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Harlequin Great Dane: The breathtaking canine

Harlequin Great Dane: The breathtaking canine

Great Danes are beautiful and majestic dogs. They simply take our breath away with their size and general appearance. These large dogs come in many shades and patterns. For example brindle, fawn, black, and even harlequin pattern. Now, if you‘ve never seen a Harlequin Great Dane or if you have never heard of them, don‘t worry. In this article, we will cover everything there is to know about this variety of the Great Dane breed.

Besides talking about the beautiful coat of the Harlequin Great Dane, we will also talk about the Great Dane nature in general, their appearance, and their health.

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History of the Great Dane

Whenever we talk about the history of a certain breed, the best source of information is the national breed club of that particular breed or Wikipedia!

In this case, we will use Wikipedia because it explains the history of the Great Dane in enough detail, yet concise.

General history

Much European nobility acquired strong, long-legged canines from England in the middle of the 16th century, which were descended from crossbreeds between English Mastiffs and Irish Wolfhounds. They were dog hybrids of various sizes and characteristics who lacked a recognized breed designation.

In Germany, these dogs were known as Englische Docke or Englische Tocke – later spelled Dogge – or Englischer Hund. “English dog” was the name’s literal meaning. In Germany and France, the English word “dog” has since come to be linked with a molossoid dog. Since the beginning of the 17th century, these dogs have been bred at the German nobility’s courts, independent of English ways.

At princely courts, the dogs were utilized to hunt bear, boar, and deer, with the favorites sleeping in their masters’ bed chambers at night. These Kammerhunde (chamber hounds) wore beautiful collars and were tasked with guarding the sleeping princess against assassins.

A loving dog parent wonders what the Great Dane lifespan is

Englische Dogge

The Englische Dogge was a catch dog that was employed after the other hunting hounds to seize the bear or boar and hold it in place until the huntsman could kill it. When hunting customs changed, notably with the introduction of weapons, many of the dog breeds engaged vanished. The Englische Dogge became scarce, and it was only kept as a hobby or a luxury dog.

In the 18th century, the Molossian hound, the Suliot dog, and other imports from Greece were utilized to boost the stature of the boarhounds in Austria and Germany.

Change of name

In 1878, a commission in Berlin decided to alter the name of the Great Dane from “Englische Dogge” (English mastiff variants) to “Deutsche Dogge” (German mastiff). This established the groundwork for the breed’s development. In English-speaking countries throughout the 19th century, the dog was known as a “German boarhound.”

Because they believed the breed should be promoted as a luxury dog rather than a working dog, some German breeders attempted to bring the names “German Dogge” and “German Mastiff” to the English market. However, as tensions between Germany and other countries grew, the dog was dubbed a “Great Dane” after the grand danois in Buffon’s 1755 Histoire naturelle, générale et particulière.

Great Dane – The oversized dog

Great Danes are between 28 and 32 inches tall. They weigh between 110 and 175 pounds. So, they are massive! In fact, the Great Dane is the world’s largest breed of dogs! Now, don’t worry. Despite their massive size, these dogs are full of love. But we will talk more about their personality in a separate section of this article!

The large skull of the Great Dane is thin and flat on top. The brows are pronounced. The ears are clipped to stand straight or droop forward. The neck is long and sturdily built. The Great Dane’s body is long and muscular, with straight front legs. The tail is of average length, thick at the base and tapering down to the hocks. Great Danes have short coats, but they still shed a lot. You will have to brush them several times a week to keep their coat shiny and healthy.

Cropping ears

Great Danes have floppy, triangular ears by nature. When Great Danes were regularly used to hunt boars, the ears were cropped to reduce the likelihood of injury to the dogs’ ears during hunts.

Cropping is still done on Danes for traditional and cosmetic reasons, even though they are predominantly companion animals. When Great Danes had their ears trimmed in the 1930s, two devices known as Easter bonnets were placed to their ears to help them stand up.

Today, the practice is widespread in the United States, but far less so in Europe. In certain European countries, such as the United Kingdom, Ireland, Denmark, and Germany, as well as parts of Australia and New Zealand, the technique is prohibited or restricted to veterinary surgeons only.

Great Dane colors

When it comes to coat color the Great Danes are versatile! These dogs have five to six coat colors and color patterns that are accepted by the American Kennel Club and are show-acceptable. Now, we can see other coat colors in the Great Dane breed, but they are not accepted by the American Kennel Club nor can those dogs be registered at a national kennel club.

With that being said, let‘s see which six coat colors are part of the breed standard.

Brindle and fawn

Fawn: A yellow-gold color with a black mask. Black should form on the rims of the eyes and brows, and it may appear on the ears.

Brindle: This color has a chevron striped pattern of fawn and black. They are frequently referred to as having a striped design.

Black and blue

Black: A glossy black color. White markings on the chest and toes are undesirable and are seen as flaws.

Blue: The color is a brilliant steel blue. White marks on the chest and feet are allowed. There is even a blue Harlequin Great Dane.

Harlequin, merle, mantle

Harlequin: The white background is with black pigment patches spread sporadically and evenly across the entire body; according to the standard a pure white neck is preferable. Besides that, the black patches shouldn‘t be so large that they resemble a blanket, nor should they be so little that they resemble a stippled or mottled effect. A few small grey patches (associated with merle markings) or a white base with single black hairs coming through, which tend to produce a salt and pepper or dirty impression, are allowed but less preferred.

The show quality Harlequin, or the officially accepted Harlequin pattern is black and/or gray patches on a white background, but patches may also be dilute blue harlequin or bluequin, brindle brindlequin, or sable fawnequin.

Grey merle: Under the FCI, grey Great Danes are allowed to compete in conformation shows since grey merle dogs can produce correctly marked black/white harlequin dogs depending on the combinations. The goal of making the color grey merle and allowed flaw is to expand the gene pool. They have the classification of “neither desirable nor disqualifiable.” As a result, this color can never win the top prize at dog shows.

Mantle: The color is black and white, with a whole black blanket stretching over the body, a black skull with a white muzzle, a white blaze that is optional, a whole white collar that is preferable, a white chest, white on part or all of the forelegs and hind legs, and a white-tipped black tail. A small white mark on the black blanket, as well as a crack in the white-collar, are allowed.

Other coat colors

As mentioned, there are other coat colors, but they are not appropriate for dog shows and are not sought after by breeders who wish to raise show dogs.

But, there are people who never intend to register their Great Dane or show them, so we will go over other possible coat colors as well. And there is a number of colors that can be seen in the Great Dane.

The following coat colors are possible in Great Danes as well:

  • white,
  • piebald,
  • chocolate,
  • smokey fawn or buckskin,
  • blue fawn,
  • brindle brindle,
  • blue harlequin or porcelain,
  • mantled fawn,
  • mantled brindle,
  • blue manteled,
  • onyx or reverse brindle,
  • various merles (fawn merle, brindle merle, blue merle, mantled merle, chocolate merle, silver).

Harlequin Great Dane genetics

A flawless Harlequin Great Dane takes generations of trial and error to breed, and there is no shortcut to success. This is a very unique coat color and it is not easy to get it.

You would think that it is enough to breed two Harlequin Great Danes, but in reality, that is not the case. Several breeders have discovered that simply breeding two Harlequin-coated Great Danes does not guarantee that their litter will contain any Harlequin Great Dane puppies in the first place.

But why is this so? It all comes down to DNA.

Two pigments

The final outcome of your dog’s color is ultimately determined by the colors, black and red. All dogs are born with these foundation hues, which serve as the starting point for all other coat color variations. Even though there are so many different colors in dogs, all of those colors come from only two pigments:

  • eumelanin, which is black
  • pheomelanin, which is red

Both of these pigments have “set” colors that can be modified by different genes. Simply put these genes dilute the pigment into other colors. It doesn‘t matter if you have a blue Great Dane or a Harlequin Great Dane, all of them carry the same pigments.

So, the coat color that a puppy inherits will be determined by the genetics that it obtains from its parents, with a significant amount of chance tossed in for good measure.

Interestingly, even Harlequin Great Danes have these two foundation colors inherited from their parents, which is why it is not always assured that two Harlequin Great Danes will produce a Harlequin puppy.

Harlequin Great Dane – Gene

The harlequin trait can be seen in only two dog breeds: Great Danes and Beaucerons. But, since Beaucerons are very uncommon in the United States, the feature is most often associated with Great Danes.

A dog must have both the harlequin and merle genes to have the harlequin coat pattern. But, you should also know that many dogs with the merle gene might resemble harlequins.

harlequin great dane

The harlequin gene is a recessive trait. Except for those that convert a dog entirely white, no other coat color would “override” this one.

It doesn’t matter what additional coat genes a dog gets if it has a harlequin gene and a merle gene.

Harlequin combinations

The harlequin gene, on the other hand, is not an allele (alternative version) of the merle gene; they are found at distinct locations on the dog’s genome. This means that a dog can inherit any of the following three combinations:

  • No copies of the harlequin gene
  • One copy of the harlequin gene
  • Two copies of the harlequin gene

The first two scenarios are positive, but the third pose a severe problem. A harlequin gene and a non-harlequin gene are found in every live harlequin dog.

This is due to the fact that any puppy with no harlequin genes will look like a typical doggo, but those with two harlequin genes will not develop properly – it is a lethal gene combination. These puppies will sadly die in the womb and be reabsorbed.

Never breed two Harlequin color dogs together

For the above-mentioned reason, most breeders avoid breeding two harlequin dogs together. Because the gene is dominant, you can breed a harlequin dog with a dog that does not have this coat pattern and have harlequin puppies.

Harlequin dogs can also carry two types of merle genes, which change their overall color.

Harlequin dogs with two dominant merle genes have extremely light spots, whereas those with a dominant merle gene and a recessive merle gene have a classic harlequin appearance.

What does the Harlequin Great Dane look like?

The Harlequin Great Dane is a standard-colored Great Dane dog. This hue is one of the hardest to obtain because it requires decades of breeding to perfect, but it is also one of the most popular and possibly the most attractive.

According to the American Kennel Club’s breed standard, Harlequin Great Danes have a white coat with black spots or ‘patches,’ a white neck, and black or spotted ears. So, they have a pure white base color with black patches on their bodies. Grey patches or spots may appear in various places throughout the coat.

Any variety of colors that wander beyond these limits will be faulted or declared inappropriate for the show, according to the American Kennel Club’s breed standard for show grade Harlequin Great Danes.

A Great Dane’s eyes are blue when they are puppies, but once they get older their eyes to turn into a shade of brown. Now, the only exception to that rule is the harlequin Great Dane. They have blue eyes throughout their entire life.

It’s also important to state that Harlequin Danes are completely recognized by the American Kennel Club. But only if they fit into the color variation rules, or the AKC standard for Great Danes. Harlequins are super rare. And breeding two Harlequins isn’t a guarantee that the puppies will be Harlequin too. Breeding Harlequin Great Dane dogs can take years and generations!

Great Dane temperament

Great Danes have an amazing personality and temperament, gentle, kind, and loving. These dogs are truly gentle giants.

 They have a great personality and enjoy playing with youngsters and are patient and kind. But despite that, we don’t recommend you let the gentle giant play with your tiny child. Even though they would never hurt your kid on purpose, you need to keep their size in mind. They could accidentally knock your child down or hurt them severely.

But, the bravery that enabled them to hunt wild boar has not dimmed their calm demeanor. The fact that they aren’t extremely loud doesn’t deter them from protecting their loved ones and doesn‘t take away from the fact that they make great guard dogs.


When they’re young, it’s a good idea to teach them proper manners and to enroll them in obedience school. When they’re adults, their sheer size may make them difficult to control, and, like any dog, you never know when they’ll see something they simply have to chase after it. 

Those around them must put up with their attention-seeking tendencies and want to please. When they want to be caressed, they prefer to poke people with their enormous old heads. If you’re lucky, you’ll run into one with lapdog tendencies who won’t hesitate to get on your lap and cuddle up with you. 

A strong connection with their family

The Great Dane has a strong need to be with his family. They enjoy meeting new people, especially strangers and youngsters, and will gladly accept guests unless they believe you want their protection. They can thus be a tough defender. 

Among all breeds of dogs, the Great Dane is known for its kind disposition. They’re calm, pleasant, and loving pets who enjoy spending time with youngsters and are at ease with them. Because of their eagerness to please, they’re a breeze to raise. 

Great Danes, despite their sunny dispositions, require plenty of early socialization, which means exposing them to a wide range of people, sights, noises, and experiences. You can help your Great Dane puppy develop into a well-rounded dog by exposing him to a variety of people and situations. 

It’s a good idea to enroll them in a puppy kindergarten class. Your dog’s social abilities will be honed if you routinely invite guests over and take him to busy parks, stores that allow dogs, and on walks to meet your neighbors.

Their demeanor in short

Great Danes are gentle and sweet. Even though they look intimidating, they are very affectionate and loving. They love to play around and just spend time with children. They are also loyal and want to please you. So, training them won’t be hard.

Great Danes love spending time with their family and just being around them. They also like strangers as well. They will greet any visitor. But, they are protected if they feel there is a need to defend you.

Despite being giants, Great Danes think they are tiny. They believe they are lapdogs.

They love being lazy and just relaxing with their family. But, even though the Great Dane sounds like the perfect dog for everyone. They aren’t.

The main reason for this is their size. They really need a lot of space. So, a big house and a big yard. They aren’t really the outdoor type. Great Danes prefer being inside and cuddling with their family.

Harlequin Great Dane personality

Most experts agree that coat color has little bearing on your dog’s overall disposition, despite the fact that research is ongoing and opinions differ. 

There’s little doubt that your dog’s temperament will be determined by his upbringing, training, and socialization, as well as whether or not he was raised in an ethical manner. 

So, everything we‘ve said about the temperament of Great Danes in general, applies to the Harlequin Great Dane.

Harlequin Great Dane health

Certain breeds of dogs have been shown to have a correlation between their coat color and their health. In the case of the Harlequin Great Dane, the coat color and congenital deafness can be linked. According to dog expert Stanley Coren, Ph.D. there is reason to be concerned about the health of your dog if you own a Harlequin Great Dane? 

According to Dr. Stanley Coren’s article, dogs with lighter colored coats like roan, merle, and white, are more vulnerable to inherited hearing problems and deafness. 

This is due to the fact that the gene responsible for these hues is linked to the gene that causes canine congenital deafness. 

Unfortunately, Harlequin Great Danes are particularly vulnerable to deafness because of their coats’ dual pigmentation, with the primary pigmentation being white, making them more prone to the condition. 

While deafness is the only health condition that studies have discovered to clearly correlate with the harlequin hue, it is not the only thing you should be aware of when obtaining a Great Dane. 

Great Dane health

Large canines like the Great Dane aren’t always long-lived by nature. The greater the breed, the shorter the lifetime, according to most research. The Great Dane, which is the largest dog in the world, has a very short lifespan of 7 to 10 years. This is probably the shortest lifespan among dogs… The Great Dane might be a great-mannered dog, but sadly you won‘t have a lot of time with him…

Furthermore, because of its large size, this dog is vulnerable to a wide range of health difficulties. They have a higher chance of getting sick, in fact, more than other dog breeds have. So, owners should be on the lookout for health risks even if they use responsible breeding procedures, such as

Health problems these dogs might experience are:

  • Cardiac diseases
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Bone cancer
  • Autoimmune Thyroiditis
  • Hip Dysplasia
  • Bloat

While all of these health issues are worrisome, there is one health problem many dog owners forget about – Bloat. It is definitely one of the health conditions that are very serious and can end fatally.

Gastric dilatation-volvulus 

Gastric dilatation-volvulus (GDV) also known as bloat is a potentially fatal illness that affects dogs. The term “dilatation” refers to a condition in which the stomach fills with air and mucus, ballooning to many times its normal size. The term “volvulus” refers to a condition in which the stomach flips or twists around itself, preventing collected air and mucus from flowing into the rest of the gastrointestinal tract. 

GDV is life-threatening. The inflated stomach puts enormous strain on the major arteries of the abdomen and restricts blood flow to the heart, resulting in cardiovascular compromise and shock.

Ailments like GDV happen quickly, and owners need to be aware of the symptoms or signs that come with them. German Shepherds, Great Danes, Irish Setters, Basset Hounds, and other large breed dogs with deep chests are the most likely to get GDV, but any dog can get it. Often, dogs show that they are nervous. They may pace or whimper to show that they are stressed or nervous. Owners often talk about non-productive retching (trying to vomit but not getting anything), as well as excessive salivation and drooling.

You might even see that a dog’s stomach looks bigger or bloated. These are signs that your dog needs to go to the vet right away. Dogs that have it need surgery to get better. It is very important to act quickly, or the dog may not be able to live.

Taking care of the Harlequin Great Dane

Taking proper care of your dog, no matter which breed you own is always a must. So you need to be aware of your dog‘s needs.

Despite the fact that Great Danes have short coats and shed very little, they do shed seasonally, and their sheer size can result in them producing a significant amount of loose hair. To keep loose hair at bay and his lovely coat looking healthy, brushing your Great Dane once a week is a must. 

When it comes to bathing, luckily Great Danes only require periodic bathing unless they become especially muddy or they start to smell.

Cleaning ears, clipping nails, exercise

Your Harlequin Great Dane’s ears, like the ears of all dogs, will need to be checked and cleaned on a regular basis to prevent moisture, dirt, and wax from building up and developing an infection. 

Additionally, it’s important to have the dog’s nails clipped or ground down on a regular basis to prevent them from cracking or breaking, which can be extremely uncomfortable for the dog and result in infections.

Great Danes aren’t good for tiny apartments. So if you live in a small apartment, you might want to check out some other breeds.

These dogs need 30 to 60 minutes of exercise daily and a long walk. Great Danes hate being left alone, so it would be great if someone was home always.

Diet of the Harlequin Great Dane

When it comes to food Great Danes don’t actually eat that much. But puppies do need special food. Don’t give them regular puppy food. It’s just too rich for them. Instead, get them puppy food for large breeds. Of course, invest in high-quality food. Don’t cheap out on your Great Dane.

But how much food do they need actually? It depends on the gender and age of your Great Dane.

For example, females that are three to six months old need three to six cups of dog food. Males, of the same age, need four to eight cups of dog food. Females between eight months and one year need five to eight cups, while males need six to ten cups of dog food. Female adolescent Great Dane dogs need eight cups of dog food, while males need nine to fifteen cups. Adult females need six to eight cups of dog food, while males need eight to ten cups.

Of course, always look at the label on your dog food for precise information. Not every food is the same.

Conclusion – Harlequin Great Dane

Harlequin Great Danes are beautiful dogs! Their size and look are breathtaking. Even though they seem intimidating, they are actually very gentle.

They love their family and would do anything for them. Great Danes do need a lot of exercises, up to one hour a day, but their favorite activity is sitting on the couch with you.

Great Danes, including the Harlequin, are very expensive dogs. They cost between $1800 and $3000. Depending on the breeder from who you’re buying. Of course, you don’t want to buy your Great Dane from anyone. You should find a reputable breeder.

Find someone who will have all the needed documentation for your puppy. And someone who took good care of the litter.

If you don’t want a Great Dane, check out these other amazing breeds:

My name is Jackie and I am a veterinarian with a degree in veterinary medicine. With extensive experience in treating various animals, I am known for my compassionate and personalized approach to animal care.