Is My Dog Albino? Characteristics of Albino Dogs
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Albino dogs are not the same as white dogs; albinism is the result of genetics, as it is manifested when particular recessive alleles are passed down and the individual does not have the right amount of the enzyme tyrosinase, which is involved in the production of melanin. Consequently, albinism is a congenital disorder; it is very important to clarify that, because too often we talk about albinism without knowing what it is exactly.
Some people argue that albinism is not a desirable characteristic in dogs, because it is associated with many biological deficiencies. This view prevails in many dog breed standards. Others argue that albino dogs can live well if they receive the necessary care and attention and, therefore, there would be no problem in allowing them to breed.
However, while keeping in mind that albino dogs deserve to be loved and looked after properly, you need to take into account that these dogs are prone to health problems that may limit their quality of life, and even cause serious difficulties in some cases.
Therefore, if you have an albino dog or you're thinking of adopting one, it's important that you read this AnimalWised to find out more about the characteristics of albino dogs and how albinism is diagnosed. This will give you a good starting point in understanding whether your dog is albino and the care and attention that an albino dog requires.
What are the characteristics of albino dogs?
The characteristics of albino dogs might be similar to those of other albino animals, but this condition presents certain peculiarities which are specific to our canine best friends. To begin with, no studies have been made on dogs with full albinism. In other words, all forms of albinism described in technical and scientific literature on dogs refer to partial albinism.
Even in dogs that appear to have no melanin whatsoever, a little bit of pigment is present. In some cases it is so diluted that the dog seems to be a complete albino, making it easy to confuse. This is maybe why white dogs are frequently confused with albino dogs. However, the condition of albinism goes beyond the color of a dog's fur and eyes.
The main characteristics of an albino dog are:
- Pink skin, or skin with very light pigmentation. The skin of normal dogs has noticeable pigmentation, even if the coat is white. You can see this by parting the fur on the animal's back. The skin of albino dogs is very light, usually pink. Some albino dogs may have freckles and birth marks, but in general there is almost no pigmentation at all.
- Pink nose. Albino dogs have a pink or very pale nose due to the lack of skin pigmentation. However, not all dogs with pink noses are albinos. A dog with a pink nose, but with pigmentation in the skin, lips, eyelids and eyes, is not an albino.
- Depigmented lips and eyelids. Lips and eyelids are other indicators of albinism. When pink, there is a possibility that the dog is albino. However, as with the nose, not all dogs with pink eyelids and lips are albinos.
- Very light eyes. The eyes of albino dogs tend to be light blue, gray or green - all of in very pale shades. They occasionally have light brown eyes. However, not all light-eyed dogs are albinos. Pink eyes are common in other albino animals, but they are rare in dogs.
Unfortunately, the aforementioned features can be confusing and lead to misdiagnosis. Dogs can have one or more of these features without being albino, and some albino dogs can pass for normal dogs. As such, the diagnosis of albinism needs to be done by a qualified veterinarian.
How is albinism in dogs diagnosed?
While there has been much research on the canine genome and the hereditary diseases that affect dogs, little is known about albinism in dogs. It is believed that the genes involved may be found in the T Y R locus - loci are the positions of genes in chromosomes - as it is with other mammals. However, there is still no conclusive information.
Unfortunately, a completely reliable diagnosis of albinism in dogs can only be done through genetic analysis. However, as scientists do not have the appropriate genetic markers yet, it can only be done based on visible characteristics.
This is why the person doing the diagnosis for albinism needs to be an experienced professional in the subject. It should ideally be done by a veterinarian with some expertise in genetics, but it could also be done by the breeder of the dog if they know enough about the subject and have a good pedigree record for their dogs.
Don't trust anyone who tells you that your dog is albino blindly, as albino dogs are not always reliably diagnosed. You can't say a dog is albino just because it is white or has a pink nose.
If you have any questions about your dog, if you're wondering whether your dog is an albino or you're thinking about adopting a dog that may be an albino, seek advice from a trusted veterinarian. Albino dogs are prone to certain diseases, especially skin and eye disorders, and need special care.
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