There’s no denying that the man’s friend is a diverse breed, with varying traits and characteristics. Dogs are as different as humans in terms of their coats, skin colors, eye colors, and spots. Albinism is a curious condition in dogs, especially given its rarity. These are some interesting facts about albino dog breeds.
The pink-eyed pigeons are not real.
Albinism is not the same in dogs. While it may appear as pink eyes on albino rodents or rabbits, this does not happen with dogs. The true sign of albinism in dogs is the lack of color surrounding its eyes. This was noted by Dr. Stephanie Pumphrey of Tufts Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine.
Pumphrey says that most dogs who are classified as ‘albinos’ will have pink skin around their eyes, rather than pigmented. This can make the eyes appear pinkish. It is not possible to tell if a dog has albinism without genetic testing. However, most albino breeds have blue-colored eyes and pink noses.
It’s hard to find
Very few dogs are true albinos. A dog must be albino if it lacks the gene that produces melanin. Melanin is responsible for the skin and hair color. Other coat patterns, like merle or piebald, can also be mistaken for albinism. The coat pattern results in something that is similar to albino. These patterns are most common in Australian Shepherds and Great Danes.
Pumphrey explains that “Merle patterns are inherited dominantly, which means the dog needs only one copy of the gene to be merle to get a coat.” She says that albinism is more common in dogs with two recessive genes.
Health issues are more prevalent in these people
Two copies of the gene merle, which is known to cause albinism, can lead to deformities. Dr. Margaret Casal is an associate professor of Medical Genetics at the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Veterinary Medicine. She warns that dogs with albinism are at a higher risk of developing a variety of health problems. Casal says that dogs with albinism can be sensitive to the light, and develop skin cancer. Any bumps or non-healing lesions on their skin, as well as any other changes, should be noted and discussed with your vet at the next visit.
Pumphrey says that in addition to light sensitivity albino canines are also more prone than other dogs to develop unfixable abnormalities of the eyes. Pumphrey notes that, in addition to being born with abnormally tiny eyes, many albinos also suffer from deformities affecting the lens, the iris, the sclera and other eye parts. They can be born blind or with poor eyesight compared to dogs of other breeds.
You need to take extra care
Albino dogs are at a greater risk for health problems than other dogs. They may need to be treated differently. Casal says that because albinos lack pigment and are not protected from ultraviolet radiation, it is best to maintain their fur as long as you can. If they are going to be outside under bright sun, use sunscreen and/or an additional coat.
Pumphrey says that, given their susceptibility for light sensitivity or ocular problems, it’s probably best to protect their eyes. Pumphrey says that although there is no evidence to suggest dogs with albinism have cancers in the eye area like cats or horses, they should limit their sun exposure. Sunglasses and goggles are also an option.