What Are Some Genetic Defects That Occur in White Great Danes?


Quick Answer

White Great Dane dogs often suffer deafness and blindness due to the same genetic conditions that are responsible for their non-standard coat coloring. Breeding of Harlequin and mantle Danes is the most likely cause of these genetic conditions, according to the Great Dane Club of America.

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What Are Some Genetic Defects That Occur in White Great Danes?
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Full Answer

The genetic conditions of white Great Danes are of concern because both owners and breeders abandon these dogs once they discover the sensory issues, according to Chromadane. Practically all white great Danes are at least deaf, due to a lack of pigmentation in the inner ear. The fine hairs in the inner ear normally have follicles embedded in a bed of pigment. When sounds move the hairs, they move the pigment to cause nerve impulses. The lack of pigment interrupts the nerve transmission, resulting in the dog's deafness.

The lack of pigment also affects the eyes, causing the dogs to have blue eyes. Blue-eyed dogs of several breeds are more likely to experience blindness and to develop cataracts, states Chromadane.

Breeders are encouraged to avoid breeding dogs likely to produce offspring with these genetic difficulties, advises Chromadane. Merle deafness rarely passes to merle or Harlequin Danes. Introducing darker-coat genes into the breeding pool helps to eliminate these problems by increasing pigmentation in the eye and inner ear. Breeders should test predominately white Danes for hearing and vision issues.

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