When exhibiting a Great Dane for the show ring, the seven officially AKC recognized colors are Black, Blue, Fawn, Brindle, Harlequin, and Mantle, and in 2019, Merle was introduced to the conformation ring. Merle was hardly new, however, as it has always been an integral genetic component to the Mantle/Harlequin, and is not only necessary, genetically speaking, to produce a Harlequin, but has been called the “Mother Color” of Harlequins in the breed.
Judging a solid Merle uses the exact same criteria as applies to the other solid colors, but unlike the other solid colors, white on the chest and toes is allowed in a solid Merle. In fact, there aren’t any disqualifications for patterns and markings in the Great Dane standard, and any deviations in the aforementioned are simply faulted to the degree of deviation.
That being said, the Great Dane Illustrated Standard does specify that while a wide range of markings exists in Merles, the black patches must be black, and never be mouse, fawn, brindle, blue or any other color. Furthermore, we’ve read elsewhere that the gray in a Merle can range from a dark steel gray appearance, to a pale silvery gray, and a bluish grey in the middle, but it should never appear to be brown or mouse-colored, and that makes the sweet puppy seen here an unlikely candidate to place in a show ring.
Image of Blue Merle Great Dane puppies*** by Heidi Marcinik is available as fine art, a greeting card and a phone case here. Image of Merle Great Dane puppy by WJ-Media-Design/AdobeStock;
***Note: Blue Merle Great Danes are not recognized by the AKC, nor does the breed standard list it as acceptable.