Dogs of a different color
Great Danes come in one size, XL, but in so many different colors, people are constantly surprised to see Danes that aren’t your standard Scooby Doo fawn-looking Danes. The AKC recognizes six colors of Dane for display purposes, but there are also many in addition to the standard six. Common categories are fawn, brindle, blue, black, mantle, and harlequin. Less common and unrecognized colors are usually a combination of those mentioned above and called merles.
It is interesting that an animal can develop so many different coat patterns. This is not something typically seen in nature. Animals often develop an adaptation to their environment, and although there may be slight variations within that color pattern, it is usually fairly standard. Great Danes and some other breeds, such as Pit Bulls, share this unique characteristic and it appears to be a function of the different breed from which they were originally derived. Needless to say, it’s been a long time since Great Danes had a chance to develop in the wild, and it’s pretty certain that they are actually a mix of several different European breeds.
The Danes display Mastiff characteristics as well as a Greater Hound and an Irish Hound. It is believed that these dogs were bred to maximize the strengths of all breeds and develop a master hunter that was fast and powerful. I think they made it.
Let’s go back to the coloring. Scooby-Doo’s typical appearance is a fawn. With golden brown fur and a black face. These are excellent looking, show quality dogs and will fetch a high price from breeders. They are not as common as before as different colors seem to be popular these days.
Blue Danes are a solid steel gray color. They are incredible looking creatures and tend to be on the leaner energetic side of the breed. White markings on the chest are common and are despised in show business, but in my opinion a mark just adds more character.
Black, well, you guessed it. Same as blue but blacker.
The brindle is sort of a mix of brown and black in a strip-like pattern without much rhyme or reason. These are not as common, but can be very attractive.
Coated Danes can often be confused with other types of dogs with solid black and white markings. They have a white chest and face with a black body. These usually have blue eyes, and the continuity of the markings is something to look for in this category.
Harlequins are dogs with black and white spots. People often mistake this color for a Dalmatian to which I reply, “no, it’s a spotted zebra.” The AKC has acceptable percentage limits for coloration. Mixed eye color is common in harlequins and is acceptable for show, but not viewed favorably.
Everything else is called a blackbird and is usually a combination of all six standards. Breeders normally have a color in mind when breeding, but the litter is often a surprise. Aside from all the colors, people are normally attracted to Great Danes because of their looks, but end up falling in love with the breed because of their personality.