The Gentle Giants: An In-depth Look into the Harlequin Great Dane

The Harlequin Great Dane, often referred to as the “Apollo of Dogs,” is a majestic breed known for its distinctive coat and endearing temperament. Majestic in stature, they command attention with their noble appearance, marked by striking black patches set against a pure white base.

Yet, behind their imposing physique lies a gentle, affectionate nature, making them a beloved member of many families. This guide will take you through the history of the Harlequin Great Dane and its unique characteristics and provide insights to help you determine if this breed is the right fit for your home.

Brace yourselves as we delve into the fascinating world of these gentle giants.Moreover, in this guide, introduce the care requirements of the Harlequin Great Dane, shedding light on why this magnificent breed continues to capture the hearts of dog enthusiasts worldwide.

1. Harlequin Great Dane: An Introduction

The Harlequin Great Dane is a majestic and striking canine breed renowned for its immense size, regal appearance, and eye-catching coat pattern. As one of the many variations of the Great Dane breed, the Harlequin stands out with its unique black and white patched markings, creating an almost abstract and artistic effect on its sleek coat.

With a history dating back centuries, Great Danes, including the Harlequin variety, were originally bred in Germany as powerful hunting dogs. Over time, their roles evolved to include guarding and companionship due to their gentle and affectionate nature.

Today, the Harlequin Great Dane continues to be a beloved and popular family pet, known for its gentle disposition, loyalty, and devotion to its human companions. Despite their massive size, Harlequin Great Danes are surprisingly gentle giants, often displaying a calm and friendly demeanor.

Their imposing stature and striking appearance make them attention-grabbing, but their true charm lies in their affectionate and sociable nature, making them excellent pets for families of all sizes. In addition, Harlequin Great Danes are highly intelligent and eager to please, making them relatively easy to train.

2. History of Harlequin Great Dane

History of Harlequin Great Dane

The Harlequin Great Dane, often simply referred to as the Harlequin Dane, is a majestic and eye-catching dog breed with a fascinating history. The breed is a variant of the Great Dane, a breed that can trace its origins back to ancient times.

While the exact origin of the Harlequin variety is not entirely clear, its development can be traced to specific breeding practices that aimed to achieve its distinctive coat pattern.

The Great Dane, known for its imposing size and gentle temperament, is believed to have been originally bred from ancient mastiff-like dogs and greyhounds. In Germany, the breed began to take its modern form, known as the “Deutsche Dogge” or German Mastiff. Over the centuries, these dogs were used for various purposes, including hunting wild boar and guarding estates. [1]

The Harlequin coat pattern, characterized by large black torn patches on a pure white background, started to emerge in the breed during the 18th and 19th centuries. Breeders aimed to achieve this striking appearance by carefully selective breeding dogs that exhibited the desired traits.

The name “Harlequin” likely originates from the Italian comedic character Harlequin, known for his colorful and distinctively patterned costume. In the early 20th century, the Harlequin Great Dane gained popularity in Germany and other parts of Europe, captivating the hearts of dog enthusiasts with its unique and elegant appearance.

During this time, kennel clubs and breed standards were established to preserve and promote the breed’s characteristics. The breed faced some challenges during the two World Wars, as many European countries experienced significant turmoil, leading to a decline in the Great Dane population, including the Harlequin variety.

However, dedicated breeders worked to revive the breed after the wars, and it gradually regained its popularity. The Harlequin Great Dane eventually made its way to other parts of the world, including the United States, where it also gained a strong following among dog lovers and enthusiasts.

Today, the Harlequin Great Dane continues to be cherished for its majestic appearance, gentle nature, and loyal disposition, making it a beloved companion and show dog for families all around the globe. [2]

3. Characteristics of Harlequin Great Dane

The Harlequin Great Dane is a majestic and striking giant breed known for its unique coat pattern and imposing size. Here are some key characteristics of this magnificent dog:

  • Impressive Size: The Harlequin Great Dane is one of the largest dog breeds in the world, standing at an impressive height of up to 32 inches (81 cm) at the shoulder and weighing between 140 to 200 pounds (63 to 91 kg). Their sheer size commands attention and respect.
  • Harlequin Coat Pattern: The most distinctive feature of the Harlequin Great Dane is its striking coat pattern. The base color is pure white, and irregular black spots or patches cover the body, giving it a marbled or “harlequin” appearance. This unique coat pattern makes them stand out in any crowd. [3]
  • Gentle and Friendly: Despite their imposing size, Harlequin Great Danes are gentle giants with a friendly and affectionate nature. They are known for being devoted and loyal to their family members, making them excellent companions and family pets.
  • Even-Tempered: This breed is typically even-tempered and generally gets along well with other pets and children, making them suitable for families. However, early socialization and training are essential to ensure they grow up to be well-mannered and well-adjusted dogs.
  • Moderate Exercise Needs: Harlequin Great Danes are not overly energetic dogs despite their size. They have moderate exercise requirements and enjoy daily walks and playtime in a secure, spacious area. Their large size makes them unsuitable for small living spaces.
  • Minimal Grooming: Grooming a Harlequin Great Dane is relatively easy, as their short coat requires minimal maintenance. Regular brushing to remove loose hairs and occasional baths are usually sufficient to keep their coat clean and healthy.
  • Health Considerations: Like all giant dog breeds, Harlequin Great Danes are prone to certain health issues, including hip dysplasia, heart problems, and bloat (gastric torsion). Regular veterinary checkups, a balanced diet, and appropriate Exercise can help manage their health effectively.
  • Lifespan: The average lifespan of a Harlequin Great Dane ranges from 7 to 10 years. Proper care, a nutritious diet, and regular Exercise can contribute to a longer and healthier life for these magnificent dogs.

These characteristics make the Harlequin Great Dane an impressive and unique breed, beloved for its majestic appearance and gentle nature.

4. Temperament of Harlequin Great Dane

Harlequin Great Dane Temperament

When it comes to personality, the Harlequin Great Dane is known for its gentle and devoted nature. They make loyal companions who are always keen to please their owners. As a result, they respond well to training and enjoy learning new tricks.

Due to their size, these dogs need early socialization with other animals and people in order to be comfortable around them. With the right amount of affection and patient training, Harlequin Great Danes can be a loving addition to any family.

They are often very protective of their owners and will not hesitate to alert them if they sense something is wrong. Harlequin Great Danes may have stubborn streaks, but they tend to be relatively calm indoors if given proper exercise.

However, they require a lot of space to move and play, so those with limited backyards or living in apartments should think twice before getting one. It’s also important to provide them with a balanced diet to ensure they’re getting all the nutrients their large bodies need.

Overall, the Harlequin Great Dane is an affectionate breed that can bring joy to every home. They can be a loyal companion for life with the right amount of care and attention. [4]

5. Health issues for Harlequin Great Dane

Harlequin Great Danes may be giant dogs but are also prone to certain health issues. It is important for owners of this breed to keep an eye out for potential health problems, such as congenital deafness, cardiac diseases, hypothyroidism, autoimmune thyroiditis, hip dysplasia, and bloat.

  • Congenital deafness is a condition where puppies are born deaf or have hearing loss that gets worse as they age. The pup’s veterinarian can test for this, and dogs with congenital deafness should be spayed or neutered to prevent passing on the defect to future generations.
  • Cardiac diseases are also common in giant breeds due to their size. These problems include arrhythmias, valve diseases, and cardiomyopathy. It is important for owners to be aware of these problems and have their dogs tested regularly by a veterinarian.
  • Hypothyroidism affects the thyroid gland and can cause weight gain, lethargy, poor coat condition, skin issues, and other health issues. Autoimmune thyroiditis is another condition that can affect the thyroid gland, and it is important to test for both of these conditions regularly.
  • Hip dysplasia is another common condition in giant breeds that affects the hip joint, causing lameness and pain in affected dogs. A veterinarian should do regular screening of this condition to ensure early detection and treatment.
  • Finally, bloat or gastric torsion is a life-threatening condition that affects giant breeds. It occurs when the stomach twists on itself and can cause shock, vomiting, and death if not treated quickly. Owners should be aware of the signs of bloat and seek veterinary help immediately if they suspect it in their Harlequin Great Dane.

By understanding these potential issues, owners can better prepare themselves to provide the best care for their Harlequin Great Dane. Here are some important tips to keep your dog healthy and happy:

  • Provide them with regular exercise and a balanced diet.
  • Make sure they are tested for health issues such as congenital deafness, cardiac diseases, hip dysplasia, hypothyroidism, and autoimmune thyroiditis by their veterinarian.
  • Be aware of the signs of bloat in giant breeds and seek veterinary help immediately if they suspect it in their dog.
  • Provide them with plenty of mental stimulation and socialization to ensure they grow up to be well-balanced, confident dogs

When given the right care, Harlequin Great Danes can live a long, healthy life full of love and companionship. With a proper understanding of their health needs, owners can ensure their dog has a bright future.

6. How to Groom this Gentle Giant

The Harlequin Great Dane is a majestic and striking dog breed known for its distinctive coat pattern and impressive size. Keeping your Harlequin Great Dane looking its best is essential to maintain its beauty and overall well-being. Here are some grooming tips to ensure your furry friend stays happy and healthy:

  • Regular Brushing: Regular brushing is essential to keep your Harlequin Great Dane’s fur in excellent condition due to its short, dense coat. Brushing helps remove loose hair and distribute natural oils, keeping the coat shiny and clean. Use a soft-bristled brush or a rubber grooming mitt to groom your dog at least once a week gently.
  • Bathing: Harlequin Great Danes do not require frequent baths unless they get exceptionally dirty or smelly. Aim to bathe them every 6-8 weeks or as needed. Use a gentle dog-specific shampoo on their skin to avoid drying it out.
  • Ear Cleaning: The large, floppy ears of Great Danes can be prone to wax buildup and infections. Check their ears regularly and clean them using a damp cloth or a veterinarian-recommended ear-cleaning solution. Be gentle and avoid inserting anything into the ear canal.
  • Dental Care: Dental hygiene is crucial for every dog breed, including Harlequin Great Danes. Regularly brush your dog’s teeth with a doggy toothbrush and toothpaste to prevent tartar buildup and maintain fresh breath.
  • Nail Trimming: Long nails can cause discomfort and affect your Great Dane’s gait. Trim their nails regularly using a dog nail clipper or grinder, being careful not to cut into the quick (the pink part of the nail with blood vessels).
  • Skin Care: Keep an eye on your dog’s skin for any signs of irritation, dryness, or hotspots. If you notice any issues, consult with your veterinarian for proper treatment and recommendations.
  • Regular Checkups: While grooming at home is vital, regular visits to the veterinarian are equally important. Regular checkups allow your veterinarian to assess your dog’s overall health and address any grooming or medical concerns.
  • Proper Nutrition: A balanced diet plays a crucial role in maintaining your Harlequin Great Dane’s coat and skin health. Provide them with high-quality dog food that meets their specific nutritional needs, and consult with your veterinarian if you have any dietary concerns.

Remember, grooming isn’t just about keeping your Harlequin Great Dane looking fabulous—it’s also about creating a strong bond with your pet and ensuring their well-being. Spend quality time grooming and caring for your gentle giant, and they’ll reward you with love and loyalty for years to come.

7. Nutrition

Harlequin Great Dane Canine

Good nutrition is key to keeping your Harlequin Great Dane healthy and strong. As giant breeds, their size requires them to have a nutrient-rich diet that will help support their bones and joints.

When choosing a food for your Harlequin Great Dane, make sure the formula contains high levels of proteins (such as chicken, lamb, or fish) as well as carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals to provide your dog with the energy and nutrients they need.

Feeding your Harlequin Great Dane puppy a puppy-specific formula is essential for their growth and development. Puppies require higher levels of proteins, calories, calcium, phosphorus, and other nutrients than adult dogs.

Your puppy should be transitioned to an adult formula as it grows and reaches adulthood (around 12 months old). It’s important to also pay attention to your Harlequin Great Dane’s calorie intake and activity levels.

If they are not getting enough exercise, it is essential that their food intake is monitored and adjusted accordingly. Alternatively, if they are working or show dogs, their diet may require extra energy and nutrients to perform at their best.

Finally, remember that treats are a great way to reward and train your Harlequin Great Dane, but they should be used sparingly and only in moderation. Avoid giving sugary human snacks like chocolate or lollies, as these can cause serious health problems. Instead, opt for healthy treats that are specific to dogs and provide valuable nutritional benefits.

Ultimately, the right nutrition will ensure your Harlequin Great Dane is fit and strong, allowing them to enjoy a long and healthy life with you by their side! [5]

Note: Always consult with your veterinarian regarding your Harlequin Great Dane’s nutritional needs to ensure you provide the best care for them.

8. Finding a Harlequin Great Dane

If you’re interested in welcoming a Harlequin Great Dane into your home, there are several considerations to keep in mind before making this important decision. Here are some tips on how to find the right Harlequin Great Dane for you:

  • Consider Your Lifestyle and Living Situation: With their size and energy level, Harlequin Great Danes require plenty of space to run around and regular Exercise. Not only should your home have enough room to accommodate a large dog, but it is also important that you are able to commit to their physical and mental needs.
  • Do Your Research: Learn as much as you can about the breed to ensure they are the right fit for your lifestyle. Check out reputable breeders or even local rescue centers, and be sure to ask questions regarding health checks, genetic testing, and vaccinations. You can also learn from online forums or websites such as
  • Choose a Puppy or an Adult Dog: If you are looking for a puppy, be sure to visit the litter in person and ask questions about parents and health checks. Alternatively, adult Harlequin Great Danes may already have some training and may require fewer resources (i.e., supplies or food) than a puppy does.
  • Visit the Vet: Prior to bringing your Harlequin Great Dane home, it is important to have them checked out by a veterinarian. Your vet will be able to assess their overall health and advise you on any necessary vaccinations or other treatments.

The decision to bring a Harlequin Great Dane into your life is an important one that should not be taken lightly. Doing research ahead of time, visiting the litter or rescue center in person, and consulting with a veterinarian are all essential steps in the process of finding your perfect companion.

9. Is Harlequin Great Dane Right For You?

Great Dane Harlequin

Though they are gentle giants, the Harlequin Great Dane is a breed that requires commitment and dedication. Before deciding if this is the right dog for you, consider your lifestyle and living situation to ensure you can meet their physical and emotional needs.

If you’re looking for an intelligent, loyal companion, the Harlequin Great Dane might be the perfect fit for your home. With their large size and gentle nature, these dogs bring joy and companionship to all who are lucky enough to call them family.

It’s important to keep in mind that adopting a pet is a long-term commitment requiring time and resources. However, a Harlequin Great Dane can bring your family years of happiness and fun with proper love and care.

10. Is Harlequin Great Dane compatible with Zodiac Sign?

Harlequin Great Danes are intelligent and loyal, making them an excellent companion for any zodiac sign. People born under the sign of Taurus will be drawn to their calm and intuitive nature, while those of the Aries sign may find they match their enthusiasm and energy.

Gemini’s inquisitive mind will always have something new to explore with a Harlequin Great Dane, while Cancer’s will be drawn to its warmth and protective nature. The Harlequin Great Dane is truly an all-rounder, suitable for any astrological sign looking for a loyal and loving companion.

So if you’re on the lookout for a gentle giant who’ll always have your back, look no further than the Harlequin Great Dane! Their intelligence and loyalty make them the perfect addition to any family.

11. Conclusion

The Harlequin Great Dane is a breed with tremendous love and loyalty for its owners. It is an incredibly intelligent dog that requires commitment and dedication from its owner in order to thrive. With proper love, care, nutrition, training, and Exercise, the Harlequin Great Dane can bring its family years of joy and companionship.

Whether you’re looking for a gentle giant that loves lounging around or an energetic companion happy to join your outdoor activities, the Harlequin Great Dane is perfect for any zodiac sign! If you think this breed is right for you, do your research and visit the litter or rescue center in person to find the perfect Harlequin Great Dane for you.

To learn more about dogs, please visit our site and check out our different breed listings and guides to better understand your new canine companion. We also offer a wide range of blogs about canine health, nutrition, exercise, behavior, and training tips to help keep your pup happy and healthy. Thanks for choosing us! Happy pet parenting!

12. FAQs

Q 1: Is there any other Color Variations of Harlequin Great Danes?

A: While the classic Harlequin coat is black and white, other color variations include grey and blue. However, according to the American Kennel Club (AKC), these are not considered official colors for this breed.

Q 2: What is Blue Harlequin Great Danes?

A: Blue Harlequin Great Danes, also known as a Blue Mantle, is a rare color variation for this breed. This distinct coloring occurs when the black in the classic pattern is replaced with shades of blue-gray. Some kennel clubs accept Blue Mantle Great Danes, while others still only recognize the traditional Harlequin coat.

Q 3: Is Harlequin Great Danes suitable for apartment living?

A: While Harlequin Great Danes can adapt to apartment living, potential owners should keep in mind that they will need plenty of space and Exercise. This breed needs regular walks and playtime, so if you live in a small space with limited outdoor access, it may not fit your lifestyle best. Additionally, the Harlequin Great Dane is a large breed and will require plenty of furniture, food, and supplies. Therefore, it’s important to consider all aspects of living with this breed before making your decision.

Disclaimer: The content in this guide is for informational purposes only and should not be considered medical or behavioral advice. For more information on how to properly care for your pet, please consult a qualified veterinarian or certified Dog grooming center.


  1. Great Dane – Wikipedia
  2. Coile, C. (2023, April 28). Great Dane. Encyclopedia Britannica.
  3. Clark, L.A., Tsai, K.L, Starr, A.N., Nowend, K.L, & Murphy, K.E. (2011). A missense mutation in the 20S proteasome β2 subunit of Great Danes having harlequin coat patterning. Genomics, 97(4), 244-248. doi: 10.1016/j.ygeno.2011.01.003
  4. American Kennel Club (2019), GreatDane.pdf (
  5. diet_section.pdf (
Avatar of John Evans

John is a full-time writer and pet products researcher with more than 15 years professional experience in pet’s health and care including pet’s behavior. John is also a product reviewer for Pet Dog Guides who tested various pets’ products based on the experience.

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