Are you looking to add a gentle giant to your family? Great Danes are a top choice and Great Dane colors may or may not matter to you – after all, they’re all stunning dogs!
All the same, you might need that color terminology to describe your dog, or you may want to hunt for a specific color you admire.
According to the American Kennel Club, there are 10 standard Great Dane colors.
Here they are:
- Black and white
Then, there are non-standard Great Dane colors:
- Blue and White
- Blue brindle
- Chocolate and white
- Chocolate brindle
- Mantle merle
Not sure what all these color descriptions mean? Let’s check it out.
Seven Great Dane Colors For Show Dogs
There are plenty of reasons for choosing a pedigree dog. For some people, it’s having a dog with a predictable build and temperament.
For others, it may be an interest in dog breeding or attending dog shows and winning prizes. This group of pet owners will want dogs with “good” breed characteristics and color is among the criteria on which Great Danes are evaluated.
Let’s take a closer look at these desirable Great Dane colors first.
A brindle Great Dane has a golden coat with black stripes crossing the body. It’s a gorgeous Great Dane color!
However, if you have a Dane that is brindle with white markings on his chest or toes or brindle with a black chest, we’re sorry to say that the powers that be will deem your dog “undesirable.”
The brindle pattern itself is pretty strictly prescribed in breed standards. The stripes should be distinct and evenly distributed, for example. And your dog also shouldn’t have too many stripes or too few.
Moving to the face, the chevron pattern of his coat should contrast with a black mask and your dog should have black-rimmed eyes and black eyebrows. Black ears and tail tips are accepted.
Judges really want to see a contrast between the base coat and the stripes and “dirty brindle” is not accepted. “Unrealistic” beauty standards? Well, maybe not, but that’s not to say that disqualified brindles are ugly!
By contrast, fawn might sound like a relatively easy color. After all, it’s a golden-brown color. But, once again, fawn Great Dane colors can be “good” or “bad.”
Once again, black-rimmed eyes and black eyebrows with a black mask are favored and the ears and tail tip may be black.
But if you’re hoping to have a good “breed” dog, your Great Dane may not have a white chest or toes, a black front, or a “dirty” color.
What judges want to see is that yellow-gold color. Is your white-chested fawn still the most beautiful dog in the world in your opinion? Good for you! It’s all a bit arbitrary.
Of course, “blue” Great Danes aren’t actually blue. It’s just a term used to describe steel-gray coat colors.
Once again, those flashes of white on the chest or toes are considered a bad thing, even though they might look nice to our eyes.
4. Black Or Black And White
A glossy black Great Dane is a truly majestic dog – no arguments there – but we do wonder why a white chest or white toes are so frowned upon.
We love this combo! It’s a white Great Dane with black patches – and we have to agree that it’s very striking. Some merle (mottled) patches are expected.
But, now that you’ve read about all the qualifiers and disqualifiers included in breed standards for other Great Dane colors, you won’t be surprised to hear that there are a few provisos here too.
For example, the neck should be completely or at least partly white. And the patches can’t be too big. A bit of a salt-and-pepper look is accepted but isn’t seen as “good.” In fact, it’s termed “dirty,” which isn’t really fair since we think it looks pretty good.
When we’re talking about old-fashioned clothing, a mantle is a type of cloak. When we describe Great Dane colors, the mantle is a large black area covering your black and white Great Dane’s back.
To match the breed standard, the mantle should cover the whole body.
Markings include a black skull marking and a white snoot and a white neck, or a chest blaze. A white tail tip is fine and white on the forelegs is seen as ok too. If the mantle has a small white patch, that’s accepted.
7. Merle And Mantle Merle
Merle genes result in a very attractive type of mottled color. Unfortunately, merle genes can be a warning of health issues, especially when two merle dogs are bred to produce a litter.
According to the AKC, a merle Great Dane should have a gray base color with black patches.
White markings are allowed on the chest and toes as well as the muzzle. The neck legs, and tail tip are also sites where judges won’t frown on white markings.
A merle dog can have a mantle, and if it does, a little white spot in the mantle isn’t a disqualifier. However, if your merle Great Dane is white with merle patches, he will be disqualified from breed contests.
In this classification, we have to agree with the AKC. Under-pigmented merles are prone to health issues, so the breed standard is clearly trying to encourage good pigmentation.
Non-Standard Great Dane Colors
Not everyone cares about owning a breed champ. In fact, most people don’t.
While there are colors that hint at a greater propensity to certain health problems, most non-standard Great Dane colors will be perfectly healthy dogs. And some of these colors are just gorgeous!
Now that you know the breed terminology a little, you should be able to figure out how some of them look. For example, a blue and white Great Dane will be metallic gray with white markings.
All the same, some of these colors are worth looking into in greater detail.
White Great Danes
A white color points toward less pigment, and that means a greater chance of deafness, blindness, and skin problems.
But do remember that a “greater chance” is not the same as “sure to get.” Lots of people have perfectly healthy white Great Danes.
Deafness isn’t something you can’t work around either, and if you know that your dog’s eyes and skin are likely to be sun-sensitive, you can reduce their chances of health problems by taking extra care of them.
Judging from information on forums (there doesn’t seem to be much research on this) white Great Danes aren’t particularly sickly.
Many of them enjoy excellent health. But poor eyesight and deafness are fairly common. Pet owners generally find ways to help their dogs compensate for this.
All the same, we do think that breeding Great Danes to be white isn’t a good thing. Of course, a white Great Dane is still a gorgeous dog.
And it may be perfectly healthy – but deliberately trying to breed white Danes is ethically questionable.
There’s a fair amount of confusion between what makes a dog “blue” and what makes it “silver.” The best way to explain it is to say that silver is a lighter version of blue.
The difference isn’t spectacular, but we’re going to guess that show-ring judges prefer the darker gray shades.
Nevertheless, it seems that some people use “silver” and “blue” as interchangeable terms. The take-home? They’re very similar indeed!
A blue brindle is basically a merle Great Dane whose markings are more like stripes than spots. If you’re wondering whether your blue brindle qualifies for the “breed standard” check out the requirements for Merles.
Chocolate, Chocolate And White And Chocolate Brindle
We love this color because it combines two of the things we love: Great Danes and chocolate! As you’ve probably guessed, a chocolate Great Dane is chocolate brown rather than fawn.
Of course, they can come with some pretty markings including white flashes and brindling. It’s a pity that the standard for brindles insists on a fawn base coat.
A harlequin Great Dane is white with Black patches. A merlequin is white with merle (mottled) patches.
These dogs are truly unique because it would be difficult to find any two exactly the same. However, do remember that they may be sun-sensitive.
In this instance, the Great Dane has patches on a white base coat, but instead of them being black, they’re fawn (golden brown).
It’s a relatively rare combination that doesn’t qualify as a show dog, but it can be a great pet. Just remember that sun sensitivity means a bit of extra care and attention.
What’s A Piebald Great Dane?
We came across the term “piebald” to describe white Great Danes who have spots of color. However, the term isn’t used by the AKC.
Judging from the images we found, the term is being used to describe harlequins, merlequins, and fawnequins as well as mantled variants.
So, while “piebald” is somewhat descriptive, it doesn’t really tell us much about Great Dane colors.
What Is The Rarest Great Dane Color?
Aside from the fact that it would be seriously hard to find any two dogs with exactly the same markings, it’s safe to say that white Great Danes are the rarest.
By that, we mean pure white Great Danes, but we would like you to think twice about actively seeking out white Great Danes or being willing to pay more for them because of “rarity” value.
There are very good reasons why white Great Danes are rare. We shouldn’t encourage breeders to deliberately breed for this color.
As we’ve noted, though, white Great Danes can be perfectly healthy, so don’t be altogether deterred from adopting a white Great Dane.
An honest breeder will tell you that a white Great Dane doesn’t meet the breed standard and should actually be willing to part with a white puppy at the same price or lower.
There are lots of stories about white Great Danes being dumped at shelters because they are deaf, so if you’re able to adopt one, please do.
Deafness is not an obstacle to having a great relationship with your dog. You just have to work around the problem.
What Is The Most Common Of The Great Dane Colors?
If we want to identify the most common Great Dane color, the prize goes to the beautiful fawn-colored Great Dane.
But hey, what’s “common” about Great Danes anyway? Your fawn fur baby is true aristocracy!
Need more “bright side” stuff? It’s a well-pigmented animal and is less prone to the sun-related issues of lighter-colored dogs.
Are You Ready For A Great Dane?
We’ve covered just about everything you need to know about Great Dane colors, but if you’re thinking of adding one to your family, there are a few even more important things you should know.
Great Danes really are “gentle giants” when well-trained and socialized. However, as a pet owner, you do need to consider the downside of keeping Great Danes before you commit.
Top of the list? These huge dogs eat a lot! That makes them pretty expensive to keep. And there’s the sad side. Great Danes don’t live very long.
Eight to ten years is already considered “old” for a Great Dane. And, old dogs do have health issues – and big dogs are very prone to arthritis and hip dysplasia.
Finally, we should remember that drool and Danes go hand-in-hand. If you can’t abide slobber, a Great Dane isn’t for you.
At the same time, owning such magnificent dogs is an awesome experience.
If you’re willing to take the good with the bad and have lots of space for a large, active pet, plus time to spend with them, this could be the breed for you.
They’re elegant, they’re colorful (in more than just their coat), and if you want a guard dog, the mere presence of a Great Dane in your yard is a sure-fire bad-guy deterrent.
They aren’t aggressive (unless mishandled) but they certainly are protective – and that intimidating look successfully conceals the Great Dane’s sweet nature.
The bottom line? Great Danes are great dogs – provided you’re ready to be a great pet owner!