Merlequin Great Dane: Your Complete Guide To This Coat Color

The Great Dane is loved for their gentle nature and size as a giant dog. This also includes the different coat colors and patterns that the breed has. 

The Merle Harlequin Great Dane (Merlequin) is a Harlequin Great Dane which is one of the several interesting Great Dane coat color patterns.

So, what makes a Merlequin Great Dane look this way? Why are they called Merlequin?

Read on to learn more about what makes a Merlequin Great Dane, its appearance, temperament, associated health problems, and where to get them.

A Merle Harlequin Great Dane (Merlequin) is a Great Dane with a completely white coat with Merle patches on it. Merle patches are pale gray to dark gray with torn black patches within. The Merlequin is a double merle, which is a Great Dane with two copies of the Merle gene.

merlequin great dane

What Does The Merlequin Great Dane Look Like?

A Merlequin Great Dane looks like a typical Great Dane except for its coat color. In every other aspect, they have the Great Dane physical features.

This comprises a muscular, well-defined build, a large head and muzzle, floppy ears, broad chest, narrow body, long limbs, and a medium-sized tail. 

The Merle Harlequin also has a short and smooth coat. 

Adult dogs weigh up to 120 – 200 pounds and stand at 32 to 34 inches high, with female dogs being slightly smaller than the male dogs.

The Merlequin Great Dane’s eyes are blue. 

A Merlequin Great Dane is a Great Dane with a completely white coat with Merle patches on it. The Merle patches are pale gray to dark gray with torn black patches within. 

They look like a Harlequin Great Dane, which is a Great Dane with a white base coat having torn black spots or patches distributed all over their body. 

However, the difference is that for a Merlequin, the black patches seen in a Harlequin pattern are Merle instead of black. 

Merle is a coat color pattern with a pale to dark gray base coat with black spots distributed within it.

Does the American Kennel Club recognize the Merlequin Great Dane?

The Merlequin Great Dane is registered but not recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC) as a standard Great Dane breed color. Although they have the Merle coat color pattern, they do not meet the standard Merle coat color pattern. 

They are also produced from unethical breeding commonly referred to as spot-to-spot breeding, that is, merle-to-merle breeding which results in a doubling of the Merle gene. 

Unethical breeding involves the breeding of dogs without consideration of the genetic health issues of the parents or their offspring.

Currency the 7 acceptable coat colors recognized by the American Kennel Club are:

  • Fawn

  • Harlequin

  • Brindle

  • Blue

  • Mantle

  • Merle

These colors are both registered and recognized by the AKC, which means they can participate in dog shows.

In addition to the Merlequin Great Dane, other color combinations with the Harlequin pattern exist. These are: 

The Merle Harlequin Great Dane (Merlequin) is disqualified from the American Kennel Club conformation shows, therefore cannot participate as Merle dogs.

Recommended reading: Merle Great Dane vs Harlequin

Is a Merlequin a Double Merle?: The Genetics Of The Merlequin Great Dane

A Merlequin is a Double Merle, which is a Great Dane with two copies of the Merle gene.

A Merlequin or a Double Merle Great Dane comes about from the breeding of two Great Danes that each carries at least one copy of the Merle gene.

The Merlequin is a result of Merle and Harlequin Great Dane breeding, which both have the merle genes. Their genetic code is MMHh.

  • Merle x Harlequin
  • Harlequin x Harlequin
  • Double Merle x Harlequin

This means a Merlequin Great Dane puppy is produced when a puppy inherits two copies of the dominant Merle allele (M), from both of its parents and one copy of the Harlequin gene (Hh).

Therefore a Merlequin has a merle coat color pattern in combination with the Harlequin pattern because of the presence of the dominant merle allele (M) and one copy of the Harlequin allele (H), which shows up as a dog with a white coat with Merle patches.

And because a Merlequin Great Dane acquires two dominant Merle alleles (MM), they are referred to as homozygous (MM) or a Double Merle Great Dane.

The eye color of Double Merle Great Danes is blue.

Are Merlequin Great Danes rare?

The Merlequin Great Danes are rare and not as common as the other American Kennel Club’s recognized Great Dane colors. 

This is because merle-to-merle Great Dane breeding resulting in the production of double merles is a discouraged practice because of the health implications for the offspring. 

Therefore Great Dane breeders do not deliberately breed Merlequins, and some even euthanize them when they are born in a litter.

Breeders usually make sure to genetically test and match the parent dogs appropriately to reduce the chances of producing Merlequin or double merle puppies.

Merlequin Great Dane Temperament

A Merlequin Great Dane has the same personality traits as the Great Dane dog breed. Their coat color does not in any way influence their temperament. 

They are generally affectionate, gentle, friendly, and people-oriented dogs who love to please their owners. They are good companion dogs and also family dogs.

In addition to the breed’s personality and characteristics, their personality is also formed through consistent socialization, training, and good nurturing. 

Socialization and training are important in developing a Great Dane to integrate well with people and animals as well as have desired behaviors.

Merlequin Great Dane Health

Studies have shown that the merle gene has been linked to certain health problems.

The gene causes eye and ear deformities, which include partial or complete blindness or deafness, sun sensitivity, and skin cancer.

The Merlequin, as a Double Merle Great Dane (MM), is more likely to have these health problems than single Merle Great Danes (Mm). 

Not all Merlequin Great Danes have these health problems, however, most are deaf and/ or blind or have poor sight and hearing.

Double Merle puppies also have a lower survival rate in a litter. They are born sickly and do not survive compared to single Merle Great Danes.

This is the reason why merle to merle Great Dane breeding is discouraged and avoided due to health problems that the offspring will have.

In addition to the gene-specific health problems, the Merlequin Great Dane is also susceptible to common health problems of the Great Dane breed. This includes: 

  • Hip and elbow dysplasia

  • Dilated cardiomyopathy

  • Wobblers syndrome

  • Bloat

  • Cancer

A Merlequin’s life expectancy is 7 to 10 years.

The understanding of these possible health conditions helps you to know what to expect and the care needed for a Merlequin Great Dane. 

Where to Buy or Adopt a Merlequin Great Dane

Responsible breeders that practice ethical breeding reduce the chances of having unhealthy puppies such as the double merles. 

It is very uncommon for purebred breeders to deliberately produce Merlequin Great Danes which are Great Danes outside of the breed’s standards.

However, sometimes they might occur in a litter and can be adopted from rescue groups or shelters dedicated to rehoming all Great Dane colors including Merlequin Great Danes. 

The centers often share the health history of the puppies or dogs for new owners to be aware of the specific dog’s health status, what to expect, and willing to take on when you own a double Merle.

Reputable Great Dane rescue centers include:

Summary: Merle Harlequin Great Dane

The Merlequin Great Dane is a fascinating coat color pattern with both Merle and Harlequin coat color patterns, produced from Merle to Merle breeding, resulting in the dog having double merle genes.

Merle to Merle breeding is frowned upon and deemed unethical due to the many health issues that the dogs might face, which gives them a low-quality life.

Therefore it is rare to find Merlequin Great Danes.  

Despite their possible health problems, they are still good companions with the pleasant Great Dane personality. Rescue centers and shelters are common places to find Merlequin Great Danes for adoption.


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