Harlequin Great Danes: World’s Largest Dog Breed

Harlequin Great Dane

Few dogs are as big as the Great Dane, and that’s part of their appeal, but in addition to their size, these stunning pups also come in a wide array of colors and patterns. One of the rarest, most sought after, and arguably most beautiful colors/patterns you’ll find is the Harlequin!

What is a Harlequin Great Dane?

A Harlequin Great Dane is a purebred Great Dane with a very specific pattern. Thanks to a rare combination of genetics, these gorgeous dogs are born with a pure white coat and black, gray, blue, or sable splotches. They almost look like a puppy inkblot test!

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Image of Harlequin Great Dane

Why Are Harlequin Great Danes So Rare?

This unique coloration comes from a very specific mix of genetic traits, and these special genes aren’t found in all Great Dane pairs. Breeding Harlequin Great Danes takes extreme care and precision, and some breeders are reluctant to attempt this genetic mix due to a variety of possible negative outcomes, and how frequently these breeding projects produce mismarked dogs. 

Ethical Issues

There are also ethical issues with breeding Harlequin Danes since this genetic trait produces health issues that are uncommon and extremely rare in other types of Great Dane. 

Double-merle Great Dane

Breeding Harlequin puppies often have at least two all-white, fully deaf pups, of which only one survives the birth. These pups are sometimes called double-merle dogs since this defect is also common within dogs who are specifically bred for merle genetics. Double-merle dogs often have life-long vision and hearing problems, and many are fully deaf and blind. 

Great Dane With Cropped Ears and Docked Tail

Great Danes are born with large, floppy ears and a long, skinny tail. Historically, Great Dane puppies would have their ears cropped and tails docked to reduce the risk of tears or injury. These Great Danes were bred to be hunting and working dogs and were not the gentle-giant couch potatoes we know today. 

Cropped ears and a docked tail are not the breed standard and are considered a cruel cosmetic procedure by many breeders and dog lovers today. In some rare cases, Great Danes can develop “happy tail,” which may require amputation as a preventative measure. 

The choice to crop a dog’s ears or crop their tail for cosmetic or working purposes must be made within the first few weeks of life. 

Great Dane With Pointy Ears

Source: @SparkTheGreatAdventure

A Great Dane with pointy ears has had their ears cropped. This is a procedure whereby the flap of the natural ear is removed, and the ears are “posted” to train them to stand upright. 

Pointy ears are not a natural quality of the breed and can only be achieved by a veterinarian. 

Black and White Spotted Great Danes

Harlequin Great Danes are just black and white spotted Great Danes! Sure, the name might sound fancy, but black and white spots are all it takes to make a Harlequin.

If you see a grey-spotted Great Dane puppy, don’t be fooled, that’s a Merle Great Dane, not a Harlequin!

American vs European Great Danes 

You’ll find that there are two varieties of Harlequin Great Dane. While some people have strong opinions about the benefits of American vs. European Great Danes, we think they’re both fantastic options. American Danes are typically a little smaller and slimmer, while the European Dane is a formidable, extra-tall, broad-chested dog. 

There are some small temperamental differences, too. The American Dane is a little higher-energy, while the European Great Dane tends to be more laid back. 

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All About Harlequin Great Danes

As purebred Great Danes, Harlequin Great Danes will have all of the same traits and breed characteristics as any other Great Dane. These are big dogs, and they come with big personalities!

How Big Are Harlequin Great Danes?

Like any other Great Dane, these pups are gigantic! They usually stand around 28–32 inches tall, and they can weigh in at upwards of 110–175 pounds. Even the pups can be quite large, and they grow quickly, so don’t get attached to your puppy’s size.

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Great Dane Dimentions
Source: dimentions.com

What Sort of Personality Do Harlequin Great Danes Have?

Harlequin Great Danes, like most Great Danes, can be generally described as friendly, affectionate, and loyal. These big dogs (or small horses?) were originally bred for something much more dangerous than snuggles and cuddles. A long time ago, Great Danes accompanied German nobles on hunting trips, and were the first line of defense against wild boars on grand estates!

Ancient painting of Great Danes helpdefending against wild boars
Source: Creed Danes

So, what does that mean for you?

  • Expect your Harlequin Great Dane to be extremely receptive to training, but a bit stubborn.
  • You’ll want lots of space because these pups require a lot of exercise!
  • To ward off boredom, be prepared to provide mental stimulation, such as puzzles.
  • These dogs are amazing with families and are known for their gentle nature with children and small animals.
  • Thanks to their roots, Harlequin Great Danes also make great guard dogs, though we don’t recommend using your family pet as a working dog unless you have prior experience with working dogs.

As far as sociability is concerned, that will be up to you! Great Danes are generally easy to socialize with enough practice, but they can become skittish without plenty of exposure. Make sure to start introducing your Great Dane to people and other animals early in its life, since this will help your adult dog be more confident and tolerant of interaction. 

What Does Caring for a Harlequin Great Dane Look Like?

All Great Danes are known for their short, silky coat. This makes them great for folks who may not have the time or energy to perform daily grooming. However, they do shed, which means they are not hypoallergenic, and you’ll probably need to keep a lint roller or two around the house.

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Great Danes have a relatively short lifespan of 7–10 years but have lots of love to offer during those years. 

Health Concerns

All responsible breeders carefully evaluate each pairing to guarantee the healthiest pups. However, there are some breed and individual specific health concerns to look out for if you choose a Great Dane as your next companion: 

Congenital deafness/blindness
Hip dysplasia
Joint problems/arthritis
Eye problems
Thyroid issues
Great Danes Health Concerns

Because Great Danes are big, it’s important to protect them from themselves. Especially as puppies and adolescents, Great Danes don’t know their own size. For this reason, it’s important to supervise your pup and prevent them from pushing too hard, since too much exercise or overactivity can exert too much pressure on their joints. 

How Much Do Harlequin Great Danes Cost?

You can expect to pay $1,000–$2,500 for a Harlequin Great Dane!

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In general, your best bet if you want one of these gorgeous pups is to go directly to a reputable breeder. As always, do your research! Ethical breeders are plentiful, and they’ll be more than happy to save a pup just for you.

Great Dane Puppy

While the upfront costs aren’t exactly low, they’re nothing compared to what you will pay for a decade of food and veterinary care for your pup. Great Danes eat a lot of food, sometimes up to 2.5 lbs of food every day, so make sure you can afford to keep up with this giant’s giant appetite and their health. 

Can You Adopt a Harlequin Great Dane?

In theory, you can adopt a Harlequin Great Dane. However, you probably won’t find one in your local shelter. These pups are rare and highly sought after, so many of them end up in loving homes from the beginning! As great as that may be for the dogs, it makes locating them difficult. If you happen to find your Harlequin Great Dane at your local shelter, you may want to pick up a lottery ticket, too!

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Don’t worry, though – there are lots of mixed breed dogs in shelters that have gorgeous colors and patterns, and some might just have some Great Dane ancestry!

What Other Great Dane Colorations Are There?

The American Kennel Club recognizes a number of colors and patterns for Great Danes. In addition to the gorgeous two-toned Harlequin variant, there are also:

Black Solid Coat Great Dane
1. Solid coats (blue, black, white, etc.)
Brindle Great Dane
2. Brindle (they look a little like a marble countertop)
A fawn Great Dane
3. Fawn (basically Scooby-Doo!)
A Mantle Great Dane
4. Mantle (they look like they’re wearing a saddle)

Great Dane Mixed Breeds

If you are looking for a Great Dane, we also recommend keeping a Great Dane mix in mind. Typically large and gentle like their Great Dane parents, mixed-breed Great Danes can make incredible companions. Here are a few popular Dane mixes and a few facts about that. 

Great Dane Mixed With Dalmatian

A Great Dane mixed with Dalmatian has the chance to look like a Harlequin Great Dane. Because Dalmatians are white with black spots, they could pass this coloring down to their offspring. 

While Great Danes are excellent family dogs, Dalmatians are not considered a beginner or kid-friendly breed. High-strung, territorial, and independent, Dalmatians require consistent and experienced handling to manage behavior. 

Great Dane and English Mastiff Mix

If you dream of having an absolutely giant dog, a Great Dane and English Mastiff mix might just fit the bill! Combining the incredible height of the Great Dane with the muscular weight of the English Mastiff, these mixes are huge dogs that can reach 150+ lbs. 

Great Dane and Weiner Dog Mix

You’ll be hard-pressed to find one, but the Great Dane x Dachshund mix exists, and it’s cute! Short-legged, long-torsoed, and large-headed, this mixed breed is absolutely unique and nearly impossible to find. If you happen upon one be sure to adopt right away—this could be a once-in-a-lifetime dog!

Meet Some Harlequin Great Danes

Okay okay, that’s enough talking about Harlequin Great Danes – let’s take a look at some of these gorgeous dogs living their best lives!


Quinn the Great Dane
Photo Source: @Quinn_TheCow

Now living in Charlotte, North Carolina, Quinn was born in 2018. This amazing pup has a devoted family and an equally doting fanbase. You can keep track of her adventures on Instagram!


Boone the Great Dane
Photo Source: @boone_boy

Here’s a rags-to-riches story! Boone was one of many pups who, unfortunately, was returned to his breeder. Sometimes, things just don’t work out, but that’s okay! Boone found a loving new family in 2020, and his proud parents have been documenting his adventures ever since!


Chase the Great Dane
Photo Source: @thedaneonmain

Just how affectionate are Great Danes? Ask Chase, a snuggly pup from Toronto, Ontario! He’ll nuzzle his way into your heart just as easily as he’ll cuddle up in your lap! For all of his lazy ways, he still loves to romp and roam.

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Appa the Great Dane
Photo Source: @appa_thegreatdane

Not all Great Danes are knights. Some prefer to snuggle and hide! Don’t tread too heavily, or you might just scare away Appa, a 190-pound lump of joy! This big pal loves his family as much as his food. Fortunately, his family has trained him well, and he regularly shows off his amazing obedience skills in his videos.

Now that you’ve learned more about this gentle giant of a dog, what do you think? Should breeders attempt this knowing the dogs could be both deaf and blind. Let us know what you think in the comments.

What is the Great Dane Scooby Doo Color?

The popular cartoon character Scooby Doo is a Great Dane, but he’s not a common color seen in the breed! The closest you might get to Scooby’s color in real life is a fawn or brindle Great Dane. However, you won’t find an all-brown Great Dane anytime soon.

What is the best food for your dog?

The three foods that are super healthy and that almost every dog loves, even the pickiest dogs, are:
1. The Farmer’s Dog.

This is a fresh-frozen food that’s delivered to your home in just the right amounts for your dog. There are a number of fresh frozen dog foods available on the market and I tested them all. The Farmer’s Dog came up the winner with my picky dogs. You can see the fresh frozen food test here.

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2. Sundays Food For Dogs
Sundays For dogs woman pouring into bowl
This is an air-dried food. It has the convenience of kibble (just pour it in the bow) but is much much healthier. It’s like little pieces of jerky, so dogs go crazy for it. There are a number of air-dried foods on the market. My dogs tested 3 of them. You can see the results of the air-dried food test here.

Get 35% off your first order + free shipping w/ code ROCKY35

3. We Feed Raw.

This raw food for dogs comes delivered to your home is perfectly sized portions for your pup. They primarily source their ingredients from trusted U.S. farmers, with two exceptions: venison and lamb. These ingredients are sourced from New Zealand, where some of the highest-quality and most ethically raised venison and lamb can be found. Pasture-raised and grass-fed and finished, we highly recommend trying these formulas if you’re interested in the best-quality ingredients. Save 25% on your first order.


I highly recommend using a supplement on your dog’s food, not matter what you feed them, to ensure the meal is balanced and they are getting all the right supplements to help them stay healthy. The supplement I use is called The One from Front of the Pack. It has 12 ingredients that have been clinically-proven to keep your dog’s joints, skin, heart, digestion, and even their breath in tip-top shape. It’s also a powder, so easy to sprinkle on your dog’s food. For a limited time, when you buy one month you get a second month free.