Types of Great Danes- The 7 Recognized variations

There are 7 recognized Great Dane color-based variations that include:

  1. Black Great Danes
  2. Fawn Great Danes (most common color)
  3. Blue Great Danes
  4. Brindle Great Danes 
  5. Harlequin Great Danes 
  6. Merle Great Danes 
  7. Mantle Great Danes (Black is the dominant color)

However, these are not the only types of Great Dane as there are also the White and Fawnequin Danes that are deemed “undesirable” by the breed standards.

But first, a bit of an overview.

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Great Dane variations overview

When choosing the color you would like your Great Dane puppy to have, you should know that there is more than what meets the eye.

Some of the gentle giant colors come with related genetic health complications.

The dog’s color is determined by either dominant or recessive genes, some of which are associated with certain health problems.

However, this should not stop you from getting your preferred Great Dane color.

In this article, we are going to look at the Great Dane color variations and their implications.

Great Dane colors comparison table

Color variation looks and appearance recognized
Merle Has different colored patches and a greyish base color Yes
Fawn Have a yellow gold coat color and a black mask and dark colored-ears Yes
Brindle Brown base color with dark stripped and black patterns yes
Blue Should be steel blue with no other patches or markings Yes
Black Have a glossy black color and has no markings Yes
Harlequin Are white and have black markings Yes
Mantle Black is the dominant color with white markings Yes
White White-colored but can have some markings No
Fawnequin fawn-colored Harlequin appearance No

Let us get into details about them. 

1. Fawn Great Dane

fawn great Dane

This is a classic and the most popular Great Dane color.

Fawn-colored Danes should have a yellow gold coat color with a black mask and dark colored-ears. These dogs should also have black markings on their eyebrows, tail tips, and eye rims.

However, the fawn color should be emphasized in most of the dog’s body.

Dark or white markings on the body or the paws is considered a fault on shows.

You may have seen this coloring on the Great Danes in Scooby-Doo or Marmaduke. But the scooby-doo dog may have a bit of a mishap for the black marking.

Fawn Dane puppies

These pups can be born unmasked due to their parent’s genetics.

Both parents have to carry the mask gene and the fawn recessive gene to produce fawn pups with a black mask.

2. Black Great Danes


This is another classic and popular Great Dane variation. A Black Great Dane is a sight to behold and tends to do well in dog shows.

These Danes should have a glossy black color with no white markings on their toes or their chests.

When the coat of a healthy black Dane is exposed to direct sunlight it should shimmer brilliantly. This is what makes them highly prized in dog shows coupled with their muscular stature.

However, although they are mostly used as show dogs, that does not mean that you cannot have one as a family companion.

You may also love learning about the Black German Shepherd.

Black Dane Puppies

As I mentioned earlier, genetics determines what color your Great Dane is going to have.

K locus genes carry the black recessive color and like in most dog colorations both parents need to carry the genes to produce black Great Dane puppies.

3. Blue Great Dane variations


Blue is a very distinct color in Great Danes and these doggos are sometimes referred to as ‘Blue Still.’

These dogs can come in several shades of blue, some may be darker and others may be lighter with steel blue being the most popular shade.

And just like in the Black Great Dane, white markings on the toes and the chest are not desirable. Note: This will only be important for those looking for a show dog.

If you are just looking for a family or companion dog, the show’s faults should not stop you.

This breed variation may have eyes that are either amber, pale blue, or even dark brown.

Blue Great Dane puppies

These puppies are eye-catching and they are a result of breeding two purebred blue parents that have recessive genes.

To learn more about the Blue Great Danes visit this article.

4. Brindle Great Danes


These dogs are super striking.

They should have an assortment of patterned stripes with colors that include;


🐶Dark and light grey

🐶Red and Black

🐶Black and fawn

The preferred base color is golden yellow/fawn which we had discussed earlier. A black mask is also preferred. Other preferred features are black ears, black eye rims, and tail tips.

In some instances, the base color may have a red coloration or maybe a lighter or darker fawn.

Any white markings are considered to be faults in dog shows.

You should note that the American Kennel Club does not recognize Great Danes that are blue brindle. They consider this a serious fault.

Brindle Dane puppies

These pups are a result of breeding two brindle Danes together. But you can have two Brindle Great Dane parents producing a Fawn Great Dane.

Even puppies of the same litters can have variations with some being lighter or darker than others.

5. Harlequin Great Dane variations


You may confuse this pooch with a Dalmatian due to their similarities in the coat appearance.

According to the breed standards, these gentle giants should be white but should have irregular black patches on the bodies.

These black patches should be evenly spread throughout the body.

This variation may be a little tricky as several features can be considered faults;

  • These dogs should have spotless necks that are purely white.
  • The black marking should not dominate any part of their giant bodies. They should also not be too small.
  • A Dane may not fall under this category if all the black markings are round have defined edges as opposed to having torn edges.
  • Grey patches are undesirable but are acceptable.

Harlequin Dane puppies

It all comes down to genetics which can also pose some health complications.

The major health concern with this Harlequin coloration is congenital deafness which is linked to the white genes in dogs.

White is the dominant color in Harlequin Great Danes and there is a possibility that the pup might inherit this condition.

Homozygous embryonic lethal is also another condition that is associated with the Harlequin gene. This means that a puppy can get miscarried as an embryo if he/she inherits two of these harlequin genes.

To avoid this breeder mix a mantle Great Dane with a harlequin one.

Fact: Great Danes are the only dog breed that has this color variation.

You can learn more about the Harlequin Great Dane by visiting this article.

6. Mantle Great Dane

mantle Great Dane

It is easy to mistake a Mantle Great Dane color for a Harlequin.

This is because they also consist of black and white colors but unlike Harlequin Danes, mantle ones have black as their dominant color.

White coloration is limited to specific parts of their bodies but you should remember that black is the dominant color.

These white markings can be found on their muzzles, chests, their legs, and even around the collar.

Also, white markings in the black blankets and a break in the white-collar are acceptable.


Breeding Harlequin Danes can produce Mantle Great Dane colors.

 Before 1998, these variations were referred to as Bostons due to their color similarities with the Boston Terrier. Some people still prefer to refer to these dogs as Bostons.

7. Merle Gentle giants

This coloration had not been recognized by the American Kennel club until 2018.

And just like with the mantle coloration, there may be some confusion with merle Great Dane colors and Harlequin Danes.

Unlike Harlequin Great Danes these dogs have merle (grayish color) as their base color instead of white.

✓ The markings in the body are not limited to black alone. With these doggos, you can see both white and black colorations.

Breeding of Merle great Danes is not recommended because they can produce blind or deaf white pups.


Merle Great Dane Puppies

We have the genetics to thank for this newly recognized color variation.

The ‘M(Silv) gene is responsible for Merle coat variation but unlike other color variations, this one is dominant instead of being recessive.

And despite having some health complications these dogs are extremely adorable and beautiful.

Unrecognized Great Dane Variations

White Great Danes

white great dane

This Great Dane color is not recognized and that is the reason we did not include it in the list of 7 variations These Danes are rare and highly susceptible to health issues that are mostly gene-related.

They mostly occur when a Merle Dane is mated with another Merle Dane.

These dogs are completely white but they may also have some markings in their bodies.

The reason that White Great Danes are not preferred is that they may develop hereditary health issues such as deafness and eye anomalies.

White Danes may have little to no melanocytes which are vital for a dog to see and hear normally.

Fawnequin Danes


These are fawn-colored Harlequin Great Danes with a white base color.

They also have fawn and torn patches covering them but they can also have other spots and colors like merle and brindle.

What you need to consider when selecting a Great Dane Color

White Great Danes may have some sight and hearing complications but these do not affect all dogs.

This, however, should not stop you from adopting one because these dogs can lead a happy life like the other colors.

You may have a preference for one color to another but you should know that the qualities of a Great Dane outweigh the color. Color should not be a great deal to you unless you are looking for a conformation dog.

When adopting from a shelter or a rescue you may not have the flexibility to choose the color that you prefer.

Great Dane Variations summary

We have looked at the 9 Great Dane colors and variations and by now you have the information that you need to know before buying or adopting.

Each dog is uniquely beautiful and color cannot determine the personality traits that the Great Dane is going to have. This is despite the health implications that each color may have.

Do you own a Great Dane? What experiences have you had with him/her?

Give us your feedback and questions in the comment section below.

There you go Woof!!

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