“This is what the LORD says: ‘Let not the wise boast of their wisdom or the strong boast of their strength or the rich boast of their riches, but let those who boast boast about this: that they understand and know me, that I am the LORD, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight,’ declares the LORD.” Jeremiah 9: 23 - 24
On this page we intend to clarify some basic concepts about the Great Dane whose color and coat pattern as described in the official German standard of the Deutsche Doggen Club (DDC) is called PLATTENHUND and in Brazil is best known as the PLAQUEADO.
It is not our goal, nor our place to discuss genetic aspects of this color pattern, but only to clarify the most commonly presented phenotypical characteristics, remembering that phenotype refers to the visible characteristics of an individual, which are defined by the expression of the genotype that is, by its hereditary assets. Nevertheless, we will refer to some studies of genetic factors and present links to them to facilitate access for those who are interested in more information about the issue.
The PIEBALDS are part of the Harlequin and Black Variety, as we can see by reading the description of the colors established in the breed standard of the DDC, which have been endorsed by the FCI and the CBKC.
The German club DDC as the FCI and CBKC present five initial color standards, which are divided into three independent varieties:
- FAWN & BRINDLE - HARLEQUIN & BLACK ---- ( including BLACK-MANTLE and BLACK-PIEBALD) - BLUE --------------------------- ( including the BLUE-BRED BLACKS )*
*(See in: DDC - Information - Zuchtordnung - II Zuchtferfahren - 2º Paragraph)
The Breed Standard of the DDC (which is endorsed, translated and published by the FCI and CBKC), concerning the definition and description of the BLACK color and its variations is as follows:
“BLACK : Jet black, white markings permitted. Included here are « Manteltiger » in which the black covers the body like a coat (“mantel”) or blanket and muzzle, throat, chest, belly, legs and tip of tail may be white. Also dogs with basic white colour and large black patches so called ‘Plattenhunde’.” (FCI translation)
See in: FCI - Fédération Cynologique Internationale – Standards & Nomenclature – Group 2 – Section 2 : Molossoid breeds - 5. Germany - Deutsche Dogge (235) (Great Dane) – English Version: www.fci.be/uploaded_files/235gb2002_en.doc
In the original text of the DDC Breed Standad, the German word used to describe the so-called “patches” found on the Piebald danes is “Platten”, as we will see below:
Original text in German/ DDC: “... so wie Doggen mit weißer Grundfarbe und großen schwarzen Platten (Plattenhunde).”
The term “PATCHES” was not correctly used or properly explained in the Portuguese and English (FCI) translations, because they usually have an irregular format, as occurs in HARLEQUINS danes.
The German term “Platten” is a noun that in this context is also used to signify “patches”, although the term is more specific in German. These “patches” have rounded and well-defined borders, giving them a regular, rounded or oval shape, which distinguishes them from the irregular patches found on the Harlequins, whose term used to define the patches in the description of the German Standard is the word “Flecken”.
Therefore, in German, there is a difference between the terms PLATTEN and FLECKEN. Platten means Plates or rounded markings, and Flecken means patches or irregular markings. See the illustration below:
FLECKEN (patches) PLATTEN (plates)
Platten = Plates / Hund = Dog / Hunde, plural = Dogs / Plattenhunde = Plated dogs or Piebalds
A Piebald Dane usually has one or more plates on a white body and a bi-color head with the same color pattern as the MANTLE. That is, a black mask covers the ears and eyes and extends along the sides of the face, while the muzzle is white.
To better illustrate this, if we place a MANTLE and a PIEBALD side by side, looking from the front so we can see only their heads but not the rest of the body, it would be impossible to distinguish which of the two is Piebald and which is Mantle. As an example, see the photo below:
The MANTLE and the PIEBALD have the same color pattern characteristics in the head. But the MANTLE, as the term suggests, has a black “mantle” that covers the body, while the PIEBALD can have one or more plates with relatively round or oval borders, distributed along the body with a white base color, where normally the black mantle would be seen on the MANTLE danes.
One can also find PIEBALDS that have a properly marked bicolor-head standard, although with no plates over the white body. It would be the same as if it was a MANTLE without the black mantle over the body.
What is known as the PLATTENHUND in Germany is called the PIEBALD in the United States. Nevertheless, neither the AKC nor the GDCA recognize danes with this pattern, or that is, in the official U.S. standards we do not find any reference to the PIEBALD Dane, recognized and described in the Breed Standards of the DDC as well as the FCI and CBKC.
The most that we can find about this is in the Illustrated Standard of the GDCA, in the item Color, Markings & Patterns, under “Discussion”, where there is a brief mention to a pattern that does not fit into the Harlequin classification: See the passage of this text, highlighted below:
“Harlequin - ... When all the markings have rounded, well defined edges (spots) as opposed to the required torn edges, the dog does not fall into the harlequin classification. ... ” GDCA: www.gdca.org/coatcolor.htm
In addition, the page mentioned above includes illustrations of various examples of accetable color patterns, as well as some with markings considered “less acceptable”, however, there is no illustration of that which is known in the USA as PIEBALD or in Germany as PLATTENHUND.
In the United States, a dog with this type of color pattern is commonly called a PIEBALD and because this color pattern is not included in the official U.S. standards, generally when cited, the Americans do not make a distinction between what is k nown in Germany as a PLATTENHUND, which has a white base with black plates, of a PIEBALD dane with plates of any other color.
The owner of this kennel is Arlene Scarbrough and she has bred Great Danes of the Black & Harlequin Variety in Atlanta, Georgia, for more than 35 years. See the page History&Philosophy.
Note: Black & Harlequin Variety: includes HARLEQUIN, MANTLE and HARLEQUIN BRED BLACK. (GDCA/USA).
No matter if the plates are BLACK, GRAYISH, BROWNISH, BLUISH-GRAY or any other color. A dog that has this type of color pattern (regardless of the color of the patches) is generically called PIEBALD in the United States.
However, at times, we also find the denomination "Merle Piebald", to specify that the plates have a merle color (plates of a gray base with black markings) on a white body. For example, visit the website Great Danes Online and see on the page Week 376 the female dane Allie: www.danesonline.com/week376.htm. After it opens, go down the page or click directly on the photo below to access.
“This is Allie.
She is a merle piebald Great Dane and in this picture she is 8 weeks old and such a sweet girl. Thanks to Miranda.”
The site Great Danes Online is one of the largest and most complete websites about Great Danes and hosts more than 10,000 photos of the breed in a wide variety of patterns and colors to satisfy any reseach about colors.
This is a study of genetic aspects regarding the PIEBALDS. Nevertheless, it refers to PIEBALDS with black plates. We refer to this study simply to reveal that the term PIEBALD means the same as PLATTENHUND or PLAQUEADO in Portuguese, where the two names (Piebald and Plattenhund) appear together in the title of this article, with the term PLATTENHUND in parenthesis, as seen in the link above.
According to the author of this article, Ms. J.P. Yousha, all phenotypic expression of a Piebald is a genetic manifestation of a undermarked Mantledane. See the original text below:
“All of the various iterations of piebald in the Great Dane (be they s^p or s^e carrying), are genetically undermarked Mantledanes;”
At the beginning of this paragraph, the author mentions that there is considerable confusion about the Piebald Dane and in continuation of the quote above, she says:
“... ;they are not acceptable Mantledanes nor are they some kind of Harlequin. Mantledanes must have a complete blanket, not body spots. Harlequins must have the distinctive, irregular torn patches which distinguish them from parti-colored dogs, also called pintos, piebalds, etc. Black and white parti-colored or piebalds (pintos) Danes are sometimes bred (knowingly or unknowingly), and even shown as Harlequins.” The Piebald Dane by J.P.Yousha
It is important here to define the concept of “parti-colored” to avoid other mistakes in interpretation.
parti-colored dogs = having different colors in different parts
If you search the words “parti-colored” using Google Images you will find photos of different breeds that have this type of pattern in the black and white colors known as “ black and white parti-colored”.
This type of marking rarely fits into any one of the official standards of colors established for the Great Dane, even if they may be erroneously characterized at times as Harlequins, at times as Mantles or, even among the Piebalds, given that this “parti-colored” patternalso does not fit the description of the PIEBALD, considering the definition and description of this pattern in the Breed Standards of theDDC or the FCI /CBKC.
If we also consider the premise of J. P. Yousha, where she affirms that “All of the various iterations of piebald in the Great Dane (…), are genetically undermarked Mantledanes;”then, it would not be correct to classify black and white parti-colored either as Mantles, Harlequins, or Piebalds, (considering the FCI/ DDC/ CBKC standard), given that for these last she has defined as “undermarked Mantledanes”.
If there is a prerogative to register a Dane with black and white “parti-colored” markings, then we believe that mostly it would fit into the Mantle category, even if it is a Mantle with markings below the established standard , according to the premise adopted by the author mentioned.
This premise becomes even more consistent if we also consider the incidence of poorly marked Mantles, (or those with less acceptable markings) in which, although the black mantle typically covers a body of a white background, there is an absence of t he typical bicolor head. Or, the head only has the typical marking on one side of the face, with the opposite side at times completely black or, at others, is all white. In addition, there are examples most commonly found in which the white collar is only partially present or completely absent, or dogs with mantles that only partially cover the body or that have white gaps, or any other alterations. In conclusion, we can find a wide variety of patterns whose characteristics lead us to this standard: the Mantle.
The original text in German for the Breed Standard of the DDC defines:
AUSSCHLIESSENDE FEHLER: (DISQUALIFYING FAULTS:)
“Bei schwarz-weiß gefleckten Doggen: Weiße ohne jedes Schwarz (Albinos) sowie taube Doggen; sogenannte Porzellantiger (diese zeigen vorwiegend blaue, graue, gelbe oder auch gestromte Flecken); sogenannte Grautiger (diese haben bei schwarzer Fleckung eine graue Grundfarbe).”
DISQUALIFYING FAULTS: (AUSSCHLIESSENDE FEHLER:)
In Harlequin Great Danes: White without any black markings (albinos) and also deaf Great Danes; so-called Porcelaine Tigers (these show predominantly blue, gray, fawn or brindlepatches); so-called Grey Tigers [Merles] (these have a grey ground color with black spots).
Therefore, by definition, a Porcelaine Dane has a white base, or that is, the body is white and over this white base it has blue, or gray, fawn or brindled patches.
The so-called "Porcelaine" Dane described in “Disqualifying Faults” in Harlequins, found in the Breed Standards of the DDC and FCI/CBKC, is not found in any official publication for Great Danes in the United States, that is, this term and its possible translation is not used in the United States.
In the United States, Great Danes that have this type of color pattern are known as: Merlequin, Merle Piebald or Fawnoquin. See some of the examples below:
Merlequin = white base color with gray patches with black speckles inside them or, that is, white dogs that have Merle patches, instead of the irregular black patches found in the Harlequins.
Merle Piebald = white base color with gray PLATES,which generally have black speckles within them or, that is, white dogs that have PLATES with merle color, instead of irregular black patches found in the Harlequins.
This last one is resulting of mixed color breeding, which is not recommended.
About the issue of Mixed Color Breeding, Arlene Scarbrough of Scarbrough Fair Great Danes makes the following comment:
“If and when the harlequins, mantles, blacks (out of harlequin breeding) and/or merles are bred with fawns, brindles, or blues, all sorts of strange colors can result. You can also get some of these colors if you double on dogs that are pure color bred for generations, but whose pedigrees way, way back contain mixed colors. We will show you two danes, [photo above and photo below] a Fawnoquin and a mantle fawn that came from doubling on an imported mantle bitch that was pure color bred for many generations.” Scarbrough Fair Great Danes: HarlequinLitter Color Narrative with Photos
See the offspring of Maxim x Fritz - Merle Piebald x Black of Harlequin Bred - on the page Filhotes da Maxim (Maxim´s Puppies): 4 Harlequins with correctly marked phenotypes, 4 Mantles with correctly marked phenotypes and 1 Mantle Merle.
Regarding the Piebald Dane, known in German as Plattenhund, it is seen that the DDC standard, as well a that of the FCI, endorsed and translated by CBKC, specify that the plates must be BLACK on a body with a white base. Therefore, to be more consistent with the description of the standard, concerning the denomination, the color should be properly designated as Black-Piebald, distinguishing it from the Merle Piebald.
To view, read the Breed Standard of FCI – Standards & Nomenclature – Group 2 – Section 2 : Molossoid breeds - 5. Germany - Deutsche Dogge (235) (Great Dane) – English Version: www.fci.be/uploaded_files/235gb2002_en.doc
But, according to the DDC and FCI/ CBKC standards, what happens when the PLATES are not black?
For example, in the case of the Great Dane which gave origin to this site, Maxim, we did not find an exact reference that describes the color pattern of its coat: either in the item COLOR (the standard and officially accepted colors) or in the item FAULTS /COLOR, nor under the item DISQUALIFYING FAULTS /COLOR. (Great Dane Standard: German Version by DDC, English version by FCI and Portuguese version by CBKC)
This is because both the original German text (DDC) as well as the translations to Portuguese (CBKC) and English (FCI) describe in Disqualifying Faults in the harlequins those dogs that predominantly have patches (Flecken) in the colors: blue, gray, fawn or brindle, but do not make references to term PLATES in these colors.
We saw above that in German there is a difference between the terms PLATTEN and FLECKEN -Platten meaning plates and Flecken meaning patches. We also read in the description of the PORCELAINE dog (Porzellantiger) in “DISQUALIFYING FAULTS / COLOR” that the PATCHES (Flecken) can be blue, gray, fawn or brindle, but the term PLATTEN [rounded patches] is not mentioned here.
Thus, only by inference and or by lack of a more specific description, can the color pattern of Maxim’s coat be categorized within the description “Porcelaine” dog of the DDC and of the CBKC/ FCI.
In this case it must be inferred that this description of “PORCELAINE-TIGERS” includes a large variety of samples of dogs whose body have a white base and overlapping patches (or PLATES) in the colors: blue, gray, fawn, brindle, grayish-brown, that is, any color other than black.
Basic colors that occur in the breeding of Harlequin & Black Variety
To conclude, I would like to make a proviso in relation to the articles by Ms. J.P. Yousha. The purpose of this endeavor is not to conduct a deep analysis of the issue, nevertheless, a pre-analysis found inconsistencies and contradictions and even some premises that are non-conclusive and conflicting, as she herself affirms at the end of her article “The Piebald Dane”. See, for example, the last paragraph of this article in “NOTE”. In addition, apparently many of its premises are based much more on theoretical speculation than on research and or statistical data that can give them the proper substance, in other words, a certain scientific and academic rigor is lacking.
At the end of this same note, is strangely curious the author's question, by mentioning that although the theoretical propositions on the piebalds cited by the authors are different, they would both call them mismarks, as to induce the reader to the conclusion that this fact itself would be a reason to reject this pattern, ignoring the fact that this designation used by the authors is strictly related to the point of view of a pre-established standard. See the quote below:
“… But whereas Dr. Krautwurst would call these dogs white-factored (mm) mismarks and Dr. O'Sullivan would call these dogs merle-factored (MM or even Mm) mismarks, they would both call them mismarks. And not knowing the genetics of an animal that is also a mismark seems to be yet another reason to NOT breed it?” The Piebald Dane by J. P.Yousha
For some personal data about this author, see the pages:
Finally, it is clear that there is still generalized confusion among breeders about the phenotypes and genotypes of the colors of the Great Dane, in Brazil and abroad. Thus, much caution is needed when we make a consultation about these issues. In reality, we are lacking technically substantiated assistance. That is, we need researchers who are properly trained in genetics to be able to review studies that are being presented, such as that of Ms. J.P. Youscha , and to continue the many other related studies that are not concluded or that have many inconsistencies.
My special thanks to Arlene Scarbrough of Scarbrough Fair´s Great Danes for her kindness and generosity by teaching and helping me in so many ways through my journey in the Great Danes World! Arlene, you´re the best! Thanks for all!!!
Above all, the honor is given to Him who has created all things, the God of Israel, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, who sent us his only Son so that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life! Yes, to you Lord I give thanks for leading and guiding me in all things and also in this project! Praise and Glory be to your name among all nations of the earth, today and forever!
“Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.” John 17:3