Great Dane Color


There are six Great Dane colors that are ACCEPTABLE for showing in conformation under the GDCA ( Great Dane Club of America) breed standard. 

Black, Blue,  Harlequin, Mantle, Fawn and Brindle.  There are many other colors that danes CAN come in.  Some are commonly found in conventional breedings

( Merle, Piebald and white) and others are caused through accident or intentionally crossing color families (like this blue-fawn)

Dane breeding should be thought of as "families" of colors.  There is the Fawn/ Brindle family, The Black/ Blue family and the Harlequin/ Mantle family.  With in these families it is acceptable to breed to each other ( Fawn to Fawn, Mantle to Harlequin, Blue to Blue. . . )  It is less acceptable to cross the family colors in to what is refereed to as "cross color breeding".

Below are picture examples of the colors that are produced in normal great dane breeding, along with the GREAT DANE BREED STANDARD  description of these colors.   Here is a link to the Breed standard:

Black Great Dane

The color shall be a glossy black. White markings at the chest and toes are not desirable.

Dog pictured : Tyners Apache V Sharcon

Blue Great Dane

The color shall be a pure steel blue. White markings at the chest and toes are not desirable.

Dog pictured : Tyners Shawnee V Sharcon

Mantle Great Dane

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 preferred; a white chest; white on part or whole of forelegs and hind legs; white tipped black tail. A small white marking in the black blanket is acceptable, as is a break in the white collar.

Dog pictured: TTS Moonlit Cold As Ice

Harlequin Great Dane

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. Any variance in color or markings described above shall be faulted to the extent of the deviation. Any Great Dane which does not fall within the above color classifications must be disqualified.

Dog Pictured is TTS My Addiction V Doc CGC

Picture by: Solomon Photography

Fawn Great Dane

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.

Dog Pictured is AM & Int’l CH TTS PGS The Shadow Puppet V Darlin

Brindle Great Dane

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.

Dog Pictures is Von Bruno's Better Then Bold

Any variance in color or markings as described above shall be faulted to the extent of the deviation. Any Great Dane which does not fall within the above color classifications must be disqualified. (Note: This paragraph refers to all the color/pattern descriptions, not just mantle).

Below are several examples of dane colors found in Harlequin and Mantle breeding, though common they are not eligible for competition in conformation events.  There ARE health problems that CAN be associated with these color patterns.  After their description is a list of links discussing color related problems.


Merle is at the "base" of harlequin great dane  breeding but it is NOT the same as a Harlequin great dane and should not be treated like one in a breeding program OR sold as one.  Though you can have different degrees of white ( usually the mantle pattern on a merle or Irish Gene) merle great danes lacks the Harlequin gene ( clearing gene) and this makes them not the same.  Merle great danes by them selves ( as a single gene merle dane) have no greater chance at health problems then any other color.   When a merle great dane  caries 2 copies of the merle gene you can have color related problems that DO effect the dogs health.

White Great Dane

Picture coming soon!

Piebald Great Dane

Picture coming soon!

AND those Surprise colors:

Blue Fawn Great Dane

This puppy was produced ( along with 2 litter mates) in a blue to blue breeding.  He is a Fawn with the dilution gene ( commonly referred to as the blue gene) , this means all of this pigment is diluted, Mask, nose color, shading.  Pretty boy but not with in the color standard for Show.

Color and Pattern associated disorders in the great dane


Color Coat Research

There is quite a bit  of controversy about cross color breeding  great danes and I need to make it CLEAR that there are no RARE colors of great danes. . . only correct and incorrect colors and markings.  There  are simple explanations of why other  colors  are produced and there  are MANY "breeders" that will try to pass off certain colors as "rare", "Hard to find" or some how "special"--EVEN "Designer"  ----remember--- correct or incorrect.  Period.

It is our belief that breeders should not PURPOSELY produce incorrect colors, every breeders goal should be to produce the most correct great dane possible, this INCLUDES color.  They should NOT be ostracized for unintentionally  producing incorrect colors either , recessive colors are in just about every pedigree.  Great Dane breeders ( that breed Harlequin, Mantle, Blue or Black) that have not produced a recessive color are either LYING or have not been breeding long enough.

There is a move to improve some of the Great Dane color families by intentionally breeding to colors out side of the color family in order to bring  qualities that are hard to find in to the color group.  This is commonly done with Fawn great dane sires bred to Blue or black great dane  bitches.    This is not for the faint of heart and you need to realize that you have now introduced a color in to the family that will be there for generations to come.   This is how you produce ( through recessive genes)  Fawn and Brindle danes with dilute masking ( from the  dilution gene) and brindles that are dilute in general, chevrons being a blue color instead of the acceptable black.

In Harlequin great dane  family breeding you can have even more variation.  Instead of having harlequins with black spots (correct) you can have them with blue, fawn or brindle spots-- same rings true of Mantle color pattern, instead of the black and white "classic" boston marked great dane you can produce fawn, blue and brindle blanketed danes with white markings of various degree's.

Come see our surprise litter. . . .just one example of how recessive colors can pop up in a litter.

Fawn and Brindle  Great Dane breeding:

This is the strongest color group and most popular.  They do very well in conformation ring and breading is fairly simple.  Fawn can be bred to fawn,  brindle can be bred to brindle and collectively they can be bred to each other.  In the past the only concern (other then health related ones of course) was the amount of Shading on fawns, the chevron patterning on brindles and the presence of the masking gene.   Both Brindles and Fawns can be born with or with out a mask and can have different variations in shading and pattern.  It is possible to now test for the masking gene and identify weather or not a dog truly has a mask ( with brindles it CAN be hard to differentiate the difference in pattern and masking).  A simple swab test now lets you know at a genetic level.

Blue and Black Great Dane  Breeding:

There is a VERY small breeding group of "quality" blue and black great danes.  This is why so many of the top breeders have used fawn and brindles in there pedigree's to increase gene diversity and to add qualities that are hard to find.  As a whole the quality of this color group is increasing with time and we are seeing more and more quality blues and blacks in the ring today.   It is also possible to check for the presence of the "blue" gene ( which is a dilution gene that dilutes all pigment including nose and eye color) this test is a simple check swab.

Mantle and Harlequin Great Dane breeding:

Harlequin breeding is not a "true" color breeding.  This means that if you breed a harlequin great dane  to another harlequin great dane you will not get a litter of all harlequins.  Harlequin genetics is complicated to say the least and most times  only 50% of the PARENT colors will be represented in a litter and of that there is a great deal of variance.  The more correct the parent dogs are the greater the chance for correct colors in a litter ( or so the thought is. . .not always the truth) The preferred breeding is Mantle to Harlequin but it is also acceptable to breed to  black danes that do not carry for other colors, harlequin to harlequin or mantle to mantle.

Harlequin to harlequin breeding comes with a double negative.  You can produce double merle puppies ( puppies that carry 2 copies of the merle gene) and enutero you can have double harl puppies ( puppies that carry 2 copies of the harl gene) these puppies will never be born because the harlequin gene in a double form is a lethal gene, causing the puppies to die enutero .   Some great dane  breeders also breed harlequins to merles, but again, you are increasing the chances for double merle puppies. 

I have intentional left out piebald and white in the possible breeding pairs.  There are even MORE reasons to not breed to these color patterns.

Here are some more links to Great Dane specific color :

The PIED Dane

Standard Accepted Coat Color Genetics in Dogs

Another opinion

Coat Color Alleles in Dogs

Canine Color Coat Genetics


Collection of Breeder Historiries:

BMW Great Danes

Meistersinger Great Danes

Wildwind Bunch


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