Great Dane Colors, Patterns and Markings

The color of your dog’s coat is one of its most distinguishing features. Your dog may look like any other breed but it will have certain characteristics which make it stand out from the rest. These are called “markings” or “colors”. The markings on a dog vary greatly in appearance depending upon their ancestry, age, activity level and many other factors. Some dogs are naturally pure white while others have patches of various colors.

Other breeds have markings such as black, brown, red, yellow and so forth.

Some of these markings are inherited and some are acquired through breeding. The two main types of markings are those caused by genetics (genetic) and those caused by environment (environmental). Both types can cause different kinds of problems if not properly managed. Genetics can lead to conditions such as deafness, blindness or even death. Environment can affect the dog’s health in a variety of ways including diet, exercise and even the type of shelter where your dog was raised.


There are three major categories of genetic markings:

1. Coat Color Marks – These marks occur when genes determine how a coat shade appears.

They include:

• Black and Tan (Tan) – A coat with darker undertones than the rest of the body, especially around the face and neck. Tan markings are generally found in the Great Dane.

• Brindle (Stripes) – A coat with darker stripes (or bars) than the rest of the body, these stripes generally appear around the face and neck too.

2. White Markings – These markings occur when white appears on any area of a dog’s body, including the legs, chest, face, underbelly, tail and so forth.

Sources & references used in this article:

Genes affecting coat colour and pattern in domestic dogs: a review by SM Schmutz, TG Berryere – Animal genetics, 2007 – Wiley Online Library

Wildlife marking techniques by NJ Silvy, RR Lopez… – Techniques for …, 2005 –

Techniques for marking wildlife by NJ Silvy, RR Lopez, MJ Peterson – Chapter, 2012 –

Inheritance of the harlequin color in Great Dane dogs by DP Sponenberg – Journal of Heredity, 1985 –

Coat Colour in the Great Dane by JP Yousha –