What is a Harlequin Great Dane?

Harlequin is a specific color pattern.

Harlequin is one of the
American Kennel Club's recognized
6 SHOW colors of Great Danes.

The other 5 are Fawn, Brindle, Blue, Black & Mantle

Quoted from the AKC Standard about Harlequin Great Danes
(in regards to conformation showing)

"The base color shall be
pure white with
black torn patches
irregularly and
well distributed
over the entire body; a pure white neck is preferred.

The black patches should never be large enough
to give the appearance of a blanket,
nor so small as to give a stippled or dappled effect.

Eligible, but less desirable,
are a few small gray patches
(This gray is a Merle marking)
or a white base with
single black hairs
showing through, which tend
to give a salt and pepper or dirty effect.

Any variance in color or markings described above
shall be faulted to the extent of the deviation.
A Great Dane which does not fall within the above color classifications must be disqualified."

Quoted from the Great Dane Club of America's Website:

"A wide range exists as to the amount of markings which may be present;
however, dogs with very few patches and dogs so heavily marked that little white area
is left are both outside the desired range.

When all the markings have
rounded, well defined edges (spots)
as opposed to the required torn edges,
the dog does not fall into
the harlequin classification.
(This would be considered a Piebald.)

Harlequins may correctly have
black patches on the chest and legs.
Although a white neck is preferred,
black patches on the neck
should not be penalized. "

Both sides of the same dog

The Illustrated Harlequin Great Dane Standard
(* Note: Ears do NOT have to be cropped for show *)

Number 1 is a correctly show marked Harlequin

Number 2 is acceptable for show but considered lighter marked

Number 3 is acceptable for show but considered heavier marked

Number 4 is less acceptable for show due to its heavy markings
(frequently this is considered a pet marked Harlequin)

Number 5 is less acceptable for show due to its light markings

Why is this color called a Harlequin?
It could be that they are named after Arlecchino (Harlequin in English)
who was so poor a servant that his clothes were old & patched together
to the point that they lost their original color & material.

Arlecchino could not read or write so made his meager living as an acrobat and a clown.
Some people say Harlequin Great Danes take after Arlecchino
(and future entertainers who dressed like him) with their clownish antics.

A few Harlequin facts
  • Great Danes are the only breed of dog with this color pattern
    (Miniature Pinschers use to come in this variation but now are uncommon)

  • When Harlequins are bred together they may or
    may not produce Harlequin puppies

  • Harlequin bred to Harlequin can produce White puppies
    that frequently are deaf and/or blind

  • Harlequins are frequently mistaken by the general public as Dalmatians

  • Harlequins sometimes can be so heavily marked that they resemble a Mantle
    with the only noticeable difference being that they have merle (grey) somewhere on them.

    Harlequin Great Danes on our website include
    Roku, Star, Eagle, Rooster, Kele, Dyami,
    Feather, Bailey, Baron & Bronx

    What is a Mantle Great Dane?

    Mantle is a specific color pattern in Great Danes.

    Mantle is one of the American Kennel Club's
    recognized 6 SHOW colors of Great Danes.

    The other 5 are
    Fawn, Brindle, Blue,
    Black & Harlequin

    In the U.S. Prior to 1998
    Mantles were often referred
    to as Bostons due to the
    similiar coloration & pattern
    as a Boston Terrier.

    Quoted from the
    AKC Standard
    conformation showing

    "The color shall be black and white with a solid black blanket
    extending over the body; black skull with white muzzle;
    white blaze
    (a blaze is a white stripe between the eyes) is optional;
    whole white collar preferred;
    (a collar refers to a full white band around the neck)
    a white chest; white on part or whole of forelegs and hind legs; white tipped black tail.

    A small white marking in the black blanket is acceptable, as is a break in the white collar."

    The Illustrated Mantle Great Dane Standard
    (*Note: Ears do NOT have to be cropped for show)

    Number 1 displays the ideally show marked
    Mantle Great Dane

    The rest are within the written standards' description so are showable.

    Why is this color called a Mantle?
    It could be because they are named after a Mantle
    which is a piece of clothing similiar to a robe
    which is left open in the front and is often sleeveless.

    A few Mantle facts
  • Mantles are strictly Black & White,
    they cannot have any Merle (grey) on them
    Otherwise they would be considered a
    heavy marked or blanketed Harlequin.

  • Some parts of the world still refer to this color as Boston.

  • Mantles often come from Harlequin breedings.

  • Mantles can be bred to Harlequins without the risk
    of producing White puppies.

  • Mantle bred to Mantle cannot produce Harlequin.

    Mantle Great Danes on our site include
    Luca, Phoenix, Talon, Fortune, DJ, Loke, Tano & Reveille.

    What is a Merle Great Dane?

    Merle is a color of Great Dane.

    This color is NOT one of American Kennel Club's
    recognized 6 SHOW colors of Great Danes.

    The 6 show colors are Fawn, Brindle, Blue, Black, Harlequin & Mantle

    Merle is a companion color of Great Dane
    that commonly comes from Harlequin breedings.

    Just because Merle is not a show color
    does NOT mean it isn't AKC registerable.

    Non-show colors are not rare.

    Merle is generally a grey base color
    (but not always)
    with black patches.

    Merle coloration can vary from pale silver to dark ash gray
    & many shades in between.

    They can even be another color such as a Fawn Merle
    which has a tannish hue instead of grey.
    This would still be considered a Merle.

    There are other breeds which differenciate merles into colors
    such as Blue Merles and Red Merles
    however in Great Danes that is not the case.
    A Merle is a Merle.

    Merles can vary in pattern as well as in color.

    They can be primarily solid merle with few white markings,
    or could have a white base coat with merle patches
    (resembling a Harlequin)
    often referred to as a Merlequin.

    They can also have specific white markings like a mantle;
    often referred to as a
    Mantle marked Merle, Mantled Merle, Boston Merle or Mertle.

    A few Merle facts
  • Several other breeds come in Merle
    including Australian Shepherds,Corgis & Collies.

  • Many people do not recommend the breedings of Merles.

  • Breeding Merle to Merle often produces
    deaf and/or blind White puppies.

    Merle Great Danes on our site include
    Goose, Gypsy-Quail, Whinny, Lass, Comet, Rocky & Keitaro.

    Great Danes pictured on this page include:
    (AKC major pointed) BIS UKC CH, Multi Int'l/Nat'l CH Sixstar's The Eagle Has Landed,CGC,TT,RN ~"Eagle"
    Int'l/Nat'l CH Marbledanes RWR Nitro Star,CGC,TT,TDI ~"Star"
    Int'l/Nat'l CH Arctic Rose Arnljot,CGC,TT,TDI ~"Roku"
    Sixstar's Three Ring Circus ~"Bailey"
    Sixstar's A Little Birdie Told Me, CGC ~"Kele"
    Sixstar's I Gotta Crow, CGC ~"Rooster"
    UKC CH Sixstar's Fly Like An Eagle, CGC,RN ~"Dyami"
    Sixstar's Little Eagle Feather ~"Feather"
    MFA's Beguilin B-Bar-H Baron,CGC ~"Baron"

    Sixstar's Eagle's Talon ~ "Talon"
    UKC CH Hladik's Pick Six To Win, TT,CGC "Luca"
    Int'l/Nat'l CH Sixstar's Rising Sun Phoenix,CGC,TT ~"Phoenix"
    Service Dog- Sixstar's Third Time's A Charm,CGC,PAT,TT ~"Fortune"
    (never registered) Graysondanes BugleBoy of Co B ~"Reveille"

    Service Dog- Sixstar's The Lass Unicorn,CGC,PAT,TT ~"Lass"
    Sixstar's Goose Beary Pie ~"Goose"
    Sixstar's Cute As A Button Quail,CGC ~"Gyspy-Quail"
    Sixstar's ThreeCoins NTheFountn,CGC ~"Keitaro"
    Sixstar's Three's Company,CGC ~"Rocky"
    Sixstar's Happy Tailed Comet,CGC ~"Comet"
    Sixstar's HorseOfADifrntColor ~"Whinny"

    Cartoony Great Dane art on this page
    by & Rachel Cawley of Sixstar Danes