Harlequin Litter Color Narrative with Photos

by Arlene Scarbrough of Scarbrough Fair Great Danes

Merles have a gray base color that can range from a dark gun metal gray to a very light silver.  They have torn black patches over their entire bodies and on their faces.  They may also have white on their toes, feet, and/or chest.   

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Boston merles have a gray base color that can range from a dark gun metal gray to a very light silver.  They have torn black patches on their gray base color.  They also generally have a white collar, a white face blaze, white muzzle, white chest, white front legs, white rear stockings, and a white tail tip.  Just as with the mantles, the white markings can vary considerably, i.e. half a white collar, a wide collar, a narrow collar, no collar, white partially up the front legs, no face blaze, etc. 




Merlequins have a white base color with torn gray, instead of black, patches on their bodies.  Their torn gray patches frequently have black speckles inside them. 


   Pot bellied pig named Robin.




Piebalds have a white base color.  They generally have a smooth patch of either merle or black around the left eye and ear and another around the right eye and ear.  If their patches are gray, they generally have black speckles within them.  They also generally have a very few fairly large patches on their bodies.  Their patches of color tend to be oval and smooth around the edges, as compared to the torn patches on harlequins and merles.  When these dogs have black patches, some novice breeders confuse them with harlequins, since they are white in base color with black patches.  If you were to see two dogs with their heads sticking out of a dog house and one was a mantle and the other was a piebald with black patches, you could easily assume your were looking at two mantles.   When they stepped out of the house you would be surprised to see that one had a nearly white body.




Whites are almost all white.  They may have a few tiny black or merle patches or merle patches with black speckles on their bodies, but generally have little to no color on their heads.  Their noses are generally solid pink to mostly pink with some black, although they can have solid black noses.   These dogs are 90-99% white.  They are frequently deaf and they generally have distorted vision with oddly shaped pupils or they are completely blind.  




Albinos totally lack pigment.  Their only color is white.  They have no color whatsoever on their bodies.  Their noses and eyes are pink.  I have only seen one true albino in thirty years of breeding, and it was not in one of our litters.  Due to my total lack of experience, I will not go into any more detail about their traits.  Sorry, but since we’ve never produced an albino, I have no photo to post.


Mixed Color Breeding

Harlequin bred danes should be bred to other harlequin bred danes (harlequins, mantles, blacks or merles, if the breeder will breed merles) or to black out of black breeding.  We will address breeding merles on a new page of our website called “controversial topics” that is currently in the development phase.

If and when the harlequins, mantles, blacks (out of harlequin breeding) and/or merles are bred with fawns, brindles, or blues, all sorts of strange colors can result.  You can also get some of these colors if you double on dogs that are pure color bred for generations, but whose pedigrees way, way back contain mixed colors.  We will show you two danes, a boston fawn and a fawnoquin that came from doubling on an imported mantle bitch that was pure color bred for many generations.



Now for a little fun!  Below are four pictures of four different litters.  Can you identify the colors of the puppies?





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