Why are all White Great Danes not deaf and blind?

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Last Updated on February 18, 2021 by Alice Anderson

The white Great Danes are not always deaf and blind. Great Dane dogs are prone to suffer from some additional ailments viz-a-viz other breeds but they are common in all coat colors including white. As they are related to the large size of the canine. 

As the genetic makes up carries the crucial information on how a canine would develop. Just like a code. Even a little variation will alter the meaning of the whole. This is what occurs with White Great Danes. The dogs carry flawed genetic makeup, i.e. double merle, which bring forth unfit canines. The double merle White Great Danes are more likely to carry deafness and blindness but not all White Great Danes.

As a parent to a white Great Dane you might be in a situation when people at the glimpse of your dog call it an albino instead. Not knowing completely what is an albino. Although it is a common occurrence in other canine breeds but not in Great Danes. It is a white Great Dane that you saw last time and took it as an albino.

Besides being referred to as albinos, White Great Danes are also taken as deaf and blind. But are all white Great Danes deaf and blind? Well not, all white Great Danes are not deaf or blind. 

However the white Great Danes are commonly called as albinos. Yet there is a difference between the two. But certainly you can tell the latter from  White Great Danes. An albino would appear to hold all white coats with pink eyes whilst White Great Dane carries white fur with blue eyes in lieu of brown.

White Great Dane and the breed standards

Alluding to the Great Dane breed standards, the white coat color calls for incompetence and unfitness. So adhering to the breed standards all the white Danes symbolize disqualification.

As mentioned above not all white Great Danes are deaf and blind. Since it is not merely the coat your dog is wearing which defines its health. The genetic makeup it holds, is also an essential contributing player in the fitness of a white Great Dane.

How to know if your White Great Dane is fit? 

An all white Great Dane if it bears no colored spot nowhere on its coat. There is a possibility that the dog lacks pigment in its ears and eyes as well. Which renders the structures of these organs incomplete in growth. 

In other words the presence of black colored spots anywhere on the fur can be an indication that your White Great Dane can hear and see normally. 

However it can be propagated that not all white G D are blind and deaf. Yet there are mostly deaf an blind dogs with all white fur, so there is a possibility that your huge goofball would be fine due to that tiny black spot on its neck.

White Great Dane vs Albinism 

For being a deaf and blind dog it takes much more than just the tinge of the coat. The white Great Danes which are suffering from hearing and sight defects are usually genetically marred canines.

In Great Dane breed the dog wearing an all white coat could either be merle or a double merle. Since Merle is a dominant gene so in both genotypes, the phenotype is an all white Great Dane. Even a single merle strand can fade out all the colored spots on the coat. Thus the dog loses its black spots and might be a harlequin merle but not a double merle.

Whilst on the other hand, a double merle dog with two copies of merle gene will lose all the pigment which would otherwise be black. But only in some cases there remains some color on the coat. 

Therefore, any of the two genetic strands can induce deafness or blindness. Which makes these dogs to be white not only from outside but inside as well. And the loss of pigment in ears and eyes causes inefficiency.  

If a dog is an albino genetically, it means it has a fault in the tyrosinase synthesis pathway. Which induces hue dilution to pigments responsible for color in coat and eyes. So the coat appears all white and the blue eyes are diluted to pink. 

How white Great Dane are different from other white dogs?

Usually the white coat in canines is the result of a double recessive gene. Which means the dogs are most of the time healthy. Whilst in Danes the White Great Danes are produced under the influence of dominant merle gene. Therefore, the white Great Danes are largely the dominant whites carrying abnormalities.

White Great Dane and deafness

As already broached above, deafness has not to be a character of White Great Dane. the hearing defect mainly happens when the canine holds spotting gene malfunctioning. For instance, piebald dog are deaf as they suffer from flawed spotting genes.

Typically, spotting is not only a phenotype but a genotype identity. These genes carry out the placement of pigmentation. Which results in deaf dogs. We all know it is the hair in the ear that vibrates to produce sound which is then translated by the brain. And when the elements are incomplete the process can not happen. Thus such dogs fail to hear anything at all.

White Great Dane and blindness

Similar is the case with w g d being blind. The dogs can not be decided just on the physical appearance. Its genetic makeup has to be evaluated to regard a W G D as a bind and deaf dog. There is a good chance that a white Dane will be fit to hear and see. The Danes that wear white Great Danes and are deaf and blind are usually double Merles. Otherwise they are not blind. 

But at times merling can also exhibit perfectly fine blue eyes in the canine. Such dogs do not carry any vision defect. On the other hand there are dogs with structural deformities. Which can produce vision impairment. Some of which are mentioned in the latter part of the article.

Here is the kicker, in any case there is no interrelation between deafness and blindness. In other words the dog suffering from impaired ears might be fit to see or vice versa.

White Great Dane Health 

The presence of double merle gene in White Great Dane not only results in deaf and blind dogs. But in the breed it can also be a contributing factor to some other health problems as well. Such as;

Social inefficiency

Although not very common but a white Great Dane suffering from impaired eyes and ears might also have mental development issues. Such dogs find it difficult to socialize. Particularly interaction of any sort becomes out of question for the dogs. Which makes the dogs a somewhat unreliable companion. It might not be grave and just render the dog spooky or sheepish. But these behavioral problems can be solved by proper training.

Skin cancer

Since a white Great Dane produced under the effect of double merle sufferers from lack of pigments. This deprivation in skin can induce skin allergies or even cancer. Therefore many white Great Dane parents tend to use sunscreen in addition to reducing the dog’s under the sun activities. 

Itchy skin

Additionally these DM White Great Dane hold extra latency to develop skin irritations. Even a little bit of itch on the fur can turn into a serious disease for these dogs.

Hair loss

The White Great Danes are more prone to suffer from hair loss. These dogs hold dysfunctional hair follicles on the fur. It mainly occurs due to the structural flaw induced by Double Merle. Thus the dog reduces hair or can face abnormal hair growth.

Hereditary defects

The white Great Dane might hold a number of hereditary defects. Particularly if it is a double merle the chances of marred organs increases manifolds. Due to this these dogs might die earlier than the other coats. Besides, the dog fails to show optimal development, it is mainly lagging behind other canines of its age. All because of its genes.

Cataracts

As broached above not all white Great Danes are blind, yet these dogs are at more risk to suffer from eye structural malfunctions which can render the dog blind. For instance,

Microphthalmia

This is the disease caused due to smaller than regular sized eyeballs. This can not only cause blindness but might contribute to other eye ailments also. Therefore, some pups might need their eyeballs taken out due to Microphthalmia.

White Great Dane- Immunity

The white Danes are reported to hold the same level of immune system as any other coat color of the breed could be. The dogs are only lacking in color pigment which renders the eyes and ear malfunction but otherwise the dogs are not unfit.

Nevertheless, there are Great Danes including whites as well, which are low at immunity. But it can be mostly pre told looking at the confirmation of a dog. The dogs bearing good body ratios are healthy. Whereas those which appear to be falling behind tend to show immune system issues. 

Anyhow the white Great Dane exhibiting good confirmation are less likely to be suffering from any other immunity disorders. Besides being bling and deaf. 

White Great Dane- Occurrence

White G D can occur both under responsible and illegal breeding norms. Adhering to breeding rules these canines are produced from breeding Harlequin x Harlequin. Since this is the only breeding practice of official Great Dane colors which holds the tendency to bring out W G D. There have been numerous criticisms following the practice.

The unofficial breeding culture producing WGD are Harlequin x Harlequin and Merle x Merle. Although Merle is an official coat color yet the tendency to bring out double merle, the breeding is avoided by reputable breeders.

White Great Dane- Unethical breeding

Ever since the breed G D came about the breeding prevails. But over the years the breeding standards although are enhanced yet we are unable to preserve the breed standards. Unethical and illegal breeders are more common than ever recently. Not only in the U.S.A. but all over the world including European Great Dane the breeding practices have produced a diverging and rather less healthier trend.

The most crucial issue arising from the prevalence of illegal breeding is the tendency to affect lineage. If the practice keeps on going the health issues might become recurrent and even transfer from generation to generation. Which can alter the genetic material altogether.

But there are still reputable Great Dane breeders who tend to follow breeding norms and employ genetic testing to evaluate healthy stock. Keep the bloodlines intact adhering to the AKC breeding rules. Thus giving us the healthy and true pedigree Great Dane dogs even today.  

What is our judgement

Since Merle Great Dane has gained acceptance in the Dane world. People might abandon the concept that the dogs are unfit. But Harlequins are healthy. But in fact Merle and Harlequins are not different. The latter are also Merles with an additional white color inducing gene. This is the reason why we get a double merle from breeding two Harlequins together. 

Anyhow, Harlequins also carry the latency to develop pigment related ailments, not only merles. Since Merle is already a revered coat in other dog breeds. 

Despite, it is also a fact that the White Great Danes particularly holding a double strand of dominant merle tend to bear imperfections. Although it is the most rare Great Dane color, yet the dogs do occur. With proper care and training these dogs can be a loyal addition to your family as they carry the temperament of the ‘Gentle Giant’

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