If you’re a fan of the breed, then you probably know that Great Danes can be found in a wide variety of coat colors. While the American Kennel Club (AKC) only recognizes seven color schemes as standard for show dogs, the variation of “mismarked” and “nonstandard” coats makes beauty and variety a hallmark of the breed.
The most popular Great Dane color is very individual, however, Fawn is perhaps the most widely recognized Great Dane color. However, it’s important to note that there are six additional standard breed colors.
If you’re looking for a Great Dane for a family pet, you might not care whether the dog you get has a color scheme that is recognized as standard by the AKC.
After all, as long as you’ve got a gargantuan furry friend to welcome you when you walk through the door, what do the markings matter? But for breeders and some breed enthusiasts, it can be a pretty big deal.
So Which Color Is Most Popular?
As we said earlier, determining which coat color is the most popular for Great Danes depends on what standard you use to define popularity. There are far more Fawn-colored Danes out there running around than there are “Onyx” Brindles—so by that standard, Fawns are the most popular.
But if you’re trying to determine which coat color will attract the most attention from breeders and breed enthusiasts, it helps to look at which coat colors command the highest prices.
Dogs with good bloodlines command high prices from breeders, but it’s hard to evaluate a dog’s coat against the AKC standard when they’re still puppies.
This is especially true when you’re dealing with irregular coat patterns like those found in Harlequins, Mantles, and Brindles. As the dog grows, its markings will change.
Even if both of a dog’s parents are text-book examples of their color schemes, there’s no guarantee that a pup from their litter will grow into an equally impressive standard marking pattern.
Even if you get a particular dog in the hopes that it will do well at dog shows only to have it grow into a coat that fails to meet the breed standards, you will still have a registered dog from a good bloodline.
If breeding was one of your aspirations, you would still be able to breed papered litters with the dog.
The Seven Recognized Coat Colors for Great Danes
If you’ve never owned a Great Dane before, you might not realize just how often you’ll find yourself answering questions from people curious about the huge hound at the end of the leash.
Knowing how to describe your best friend’s coat coloration is just one way to prepare for the conversations that your Dane is sure to start for you.
If you think of Marmaduke when you think of Great Danes, then you’re familiar with the fawn coloration. But Marmaduke’s lack of a black mask would make him a non-standard color, according to the AKC.
The official description of the fawn standard requires a yellow to gold base with a black mask, black eye rims, and eyebrows. It goes on to note that black is permissible when it appears on the ear or tail tips. White markings on the chest or toes are permissible but not desirable.
Brindle Great Danes have a yellow or gold base coat that is brindled with black cross stripes. A black mask is a preferred characteristic of this color. The eye rims and eyebrows should be black, and black tips on the ears and tail are permissible.
The brindle color scheme is typically judged for the intensity of the base color and the distinctiveness of the brindle pattern. Even regular brindling is judged most highly while a coat with too much or too little brindling is deemed undesirable.
The ideal coloration for a black Great Dane is a glossy black coat with no variations. White markings on the chest or toes are not desirable. Any variance from an entirely black coat would be faulted to the extent of the deviation if you were to show the dog.
Blue Danes should have a coat that is evenly steel blue. White markings on the chest or toes are undesirable. The eye rims and eyebrows should be black. Dark or black patches on the tips of the ears or tail are undesirable.
Harlequin Danes definitely gets noticed. These dogs have a base color that is pure white with “torn” black patches distributed irregularly across their entire body. The AKC gives bonus points for a pure white neck.
For more details on Harlequins, make sure to take a look at our dedicated article here.
Mantle Danes have a solid black blanket extending over their entire body and a black skull. They have white muzzles and a white-collar. White chests, white on the legs, and a white tip on the tail are all permissible.
Merle is the most recent addition to the list of breed standard colors for Great Danes. It is characterized by a lighter coat with darker grey spots or splotches all over.
They can have a combination of grey, blue, white, or black coats and markings. Although, a grey color, in the base coat or spots, is the standard marking of a Merle Great Dane.
For more details on Merles, make sure to take a look at our dedicated article here.
Cool and Common Non-Standard Colors
The AKC might not think much of them, but some of the most sought-after color schemes on Great Danes are those that are deemed “mismarks” or non-standard colors.
There are a few that occur regularly enough that they’ve earned their own names.
Ever seen a Great Dane that looks like a Rottweiler on stilts? If so, you’ve had the pleasure of meeting a Brownish Black Dane.
This is considered a non-standard color, but it is actually very popular, especially with folks who are just as fond of Rottweilers or Dobermans as they are of Danes.
Much like the Merle, this coat color has the appearance of a Harlequin paired with a non-standard color—you guessed it, Fawn.
Also known as a Reverse Brindle, this coat color features a black base with brindles of a fawn color.
The only non-standard Great Dane coat color that is considered to be strongly correlated with potential health problems, White Danes are often the result of Merle and Merle breeding.
This coat color is extremely rare, and while it can be beautiful it is all too commonly associated with genetic defects.
Does Color Really Matter?
There’s so much to love about the breed that you might be wondering if all of this talk about coat color is much ado about nothing.
While we understand the importance of coat color to owners who want to show or breed their Dane, we tend to identify with the folks who say that love is blind.
The reason we think it’s so interesting to learn about the standard coat colors for Danes is that it helps us understand where all of the amazing variations in their coats come from.
It gives us a language to describe them and an idea of how they ended up looking the way they do.
In our book, the novelty and beauty of an “onyx” brindle is something to be prized at least as much – if not more- than a textbook example of one of the six standard colors.
But that’s just one more thing that’s great about Great Danes. Whatever you’re into, there’s a Dane out there that’s perfect for you!
As you can see from our discussion of the breed’s coat colors, there is almost no limit to the variations that you can find among and between the six standards.
While Fawn is the most common coat color, that’s not to say that it is the most popular.
Ask any Dane owner what the most popular coat color is, and they’re sure to tell you it is whatever the color of their best friend i.e. Great Dane happens to be!