Harlequin Great Dane: Facts, Appearance, Genetics & Pictures

Harlequin Great Dane walking outdoors

Harlequin Great Danes are some of the world’s biggest dogs. They have Dalmatian-like spots with friendly demeanors and stunning stances. So you can expect many praises when you take this pooch for a walk in the local park.

Despite harlequin Great Danes’ intimidating appearance and rare coat, these dogs have docile but loyal personalities, making them excellent family companions for those with kids.

Now that we sparked your curiosity about the harlequin Great Dane, keep reading as we unfold everything you need to know about them in this article.

What Is a Harlequin Great Dane?

Majestic harlequin Great Dane standing on the grass lands

A harlequin Great Dane is a purebred Great Dane with a white base coat and black patches around its body. The harlequin variety is the rarest among the nine standard Great Dane colors. Its rarity is brought about by its complex breeding process.

Aside from being rare, harlequin Danes are pretty special. No two harlequin Great Danes will have the same pattern on their fur, so each of them is a unique puppy.

Moreover, a Great Dane with a harlequin pattern may come in different variants, such as the blue harlequin, chocolate harlequin, brindle harlequin, etc., which we will discuss in the later sections of this article.

There is no specific documentation about the first-ever harlequin Great Dane. However, Great Danes, in general, are bred for boar hunting and to protect properties in Germany.

What’s the Difference Between Merle and Harlequin Great Dane?

Merle Danes are seen to have grayish coats with mottling patches. These coats are exhibited through dominant genes, meaning only one copy of the merle gene is needed to be passed on to the offspring.

Here is a photo of a merle Great Dane:

Merle Great Dane sitting beside a river

On the other hand, harlequins have white coats with dark spots or patches throughout their bodies, and they are much more challenging to breed and produce.

For comparison, here is a photo of a harlequin Great Dane:

Harlequin Great Dane on a leash

Out of all Great Dane fur variants, the merle Great Dane and the harlequin Great Dane get interchanged quite a lot because of how similar they look.

The main difference between the harlequin and the merle Great Dane is their base fur color. As mentioned, harlequins have white coat bases, while merles have gray ones. Both dogs are covered with irregular dark patches.

Additionally, merle Great Danes can be produced from two harlequin dogs or one harlequin and one mantle Great Dane. At the same time, the harlequin variant is said to be exhibited from the merle gene.

Are Harlequin Great Danes Rare?

Out of all the standard Great Dane colors, the harlequin variant is one of the rarest and most stunning. It’s challenging to breed them, and it takes generations to perfect the harlequin coat patterning.

However, despite the difficulty and cost, many reputable breeders take their time, give their efforts, and spend money to produce harlequin puppies because of their unique color.

Moreover, they can also put a higher price tag on harlequin Great Dane breeds, making them profit more. However, this is not good news for people who are on a budget and want to own a harlequin Great Dane.

Harlequin Great Dane Appearance

Harlequin Great Dane walking on the streets

A harlequin Great Dane is a giant-sized dog with a white coat base covered with black patches. Compared to the merle and mantle Great Danes, their most distinctive feature is their solid white undercoat.

According to the American Kennel Club (AKC), the harlequin Great Dane should have a whole or partial white neck and chest, and their dark patches should be well-distributed in their body.

Moreover, these spots should not be large enough to look like a blanket, and merle patches are also usually found in the harlequin pattern. 

However, black hairs that appear to be dirty-like may be less desired. Other patches may also appear to be dilute blue, gray, or sable, among others. However, these are not considered standard.

Size-wise, a harlequin Great Dane generally stands between 28 and 32 inches and weighs around 110 to 175 pounds. They are gentle giants with well-formed and athletic muscles.

Moreover, aside from the distinct white neck, these harlequin dogs have long rectangular heads, square jaws, and deep muzzles. 

Although some may have cropped ears, harlequin Great Danes have naturally floppy ears. These ears are medium-sized with the right amount of thickness and folded towards their cheeks.

Plus, their chests are slightly high, and they have almond-shaped eyes in dark colors. However, blue and other colored eyes may be permitted for a harlequin Great Dane.

Since a harlequin Great Dane pup is not like any other dog in terms of size, check out this video on how quickly and big they can grow:

7 Week Old Great Dane Puppy to 9 Months Old! Loki The Great Dane

Harlequin Great Dane Color Genetics

Harlequin puppies of the Great Dane breed may be very popular, but they are one of the most complicated color variants to perfect. Breeding them is not straightforward, and acquiring one may require patience and skills.

According to genetics, the harlequin pattern is caused by the complex interaction and modification of the merle gene.

Merle genes often have black spots on dogs with white fur. Breeding them with a blue Great Dane usually yields a dog with white markings or black spots and patches.

You can also produce a harlequin and a blue Great Dane together to achieve the coat mutation you aim for. However, it must be noted that it may take generations before a litter can express a perfect harlequin gene.

In addition, breeding a mantle and a harlequin Great Dane can also produce several harlequin dogs. In fact, this type of breeding has a higher chance of making show-quality harlequins.

Generally, a harlequin and a mantle Great Dane would have a litter of 50% mantle, 25% merle, and 25% harlequins.

Furthermore, it is essential to note that breeding harlequin Danes may result in pups carrying a double merle gene. In case you’re new to it, the double merle gene is associated with many health issues in dogs.

Danes with double merle genes usually acquire vision and hearing issues, making them unhealthy and undesirable for breeding.

Harlequin Great Dane Temperament and Personality

Harlequin Great Dane outside owners home

Despite their intimidating size and alert expression, harlequin Great Dane puppies have gentle demeanors. They are affectionate, obedient, and adorable, making them excellent family dogs.

Harlequin Great Dane puppies are also very clingy to their owners. They may crush you accidentally since they consider themselves lap dogs at times. 

In addition, these Great Dane puppies are playful but prefer to be indoors since they don’t need as much exercise as other giant breeds.

Moreover, despite being gentle and patient, they must be socialized and trained early. Without these, they can exhibit rowdiness and even aggressiveness, especially with strangers.

In terms of trainability, a harlequin Great Dane puppy is naturally born brilliant. They pick up commands quickly and respond well to positive reinforcement. Plus, they are people pleasers, making them even more adorable.

Overall, harlequin Great Danes are loyal protectors and excellent with kids and other pets, making them fantastic family dogs. 

Harlequin Great Dane Lifespan and Health Issues

Great Danes with the harlequin pattern tend to have shorter lifespans, typically living for only 6 to 8 years on average. However, in some cases, they may live up to 10 years.

In terms of health, they may have various health issues despite being generally healthy. Often, these health concerns are related to genetics or their size.

As an overview, here is a list of different conditions and diseases your harlequin Great Dane puppy might be prone to:

  • Hip Dysplasia: Just like GDV, hip dysplasia is pretty common in the breed, including Danes with the harlequin gene. This condition is characterized by the abnormal development of the hip joint, resulting in pain and decreased mobility.
  • Canine Dilated Cardiomyopathy (DCM): DCM happens when the heart ventricles of your dog dilate, and the ventricle walls become thin, resulting in chest pain and other cardiac symptoms. This decreases the heart’s ability to pump blood throughout the dog’s body.
  • Osteoarthritis: Osteoarthritis is a progressive condition in dogs that is exhibited through the inflammation of the joints, leading to swelling and pain. This can be more likely found in senior dogs and giant breeds, like the Great Dane.

These issues can be prevented if you acquire your harlequin Great Dane puppies from reputable breeders and give them proper care. Ensuring your puppy visits the vet regularly will help them be disease-free.

Furthermore, providing these giants with good nutrition and time for daily exercise will also keep them healthy and happy.

How Much Does a Harlequin Great Dane Cost? Puppy Prices & Expenses

Harlequin Great Dane puppy sitting on a plank of wood

The usual standard Great Danes have an average price tag of $700 to $2,500, depending on bloodline, color, and breeder. However, due to its rarity, a harlequin Great Dane puppy may range between $2,000 and $4,000.

Adopting a harlequin puppy is an excellent option if you’re keen on saving money. Depending on the rescue organization or shelter, a harlequin Great Dane puppy can cost between $300 and $400.

Additionally, as an aspiring pet owner, you must never forget that owning a harlequin Great Dane is not a one-time purchase. You’ll also have recurring expenses and costs of initial supplies.

To give you a head-start, here’s a list of the initial costs of owning a harlequin Great Dane:

Type of ExpenseCost
Food and Treats$80 – $150
Bowls$15 – $40
Toys$30 – $100
Beds$50 – $300
Collars and Leashes$15 – $50
Crates and Carriers$60 – $500
Grooming Essentials$50 – $250
Initial Vet Visits$100 – $500
Initial Vaccine Shots$50 – $300
Deworming, Flea, and Tick Medications$40 – $300
Neutering or Spaying$50 – $500
Microchipping$40 – $60
Dog License$10 – $20
Other Essentials$30 – $80
Total Initial Cost$620 – $3,150

A quick tip regarding essential items for your puppy to have a smoother transition in your home is to invest in high-quality items. This will save you money rather than buying cheap products that compromise durability.

Another tip a colleague of mine, an experienced handler of Great Danes, shared is that with this breed, it is best to also invest in pet insurance. These dogs are prone to several illnesses, including hip dysplasia and gastric dilatation volvulus.

Combined with the size of these dogs, treatment may not come cheap. However, having pet insurance will make you worry-free whenever an emergency happens.

Places to Find Harlequin Great Dane Puppies for Sale and Adoption

Finding a Great Dane with a harlequin coat is not a walk in the park. If you are a first-time dog owner, you might think that joining online communities and looking through Great Dane clubs is your best bet. 

However, that is not always the case. You should be on the lookout for puppy mills and backyard breeders. 

Be sure only to get your pooch from reputable sources. Plus, you should also check which gender you prefer before going out to get one.

If you think you are ready to own a harlequin Great Dane, here’s a list of reputable places you should know if you want to acquire one:

  • Old Mission Danes – Located in Michigan, Old Mission Danes is an AKC Breeder of Merit that focuses on breeding high-quality Great Danes that excel in the show ring. The parents of the dogs they produce are all health-tested by the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA), ensuring puppies are free from any genetic illnesses.
  • Carolina Great Danes – This small home kennel specializes in breeding gentle Great Dane dogs, especially those with harlequin coats. They also breed the unique brindle Great Dane and other dogs with standard coat colors. Additionally, all their dogs are CKC and AKC registered, ensuring the health and quality of all their litters.
  • Rose Danes – This dog breeder started producing Great Danes with different coat varieties in 1995. With 26 years of experience, they are one of the most trustworthy Great Dane breeders who offer a variety of coat colors, such as harlequins, and provide award-winning dogs around the country.

The Great Dane Club of America also has a breeder directory that you can browse to be connected to more dog breeders.

Meanwhile, if you want to adopt a Great Dane puppy, check out these sources:

  • North West Great Dane Rescue (NWGDR) – This organization is a non-profit group established in 2014 dedicated to rescuing local Great Danes in need. Each dog in their care is spayed/neutered, provided with medical attention, temperament-tested, and microchipped. 
  • Rocky Mountain Great Dane Rescue – This group rescues, rehabilitates, and rehomes different Great Danes and Dane mixes that have been abused, abandoned, and neglected. They also have rehomed more than 2,000 Great Danes since 2000, and you just might find your perfect match on their website.
  • Great Dane Rescue of New England – This diverse, volunteer group of experienced Great Dane owners united in March 2013 to more effectively assist all types of Great Danes in need and the families who surrender, foster, and adopt them. 

Additionally, you can also find more shelters and rescues by driving around your neighborhood and searching on social networking sites.

Best Dog Names for Your Harlequin Great Dane Puppy

Harlequin Great Dane out in the snow

As owners, one of our biggest dilemmas is naming our dogs regardless of coat colors or dog breeds. To help you out, here are some dog name ideas for your new adorable harlequin Great Dane puppy:

  • Harley
  • Spot
  • Boots
  • Sundae
  • Patch
  • Snoopy
  • Domino
  • Oreo
  • Cruella
  • Popeye
  • Scout
  • Cookie
  • Flurry
  • Panda
  • Mallow

One of my friends loves the Great Dane breed and owns five of these dogs, including a Harlequin one they named Moo. When I asked him how he came up with the dogs’ names, he said that he just looked for inspiration around.

He mentioned that he thinks of movie characters, his favorite food, or even his favorite artist. He also sometimes based his dogs’ names on their color or personality. These are just some creative ways how to come up with your fur buddy’s name.

Frequently Asked Questions

Harlequin Great Dane standing on an open field

What Is the Rarest Great Dane Color?

Aside from the harlequin dog, the rarest Great Dane coat color would be the white Great Dane. They are basically Great Danes with overall white coats, not just a white background or white markings.

This rare pooch emerges from two copies of the merle gene, also known as double merle, resulting from the missense mutation of harlequin-harlequin breeding.

Do Harlequin Great Danes Have Blue Eyes?

Due to the presence of merle genes, a harlequin Great Dane can have blue eyes, and it is acceptable as a breed standard for the harlequin variant, according to the Great Dane Club.

Most of the Great Dane breed would change their eye color as they reach nine weeks despite having blue eyes initially. However, harlequins are an exception.

Generally, a harlequin dog with bright blue eyes could remain with this eye color throughout its life. Some may have pale blue eyes, while others can have a greyish-blue tone.

Can You Breed Two Harlequin Great Danes Together?

Since a harlequin Great Dane generally carries a merle gene, breeding two harlequins will result in dogs having two copies of merle genes. This makes them more prone to blindness and deafness.

Technically, breeding two harlequins is possible, but it is highly discouraged in the dog breeding world due to the harmful mutation it exhibits and ethical reasons.

Can You Breed Merle and Harlequin Great Danes Together?

Like breeding two harlequins, breeding a merle and a harlequin together is not advisable due to the presence of the double merle genes. This type of mutation reduces the dogs’ quality of life, and they may suffer health-wise.

Litters from these parent breeds will most likely suffer from blindness and deafness. That’s why mixing merles with harlequins is not recommended.

Do Harlequin Great Danes Shed?

Great Danes with harlequin coats are minimal shedders. If the dog is healthy, it will most likely shed twice a year, similar to other Great Dane colors. This makes them low-maintenance dogs when it comes to their coat or hair.

Brushing them daily can help reduce loose hair and improve its coat shine. Moreover, bathing them every 15 days is advisable to keep their unique coat soft and healthy.

Are Harlequin Great Danes Aggressive?

Like other breeds, Great Danes with harlequin coats can exhibit aggressiveness if they are not properly socialized and trained as young puppies.

However, despite their large size, they are considered gentle with the right amount of protectiveness. So you can expect them to be a more laid-back type of dog.

What do you think about this giant pooch? Let us know in the comment section if you’re thinking of bringing home a harlequin Great Dane or if you already have one! If you also have any questions about this beautifully-colored variant, feel free to ask!

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