Harlequin Great Dane

This is a complete guide on harlequin Great Danes. I am going to give a detailed break down of everything that you need to know about the coat color.

Let’s dive in.

Great Dane Coat Color:Harlequin
AKC Code:112
Price/Cost:$1,000- $2500
Lifespan: 8 – 10 years
Temperament:Friendly, Devoted, Reserved, Confident, Loving, Gentle
Height:Female: 71–81 cm;
Male: 76–86 cm
Weight:Male: 54 – 91 kg (Adult);
Female: 45 – 59 kg (Adult)
Coat Type:Single
Variations:Blue Harlequin, Merlequin, Grey Harlequin, Fawnequin, Brindlequin
Health Problems:Bloat, Cardiomyopathy, Hip Dysplasia, Wobbler syndrome, Osteosarcoma, Tricuspid Valve Disease, Allergies.
Top Speed:30 mph
Bite Force:238 PSI

What Is A Harlequin Great Dane?

harlequin great dane

The harlequin color is very common in Great Danes and it is actually recognized as a standard coat color by the American Kennel Club (AKC) and the Great Dane Club of America (GDCA). A standard harlequin Great Dane is one with a pure white base coat color and irregular black spots that are distributed over its entire body.


Harlequin Great Danes are very easy to identify because you just have to look for the pure white base coat color with irregular black spots that are distributed over the entire body of the dog. There are obviously variations in the appearance of the black spots but according to the set standards, no black spot should be so large that it appears to be a blanket on the Great Dane’s body.

Standards set by the American Kennel Club and the Great Dane Club of America prefer a pure white neck but this can be difficult for some breeders to achieve due to the genetic complexity of the coat color.


The harlequin coat is a genetically complex color family. A real breakthrough when it comes to understanding the genetics of the coat color can be traced back to when Sponenberg (1985) suggested that the harlequin color in Great Danes is a result of the combined action of the harlequin gene (H) with the merle gene (M). This combined action of the two genes results in a genotype (collection of genes) classified as H+M+.

For years, the merle coat color was not recognized as a standard for show purposes so breeders were only interested in the harlequin pattern. However, the continued occurrence of the merle pattern in Great Danes despite being selected against during a long period of harlequin breeding can be conclusive evidence of how these two patterns are genotypically related.

A harlequin Great Dane can only be produced when the merle gene (M) combines with the harlequin gene (H). The combination of the two genes results in the bluish or greyish coloration that is induced by the merle gene being modified to a white coloration by the action of (H).

harlequin great dane genetics

Two (H) genes cannot combine to form a homozygous genotype because this combination is prenatal lethal i.e. puppies that are born with this genetic syndrome often don’t survive birth or die after a short period. On the other hand, the combining two (M) genes results in a double merle (white) Great Dane which has a lot of health problems.

So, in order to reduce the viability of a homozygous HH or the double merle, the (H) gene has to interact with the (M) gene in an autosomal dominant mutation.


Responsible dog breeding requires an understanding of canine genetics and sticking to the code of ethics. A harlequin Great Dane should not be bred to the fawn, brindle and blue color families.

A recent study on the inheritance of the harlequin color in Great Dane dogs showed the results of various color crosses which involved Great Dane dogs. The results of the study revealed that;

Harlequin by harlequin matings produced 60 black, 77 harlequin, 42 merle, and 35 homozygous merle pups. Harlequin by black matings produced 44 black, 26 harlequin, 25 merle, and one white (homozygous merle) pups.

Parental ColorBlack PuppiesHarlequin PuppiesMerle PuppiesWhite PuppiesTotal
Harlequin X Harlequin60774235214
Black X Harlequin442625196

Another study that classified the offspring for various matings between color varieties of Great Dane dogs for Irish and British populations revealed the following results:

MatingWhite HarlequinMerleBlackTotal
Harlequin X Harlequin351235274284
Harlequin X Black06740101208
Harlequin X Merle1132232591
Harlequin X White561012
Merle X Black0561425
White X Black01029039
Harlequin X Harlequin25492026120
Harlequin X Black0592438
White X Black0174021
* The first 6 entries are for the Irish Population whilst the last 3 entries are for the British Population

The results from these two studies indicate that more harlequin Great Danes are produced from harlequin and harlequin mating but this mating also produces more white or double merle dogs that have a lot of health problems.

The preferred breeding standard is to breed harlequins and mantles if you want to produce healthy harlequin Great Dane puppies but black to harlequin and merle to black matings are also okay since they don’t produce any double merles.


Harlequin Great Dane breeding can produce some variations of the coat color due to mutations or any other genetic explanation. Here are some of the common variations of the harlequin coat color in Great Dane dogs:

Blue Harlequin Great Dane

blue harlequin Great Dane
source: gentlegiantsofthesouth.com

Blue harlequin Great Danes have a white base coat color with irregularly shaped blue patches that are distributed over the entire dog’s body. Their main difference with pure harlequins is mostly the presence of blue patches instead of the black patches that are found in harlequin Great Danes.

Great Dane Coat Color:Blue Harlequin (blue and white)
AKC Code:045

Merle Harlequin Great Dane

merle harlequin Great Dane

Merle harlequin Great Danes are also called merlequins. These Great Danes have a white base coat color and some dark grey patches that are distributed over the dog’s. The dark grey patches are also supposed to have black splotches inside.

The main difference between a merlequin and a harlequin Great Dane is that the black patches in pure harlequins are replaced with a merle pattern. Merle harlequin Great Danes are mostly produced through (hM) and (hM) mating.

Great Dane Coat Color:Merlequin
AKC Code:517

Brindle Harlequin Great Dane

brindle harlequin Great Dane

Brindle harlequin Great Dane dogs are also called brindlequins. Like normal harlequins, these dogs have a white base coat but the patches have a brindle color instead of black.

Very little is still known about the genetics of this coat color but some theories suggest that it could be a result of a recessive trait in the harlequin or a recessive trait in the brindle.

Fawn Harlequin Great Dane

fawn harlequin Great Dane

Fawn harlequins or fawnequin Great Dane dogs have a pure white base coat color as found in normal harlequin dogs but the patches have a fawn color instead of black. The coat color is not recognized as a standard for Great Dane dogs but it is possible to register the dog with a club like the American Kennel Club.

Genetic studies of fawnequin Great Dane dogs have revealed that this coat color is produced when both parents carry a fawn gene but either of them has to also carry a harlequin gene.


The average price or cost of harlequin Great Danes is between $1,000 and $2,500. There are many factors that influence the price of a harlequin dog but the most common ones are ancestral lineage, reputation of the breeder and good results from health tests.

Other factors like gender and location can also influence the price but these are not significant movers of the average costs.

Harlequin Great Dane Price:
Minimum Price:$1,000
Maximum Price:$2,500
Average Price:$1,750


harlequin great dane puppy

The best way to get a harlequin Great Dane puppy is directly from reputable breeders because you will have some reliable information regarding the ancestral lineage and genetic health of the puppy.

Finding reputable dog breeders can be a very difficult task so I have compiled a list of some harlequin breeders that are recognized by the Great Dane Club of America. You can contact any of the breeders who are closer to you:

Harlequin Great Dane Puppy BreederLocationContact
Asayacres Great DanesPalmer, Alaskaasayacres@gci.net
Beehive Great DanesHooper, Utah+1 775-385-7967
BENT-ON DANESHuntington Beach, CaliforniaBentD@aol.com
CoKie Great DanesRussellville, Kentucky+1 585-233-8156
CR DanesTemperance, Michigancathy.crdanes@gmail.com
DANE D’COEURNorman, OklahomaDanedcoeur@msn.com
DAVINCI DANESRockwood, Tennesseedavincidanes@bellsouth.net
DAVISDANEHanover, MassachusettsDavisdane@comcast.net
DAVISHIRE GREAT DANESSacramento, Californiakathleen@davishiredanes.com
DESTINYSanta Rosa, Californiadestinygreatdanes@gmail.com
DUNN RIGHT RANCHBonners Ferry, Idahonicole@dunnrightranch.com
ELLENNIBealeton, Virginiabrittany@ellennidanes.com
Eye Candy DanesRancho Santa Fe, California+1 858-353-7995
FlightyAdel, Iowa+1 515-677-2122
FOTO DANESNewton, Iowabev@fotodanes.com
GLACIER DANESParker, Coloradoglacierdanes@gmail.com
HIGH STAKESSouth Lyon, Michiganpyrdane@yahoo.com
ICON Of MICA Great DanesStaten Island, New Yorkmicadane@aol.com
INK SPOT’S GREAT DANESInland Empire, Californiahomelgarrison@yahoo.com
Leggo DanesLongwood, Florida+1 407-494-0889
LIBERTY DANESKingdom, MissouriLrspots@socket.net
Magic Kingdoms Great DanesLeesburg, Virginia+1 631-902-7750
MOUNTAIN MAN DANESLittleton, Coloradoggschlomer@yahoo.com
OLD MISSIONImlay, Michigans.j.blades@gmail.com
PCHSanta Clarita, Californiapchgreatdanes@aol.com
Rose Great DanesDurango, Colorado+1 970-259-1128
Runway Great DanesDARLINGTON, Pennsylvania+1 724-544-7394
SARAVILLABoardman, Ohiomkim007@aol.com
Shebang Great DanesRichland, Indiana+1 812-649-5000
STARDUST DANESAtlanta, Georgiastardustdanes@gmail.com
SUM-DANETulare, Californiachrgers4@gmail.com
TDT GREAT DANESNorth Pole, Alaskatabitha@tdtgreatdanes.net
TERED-DBM GREAT DANESCameron park, Californiadkmatulich@sbcglobal.net
THOR-KOURTCoopersburg, Pennsylvania+1 610-838-6544
VON BONEHENGE GREAT DANESEl Paso, Texasbonehenge@elp.rr.com
Z-DanesMcKeesport, Pennsylvaniazdanes@comcast.net


The costs of getting a harlequin Great Dane can be significantly reduced by adopting from a dog rescue. There are many dogs in need of homes at dog rescues and if you have some time and patience there is no doubt that you can find a good harlequin Great Dane to be yours.

Here are some of the rescue groups where you can find a harlequin Great Dane:

Ear Cropping

Ear cropping can be described as the process of cutting off the floppy part of a dog’s ear for cosmetic reasons. The procedure has been banned in many countries around the world but it is still legal in the United States. Many dog lovers and animal rights activists are against ear cropping dogs for cosmetic reasons but many harlequin Great Danes have their ears cropped since the procedure is still legal in the country.

harlequin great dane ear cropping

Eye Color

All Great Danes are born with blue eyes but this color slowly starts to turn into shades of brown once the puppy starts getting older. However, the eye color of harlequin Great Danes can actually stay blue throughout the dog’s life. Harlequin is the only Great Dane coat color where the dog’s eyes remain blue when they are adults.

Size and Growth

Coat color does not really influence size and growth in dogs. Harlequin Great Danes can grow to the average size that is considered to be standard for their breed.

The average height of a female harlequin Great Dane is 71–81 cm whilst the average height of a male harlequin Great Dane is 76–86 cm.

On the other hand, the average weight of an adult male harlequin Great Dane is 54 – 91 kg whilst the average weight of their female counterparts is 45 – 59 kg.

Health Problems

Harlequin Great Danes don’t necessarily have unique health problems except for those common to their breed. Here are some of the of common health problems that all Great Dane owners should be aware of:

  • Gastric Torsion
  • Hip Dysplasia
  • Cardiomyopathy
  • Tricuspid Valve Disease
  • Cancer
  • Addison’s Disease
  • Wobbler Syndrome
  • Cruciate Ligament Tear

Harlequin Great Danes are also susceptible to lifestyle related health issues like obesity but such problems can be easily prevented by maintaining a healthy lifestyle and regular exercise.

Other problems like acne and skin allergies have been to affect harlequin Great Dane dogs but they are very rare.


Lifespan is not greatly affected by coat color so harlequin Great Danes can easily reach the average years that any dog of their breed is expected to live provided they are living under good conditions. The average lifespan of Great Danes is between 8 and 10 years.


Harlequin Great Danes have moderate shedding. The breed has a single coat but they still shed just like any other dog. However, regular brushing and bathing has been proven to be the best way to reduce shedding in Great Dane dogs.

Regular brushing and bathing helps to distribute the natural oils for the dog thus resulting in a shiny and healthy coat.


A good diet for a harlequin Great Danes is one that comprise high proteins, moderate fats and low calories. One of the best dog food for adult Great Danes is the Nutro Ultra Large Breed Adult Dry Dog Food which is very high in proteins and other nutrients that are essential for active and large breed dogs like the Great Dane.


There is no conclusive evidence to suggest a link between coat color and temperament in dogs. Harlequin Great Dane typically have the same temperament like other dogs of their breed except for when childhood or psychological traumas affect their individual personality.

Here are the common personality traits of a harlequin Great Dane:

  • Friendly.
  • Devoted.
  • Reserved.
  • Confident.
  • Loving.
  • Gentle.

Male vs Female

There is no major differences between a male and female Great Danes except for genitalia, height, weight, lifespan and other minor differences. Here are some of of the common differences between male and female harlequin Great Danes:

DifferenceMale Harlequin Great DaneFemale Harlequin Great Dane
Average Height:76–86 cm 71–81 cm
Average Weight:54 – 91 kg (Adult) 45 – 59 kg (Adult)
Average Lifespan:8-10 years7-10 years

American vs European

The major difference between American and European Great Danes usually comes down to their physical appearance. American harlequin Great Danes typically have a smaller and more rectangular head whilst their European counterparts have a bigger head and a thicker neck.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are Harlequin Great Danes Rare?

Harlequin Great Danes are not rare. The harlequin coat color is actually common in Great Dane dogs and it is actually recognized as a standard by many kennel clubs all over the world.

What Is The Difference Between Harlequin And Merle Great Dane?

The difference between harlequin and merle Great Danes is that harlequins have a white base coat color and some irregular black patches that are spread over the entire body of the dog whilst their mere counterparts have a grey base coat color with black splotches that are unevenly spread over the dog’s body.

What Are The Other Great Dane Colors?

Harlequin is part of the 7 coat colors that are currently recognized as the standard for Great Dane dogs. The other standard Great Dane colors that are recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC) and the Great Dane Club of America (GDCA) are:

  • Fawn Great Dane
  • Blue Great Dane
  • Black Great Dane
  • Mantle Great Dane
  • Brindle Great Dane
  • Merle Great Dane

Double Merles or white Great Danes also exist but they are not recognized as a standard and breeders are not encouraged to breed double merles due to unique health problems that arise from their genetics.

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