The Great Dane is the 14th most popular dog breed in the United States. Families love them because they are gentle, sweet and loving, and also very regal in appearance. Great Danes are also very protective of their human families and very loyal at all times.
There is evidence that the chocolate or brown color of the Great Dane has been in existence for over 25 years, although it is not a color that is recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC).
This simply means that if you choose a beautiful chocolate Great Dane you won’t be able to show him in the show ring, but he will still make a fantastic family member for you.
What Are The AKC Recognized Colors of Great Danes?
The official Great Dane colors that are recognized by the AKC are black, blue, fawn, brindle, harlequin, merle, and mantle. Breeding is usually done only in the same color families to preserve the breed standard.
However, some dog breeders will actually breed outside of the color families to get other specific colors of coats.
The color families include black and blue, fawn and brindle, and harlequin and mantle.
Great Dane Coat Color Genetics
You are likely wondering how a chocolate or brown Great Dane is possible if these colors are not usually seen in Great Danes.
Understanding the genetics of the coat colors will help you to understand that this beautiful color of the coat is pretty rare.
Often, people may think that chocolate or brown Great Dane is a result of mixed breeding because it isn’t a standard color. But there is a good explanation for the coloration.
Dogs have pairs of chromosomes that are paired with two genes. The B gene can be recessive or dominant, noted by b and B respectively.
These genes can produce a liver color, chocolate, or brown color, like a dilute black color. All Great Danes have either the dominant or recessive chocolate genes in them.
If the two genes are the same in a dog, such as bb or BB, the dog is homozygous for the trait. If the dog has the genes Bb, he will be heterozygous for the trait.
For the recessive gene to be seen in a dog, it must have the genes of bb and this will make it a solid colored chocolate dog or it may have some chocolate markings.
What are the Expected Outcomes of Puppies Being Chocolate?
When two homozygous dogs with the BB genes are bred and one parent is chocolate while the other parent is non-chocolate, the outcome of the litter will be either 100% chocolate or 100% non-chocolate.
If a non-chocolate dog with BB genes breeds with a non-chocolate dog with Bb genes, you can expect 100% non-chocolate or 50% BB and 50%Bb.
When a non-chocolate dog with the genes BB breeds a chocolate dog with bb genes, 100% of the puppies in the litter will be non-chocolate or Bb.
If you pair a non-chocolate dog with Bb genes with a non-chocolate dog with Bb genes, you will have a litter of puppies with 75% non-chocolate and 25% of the non-chocolates are carriers of the chocolate gene.
If a non-chocolate dog with Bb genes breeds with a chocolate dog with bb genes, this mating produces 50% chocolate and 50% non-chocolate puppies.
If two chocolate dogs with the genes of bb mate together, they will produce a litter of puppies that are 100% chocolate. It is worth noting that a true chocolate Great Dane also has a chocolate nose and not a pink or black one.
What About Great Dane Puppies with Chocolate Markings?
Since few breeders actually breed their Great Danes to have chocolate puppies, it is hard to find one that may be near your home.
Some breeders charge more for a chocolate puppy because they are not seen that often, but there is no difference between any other features of the puppies except the color and you really shouldn’t pay more for it.
You may instead decide that you still want a Great Dane for your new four-legged family member, but would be willing to have one with some chocolate markings instead of being all chocolate brown all over his body.
If a fawn Great Dane with a yellowish-gold body and a black mask happens to have the recessive black genes of bb, it will have an apricot or peach color as a recessive color of black and it will sport a chocolate mask and nose instead of black. This may actually be called a chocolate fawn Great Dane.
When a normal brindle dog has the double recessive gene for black or bb, it will have chocolate stripes rather than darker stripes on a lighter background than normal and also have a chocolate mask and nose. These are sometimes called chocolate brindle Great Danes.
If a blue Great Dane carries the recessive black gene of bb, it will be a very dilute solid chocolate color or almost a caramel color. These are sometimes referred to as chocolate blue Great Danes.
In a harlequin Great Dane, if it has the double recessive black gene of bb, it will have the normal pure white base color but the torn patches all over the body will be chocolate instead of black. These can be called chocolate harlequin Great Danes.
As you can now see, any dog that carries the bb gene will have chocolate somewhere on it, so you can find a solid chocolate pooch or a puppy with some chocolate on it in a Great Dane.
Sometimes, one puppy out of a litter will be chocolate just because the recessive black color gene is in all dogs and it can be a throwback from a parent in one of the parent dogs’ bloodlines.
Chocolate Great Dane Health Problems
Great Danes with a chocolate coat are said to suffer from skin disorders and this could be a big deal for such a big dog when you need antibiotics and special prescription shampoos and topical creams.
A Great Dane may also be a product of double dilute genes in which the chocolate is even more diluted and it results in a blue-gray tinge, called lilac. These dogs are also said to have skin and coat problems.
Breeder’s View on Chocolate Great Danes
Most breeders will not purposely breed two chocolate Great Danes together to produce all chocolate puppies in a litter.
This is because they want to produce puppies that are AKC registered and preserve the colors of the breed. There are many color combinations in the Great Danes.
The merle coat color has just become a recognized color for the breed as it is crucial for breeding harlequins. One day maybe the chocolate Great Danes will also be accepted into the breed.
A chocolate Great Dane puppy is regarded as a mismarked dog and is not eligible for a show dog because he is not of the approved colors by the AKC.
However, if you are looking for a great family companion, you can do some research and find a chocolate Great Dane to adopt as a great family guardian and protector.