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Harlequin Great Dane: Characteristics, Temperament, and Care

Harlequin Great Dane

Harlequin Great Dane is a unique pattern that is often mistaken for a color or a breed. However, it is a distinctive coat pattern that features irregular black spots on a pure white base. The Harlequin pattern is one of the six recognized coat colors of the Great Dane breed, which is known for its tall and majestic appearance.

While Harlequin Great Danes are stunning to look at, they are also prone to certain health issues. Joint problems, in particular, are common in this breed, which makes it important for owners to provide them with joint supplements to support their mobility. Additionally, good paw care is essential for Harlequin Great Danes, and regular nail trimming with guillotine nail clippers and the use of doggy paw balm can help keep their paws healthy and protected from harsh terrain and weather conditions.

To delve into everything you need to know about the gorgeous harlequin giants, we will refer to some expert sources on Great Danes and get you up to date on the controversy surrounding the color. Always be sure to research any dog fully before adopting.

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Harlequin Great Danes are known for their gentle and friendly nature, making them great family pets. They are also highly intelligent and trainable, which makes them suitable for various activities such as obedience training, agility, and therapy work.

When it comes to size, Harlequin Great Danes are one of the largest dog breeds, with males typically weighing between 120 to 200 pounds and standing 30 to 34 inches tall at the shoulder. Females are slightly smaller, weighing between 100 to 130 pounds and standing 28 to 32 inches tall at the shoulder.

Overall, Harlequin Great Danes are a unique and fascinating breed that can make excellent companions for the right owner. However, they require proper training, socialization, and care to thrive and reach their full potential.

Harlequin Great Dane Basics


The Harlequin Great Dane is a breed of dog that originated in Germany. It is believed to have been developed by crossing the English Mastiff, the Irish Wolfhound, and the Greyhound. The breed was initially used for hunting wild boar, deer, and bears, but it later became a popular companion dog due to its friendly and gentle nature.


The Harlequin Great Dane is a unique breed with a striking coat pattern. The coat is white with black patches or black with white patches. The patches can be of different sizes and shapes, and they are distributed all over the body. The breed’s coat pattern is caused by a genetic mutation that affects the distribution of pigment in the hair follicles.

Harlequin Great Danes are also known for their size. They are one of the largest dog breeds, with males standing up to 32 inches at the shoulder and weighing up to 175 pounds. Females are slightly smaller, standing up to 30 inches at the shoulder and weighing up to 140 pounds.

In addition to their size and coat pattern, Harlequin Great Danes are known for their friendly and gentle nature. They are loyal and affectionate towards their owners and make excellent family pets. However, due to their size, they require plenty of space and exercise to stay healthy and happy.

What do Harlequin Great Danes look like?

Harlequin Great Danes are a stunning breed known for their unique coat pattern. They are large dogs, standing at around 28-32 inches tall at the shoulder and weighing between 100-200 pounds. Their body is muscular and well-proportioned, with a broad chest and a deep, powerful frame.

The most distinctive feature of a Harlequin Great Dane is their coat pattern. They have a base color of pure white, with irregular black or blue spots scattered across their body. The spots should be well-distributed and not too small or too large. It’s important to note that not all Harlequin Great Danes have the same pattern, as each dog’s markings are unique.

Their head is also a notable feature, with a long, narrow muzzle and deep-set, expressive eyes. Their ears are typically cropped, although some owners choose to leave them natural.

In addition to their striking appearance, Harlequin Great Danes are known for their gentle and affectionate personalities. They make excellent family pets and are great with children. However, due to their size, they do require a lot of space and exercise.

Overall, Harlequin Great Danes are a beautiful and unique breed with a distinctive coat pattern and friendly personality.

How Big Do Harlequin Great Danes Typically Grow?

On average, male Harlequin Great Danes can grow to be between 30 and 34 inches tall at the shoulder and can weigh between 120 and 200 pounds. Females, on the other hand, are slightly smaller, typically growing to be between 28 and 32 inches tall and weighing between 100 and 130 pounds.

It is important to note that not all Harlequin Great Danes will grow to be this large, as individual genetics and environmental factors can play a role in determining a dog’s ultimate size. However, these weight and height ranges are generally considered to be typical for the breed.

Owners of Harlequin Great Danes should be prepared to provide plenty of space and exercise for their pets, as well as a high-quality diet that meets their nutritional needs. Regular visits to the vet can also help ensure that these gentle giants stay healthy and happy for years to come.

Harlequin Great Dane Temperament

Harlequin Great Danes are known for their gentle and friendly temperament, making them excellent family pets. They are loyal, affectionate, and love to be around people. They are also known to be patient and tolerant with children, making them great playmates.

These dogs are intelligent and easy to train. They are eager to please their owners, which makes them responsive to commands. However, they can be stubborn at times and may require firm and consistent training.

Harlequin Great Danes are generally calm and laid-back dogs. They do not require a lot of exercise and are happy with short walks or playtime in the yard. However, they do need daily exercise to maintain their health and prevent obesity.

These dogs are also protective of their family and can be wary of strangers. They make great watchdogs and will alert their owners if they sense any danger.

Overall, Harlequin Great Danes have a sweet and gentle temperament, making them great family pets. They are loyal, affectionate, and protective of their family, and are easy to train and care for.

Health Concerns of Harlequin Great Danes

Harlequin Great Danes are generally healthy dogs, but like all breeds, they can be prone to certain health issues. It’s important to be aware of these potential health concerns so that you can take steps to prevent or manage them.

Common Health Issues

Harlequin Great Danes may be more susceptible to the following health issues:

  • Heart problems: Great Danes are prone to dilated cardiomyopathy, a condition in which the heart becomes enlarged and weakened.
  • Musculoskeletal issues: Great Danes are also prone to skeletal problems, such as hip dysplasia, which can lead to arthritis and joint pain.
  • Congenital deafness: Harlequin Great Danes are more likely to be born deaf than other Great Danes.
  • Eye problems: Harlequin Great Danes may be more prone to eye problems like entropion (inward turning of the eyelid), PRA (progressive retinal atrophy), cherry eye (protrusion of the third eyelid), and other issues.
  • Hypothyroidism: This condition occurs when the thyroid gland doesn’t produce enough thyroid hormone, which can lead to weight gain, lethargy, and other symptoms.
  • Skin problems: Great Danes may be prone to skin problems like allergies and hot spots. Studies find that Great Dane puppies may also inherit Congenital Ichthyosis.
  • Ear infections: Great Danes’ floppy ears can trap moisture and debris, which can lead to ear infections.
  • Autoimmune thyroiditis: This condition occurs when the immune system attacks the thyroid gland, leading to hypothyroidism.

Life Expectancy

The average lifespan of a Harlequin Great Dane is 6-8 years. However, with proper care and attention to their health, some Great Danes can live up to 10 years or more.

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What is the difference between Harlequin and Merle Great Danes?

Harlequin and Merle Great Danes are two of the most popular coat patterns in the breed. Although they may look similar at first glance, there are some significant differences between the two.

Harlequin Great Danes

Harlequin Great Danes have a white base coat with black torn patches, giving them a distinctive look. They can also have blue-gray patches instead of black, which is known as a blue harlequin. The patches should be evenly distributed over the body, and the dog’s eyes should be blue or partly blue.

Harlequin Great Danes are the result of breeding two dogs with the harlequin gene. However, breeding two harlequin Danes together can result in health problems, so responsible breeders will usually breed a harlequin with a solid color Dane.

Merle Great Danes

Merle Great Danes have a base coat of any color with patches of diluted pigment, creating a mottled or marbled effect. The patches can be any color, but they are usually gray, blue, or fawn. The eyes of a merle Dane can be blue, green, or amber.

Merle is a dominant gene, so breeding two merle Danes together can result in health problems such as deafness, blindness, and other developmental issues. Responsible breeders will usually breed a merle with a solid color Dane to avoid these problems.

Key Differences

The key difference between harlequin and merle Great Danes is the color of the patches. Harlequin Danes have black or blue-gray patches on a white base coat, while merle Danes have patches of diluted pigment on a base coat of any color. Additionally, harlequin Danes should have blue or partly blue eyes, while merle Danes can have blue, green, or amber eyes.

Breeding two harlequin or two merle Danes together can result in health problems, so responsible breeders will usually breed a harlequin or merle with a solid color Dane.

Caring for a Harlequin Great Dane

Feeding Requirements

Harlequin Great Danes are a large breed and require a diet that is high in protein and nutrients to support their growth and energy requirements. It is recommended to feed them 3-4 small meals a day instead of one large meal to prevent bloating. It is important to choose a high-quality dog food that is specifically formulated for large breeds. Owners should monitor their dog’s weight and adjust their feeding accordingly to prevent obesity.

Exercise Needs

Harlequin Great Danes are an active breed and require regular exercise to maintain their physical and mental well-being. They need at least 30-60 minutes of exercise per day, which can include walks, runs, and playtime in a fenced yard. It is important to avoid over-exercising them when they are young to prevent joint problems. Owners should also provide mental stimulation through training, puzzle toys, and socialization with other dogs.

Training Tips

Harlequin Great Danes are intelligent dogs and respond well to positive reinforcement training methods. It is important to start training them at a young age to prevent bad habits from forming. They can be stubborn at times, so consistency and patience are key. Socialization is also important to prevent aggression towards other dogs and people. Harlequin Great Danes can be sensitive to harsh training methods, so it is important to use gentle techniques.

In summary, caring for a Harlequin Great Dane requires a high-quality diet, regular exercise, and positive reinforcement training methods. Owners should monitor their dog’s weight and adjust their feeding accordingly, provide regular exercise and mental stimulation, and start training and socialization at a young age. With proper care, a Harlequin Great Dane can be a loyal and loving companion for many years.

Grooming a Harlequin Great Dane

Grooming a Harlequin Great Dane is an important part of their care routine. These gentle giants have a short, smooth coat that requires minimal grooming. However, regular grooming can help keep them clean, healthy, and looking their best.

Coat Care

Harlequin Great Danes have a short, smooth coat that sheds moderately. Regular brushing with a soft-bristled brush or a rubber grooming mitt can help remove loose hair and distribute natural oils throughout the coat. This can help keep the coat shiny and healthy.

Bathing a Harlequin Great Dane is not necessary unless they get particularly dirty or smelly. When bathing, it’s important to use a shampoo specifically formulated for dogs and to rinse thoroughly to avoid skin irritation.

Ears, Eyes, and Teeth

Harlequin Great Danes are prone to ear infections, so it’s important to clean their ears regularly. Use a cotton ball or soft cloth dampened with a gentle ear cleaner to wipe the inside of the ear flap and the ear canal. Avoid using cotton swabs, as they can push debris further into the ear canal.

Similarly, Harlequin Great Danes are prone to eye infections, so it’s important to clean their eyes regularly. Use a damp cloth or cotton ball to wipe away any discharge or debris from the corners of their eyes.

Dental care is also important for Harlequin Great Danes. Regular tooth brushing with a dog-specific toothpaste can help prevent dental problems and keep their breath fresh.

Shedding and Allergies In Harlequin Great Danes

Harlequin Great Danes are not hypoallergenic and do shed moderately. However, regular grooming can help control shedding and reduce the amount of hair in the home. It’s important to note that no dog breed is truly hypoallergenic, as all dogs produce dander and saliva that can trigger allergies in some people.

Overall, grooming a Harlequin Great Dane is relatively easy and straightforward. Regular grooming can help keep them healthy, happy, and looking their best.

The Ideal Home for a Harlequin Great Dane

Great Danes, including the striking Harlequin variation, are known as “gentle giants” for good reason. Their loving and gentle disposition often belies their imposing size. If you’re considering bringing a Harlequin Great Dane into your home, it’s crucial to understand their specific needs to ensure they thrive in their new environment.

1. Family Dynamics:

  • Families & Children: Harlequin Great Danes are known for their gentle nature, making them excellent family pets. They tend to be patient and protective of younger members of the family. However, due to their size, it’s crucial to supervise interactions with very young children to avoid accidental injuries from a playful nudge or bump.
  • Other Animals: While individual temperament can vary, many Great Danes get along well with other dogs and pets. Early socialization and training can further ensure harmonious relationships with other household animals.

2. Space Needs:

While Harlequin Great Danes are generally laid-back and less active than some smaller breeds, their sheer size requires consideration:

  • Living Spaces: They can adapt to apartment living provided they are given adequate daily exercise. However, potential owners should be prepared for the space a full-grown Great Dane occupies, especially when they decide to stretch out or play.
  • Yard Preferences: A yard is beneficial but not mandatory. If you have one, it should be securely fenced to prevent the dog from wandering and to provide a safe space for play. If you don’t have a yard, regular walks and occasional visits to a dog park can meet their exercise needs.

3. Temperature Sensitivity:

Great Danes are sensitive to extreme temperatures, primarily due to their short coats:

  • Cold Climates: In colder environments, they can become chilly quickly. It’s essential to provide them with a warm shelter, and during particularly cold spells, a doggy sweater or coat can help keep them comfortable during walks.
  • Hot Climates: In hotter areas, Great Danes can be prone to overheating. They should have access to shade, plenty of fresh water, and preferably be kept in air-conditioned areas during peak heat. It’s also a good practice to walk them during the cooler parts of the day

How to Adopt a Harlequin Great Dane: A Comprehensive Guide

Harlequin Great Danes, with their unique black and white dappled patterns, are a sight to behold. Beyond their striking appearance, they are known for their gentle temperament, making them excellent family pets. If you’re considering adopting one, it’s essential to make an informed decision. This article will guide you on how to adopt a Harlequin Great Dane and provide essential links to rescues specializing in these majestic canines.

1. Why Adopt?

Adopting a dog, especially a breed as magnificent as the Great Dane, means giving a second chance to an animal in need. Rescue Great Danes often come from backgrounds of neglect, abandonment, or situations where their previous owners could no longer care for them. By adopting, you not only get a loyal companion, but you also save a life and make space for other animals in need.

2. Research and Preparation

Before bringing a Harlequin Great Dane into your life, it’s vital to do thorough research:

  • Understand the Breed: Great Danes are affectionate and patient, but due to their size, they require adequate space and proper training to ensure they are well-behaved and safe.
  • Financial Responsibility: These gentle giants can have unique health concerns. Ensure you are prepared for potential vet bills and the cost of feeding a large dog.
  • Long-Term Commitment: A Great Dane’s average lifespan is 7-10 years. Make sure you’re ready for a long-term commitment to care for your dog throughout their life.

3. Adopting From Rescues

Here are some reputable rescues where you can begin your adoption journey:

  • Great Dane Rescue Inc: With a mission to rescue, rehabilitate, and rehome Great Danes, this organization is dedicated to ensuring each dog finds its forever home.
  • The Great Dane Rescue: Specializing in rescuing and placing Danes in loving, safe, and permanent homes, they are another excellent resource for prospective adopters.
  • Save Rocky the Great Dane: Focused on rescuing, rehabilitating, and rehoming Great Danes, this organization also provides valuable education to the public about the breed.
  • White Kisses Great Dane Rescue: This rescue specifically focuses on the needs of special needs and senior Great Danes, ensuring they receive the love and care they deserve.

4. Adoption Process

While each rescue may have a slightly different process, the general steps are:

  1. Application: Begin by filling out an adoption application detailing your home environment, family members, and reasons for adopting.
  2. Home Visit: Many rescues conduct home visits to ensure a safe and accommodating environment for the Great Dane.
  3. Meet & Greet: Spend time with potential Great Danes to see if there’s a good fit.
  4. Adoption Fee: This typically covers the dog’s medical expenses, including spaying/neutering, vaccinations, and any other required care.
  5. Finalizing the Adoption: Once everything is in order, you can welcome your new Harlequin Great Dane into your home!

Breeding Harlequin Great Danes

Breeding Harlequin Great Danes, or any dog breed, requires thorough knowledge and dedication to produce healthy, well-adjusted puppies. Harlequin Great Danes, with their distinct coat patterns, have an intriguing genetic history. Let’s delve into the genetics behind their unique coloring and then address the essential ethical breeding practices to ensure the health and well-being of these majestic dogs.

1. Genetics Behind the Harlequin Coloration:

The Harlequin pattern is a combination of irregular black patches on a white background. The genetics behind this specific coloration is complex and involves multiple genes.

  • Merle Gene (M): The merle gene creates a dappled pattern, which is a mix of lighter and darker patches throughout the coat. However, the Harlequin pattern is not merely a product of the merle gene.
  • Harlequin Gene (H): The Harlequin gene modifies the merle pattern. When a Great Dane inherits the Harlequin gene in combination with the merle gene, the result is the Harlequin pattern. In this pattern, the gray portions of a merle coat turn white, leaving the distinct black patches.
  • Breeding Considerations: Breeding two Harlequins together can lead to health issues. When two merle genes are present (homozygous merle), it can result in deafness, blindness, and other health problems. Ethical breeders avoid such pairings to prevent these potential complications.

2. Ethical Breeding Practices:

Ensuring the health and welfare of Harlequin Great Danes starts with responsible breeding. Here are key ethical breeding practices:

  • Health Screening: Prior to breeding, both parent dogs should undergo thorough health screenings to identify potential genetic disorders and other health issues. This reduces the chances of passing on inherited health problems to the puppies.
  • Avoid Inbreeding: Inbreeding, or breeding closely related dogs, can increase the risk of genetic disorders. Responsible breeders use pedigree analysis and DNA testing to increase genetic diversity and produce healthier litters.
  • Knowledgeable Pairings: As mentioned, breeding two Harlequins can lead to severe health issues in the puppies. Ethical breeders understand the genetics behind the Harlequin pattern and carefully select breeding pairs to avoid such outcomes.
  • Litter Limitations: It’s essential for a female Great Dane’s health not to be overbred. Ethical breeders ensure ample time between litters and limit the number of litters a female produces in her lifetime. Also see: Can dogs have abortions? Do Dogs miss their puppies? And, do male dogs know their puppies?
  • Puppy Care: Once the puppies are born, they need adequate socialization, proper nutrition, and medical care. Ethical breeders ensure that the puppies are well-adjusted and healthy before they go to their new homes.
  • Lifetime Commitment: Reputable breeders are committed to the well-being of the puppies for their entire lives. This means they offer post-adoption support to new owners and have a plan in place to take back or rehome dogs if necessary.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How much do Harlequin Great Dane puppies cost? 

Harlequin Great Dane puppies typically cost between $600 to $3,000, depending on lineage, breeding, and region.

How long do Harlequin Great Danes live? 

Harlequin Great Danes have an average lifespan of 7 to 10 years, similar to other Great Danes.

Are blue eyes common in Harlequin Great Danes? 

Yes, blue eyes can be common in Harlequin Great Danes, often due to the presence of the merle gene.

Are Harlequin Great Danes rare? 

Harlequin Great Danes are not extremely rare, but their distinctive coat pattern is less common than some other Great Dane colors.

What is the difference between a Harlequin Great Dane and a Great Dane? 

The primary difference is the coat pattern. Harlequin Great Danes have a distinct black-patched pattern on a white background, while Great Danes can come in various colors and patterns.

Final Thoughts on Harlequin Great Danes

Harlequin Great Danes, with their captivating coat pattern, are a testament to the beauty and diversity within the Great Dane breed. Their gentle nature combined with their unique appearance makes them truly special members of the canine world.


Tamsin De La Harpe


Tamsin de la Harpe has nearly two decades of experience with dogs in rescue, training, and behavior modification with fearful and aggressive dogs. She has worked closely with veterinarians and various kennels, building up extensive medical knowledge and an understanding of canine health and physiology. She also spent two years in the animal sciences as a canine nutrition researcher, focusing on longevity and holistic healthcare for our four-legged companions.

Tamsin currently keeps a busy homestead with an assortment of rescue dogs and three Bullmastiffs.

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