Great Danes are not the dogs you bring home if you want to be subtle. These giant animals stand out wherever they go, and you can’t even walk down the street without drawing stares and having people ask to pet them. They certainly make a statement, there’s no doubt about that!
Their distinctiveness can extend to their coat color as well. These dogs can come in one of seven standard shades as shown in our Great Dane color chart, which may include some you have never seen on a Great Dane before.
Great Dane Color Chart
Without further ado, here are the seven Great Dane colors, along with information on each.
The 7 Types of Great Dane Colors, Patterns & Markings
1. Fawn Great Dane
By far the most common Great Dane color, fawn is a beautiful tan color that extends almost across the dog’s entire body. Most fawn Great Danes have a black “mask,” which means the coloring around their face is much darker than the rest of their body. In fact, if a fawn pooch has any other markings on their body (other than the face), it’s considered a flaw and enough for them to be rejected by dog shows. Nearly all of the most famous Great Danes are fawn-colored, such as Scooby-Doo.
2. Brindle Great Dane
Why settle for just one color type of Great Dane when you can have several? That’s the thinking behind brindle Great Danes, anyway.
These pups have coats that are a combination of several colors, including black, red, fawn, gray, and blue. Their markings are truly unique and wonderful. However, most brindle Great Danes have a fawn-colored base coat underlying the rest of the colors.
3. Harlequin Great Dane
If you’ve ever seen a harlequin Great Dane, chances are that you thought they looked like a Jackson Pollock painting. Their bodies are pure white, with black splotches all over. The splotches are in an irregular pattern, so each harlequin Great Dane has an absolutely unique coat.
It’s incredibly hard for a harlequin Great Dane type to be officially recognized by the various breed standard organizations, however. There are two criteria they must meet to be considered worthy: they must have spotless white necks, and they can’t have any black splotches that dominate a section of their bodies.
4. Black Great Dane
You might think that this type of Great Dane would be boring, but these pups have such deep, rich coats that they’re incredibly striking. These are gorgeous dogs, plain and simple. Of course, to be recognized by the AKC and similar organizations, these dogs have to be completely black, with no other colors visible.
5. Blue Great Dane
Fans of Zoolander will love this color variation, as it’s often described as “blue steel.” To be sure, these dogs would fit right in with the models from that movie, as they’re unbelievably beautiful.
The actual shade of blue can vary from very light to fairly dark, and they can often be mislabelled as grey Great Danes, but you’ll most commonly find these dogs in true steel blue.
Want to show your blue Great Dane at Westminster? Make sure the blue hue is consistent throughout the dog’s body and that there are no other colors present.
6. Merle Great Dane
These types of Great Danes are much like harlequins, except they have a darker base coat. They look like a harlequin Great Dane that wandered through spray paint. The base coat is generally a light gray instead of white, which allows for both white and black splotches. Merle was only recently recognized by the AKC as an official color — in 2018, in fact.
7. Mantle Great Dane
Mantle Great Danes have two colors, black and white, with no splotching. The black is the dominant base coat, with white lining their feet, chest, and face. If the white is anywhere else on the body, it’s usually enough to disqualify these dogs, but they have less variation than some of the other patterns on this list.
A Brief History of Great Danes
Unlike what you might expect with a name like “Great Dane,” these dogs come from Germany. In the 16th century, German nobility bred English Mastiffs and Irish Wolfhounds, along with other large dog breeds, to create a new animal that was capable of hunting deer, boars, and even bears. In fact, many royals even let their favorite Great Danes sleep in their bedrooms. It wasn’t out of affection, though — the dogs were there to protect them from assassins.
While they were used for hunting, there was no need to try to camouflage them. They hunted using brute force instead of their wits, after all. Instead, their markings were designed to be pleasing to the eye rather than to have any utilitarian value.
No one is quite sure how these German dogs took on a Danish name. One of the prevailing theories is that due to tensions between Germany and the rest of Europe, breeders renamed them to make them more appealing to potential owners.
Whatever the reason, we’re glad these dogs continued to be popular. While they may not be of much use against assassins, they’re still happy to share your bed with you.
What About Other Great Dane Colors?
Of course, Great Danes can come in more colors than the seven shown here. However, the ones above are the only official Great Dane colors.
Most of the other potential shades are simply mishmashes of the official colors. For example, you can see coats in patterns like:
As you can imagine, many of these coats are quite gorgeous. Also, these dogs aren’t inferior in any way — you just can’t enter them in dog shows or breed them as “official” Great Danes.
One thing that’s important to know if you plan on breeding these dogs, however, is that the gene responsible for the merle coloring is dominant, so you should never breed a merle Great Dane with another merle Great Dane. Doing so could lead to serious health issues.
Big, Beautiful Dogs
Regardless of their color, Great Danes are huge, lovable lugs. They think that they’re little toy dogs and will have no qualms about climbing into your lap to enjoy a Netflix marathon.
Assuming that you can afford to feed and house one, a Great Dane makes a fantastic companion animal. You’d be incredibly lucky to have one as a friend, no matter what they look like on the outside.
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