Great Dane colors. It’s also the most recognized; after all, Scooby Doo was a fawn Great Dane! A fawn Great Dane should have a defined black mask. Once again, genetics plays a part in this, and not all fawn puppies will have a dark mask, depending on whether they have inherited the “mask” gene from either of their parents.
Fawn Great Dane’s coats should be golden-yellow, and he should have a black muzzle. His eyebrows and the rims of his eyes should also be black. Black ear and tail tips are desirable too.
Brown Great Danes
The brown coloration is also referred to as “red.” As with all Great Dane colors, the brown shade is down to genetics, specifically the “B” gene and its position on the chromosome, called its “locus.”
Did you know that all puppies start brown while they are developing in the womb? It’s the actions of specific enzymes and proteins that catalyze the final step in pigment production to decide the dog’s final color.
In a puppy with the allele “b/b,” the final step in pigment production is incomplete, so the coat remains brown. Brown Great Danes are not affected by genetic defects and don’t suffer any unusual health problems because of their color.
Brindle Great Dane Colors
Brindle-coated Great Danes are striking to behold! The brindle coat should be golden-yellow with black markings right across the whole body in a chevron pattern.
Brindle dogs also have a black mask, black eye rims, and ear and tail tips. The base color of a brindle Great Dane puppy can also turn out deep golden-red, light fawn, or pale with a black tint.
White Great Danes
Although a white Great Dane is certainly striking, this color dog does tend to have inherent health issues, often from birth. Predominately white Great Danes are typically deaf and may also have various eye anomalies. And it’s down to that pesky merle gene again!
The merle gene suppresses pigment production in the cells (melanocytes). The pigment produced by melanocytes is vital for normal hearing and sight. White Great Danes often have very little or no pigment in the middle ear, rendering them deaf.
Spotted Great Dane Patterns
Spotted Great Danes are primarily white with black spots randomly spaced across their body. The merle gene is at play here too! The merle gene has an odd characteristic that’s known as “somatic cell mutation.”
That causes some of the body’s cells to regress to the usual recessive form of the gene. Therefore, it is possible for some white merle dogs to have some pigment in the form of spots, typically on the rump and head.
When pigmentation occurs within the middle ear, hearing is normal, and eyesight is unaffected by the gene. So, if you have your heart set on a spotted Great Dane, he should enjoy the same health as any other genetically normal dog.
Great Dane Colors Matter
The noble, loyal Great Dane comes in coats of many colors! You can choose from traditional, Scooby Doo fawn, to the most unusual and sought-after blue shade.
Be careful if you fall for a merle colored Great Dane; these pups can suffer from inherited genetic health problems. If you adopt a white Great Dane, you must understand that he will most likely have some hearing and visual issues.
Do you have a Great Dane? What color is he or she? Tell us about your giant furry friend in the comments section below!
References and further reading
- Oxford Academic – “Inheritance of the harlequin color in Great Dane dogs“
- Animal Genetics – “M-Locus Merle (Merle/Cryptic Merle)”
- Great Dane Club of America – “Deafness and Color-Related Eye Defects in White Great Danes”
- Researchgate – “Merle Ocular Dysgenesis”.
I have always wanted a Great Dane. We finally did it. We met the mom and dad and grandma. All very sweet. We was told she is a Lilac merle with blue spots. Her eyes are a gray color. I have never heard of a lilac color. How can I be sure that’s what she is considered? Honestly it doesn’t matter to me. She’s my big baby and I love her .
I have a Male Dane named Apollo he is a blue Merle I am looking to breed him but I just have not found the right female yet
My great Dane has 4 colors. The vet says she is very unusual and beautiful in marking. She is black and white and gray with a few brown spots. I’ve never seen a pic exactly like her. She is AKC registered as merle but other pics don’t match color exactly. My vet encouraged me to breed her as a young dog but I choose not to breed. She will be 11 in 2 months so has outlived her life expectancy. She hasn’t had any genetic related health conditions and even though she is showing her age now, she loves life!
my male Dane is also grey and white with black patterns but some are brown and hes got like a brown tinge… kinda looks 3-d
Jody Meyer says
I have a 10 month old Great Dane. She is our third Dane and the first we have gotten as a puppy. All have been rescues. We got her when she was 4 months old and at that time she appeared to be black with small areas of white on her chest and feet. Her coat has transformed and now has scattered very dark brown clusters throughout the black fur. It’s really interesting, and I wonder if it will continue to change as she gets older. Have you ever heard of this before? It’s kind of like she is brindle, but with a black base coat instead of fawn.
I always cringe when I hear people say they plan to breed their dog. Breeding dogs is not a matter to take on without serious education in the breed. I learned this from my mother-in-law who was an award winning breeder of Akitas for about 20 years. Breeding is not for the random dog owner. Tests and research for both the male and female dog costs a lot of money in order to breed your dog with the correct mate. This is why good breeders charge a lot of money for their puppies. Not because the breeding of any two dogs of a certain breed produces a quality, healthy dog. Breeding dogs can be a lucrative business, but it also needs to be done ethically. It is unethical, in my opinion, to breed two dogs once and try to make money off of the puppies. If you do all the tests and research required to breed two dogs safely, you will not make any money off of one litter of pups. I implore people not to do it just for the money or the fun of seeing little puppies. Leave the breeding to the professionals!
Every time I adopt a dog I wonder “what kind of baggage does this poor dog have?” The baggage can be emotional, from trauma, or genetic, from poor breeding techniques. If you buy your dog from a reputable breeder, there will be requirements of you as the dog’s owner, which will be written up in a contract. Things like neutering/spaying your dog, returning the dog (with a refund) if things don’t work out with the dog are part of a normal contract of a breeder. Reputable breeders will also interview the prospective buyers to make sure they understand proper care of the dog and seem to be a good match for the dog. All of this is done is to protect the dog from bad owners.
Genevieve St-Pierre says
I have a blue dane, a mantle bindle and a blue merle. This breed is addictive lol. Within 2 years we got 3 of them. Zeus is 2 Phoebe is 1 and Chief is 8 months.
I have a male Merlequin, is there even such a thing as that? Grey and white coat with black spots?
Can we breed him and what would be a suggested color match?
Tania Lipe says
I have a female grey Harlequin that I would love to breed just need to find the right dog to mate her with!
It’s generally best if you feel the need to breed them to breed to a solid colored dane. Like a mantle/black or dawn to best avoid that double Merle Gene. But it’s also best to keep the amount of Merle breedings to a minimum.
Violet is a 7 month old harlequin I believe. She has a mix of black and gray spots, and a pink nose. She enjoys peanut butter, playing with her brother bulldog and sister frenchie and hanging over the fence to watch all the other doggies walk by.
My buddy is Diesel. He’s a sable, beautiful glossy black coat with a huge white chest. He’s four years old and has the greatest smile I’ve ever seen, and I’ve only had pitties before that are known for their awesome smiles. He’s about a hundred and eighty pounds and loves swimming in rivers, well anything. I took him to San Diego and he chased balls into the surf and rode the waves back in!!
He’s been by my side since he was six weeks old. I just love my little buddy!
Shayla Stillman says
My Great Dane is only 9 months old but she is absolutely adorable. However, we can’t find her color or a color that matches her. She is white with a brown mask, a brown spot on her butt, and some small brown spots on her back. Anybody know what color she is?
Chocolate piebald maybe?
James garfield says
I’ve got what normally is a harlequin, but instead of DEFINITELY having black markings, he has the lite and darker blue/grayish spots. When I release the pup to the new owners, how should I mark the AKC registration form? If common sense is still on my side I would imagine ” Harlequin & not merle.
Xolisa Lawana says
They range at hw much (G. Dane) these pups
Hi I am trying to find a picture are they fawn colored Dane with chocolate spots, also should there be any concerns with this pup, I don’t have him yet but I’m considering it, I have a huge two year old black Dane
I have a blue Merle baby girl she’s 9 months now scared of everything…. starting to warn up to the dog park
Larilyn Arndt says
I have a 10 year old blue Merle. We got her at 10 weeks. She was afraid of everything then and still is. However, she is very protective of our home and family. She would attack if provoked.
Is there such thing as a fawnequin? I’m looking at a puppy. But can find nothing about genetic defects
Yes there are Fawnequins. This is when a fawn is Bred to a harlequin or sometimes a merle. What health concerns are you looking for? It’s just a coat color not a genetic defect.
I have a female fawnequin and cannot find any information what color would be the correct match for me to have a litter with her, can anyone shed light on this please, i have researched
so much and find nothing
We have a 2 year old Blue Merle Great Dane named Maximus. He is a BIG baby, afraid of his own shadow lol
Michele Suzanne Foss says
My black baby, Aslan, is 8 months and afraid of a lot of situations such as going into certain rooms, getting on a scale to be weighed, taking a bath. I wonder if this is a common Dane trait.
Young danes seem to be afraid of the dark. Leave a light on.Young dane loves kiddy pool outside in yard. Try that for the bath. Need to be very confident in interacting with your dane. He is a baby and looking to you for leadership, like a toddler. Your confidence and leadership will give him confidence. They are shy when young. Will take cue from you. If you are open, confident, friendly so they will be. Like training a child or toddler age. Have a six month old. You must be the leader. Get dog crate trained has helped a large amount. Teach dog about all types of restraint and teach to sit and lay while young. Socialize dog with other dogs, cats, people, places, car rides with a positive friendly attitude to get a dog that is easy to deal with.
Must dominate the great dane by leadership of situation and dog will look to you for the cue of how to treat the situation. On my second dane and still have the first one, will be hitting twelve. Be sure to have a pad for the dog. Saves the hips.
I would definitely do some research…Many leading animal behaviourists are concerned that the so called outdated disproved dominance theory in dog behaviour continues to survive, despite the accumulating evidence that it is at best unhelpful and at worst highly detrimental and none of it actually bears scientific scrutiny.
Ford Blunt says
I have a black great dane puppy. he has a little white on the chest and toes, but he is a handsome and intelligent dude. He is about 5 months old and a very nice size. His name is Hunter.
Michele Suzanne Foss says
I also have a black Great Dane with the same coloration as yours- all black with two small white spots on his chest and a little white on his paws. Aslan is 8 months old, weighs 121, is very healthy, and strong as an ox. I do get a lot of compliments about his looks; I bet you do too.
I have a beautiful Harlequin girl. She is White with black spots all over.
Michele Suzanne Foss says
Be careful with your girl. My neighbor in a very small town in New Mexico had hers stolen right out of her yard. She didn’t keep her gate locked and they just took her Harlequin. She was an amazingly beautiful dog. I don’t want you or anyone to go through that heartbreak. I have a black Dane who is 8 months old, even though he’s not as gorgeous as a Harlequin I still keep a close eye on him for that reason. That said, enjoy her fully. Dane’s are a lot of fun.
We have a blue fawn. Our girl is fawn with blue where the black would normally be. She gets so many compliments. Just beautiful!
I didn’t see anything in the article about my color pup. I was told from the breeder that he is a chocolate merle. I’m curious to know how common these are
Amanda Cimeno says
I have one too!