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Blue Great Dane – Everything you Need to know

What is a Blue Great Dane?

The Blue Great Dane is a rare coloring that can be found on these gentle giants. This is the result of a recessive gene meaning both parents will need to pass on a copy of this gene to produce any Blue puppies. Due to this gene being recessive this is a rarely seen color for a Great Dane and is usually only achieved through targeted breeding programmes.

Whilst a Blue Great Dane requires both parents to possess the Blue gene it does not mean they have to be Blue. Ignoring the effects of other genes on color you should expect the following results when breeding Blue Great Danes. If breeds two Blue Great Danes you would expect 100% of their offspring to also be Blue. This is due to both parents having a pair of Blue genes leading this to be the only gene available to be passed on to descendants.

How likely is it to get a Blue Great Dane Puppy?

When there is one Blue Great Dane and another which carries a copy of the gene we would expect the following result. with a little d representing a Blue gene and a large D representing Non-Blue. The dog along the top is not Blue but carries the gene whilst the dog along the side is Blue

D (Non-Blue Great Dane)d (Non-Blue Great Dane)
d (Blue Great Dane)Dd (Non-Blue Great Dane)dd (Blue Great Dane)
d (Blue Great Dane)Dd (Non-Blue Great Dane)dd (Blue Great Dane)

This shows the chances of producing a Blue Great Dane at around 50% when one parent is Blue and the other carries the Blue gene. This is ignoring other genetics which could overwrite the Blue color.

The final situation where a Blue Great Dane could be produced relates to when neither parent is Blue but both carry the Blue gene. This is demonstrated below.

D (Non-Blue Great Dane)d (Non-Blue Great Dane)
D (Non-Blue Great Dane)DD (Non-Blue Great Dane)Dd (Non-Blue Great Dane)
d (Non-Blue Great Dane)Dd (Non-Blue Great Dane)dd (Blue Great Dane)

In this instance 1/4 of the puppies produced will be Blue, 1/2 will carry the Blue gene and 1/4 will not have any Blue genes.

Blue Merle Great Dane

The Merle gene unlike the Blue gene isn’t directly linked to a dog’s coat color. Merle is a patterning effect that leads to patches of darker fur across a dog. It is often described as a marbling effect due to the inconsistency of the pattern. Often it will appear as a mix of small and larger areas of discolored fur with smaller patches around the face and larger patches around the body. There is not set pattern however and every Merle is unique.

Merle is a Dominant gene and only requires one copy to display on a Great Dane. There are however issues to be aware of with regards to the Merle gene that can lead to additional health issues. Some of the health issues associated with Merle are the following.

  • Deafness – There is an increased risk of deafness or hearing issues compared to a regular Frenchie
  • Blindness – Dilation of the pupils can be an issue which can lead to night blindness and in some cases complete blindness.
  • Further Eye Issues – There is also a risk of eyes being off centre, additional eyelids, missing tissue or in some cases being born without eyes.
  • Immune Deficiency – A high risk of a having a weakened immune system.

It is debated whether a dog with a single Merle gene is at greater risk of these effects but a study by the National Library of Medicine showed a greater chance of hearing loss. This study however was across all breeds and results varied based on the breed. This does not therefore mean Great Danes are at a greater risk.

Double Merle Blue Great Dane

Whilst the health concerns around a Merle are debatable those around a Double Merle are not. A Double Merle is a dog that has two copies of the Merle gene present and will display as the inverse colors of a regular Merle. These dogs are highly like to have the health issues outlined above as being related to the Merle pattern. It is unusual for these dogs to live full lives due to their health issues.

When breeding you should never breed two Merle dogs together due to the chance of producing a Double Merle, therefore if you are breeding a Merle dog it must always be to a Non-Merle to avoid this risk.

Blue Brindle Great Dane

Brindle is a further patterning effect which can be present on a Great Dane. Seeing this pattern alongside the Blue coloring is rare making the Blue Brindle very unique. The pattern itself is a recessive gene to that of the Black color that can be found in Great Danes. Due to this it requires both parents to have a copy of the gene in order to produce a Blue Brindle Great Dane.

The pattern itself is often compared to that of tiger stripes. This is due to the Brindling effect leading to the lighter and darker Blue shades being interwoven in stripes. Similar to that of tigers they are always found in unique patterns so no two will ever be the same. They can vary largely between having almost the whole body being the lighter color to the opposite with the darker color.

Blue Harlequin Great Dane

The Harlequin Gene is often talked about in conjunction with the Merle Gene. This is due to the effect it displays only being visible if Merle is also present. This effect leads to making the Merle effect less patchy and into larger areas of darker fur. On a standard Great Dane this look will often be comparable to that of a Dalmatian. The difference on a Blue Harlequin is that the base coat itself will be Blue and the spots will also be a darker shade of Blue.

Similar to Merle, Harlequin is a dominant gene and is also linked to health issues. The Harlequin gene is very similar to the Merle gene in that it has been seen to have the following adverse health effects. Of these hearing loss is often the most commonly seen.

Deafness – There is an increased risk of deafness or hearing issues compared to a regular Frenchie
Blindness – Dilation of the pupils can be an issue which can lead to night blindness and in some cases complete blindness.
Further Eye Issues – There is also a risk of eyes being off centre, additional eyelids, missing tissue or in some cases being born without eyes.
Immune Deficiency – A high risk of a having a weakened immune system.

Similar to Merle the are significant risks around breeding two Harlequin dogs together. Great Danes with the Double Harlequin gene will not make it past their embryotic stage and is not believed any Double Harlequin Danes exist. For this reason it is important to never breed two Harlequins together.

The Harlequin effect does not display itself unless Merle is present this means any Great Dane could be a secret carrier of this gene. It is therefore recommended that any Great Dane to be used for breeding is DNA tested. This allows confidence that the puppies have the greatest chance of being healthy.

Blue Great Dane Health Issues

Great Danes like most dogs can suffer a range of health issues with many related to their large size. Below we outline some of the more common afflictions.

Hip Dysplasia 

This leads to a reduced range of movement in the hind legs along with a reluctance in jumping, running and climbing stairs. Ensuring they stay at a healthy weight and are fed a high quality diet will help delay the onset.

Gastric Dilation Volvulus (GDV)

This is largely associated with eating large meals rather than several smaller meals. Studies have shown that dogs which are fed one large meal a day are more likely to be afflicted. In addition it has been observed that foods high in oils such as sunflower or animal fat can be a contributing factor. Whilst this illness can be life threatening in the worst of cases there are additional ways to reduce the risk. Elevated feeding is recommended as a way to reduce this pressure in addition to several meals a day.

Allergies

Great Danes can be prone to allergies like most other dog breeds. This will usually display in red/raw patches often around their paws. Also it can show through watery eyes, ear infections or sneezing. If you suspect allergy issues it is best to discuss with a vet around possible treatments.

Heart Disease 

Great Danes can be prone to Heart disease, the best way to reduce this risk is through breeding. It is important to find out the medical history of any puppies parents as this will be the best indicator of risk.

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