Harlequin Great Dane: Full Breed Guide

Harlequin Great Dane

For a beautiful, protective, and distinctive dog, you cannot go wrong with the Harlequin Great Dane. This stunning animal stands out with its splotchy black and white coat and impressive height.

This guide will introduce all you need to know about this breed. We will tell you more about its striking coat, charming personality, and what you need to provide in terms of space, exercise, grooming, and more. We will also tell you how Harlequin Great Danes do with family members and other pets. By the end of this guide, you should have a pretty good idea as to whether a Harlequin Great Dane is right for your household.

Height28-32 inches
Weight110-175 pounds
Life span7-10 years
Good withFamily
TemperamentVigilant, friendly, playful, gentle
Shedding amountModerate
Exercise needsHigh
Energy levelHigh
Barking levelModerate
Drool amountHigh
Coat length/textureSmooth and short
ColorsBlack and white

History of the Harlequin Great Dane 

The AKC does not offer much insight into the history of Great Danes but does say that they were popular hunting dogs among the German nobility in the past, and that they have been around for 400 years or more. To this day, in Germany, they are called "German dogs" rather than Great Danes. 

Eventually, Great Danes were bred not only for hunting boar but also for their effectiveness as watchdogs.

Fun Facts About the Harlequin Great Dane 

  • Harlequin Great Danes are ridiculously tall. American Kennel Club writes, "As tall as 32 inches at the shoulder, Danes tower over most other dogs, and when standing on their hind legs, they are taller than most people."
  • Despite being called "Great Danes," these watchful dogs do not seem to have any unique link to Denmark.
  • The history of the Great Dane might date back to 1121 BC. AKC sites an article in a publication from the Great Dane Club of Italy written by Dr. G. Ciaburri in 1929, which references a description of a dog from that year in Chinese literature that seems close to a Great Dane.
  • Sometimes Great Danes are referred to as the “Apollo of dogs.”

Harlequin Great Dane Appearance

Harlequin Great Dane blue eyes

Harlequin Great Dane blue eyes | Credit: Instagram / roo_the__great_dane

The Harlequin Great Dane is a giant dog towering as high as 32 inches. This breed has a short, smooth coat and a muscular, elegant form. The shape of the dog's head is long and rectangular with a deep muzzle. The nose is black and might be spotted (only for Harlequin and Merle Great Danes). The ears are floppy, and the eyes may be blue, grey, or green.


UC Davis Veterinary Medicine Veterinary Genetics Laboratory describes the Harlequin phenotype for Great Danes. As they explain, Harlequin and Merle genes interact in complex ways on black pigment to result in the Harlequin colors and markings. 

Colors and Markings

The classic Harlequin look is a coat with patches of black and white. But you might also encounter some variations. UC Davis says, “The show standard, officially recognized Harlequin pattern is black and/or gray patches on a white background, but patches may also be dilute blue (‘blue harlequin’ or ‘bluequin’), brindle (‘brindlequin’), or sable (‘fawnequin’).”

The AKC breed standard offers some more information about the distribution of the patches, which should be relatively even. AKC says, "No patch should be so large as it appears to be a blanket. Eligible but less desirable are black hairs showing through the white base coat, which gives a salt and pepper or dirty appearance."

Harlequin Great Dane Temperament

Now you know what a Harlequin Great Dane looks like. But what can you expect from the personality of this breed? Some people worry because Great Danes are so large that they might be aggressive or intimidating. But you will be glad to hear that this is not the case.

According to the AKC breed standard, “The Great Dane must be spirited, courageous, always friendly, dependable and never timid or aggressive.” Sounds more than ideal, right?

These loyal dogs are also highly sociable. They like to be close to their owners and may follow you around the house. However, depending on how they are socialized, they might sometimes seem reserved, especially of strangers or other dogs. If you socialize them early, they will have an easier time adapting to new people and animals.

Also, while Great Danes are not big barkers, they may sometimes be quite loud around strangers. This is because they are so watchful. But do not mistake it for a sign of aggression.

Harlequin Great Dane Environment Needs

You may now be excited to bring one of these brave, watchful, and eye-catching dogs into your home. But will a Harlequin Great Dane settle in well into your home environment? Let's find out.


Great Danes are large, energetic dogs that need lots of space and exercise. So, a Harlequin Great Dane is not suitable for a tiny home or small apartment. But this breed may feel at home in a larger house with a fenced-in yard to run around.

Do Harlequin Great Danes Get Along With Children?

Yes, Harlequin Great Danes can be great with kids. Because their demeanors are protective rather than aggressive, their large size does not make them unsuitable as family pets even with smaller children.

That being said, if you have a Great Dane around toddlers or babies, you should make sure you are present to supervise. Even though Great Danes are gentle, accidents can happen. Great Danes sometimes express their affection by literally leaning on their loved ones. Since they are so heavy, this innocent gesture could crush a toddler or baby. Sometimes when they wag their hefty tails, they could also accidentally swat a child.

Do Harlequin Great Danes Get Along With Other Pets?

Harlequin Great Danes typically get along well with other dogs, especially with careful socialization early on.

Harlequin Great Dane Care

Harlequin Great Dane

 Credit: Instagram / beartheharlequin

Now that you know how a Harlequin Great Dane could fit into your household let's talk about their care needs in terms of exercise, grooming, and more.


If you have a Harlequin Great Dane, you should take him on a walk twice daily. You can also go jogging or hiking with this breed once your dog is at least two years old. However, exercising well away from meal times is best to avoid bloat.


Overall, it is generally pretty easy to train a Harlequin Great Dane. The personalities of some Great Danes can have a stubborn streak, so just be prepared for that. Start training and socialization as early as you can.


If you have been searching for a dog with minimal grooming needs, a Harlequin Great Dane is an excellent choice with its short, smooth, low-shedding coat. You should only need to brush the coat about once a week for most of the year. But you may need to increase the frequency to daily during shedding seasons.

You only need to give your Great Dane a bath once in a while, but you do need to keep up with trimming his nails.

Diet and Nutrition

Great Danes require diets that are rich in healthy fats and proteins. Remember, you must avoid feeding your pet around while you exercise him because of this breed's susceptibility to bloat. That also means feeding your pet several small meals throughout the day is better than just one or two big ones.

Great Dane puppies require between 3-8 cups of food per day, while adult Great Danes need about 6-10 cups of food per day.

Health Conditions

You already know that bloat can be an issue for Great Danes—thankfully, it is one you can mitigate through proper feeding habits.

Other health issues that can afflict Great Danes include thyroid problems, cardiomyopathy, and bone and joint problems. Joint issues are common with dogs of all breeds, but Great Danes' large frames make them more susceptible to them than average. 

One thing you can do to help protect your Harlequin Great Dane’s joint health is to get him a comfortable extra large dog bed that offers firm support. Consider an orthopedic bed that helps to keep joints aligned. You do not have to wait for joint problems to develop before getting your Great Dane this kind of bed; the sooner you provide the support he needs, the better it will be for his lifelong joint health. 

Where to Adopt or Buy a Harlequin Great Dane

Harlequin Great Dane

Are you ready to bring home your own Harlequin Great Dane? You have two options: buying a Harlequin Great Dane or adopting one.

The typical cost to purchase a Great Dane is between $600 and $3,000. Since Harlequin Great Danes are rarer than other kinds, you could expect to pay toward the higher end of the price range. Indeed, Harlequin Great Danes may sometimes cost closer to $4,000.

A great way to save money is to adopt a Harlequin Great Dane. This generally involves around $150-$400 in fees, depending on the dog's age, the shelter you choose, and other factors.

The Great Dane Club of New England provides some helpful resources regarding breeders and rescues. You can also view a directory of breeders over at the Great Dane Club of America. Breeders are listed by state, and the directory is searchable. 

If possible, we suggest you consider adopting a Harlequin Great Dane rather than having one bred for you. That way, you are helping a dog in need find his forever home and family. 

By choosing this route, you also will avoid potentially contributing to the population of blind and deaf dogs that sometimes result from attempts at breeding Harlequin Great Danes.

Pros of Harlequin Great Danes:

  • Harlequin Great Danes have beautiful, eye-catching coats with black and white patches. Between their coats and their large statues, these dogs stand out. Unlike most other Great Danes, they can also have blue eyes throughout their life spans.
  • These dogs are gentle and protective in their demeanors and are not prone to aggression. They make vigilant guard dogs. They are only moderate barkers, so they should not disturb you too much with their noise, but you can count on them to let you know if an intruder is nearby.
  • Playful and energetic, your Harlequin Great Dane will usually be up for exercising with you. They make perfect companions for walking, jogging, and hiking.
  • The coats of Great Danes are short, do not shed much, and are easy to care for with minimal maintenance.
  • Harlequin Great Danes are easy to train, especially if you managed to get off to an early start.
  • Your Harlequin Great Dane should get along with most other pets and family members without issues.

Cons of Harlequin Great Danes:

  • Great Danes require a lot of space to run around in, so they are not suited to small apartments.
  • This breed does a lot of drooling.
  • It can be risky to breed Harlequin Great Danes.


Now you know all about Harlequin Great Danes! Assuming you have a big enough house and yard to support a giant breed like this one, a Harlequin Great Dane can be a wonderful addition to just about any household. Get in contact with shelters and rescues in your state to see if any Harlequin Great Danes are waiting for adoption. Before you know it, you could be bringing home your new best friend.


What is a Harlequin Great Dane?
A Harlequin Great Dane is simply a type of Great Dane that has a distinctive coat with a pattern of black and white patches. To be officially recognized as a Harlequin Great Dane, a dog needs to meet the breed standard set by the AKC.

Are Harlequin Great Danes rare?
Yes, Harlequin Great Danes are rare. The reason is that it is difficult to get the right combination of genes while breeding Great Danes to produce a Harlequin coat. Moreover, even trying to do so entails risk. Some of the dogs in the litter may be born with defects such as deafness. 

What is a Blue Harlequin Great Dane?
A Blue Harlequin Great Dane is a Harlequin Great Dane that has “blue” patches rather than black ones. The color of the patches may also be described as “grey.” 

Do Harlequin Great Danes have blue eyes?
Harlequin Great Danes can have blue eyes. They also can have grey eyes or green eyes. This sets them apart from other Great Danes, which normally have dark eyes in adulthood (they are born with blue eyes, but the color changes as they get older). 

Do kennel clubs like AKC recognize the Harlequin coloring?
Yes. The AKC breed standard page lists Harlequin among the coloring possibilities for Great Danes. 

Can you breed two Harlequin Great Danes?
No, you should not breed two Harlequin Great Danes. The reason is that it increases the chance of the puppies receiving merle from each of the parents. Should that happen, a puppy may be born with deafness, blindness, or both. Their coats are often completely white. Double merle dogs require extra care, and finding suitable homes may be challenging.

Featured image credit: Instagram / beartheharlequin

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