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What is an albino Great Dane?

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Quick Answer

An albino Great Dane is a dog that is unable to produce the pigment melanin. Melanin is a pigment present throughout the dog's body, not just in the coat or skin, and lack of this pigment has important consequences for hearing.

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What is an albino Great Dane?
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Full Answer

White coloration in dogs is due to several different genes. In Great Danes, white coats are produced by a doubling up of the gene responsible for merle, a coat pattern characterized by a light background and irregular, colored spots. Merle makes melanin pigmentation less intense in random areas of the dog's body. When a dog has two copies of the merle gene, it is unable to produce melanin in those areas.

Albinism is carried on a separate gene from merle. Dogs with that gene are only partially albinistic. There are no recorded cases of true albinism in dogs as this requires a complete inability to produce melanin, not just in certain areas of the body. Great Danes that carry two copies of the merle gene and that have extensive areas of no pigmentation on their bodies suffer from many of the same health problems that a true albino dog endures, namely deafness.

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