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 visiting our Breed Standard documents or by visiting the CKC’s Breed Standards for Working Dogs as per the below:

Great Dane Club of Canada Breed Standard

1. General Conformation (30 points)

A. General Appearance (10 points)
The Great Dane combines in its distinguished appearance dignity, strength and elegance
with great size and a powerful, well formed, smoothly-muscled body. He is one of the
giant breeds, but is unique in that his general conformation must be so well balanced
that he never appears clumsy and is always a unit – the Apollo of dogs. He must be
spirited and courageous – never timid. He is friendly and dependable. This physical and
mental combination is the characteristic which gives the Great Dane the majesty
possessed by no other breed. It is particularly true of this breed that there is an
impression of great masculinity in dogs as compared to an impression of femininity in
bitches. The male should appear more massive throughout than the bitch, with larger
frame and heavier bone. In the ratio between length and height, the Great Dane should
appear as square as possible. In bitches, a somewhat longer body is permissible.
Lack of unity; timidity; bitchy dogs; poor musculature; poor bone development; out of
condition; rickets; doggy bitches.

B. Colour and Markings (8 points)

i) Brindle Danes
Base colour ranging from light golden yellow to deep golden yellow always brindled with
strong black cross stripes. The more intensive the base colour and the more intensive
the brindling, the more attractive will be the colour. Small white marks at the chest and
toes are not desirable.
Brindle with too dark a base colour; silver blue and greyish-blue base colour; dull
(faded) brindling; white tail tip.

ii) Fawn Danes
Golden yellow up to deep golden yellow colour with a deep black mask. The golden
deep yellow colour must always be given the preference. Small white spots at the chest
and toes are not desirable.
Yellowish-grey, bluish-yellow, greyish-blue, dirty-yellow colour (drab colour), lack of
black mask.

iii) Blue Danes
The colour must be pure steel blue as far as possible without any tinge of yellow, black or
mouse grey.
Any deviation from a pure steel-blue colouration.

iv) Black Dane
Glossy black.
Yellow black, brown black or blue-black. White markings, such as stripes on the chest,
speckled chest and markings on the paws are permitted but not desirable

v) Harlequin Danes
Base colour: pure white with black torn patches irregularly and well distributed over the
entire body; pure white neck preferred. The black patches should never be large enough
to give the appearance of a blanket or so small as to give a stippled or dappled effect.
(Eligible but less desirable are a few grey spots, also pointings where instead of a pure
white base with black spots, there is a white base with single black hairs showing
through which tend to give a salt and pepper or dirty effect.)
White base colour with a few large spots; bluish grey pointed background.

vi) Boston or Black-Mantled Danes
A black and white dog with a black mantle extending over the body; white blaze or muzzle or
both; white chest; white on part or whole of forelegs and hindlegs; part or whole white
collar; white tipped tail; dark eyes; dark nose. Acceptable but less desirable – lack of collar.
Any variation detracting from the general appearance

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

C. Size (5 points)
The male should not be less than 30 inches (76cm) at the shoulder, but it is preferable
that he be 32 inches (81 cm) or more, providing he is well proportioned to his height.
The female should not be less than 28 inches (71 cm) at the shoulders, but it is
preferable that she be 30 inches (76cm) or more, providing she is well proportioned to
her height.

D. Substance (3 points)
Substance is that sufficiency of bone and muscle which rounds out a balance with the frame.
Lightweight whippety Danes; coarse, ungainly proportioned Danes; there should be
balance always.

E. Condition of Coat (4 points)
The coat should be very short and thick, smooth and glossy.
Excessively long hair (stand-off coat); dull hair (indicating malnutrition, worms and
negligent care).

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2. Movement (28 points)

A. Gait (10 points)
Long easy, springy stride with no tossing or rolling of the body. The back line should
move smoothly, parallel to the ground. The gait of the Great Dane should denote strength
and power. The rear legs should have drive. The forelegs should track smoothly and
straight. The Dane should track in two parallel lines.
Short steps. The rear quarters should not pitch. The forelegs should not have a hackney
gait (forced or choppy stride). When moving rapidly the Great Dane should not pace for
the reason that it causes excessive side-to-side rolling of the body and thus reduces

B. Rear End (croup, legs, paws) (10 points)
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. Seen from the side, the
angulation of the first thigh with the body, of the second thigh with the first thigh, and the
pastern root with the second thigh should be very moderate, neither too straight nor too
exaggerated. Seen from the rear, the hock joints appear to be perfectly straight, turned
neither towards the inside nor towards the outside. Paws, round and turned neither
towards the inside nor the outside. Toes short, highly arched and well closed. Nails
short, strong and as dark as possible.
A croup which is too straight; a croup which slopes downward too steeply; and too
narrow a croup. Hind legs: soft, flabby, poorly muscled thighs; cow-hocks which are the
result of the hock joint turning inward and the hock and rear paws turning outward; barrel
legs, the result of the hock joints being too far apart; steep rear. As seen from the side,
a steep rear is the result of the angles of the rear legs forming almost a straight line;
over angulation is the result of exaggerated angles between the first and second thighs
and the hocks and is very conducive to weakness. The rear legs should never be too
long in proportion to the front legs. Spreading toes (splay foot); bent, long toes (rabbit
paws); toes turned towards the outside or towards the inside. Furthermore, the fifth toe
on the hind legs appearing at a higher position and with wolf’s claw or spur; excessively
long nails; light coloured nails.

C. Front End (shoulders, legs, paws) (8 points)
The shoulder blade 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. A line from the upper tip of the shoulder to the back of the elbow joint should
be as nearly perpendicular as possible. Since all dogs lack a clavicle (collar bone) the
ligaments and muscles holding the shoulder blade to the rib cage must be well
developed, firm and secure to prevent loose shoulders.
Steep shoulders, which occur if the shoulder blade does not slope sufficiently; over
angulation; loose shoulders which occur if the Dane is flabbily muscled, or if the elbow
is turned toward the outside; loaded shoulders.

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. Seen from the front, the forelegs
and the pastern roots should form perpendicular lines to the ground. Seen from the
side, the pastern root should slope only very slightly forward.
Elbows turned toward the inside or toward the outside, the former position caused
mostly by too narrow or too shallow a chest, bringing the front legs too closely together
and at the same time turning the entire lower part of the leg outward; the latter position
causes the front legs to spread too far apart, with the pastern roots and paws usually
turned inwards. Seen from the side, a considerable bend in the pastern toward the front
indicates weakness and is in most cases connected with the stretched and spread toes
(splay foot); seen from the side a forward bow in the forearm (chair leg); an excessively
knotty bulge in the front of the pastern joint.

Round and turned neither toward the inside nor toward the outside. Toes short, highly
arched and well closed. Nails short, strong and as dark as possible.
Spreading toes (splay foot), bent, long toes (rabbit paws); toes turned toward the outside or
toward the inside; light-coloured nails.

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A. Head Conformation (12 points)
Long, narrow, distinguished, expressive, finely chiseled, especially the part below the
eyes (which means that the skull plane under and to the inner point of the eye must
slope without any boney protuberances in a pleasing line to the full square jaw), with
strongly pronounced stop. The masculinity of the male is very pronounced in the
expression and structure of the head (this subtle difference should be evident in the
dog’s head through massive skull and depth of muzzle); the bitch’s head may be more
delicately formed. Seen from the side, the forehead must be sharply set off from the
bridge of the nose. The forehead and the bridge of the nose must be straight and
parallel to one another. Seen from the front, the head should appear narrow, the bridge
of the nose should be as broad as possible. The cheek muscles must show slightly but
under no circumstances should they be too pronounced (cheeky). The muzzle part must
have full flews and must be as blunt vertically as possible in front; the angles of the lip
must be quite pronounced. The front part of the head, from the tip of the nose up to the
center of the stop should be as long as the rear part of the head from the center of the
stop to the only slightly developed occiput. The head should be angular from all sides
and should have definite flat planes and its dimensions should be absolutely in
proportion to the general appearance of the Dane.
Any deviation from the parallel planes of the skull and foreface; too small a stop; a
poorly defined stop or none at all; too narrow a nose bridge; the rear of head spreading
laterally in a wedge like manner (wedge head); an excessively round upper head (apple
head); excessively pronounced cheek musculature; pointed muzzle; loose lips hanging
over the lower jaw (fluttering lips) which create the illusion of a full deep muzzle. The
head should be rather shorter and distinguished than long and expressionless.

B. Teeth (4 points)
Teeth strong, well developed and clean. The incisors of the lower jaw must touch very
lightly the bottoms of the inner surface of the upper incisors (scissors bite). If the front
teeth of both jaws bit on top of each other, they wear down too rapidly.
Even bite, undershot and overshot; incisors out of line; black or brown teeth; missing teeth.

C. Eyes (nose and ears) (4 points)
Eyes of a medium size, as dark as possible, with lively intelligent expression; almond
shaped eyelids, well developed eyebrows.
Light coloured, piercing, amber coloured, light blue to a watery blue, red or bleary eyes;
eyes of different colours, eyes too far apart, Mongolian eyes, eyes with pronounced haws;
eyes with excessively drooping eyelids. In blue and black Danes, lighter eyes are
permitted but are not desirable. In harlequins, the eyes should be dark. Light-coloured
eyes, two eyes of different colour and walleyes are permitted but are not desirable.
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; a pink-coloured nose is not desirable.

Ears should be high, set not too far apart, medium in size, of moderate thickness,
drooping forward close to the cheek. Top line of folded ear should be about level with
the skull. Cropped ears; high set, not set too far apart; well pointed but always in
proportion to the shape of the head and carried uniformly erect.
Hanging on the side, as on a Foxhound.

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4. Torso (20 points)

A. Neck (6 points)
The neck should be firm and clean, high set, well-arched, long, muscular and sinewy.
From the chest to the head it should be slightly tapering, beautifully formed, with
well-developed nape.
Short, heavy neck, pendulous throat folds (dewlaps).

B. Loin and Back (6 points)
The withers form the highest part of the back which slopes downward slightly forward
toward the loins, which are imperceptibly arched and strong. The back should be short
and tensely set. 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).
Receding back; sway back; camel or roach back; a back line which is too high at the
rear, and an excessively long back; poor tuck up.

C. Chest (4 points)
Chest deals with that part of the thorax (rib cage) in front of the shoulders and front legs.
The chest should be quite broad, deep and well-muscled.
A narrow and poorly muscled chest; strong protruding sternum (pigeon breast)

D. Ribs and Brisket (4 points)
Ribs and brisket deals with that part of the thorax back of the shoulders and front legs.
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.
Narrow (slab-sided) rib cage; round (barrel) rib cage; shallow rib cage not reaching the
elbow joint.

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5. Tail (2 points)

Should start high and fairly broad, terminating slender and thin at the hock joint. At rest,
the tail should fall straight. When excited or running, slightly curved (sabre-like).
A too high or too low-set tail (the tail-set is governed by the slope of the croup); too
long or too short a tail; tail bent too far over the back (ring tail); a tail which is curled; a
twisted tail (sideways); a tail carried too high over the back (gay tail); a brush tail (hair too
long on lower side). Cropping tail to desired length is forbidden.

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6. Faults

The faults below are important according to their grouping (very serious, serious, minor) and not according to their sequence as placed in each grouping.

Very Serious

Lack of unity
Sway back
Poor bone development
Roach back
Poor musculature
Lightweight whippety Danes
Pitching gait
Short steps
Undershot teeth
Bitch dog


Out of condition
Elbows turned inward
Chair legs (front)
Any deviation from the standard on all colouration
Knotty bulge in pastern joint (adult dog)
Deviation from parallel planes of skull and foreface
Weak pastern roots
Wedge head
Poorly defined stop
Narrow nose bridge
Snipey muzzle
Receeding back
In harlequins, a pink nose
Any colour but dark eyes in fawns and brindles
Poor tuck-up (except in bitches that have been bred)
Mongolian eyes
Too straight croup
Too sloping croup
Too narrow croup
Missing teeth
Overshot teeth
Heavy neck
Short neck
Steep rear
Too long rear legs
Too long a back
Back high in rear
Poorly muscled thighs
Barrel legs
Narrow chest
Narrow rib cage
Round rib cage
Shallow rib cage
Loose shoulders
Steep shoulders Hackney gait
Paws turned outward
Rabbit paws
Wolf’s claw


Doggy bitches
Pigeon breast
Small white marks on chest and toes – blues, blacks,
brindles, and fawns
Few grey spots and pointings in harlequins
Loaded shoulders
Elbows turned outward
Paws turned inward
Splay foot
Excessively long hair
Excessively dull hair
Excessively long toenails
Apple head
Light nails (except in harlequins)
Any colour but dark eyes in blacks, blues and harlequins
Small stop
Fluttering lips
Eyes too far apart
Drooping lower eyelids
Low set tail
Too long tail
Too short tail
Gay tail
Curled tail
Twisted tail
Brush tail
Discoloured teeth
Even bite

7. Disqualifications

Blind in one or both eyes
Danes under minimum height
Docked tails
Castrated male
Split noses
Spayed female
Any colour other than those described under “Colour”

See printable breed standard for illustrated examples.

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