Home » Dog Breeds » The Merle Great Dane: Everything You Need To Know

The Merle Great Dane: Everything You Need To Know

Pawscessories is reader-supported. When you buy via links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no cost to you. Learn more.

If you’re looking for a giant dog that is both gentle and playful, the merle Great Dane may be the perfect breed for you. These magnificent animals are known for their sweet dispositions and make great family pets.

But before you bring one of these gentle giants home, there are a few things you should know about the merle Great Dane.

In this post, we’ll take a closer look at this unique coat type and tell you everything you need to know before getting one. So if you’re interested in learning more about the merle Great Dane, keep reading!

merle great dane

What Is A Merle Great Dane?

Merle is a pattern that can occur in many different dog breeds, including the Great Dane. Merle coats have patches of solid color against a background of light-colored or merled hairs.

Great Danes who are merles may have blue, brown, hazel, or green eyes. They may also have blue merle or chocolate merle markings. Merle Great Danes are often considered to be more unique and exotic-looking than their non-merle counterparts.

However, some health concerns have been associated with merles, such as deafness and blindness. As a result, many kennel clubs do not allow merle Great Danes to be shown in conformation events.

Many breeders have tried to get rid of the merle gene because of these health concerns. Not just with Great Danes, but other breeds like French Bulldogs as well.

Are Merle Great Danes Rare?

Merle Great Danes are not considered rare. The merle coat color is actually a fairly common color pattern in the Great Dane breed.

According to the Great Dane Club of America, the merle coat color accounts for approximately 15-20% of all Great Danes. However, due to the popularity of other coat colors, such as fawn and brindle, merle great Danes are often not seen as often as their more common counterparts.

What Do Merle Great Danes Look Like?

Merle Great Danes are one of the most unique-looking breeds of dogs. They have a mottled coat of colors, ranging from black to blue to brown to red.

This creates a patchwork effect that is both eye-catching and beautiful. Merle Great Danes also have unique eyes. Some have blue eyes, while others have eyes that are two different colors.

But, no matter their eye color, all merle Great Danes have one thing in common: they are absolutely gorgeous dogs.

Blue Merle Great Dane

blue great dane

The blue merle Great Dane is a striking dog known for its gorgeous blue and silver coat.

One of the most distinct features of the blue merle Great Dane is their eyes, which are usually a deep shade of blue. Sometimes, however, they can have one blue eye and one brown eye. This unique coloring is caused by a genetic mutation, and it’s one of the things that make this coat color so special.

Red Merle Great Dane

red merle
PC: @pita040609

The coat of a red merle Great Dane is primarily white with patches of red/light brown. The coat is unique in that it is patterned with large splotches of color rather than being evenly distributed.

Mantle Merle Great Dane

mantle merle great dane

The mantle merle coat is characterized by its black and white coloration. The coat is primarily white with black patches. The patches may be large or small, covering the entire body or concentrated in certain areas.

A genetic mutation causes the mantle merle coat, which is considered a cosmetic variation of the standard Great Dane coat. While the exact origins of the mantle merle coat are unknown, it is thought to have first appeared in the 19th century.

Size (Weight & Height)

Great Danes are one of the largest dog breeds, and merle Great Danes are no exception. Males typically weigh between 120-200 pounds, while females weigh between 100-180 pounds.

When it comes to height, males typically stand between 30-34 inches tall at the shoulder, while females stand 28-32 inches tall. So, as you can see, this breed of dog is quite a range in size.

However, one thing is for sure: all merle Great Danes are big dogs. They are not the kind of pet that is suitable for everyone, and potential owners should be prepared to provide them with plenty of space to run and play.

Merle Great Dane Maintenance Requirements

great dane merle coat

Due to their size and coat type, Merle Great Danes require a fair amount of maintenance. Their coats should be brushed at least once a week to remove any dead hair.

It is also important to bathe them regularly, as their coats can become oily and smelly if they are not cleaned on a regular basis. Every 8-12 weeks should be plenty.

Furthermore, their nails should be trimmed on a monthly basis, and their teeth should be brushed at least once a week. As with all dogs, regular vet check-ups are also a must.

Coat Genetics Of Merle Great Danes

Merle is characterized by patches of pigment which can range in color from light blue to dark brown. The pigment distribution is irregular, and the edges of the patches may be ragged or smooth.

Merle patterning is caused by a mutation in the melanocyte-stimulating hormone receptor gene. This gene controls the production of melanin, which is the pigment that gives color to the skin and coat.

The merle mutation causes the production of less melanin, resulting in the characteristic patchy coloring.

Great Danes with the merle coat pattern are often considered more valuable than those with other colors and patterns. However, there are some health concerns associated with the merle coat.

For example, merle-colored Great Danes are more likely to be born deaf or blind. As a result, responsible breeders test for these conditions before selling puppies.


The average lifespan of a merle Great Dane is between eight and ten years. This is on par with the average lifespan of other Great Dane coat colors.

However, it is important to note that some health conditions are more common in merle Great Danes than in other coat colors.

As mentioned before, merle Great Danes are more likely to suffer from deafness, blindness, and heart defects. As a result, they may have a shorter lifespan than other Great Danes.

Common Health Issues

There are some health concerns that are more common in merle Great Danes than in other coat colors.

Deafness and blindness are two of the most common health issues faced by merle Great Danes. These conditions are caused by a lack of pigment in the eyes and ears.

Heart defects are also common in this breed of dog. Merle Great Danes are more likely to suffer from patent ductus arteriosus (PDA), which is a congenital heart defect that can be fatal.

Other health issues linked to the merle coat include skeletal defects, skin problems, and immune system disorders.

Outside of the health conditions that are more commonly seen in the merle coat type, Great Danes have other health conditions to be aware of as well.

They’re susceptible to bloat, which is a life-threatening condition that occurs when the stomach twists. This condition can be caused by exercise immediately after eating, drinking too much water, or eating too much.

Great Danes are also susceptible to hip and elbow dysplasia, which are conditions that cause the bones to grow abnormally. These conditions can be painful and lead to arthritis.

Merle Great Dane Temperament & Behavior

merle coat color

Do Merle Great Danes Bark A Lot?

This is a difficult question to answer, as all dogs have different personalities and temperaments. For example, some Great Danes bark more than others, regardless of their coat color.

However, it is important to note that deafness and blindness are more common in merle Great Danes than in other coat colors. As a result, these dogs may be more prone to anxiety and fearfulness, which could make them bark more often.

Do Merle Great Danes Like To Cuddle?

Again, this is a difficult question to answer, as all dogs have different personalities and temperaments. Some Great Danes like to cuddle more than others.

However, if they have plenty of positive experiences cuddling as a young puppy, they’re more likely to enjoy cuddling as they get older. Vice versa if they have negative experiences being close to loved ones as a puppy.

Are Merle Great Danes Good With Kids?

Yes, merle Great Danes can be good with kids if they are properly socialized.

If you have a merle Great Dane and small children in your home, it is important to teach your children how to interact with dogs in a safe and respectful way. Even though it’s unlikely that they’ll hurt such a big dog, it’s best to show them how to interact with them properly so no problems happen.

It is important to note that, because of their size, they may not be fully aware of their body and accidentally bump into kids, knocking them over. It’s very unlikely to see a merle Great Dane behave aggressively with kids unless significantly provoked.

Are Merle Great Danes Good With Other Dogs?

Yes, merle Great Danes can be good with other dogs if they are properly socialized.

If you have a merle Great Dane and other dogs in your home, it is important to introduce them slowly and carefully. Let the other dogs sniff each other before allowing them to interact. If there are any signs of aggression, such as growling or raised hackles, separate them and try again another day.

Merle Great Danes can also do well with dogs outside the home, such as at the dog park. However, it is important to keep an eye on them, as their size can make other dogs feel intimidated.

The more positive experiences they have with other dogs in their early months, the better.

Are Merle Great Danes Good With Strangers?

Yes, merle Great Danes can be good with strangers.

If you have a merle Great Dane, it is important to socialize them from an early age. This means taking them to different places, such as the park, and exposing them to different people.

It is important to note that, because of their size, merle Great Danes may be intimidating to some people. However, they are usually very friendly and just want to say hello.

Are Merle Great Danes Good Apartment Dogs?

No, merle Great Danes are not good apartment dogs. While they are generally quiet dogs, they simply require too much space to live in an apartment comfortably.

How Much Do Merle Great Danes Cost?

black and white merle

The price of a merle Great Dane puppy will vary depending on the breeder, location, and the dog’s parents. However, you can expect to pay anywhere from $600 to $2000 for a merle Great Dane puppy meant to be a family pet.

For merle Great Dane puppies with show dog pedigree parents, you’re looking at a much higher price, upwards of $4000 – $5000.

Of course, if you’re okay with getting a dog a little older, adoption is also an option.

Outside of the initial purchase fee for a merle Great Dane, you’ll also have to think about food costs, toys, a crate, leash, collar and harness, getting them spayed/neutered, and vet visits.

Because of the size of merle Great Danes, you’ll have to spend much more on food per month than you would with a smaller dog. You can expect to spend anywhere between $75-$200 per month on food, depending on the quality.

Where To Find Merle Great Danes For Sale

merle coat color

A great to start looking for merle Great Dane puppies is by using one of these breeder directory websites:

They both showcase many different breeder’s litters, many of which carry merle Great Dane puppies. If there aren’t any available near you, you can always get in touch with them to see if they have any suggestions of reputable breeders that may soon have a new litter of Great Danes.

You can also check your local animal shelters and rescue groups, as they may have merle Great Danes up for adoption. However, because they are relatively rare, it’s unlikely you’ll find one at a shelter.

Another option is to look for merle Great Danes for sale on online classifieds websites, such as Craigslist, Kijiji, or Facebook Marketplace. However, you’ll want to be extra careful when buying a dog from one of these sites, as, unfortunately, there are many scams.

Merle Great Dane FAQs

What Makes a Great Dane Merle?

brindle merle coat

In order for a merle Great Dane to be born, you need two things: one merle Dane and another standard Great Dane. The merle Great Dane is a recessive gene carrier, meaning they must have two copies of the gene to express the merle coat color.

The merle is the dominant gene carrier, so only one copy of the gene is needed. When you breed a merle Great Dane with a standard Great Dane, you have the potential to produce some stunning pups with the distinct merle coat pattern.

Of course, you can never guarantee what coat color or pattern a pup will have, but if you’re hoping for a merle Great Dane, these are the ingredients you’ll need.

What Is a Double Merle Great Dane?

A double merle Great Dane is a dog with two copies of the merle gene. The merle gene produces patches of color on the dog’s coat and is considered a very desirable trait.

However, when two dogs with the merle gene are bred together, there is a 25% chance that their puppies will be born with a condition called merle-to-merle breeding. This condition can cause deafness, blindness, or other serious health problems.

For this reason, it is important to be very careful when breeding double merle Great Danes. If you are considering buying a double merle Great Dane, make sure to do your research and ask your breeder about the health of the parents and grandparents.

How To Know If a Great Dane Is a Double Merle?

Sometimes you can tell if a Great Dane is a double merle by looking at the dog’s coat. A double merle will have patches of white fur intermingled with other colors. The coat may also appear mottled or piebald. In addition, double merles often have blue or yellow eyes. While not all double merles have these physical traits, they are more likely to occur in dogs with this genotype.

Another way to tell if a dog is a double merle is to look at its pedigree. Because the merle gene is recessive, both parents must be merles for their offspring to inherit the trait. Therefore, if you know that both of a dog’s parents were merles, there is a good chance that the dog is also a double merle.

Finally, and the most accurate way to know is DNA testing. DNA testing can be used to definitively determine whether a dog is a double merle.

Here are a couple of services you can use to test the genetics of a merle Great Dane to see if they’re a double merle gene:

What’s The Difference Between Harlequin And Merle Great Danes?

Harlequin and merle are two coat patterns that can occur in Great Danes. Both coat patterns are caused by a mutation in the MC1R gene, but the two patterns are distinct from one another.

Harlequin Great Danes have a base coat of white with black patches dispersed evenly over their bodies.

On the other hand, merle Great Danes have a mottled coat with patches of black, blue, or fawn. The merle coat pattern is also characterized by random streaks of color within the patches.

While both patterns are considered desirable by many breeders, the harlequin is the more popular of the two.

What Is The Rarest Great Dane Color?

The most rare Great Dane coat color is pure white. White Great Danes are not albino; but rather, they lack any pigment in their skin and hair. This can make them more susceptible to sunburn and skin cancer.

White Great Danes are also more likely to be deaf or blind. For these reasons, many breeders do not intentionally breed for this color.

Other rare Great Dane colors include brindle, blue, and merle. While not as rare as a white coat, these colors are less common than the more traditional black, fawn, or harlequin.

Does AKC Recognize Merle Great Dane?

silver merle dane

On January 1st, 2019, the AKC began recognizing the merle coat color in Great Danes. This was a controversial decision, as many breeders believe that merle-to-merle breeding can cause health problems in puppies.

Is It Okay To Breed Two Merle Great Danes Together?

When two merle-coated dogs are bred together, there is a 25% chance that their puppies will be born with a condition called merle to merle Breeding.

This condition can cause serious health problems, including blindness, deafness, and skeletal abnormalities. For this reason, breeding two merle Great Danes is generally not recommended.

Final Thoughts

The merle Great Dane is a beautiful and unique dog. While they may be more prone to health problems, with proper care, they can make loyal and loving companions. If you’re considering adding a merle Great Dane to your family, be sure to do your research and find a reputable breeder.

Other posts you might find interesting:

American Vs. European Great Dane: Comparison Between Them

Great Dane Doberman Mix (Doberdane): All You Need To Know