Harlequin Great Dane

This is a complete guide on harlequin Great Danes.

I am going to be breaking down everything that you need to know about the Great Dane color and how it is achieved.

Here are some of the topics that we are going to cover:

So without much being said, let’s get started.

What Is A Harlequin Great Dane?

A harlequin Great Dane is one with a white base coat color and irregularly shaped black blotches that are evenly distributed across the dog’s body. Harlequin Great Danes differ from the merle pattern in that the base color is white instead of blue.

what is a harlequin great dane

The American Kennel Club’s standard for the harlequin pattern states that the base color should be a pure white with black torn patterns irregularly and well distributed over the entire body; a white neck is much more preferred and desired whilst merle patches are considered to be normal.

No patch should be so large that it appears to be a blanket and any variance in color or markings described above shall be faulted to the extent of the deviation.

Any Great Dane that does not fall within the described color specifications must be disqualified.

Are Harlequin Great Danes Rare?

Harlequin dogs are generally rare since the Great Dane and the Beauceron are the only breeds that display this coloration. Harlequin Great Danes are genetically complex so many breeders find it difficult to produce them.

Due to their genetic complexity, harlequin Great Danes are very rare.

You have a higher chance of producing a harlequin from harlequin by harlequin mating than from a harlequin mating with a Dane of any color.

Standard vs Non-Standard Harlequin Great Danes

Standard harlequin Great Danes are ideally those that meet all the specifications of the American Kennel Club but there are also other varieties of mismarks that can be considered to be standard. The image below shows some of the common standard harlequin Great Danes:

standard harlequin great danes
  • Ideal Harlequin- This one meets all the AKC standards with its white base coat color and irregularly shaped black blotches that are evenly distributed across the dog’s body.
  • Heavy Harlequin- This one has many irregularly shaped black blotches that are spread across the dog’s white base coat.
  • Light Harlequin- A light harlequin will have few irregularly shaped black blotches spread across the white base coat of the Great Dane.
  • Very Light Harlequin- Very light harlequins will have a huge portion of white with very few irregularly shaped black blotches.

When it comes to non-standard harlequins, they completely deviate from the AKC standards and specifications. Here is a quick explanation of non-standard harlequin Great Danes:

non standard harlequin great danes
  • Piebald- This one will have a pure white coat with black markings on the eye rims, eyebrows, ears and the back.
  • White- White Great Danes have a pure white coat. These dogs have a lot of health problems as a consequence of their genetic makeup.
  • Merle Mantle- These are also called blue merle mantle Great Danes that have a silver-grey (blue) blanket over a pure white base coat. The silver-grey blanket is often spotted with irregularly shaped black patches.
  • Merle- Merle Great Danes have a light base coat and irregularly shaped dark blotches evenly distributed across the dog’s body.
  • Mismarked Harlequin- A mismarked harlequin is one with a lot black markings that are completely spread over the white base coat.

Harlequin Great Dane Genetics

The harlequin color family is one that is genetically complex. Standard and non-standard colors that are produced by the harlequin color family mostly include mantles, whites, merles, blacks with a lot of white and many other marking variations.

There are currently 10 identified genes know for canine coat variation but there are still a lot of distinguishing traits that are yet to be fully described at the genetic level.

The is a high certainty of producing a harlequin Great Dane from harlequin by harlequin matings than from other matings like the harlequin by black mating.

A recent study on the breeding data from Eire and Great Britain confirm the hypothesis of Sponenberg (1985) confirmed this theory when it concluded that:

The harlequin color of the Great Dane breed of dog is due the combined action of a dominant gene H with the merle gene M in the genotype H+M +. The typical bluish coloration induced by M is modified to white by the action of H. The H gene is a prenatal lethal when homozygous HH and this study offers clear indication that the heterozygous H + interacts with M to reduce the viability of white merle homozygotes H+MM.

Harlequin Great Danes are genetically complex to produce and that may be the reason why many breeders set high prices for the color family.

However, it is also important to note that the American Kennel Club does not encourage the mating of harlequin Great Danes to produce other color variations like the fawn, brindle, blue or the blue-bred black color families.

Breeding Harlequin Great Danes

As mentioned earlier, harlequin Great Danes are genetically complex so they may be difficult for many breeders to produce. This is one of the many reasons why many Great Dane breeders set high prices for the coat color.

A study on the inheritance of the harlequin color in Great Dane dogs concluded 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. All harlequins produced some merles. These data best fit the hypothesis that harlequin is a modification of merle (Mm) caused by an autosomal dominant mutation that is lethal to homozygotes, and to about half of heterozygotes when combined with the MM genotype. The symbol H is proposed for this mutation.

This means that you actually have a greater chance of producing a harlequin Great Dane through harlequin by harlequin matings than from harlequin by black matings.

Great Dane breeding is an actual science that can get more complex if you want to produce specific colors like the harlequin.

Harlequin Great Dane Health Issues

Large breeds like Great Danes have a very short lifespan of around 7 to 10 years. This is mainly because these large breeds are susceptible to many health problems.

Even responsible breeding practices can produce Danes that are susceptible to these health issues so it is very important for prospective owners to look into the ancestral history of any dog before making the decision to adopt. Some health problems are inherited from parents so you should keep an eye on these issues.

Here are some common health problems experienced by harlequin Great Danes:

  • Bloat– This is a very dangerous health condition that results in the twisting of the stomach. After the stomach twisting, blood supply is cut off so it is important to visit the veterinarian as soon as early signs start to show.
  • Cardiomyopathy– This is a disease of the heart muscle that makes it harder for your heart to pump blood to the rest of your body.
  • Joint & Bone Disease– Many Great Danes experience joint and bone diseases such as hip dysplasia and osteoarthritis. Joint supplements like glucasomine can help to protect your dog from these diseases.
  • Thyroid Problems– These are also common for large dog breeds. The most common one is Autoimmune thyroiditis commonly causes hypothyroidism in Great Danes.

Harlequin Great Dane Temperament

harlequin great dane temperament

Harlequin Great Danes have the same temperament as other Danes of any color.

There is no evidence to link dog temperament or personality with coat color although there are myths and theories suggesting that certain colors behave better than others.

Coat color does not seem to affect temperament of Great Dane dogs. Just like humans behavior differ among individuals, and not along color lines as many might suggest.

Here is the common personality and temperament of Great Dane dogs:

  1. Devoted.
  2. Reserved.
  3. Loving.
  4. Friendly.
  5. Confident.
  6. Gentle.

Coat color does not affect temperament or personality. Dog behavior is mostly influenced by the parents or ancestors of the dog in question so if you want a Great Dane with a good behavior it is better to choose one based on ancestral history rather than coat color.

Harlequin Great Dane Puppies: Cost And Price

harlequin great dane puppies

Coat color is one of the major factors that influence the cost of Great Dane puppies or adult dogs. The rule of thumb is that harlequin Great Danes are more expensive that other coat colors due to their genetic complexity and the difficulties that breeders face when producing the coat color.

The average cost of a harlequin Great Dane puppy is within the range of $1,000 to $3,000 depending on the reputation of the breeder, location and pedigree.

Other factors like a pure white neck and irregularity of the black patches will also influence the price of a harlequin Great Dane.

Here is a quick summary of the factors that influence the price of a harlequin Great Dane:

Locationlocation is one of the major factors that influence the price of a dog. If the breed is exotic to the area is will be more expensive that indigenous breeds.
BreederThe reputation of the breeder will also influence the price of your Great Dane. A dog bought from an expert and reputable breeder will cost more than others.
PedigreePure bred dogs are generally more expensive and ancestral history of the dog will also influence the price. The rule of thumb is to get a Great Dane with an ancestral history that is free from disease and bad temperament.
StandardThe standard of your harlequin Great Dane will also influence the cost. A harlequin Great Dane that meets all the specifications stated by the American Kennel Club will be more expensive that any with some degree of deviation.

Harlequin Great Dane Care

Harlequin Great Danes have the same needs as other color variations but there are some special needs that owners should be aware of. The special needs have a lot to do with grooming the coat color.

Here are some great tips for taking care of a harlequin Great Dane:


harlequin great dane feeding

Diet has a major role to play on the coat, health and temperament of your Great Dane so it is important to provide the best one for your dog.

A good and nutritionally balanced diet will greatly contribute to the growth of your Dane. However, feeding and dietary requirements will mostly vary depending on the age of your Great Dane.

For example, the best food for puppies during their early stages of development is their mother’s milk. Wet and dry dog food uniquely designed for puppies can be introduced once their stomachs are strong enough to fully digest the food.

One of the best wet foods for a harlequin Great Dane puppies is the Rachael Ray Nutrish which has added vitamins and minerals whist the best dry food for a harlequin Great Dane puppy is the Rachael Ray Nutrish Dry which contains natural prebiotics for a healthy digestion.

Adult harlequin Great Danes do not really require more food as many would expect from their size. One of the best formulas for adult Great Danes is the Nutro Ultra Large Breed Adult Dry Dog Food which contains the perfect mix of premium lean proteins, antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables, whole grains and healthy oils to help your dog be at his best.

Once your harlequin Great Dane has reached the senior stage a change in diet is also required. As dogs generally get older their metabolism changes. Older dogs tend to exercise less, move slowly and sleep more.

This is change in physical performance will require a change in diet and one of the best foods for senior harlequin Great Danes is the Hill’s Science Diet Large Breed which provides your senior dog with the precise nutrition for a healthy lifestyle.

Also remember to give your harlequin Great Dane enough water to keep them hydrated and functional throughout the day.


harlequin great dane grooming

Grooming is also an essential part of taking care of your harlequin Great Dane. Here are some of the grooming tips that you should follow:

  • Bathe your Great Dane with dog shampoo at least 5 times a year. Frequent bathing can deprive your Dane’s coat with the necessary natural oils.
  • Always dry your dog after every bath.
  • Dry shampoo your Great Dane in-between bath routines. This is very essential for harlequin Great Danes with a white coat that easily gets dirty when playing outdoors.
  • Regularly brush your Great Dane with a short hair brush to remove loose hair, dirt and parasites.
  • The ears should be kept clean and any excess hair inside the ear should be carefully removed.
  • The nails of your Great Dane should also be regularly trimmed. A good rule of thumb is that if you can hear your dog’s nails clicking on the floor when they are walking you should cut the nails.


Training is another aspect of taking good care of your dog. A dog that behaves well and lives in harmony with its environment can have a longer lifespan.

Here are some great tips for training a Great Dane dog:


Harlequin is a genetically complex coat color that is very difficult to achieve in dogs. Great Danes and the Beauceron are the only breeds that display this coloration.

The American Kennel Club states that harlequin Great Danes should have a white base color with irregularly shaped black patches spread across the body.

A white neck is much more preferred and any dog that displays a variation in color or markings from the one described above shall be faulted to the extent of the deviation.

Many breeders find it difficult to produce harlequin Great Danes so the coloration is mostly expensive.

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