Judging The Merle Great Dane

Since January 1, 2019, the Merle Great Dane has been permitted to be exhibited in the conformation ring. The Merle has always been an integral part of the Mantle/Harlequin Family and is a necessary genetic component to produce Harlequin.

The Great Dane Club of America was proud to introduce the Merle Great Dane to the fancy. It must be prefaced that the Merle has always existed in our breed. Unlike some other breeds where Merle is not present in the breed and is only present by cross-breeding, our breed, the Great Dane, has always had Merle present. So, judges must understand this very important fact.

Merle Great Dane
Ideal Mantle Merle
Merle Great Dane
Ideal Solid Merle

As with anything, science advances our knowledge. Genetic testing over the past twenty years has allowed us to further understand the Merle/Harlequin family. What we have learned is that Merle is the “Mother Color” of Harlequin. Therefore, without Merle there would NEVER be a Harlequin. So, judges should understand that when you are judging Harlequin, you have, in your ring, a Merle that has the Harlequin modifier attached to it.

Unlike some other breeds where Merle is not present in the breed and is only present by cross-breeding, our breed, the Great Dane, has always had Merle present.

The basic principle is that you always start with a Merle, then the Harlequin modifier is attached which then, in essence, bleaches or erases the Merle base coat background. It is a simple concept to grasp when one thinks of it in this manner. Merles will have a pl