You can breed a Harlequin Great Dane from a few combinations. When breeding one, the most important thing to consider is never to use two Harlequin Great Danes.
Not only won’t you get a Harlequin Great Dane, but the process also happens to be risky. All the best approaches don’t come with little or no risks.
There are four methods mostly used for the safest approach to breed Merle.
Method 1: Harlequin + Mantle
This is the most commonly used approach by most breeders. This combination will result in four breeds: Mantle Great Danes, Harlequin Great Danes, Merles, and Mismatched Blacks.
The main reason behind this approach is that it eliminates all risks of white mantles and double merles. With no health problems, you have a healthy and safe litter which is every breeder’s dream.
Method 2: Black + Harlequin
Another effective breeding method for Harlequin Great Danes with minimal risks. This breeding can produce Black Great Danes, Harlequin Great Danes, and mismarked blacks.
Mismarked blacks tend to appear more than any other kind of offspring, limiting the effectiveness of this method. This method is mostly employed in breeding Black Great Danes, with Harlequins being an accidental side product.
Method 3: Mantle + (harlequin-bred) Black
Another effective method of producing Harlequins is matching Mantles with harlequin-bred black Great Danes. The resulting litter will have many mismatched blacks, the biggest limitation of this method. The recessive Harlequin gene in the Black Great Dane will likely manifest in the offspring, creating a Harlequin.
Method 4: Black + Black (when both blacks are harlequin-bred)
Breeding two Harlequin-bred Black Great Danes has a good chance of producing a Harlequin. As Black Great Danes are carriers of the merle and harlequin genes, the offspring can be harlequin. There is a possibility of double merles no matter how little; hence, this method isn’t used frequently.
Are Harlequin Great Danes rare?
Harlequin Great Danes are rare because breeding and producing them isn’t a straightforward process.
There is a lot of trial and error before you can get offspring with a dominant harlequin gene (H). The merle gene also needs to be present for a Great Dane to be a Harlequin, making it all the rarer. Once all the conditions align perfectly, then you get a Harlequin offspring.
Not every puppy in a litter will be a Harlequin Great Dane, even when the conditions align.
The known breeds of Great Danes are the rarest and the fewest numbers. Breeders tend to charge more for them where they appear because they are rare.
The genetic conditions that need to align for a Harlequin Great Dane are all rare individually, and appearing all at once is even rarer.
Officially the world’s largest dog breeds, the Harlequin Great Danes are tagged, gentle giants. While they are massive and truly a sight to behold, they aren’t as aggressive as their size will lead you to believe. They can be an intimidating presence, but they prefer playing to aggression.
Can You Breed Two Harlequin Great Danes?
Yes, you can breed two harlequins Great Danes, but the important thing to note is that you shouldn’t. Breeding two Harlequin Great Danes will see at least one of the resulting offspring have a double merle gene.
Double merles are generally unhealthy, much like a sickle cell in humans, and have short life expectancies.
To be clear, they can live long lives, but the odds of that happening are very low.
Every Harlequin Great Dane is also Merle, possessing one copy of the gene. When crossed together, at least one of the offspring will have two copies of the merle gene, a condition known as double merle.
According to genetics laws, there is a 25% chance that each resulting offspring will be double Merles. The is also a 75% chance that each offspring will be regular Harlequin Great Danes.
The odds apply to each puppy, so you can only have a litter of double merles or escape it, but the situation is by chance.
In simpler terms, two will be double merle out of every litter of a crossing between two Harlequin Great Danes. With Double Merles having poor quality of life, such a crossing should never be considered.
What Happens If You Breed A Double Merle?
If you breed A double Merle, you should be prepared for many medical bills and dealing with frequent health problems. There is no guarantee that they will always be sick, but it is highly probable.
Regardless of any genetic predispositions or conditions, it is born with; a double Merle is a dog that needs your love and care.
Double Merles are usually born blind or deaf, sometimes both. Those who don’t suffer from birth often have difficulty seeing or hearing, which reduces their life quality and expectancy. Anyone who knows about dogs will likely avoid double merles, so breeders won’t be able to sell or give them up. You will, therefore, be stuck with a special needs Harlequin Great Dane.
Interestingly, the double Merle gene is lethal, meaning some of its offspring are killed in utero or at birth. Where they survive, some breeders kill them as mercy or to avoid the stress of caring for one. Those that persist are left for adoption or end up at dog shelters.
They can be adopted, but these odds are low, especially with many healthy dogs available.
Can You Breed A Harlequin Great Dane With A Merle?
No, you should never breed a Harlequin Merle with a Merle. Harlequins are a subspecies of merle, and the merle gene must be present for the Harlequin gene to manifest. Breeding a merle and Harlequin is breeding two merles; as previously established, this is a bad idea.
Double merles will likely be a key feature in the litter, affecting at least one offspring.
Harlequins are a by-product of producing merles, and why they may be as popular, they are still merles.
The resultant offspring may have Harlequins present, but the risk of double Merles makes this match a bad idea. There are better and more efficient ways to breed Harlequins, so this method should not be used.
Breeding Rules For Harlequin Great Danes
Breeding Harlequins is a delicate practice, with chance playing an important role. Many things can go wrong, hence the need for control and safe breeding practices. To ensure you get healthy offspring, observe the following breeding practices:
Age For Breeding
The most important thing when it comes to breeding is the age of the dogs. Never breed a dog before they are physically mature. Dogs’ physical maturity is generally accompanied by heat in females or humping in males.
The consensus is that dogs should be at least two years old before mating. Since physical maturity ages vary from dog to dog, biological indicators are the best and safest bet. Once old age sets in, you shouldn’t breed the dog in question.
Old age tends to start around ten years but can last longer; it can last longer depending on when maturity begins.
Genetic defects are the next things you need to worry about when breeding Harlequin Great Danes is genetic defects. Most people already believe that Harlequins are unhealthy, and while that is false, they are prone to certain diseases.
The most obvious genetic defects to watch out for are those associated with double Merles. The breeding of Harlequins is a delicate matter, one best left to expert breeders. Without intending to, you can accidentally create a double Merle and all the potential issues and defects that come with it.
C-sections aren’t always necessary, as most dogs can give birth easily, but they should be considered here. Despite their massive size, Harlequin Great Danes aren’t as strong as you’d expect when dealing with childbirth.
When dealing with a few puppies, there isn’t much of a problem. However, a C-section may be needed when dealing with a large litter. Great Danes generally have an average litter of about seven puppies making a C-section a must in most cases.
A vet can help estimate how many puppies a Harlequin is having, making the need for a C-section pre-defined.
Are Harlequin Great Danes Born With Spots?
Yes, they are born with their characteristic spots. The spots they are born with are temporary and will change over their lives till the final result is achieved. The more they grow, the more the spots change as the volume of fur increases and spreads out.
Spots can move to previously empty locations and change shape and size.
Fur growth and can changes will stop once the Harlequin reaches maturity. Maturity is a relative term as the actual age varies from one Harlequin to the next.
The average age at which a Harlequin is considered mature is between a year and two. This is the age when your Harlequin should have settled into its permanent fur that remains the same even as fur grows.
Some Harlequins can get permanent spots earlier or later, with some doing so before a year, while some wait as late as five years.
As fur changes in Harlequins, you may observe something similar with their nose. The nose-changing color isn’t like fur, which is predictable and expected, but it is still a natural occurrence. It should stop around the same time spots stop moving around.
Conclusion: What Can You Breed A Harlequin Great Dane With?
Breeding a Harlequin Great Dane is a technical process, one best left to knowledgeable breeders. The genetic combinations required are numerous, and so are the risks. To ease the process a little, we have listed the best ways to breed them and some ways to avoid them.