Breed Standard

The standard of any breed is the blue-print to which all breeders and judges must adhere to at all times. Never must any attempt to make the standard fit the dog be tolerated.”
– quotation from the opening paragraph of the English Standard

The Great Dane Club of Canada recommends downloading our Breed Standard document by clicking here* or by visiting the CKC’s Breed Standards for Working Dogs (Great Dane begins on page 45).

Interactive Breed Standard

Click around the Great Dane illustration to read about different elements of the breed’s structure.

Head Ears Eyes Nose Shoulders Forelegs Paws Chest Neck Back Belly Ribs Tails Croup Hind Legs


Long, narrow, distinguished, expressive, finely chiseled, especially the part below the eyes, with strongly pronounced stop.


Ears should be high, set not too far apart, medium in size, of moderate thickness. Natural or cropped.


Eyes are medium size, as dark as possible, with lively intelligent expression; almond shaped eyelids, well developed eyebrows.


The nose must be large and in the case of brindled and single coloured Danes, it must always be black. In harlequins, the nose should be black; a black spotted nose is permitted.


The shoulder blades must be strong and sloping and seen from the side, must form as nearly as possible a right angle in its articulation with the humerus (upper arm) to give a long stride.


The upper arm should be strong and muscular. Seen from the side or front the strong lower arms run absolutely straight to the pastern joints.


Round and turned neither toward the inside nor toward the outside. Toes short, highly arched and well closed.


The chest should be quite broad, deep and well-muscled.


The neck should be firm and clean, high set, well arched, long, muscular and sinewy.


The withers form the highest part of the back which slopes downward slightly forward toward the loins, which are imperceptibly arched and strong.


The belly should be well shaped and tightly muscled, and, with the rear part of the thorax, should swing in a pleasing curve (tuck up).


Should be broad, with the ribs sprung well out from the spine and flattened at the side to allow proper movement of the shoulders extending down to the elbow joint.


Should start high and fairly broad, terminating slender and thin at the hock joint.


The croup must be full, slightly drooping and must continue imperceptibly to the tail root.

Hind Legs

The first thighs (from hip joint to knee) are broad and muscular. The second thighs (from knee to hock joint) are strong and long.

Illustration courtesy of artist and judge Maria Gkinala.
Interactive standard inspired by the American Kennel Club and adapted for the CKC Great Dane breed standard.

*Note: as of July  2019 the following additions/deletions were made to the Colour and Fault sections of the existing Breed Standard as follows:

Section 1.  General Conformation

  1. Colour and Markings

vii) Merle Danes:

The base colour shall be pure grey ranging from silver mouse grey to pewter (slightly brownish due to its nature as a dilution gene). Black torn patches shall be irregular and well distributed over the body. The black torn patches shall not be so large to give the appearance of a blanket nor small enough to give a dappled effect. Dark eyes and dark nose leather preferred.

Faults: White socks, partial small facial blaze.

viii) Mantled Merle Danes:

A grey ranging from silver mouse grey to pewter and white dog with a grey mantle extending over the body; black torn patches irregularly shaped and well distributed over grey mantle; white blaze or muzzle or both; white chest; white on part or whole of forelegs and hind legs; part or whole white collar; white tipped tail; dark eyes; dark nose. Acceptable but less desirable – lack of collar, break in blanket.

Faults: Any variation detracting from the general appearance. Any deviation from the colour described above.

Section 6.  Faults of the Great Dane


  • Danes under minimum height
  • Any colour other than those described under “Colour”
  • Docked tails
  • Split noses