White Great Dane Health Problems: 4 Common Concerns

All White Great Danes have an interesting coat color however they are prone to health issues associated with their genetic makeup. 

They have more health problems because of the merle gene by having two copies of the gene, commonly referred to as a double merle Great Dane. 

Here are the White Great Dane’s heath problems:

white great dane health problems

A White Great Dane is highly likely to suffer from several eye problems and deformities resulting in limited vision or blindness.  

One common eye defect is a white Great Dane heaving smaller eye size eyes than normal, commonly known as Microphthalmia.

This is a condition where the eyeballs are smaller than normal for a Great Dane. The eyeball structure is not properly developed which results in secondary issues.

White Great Danes with this condition have small eyelid opening, cloudy eyes, and impaired vision.

Other eye abnormalities include:

  • Deformed third eyelid
  • Partial or complete blindness.
  • Night Blindness
  • Clefts in the iris
  • Eyeballs not centrally positioned
  • Cataracts
  • Missing tissues in the eye
  • Defects in the optic nerve structure

Some White Great Danes may also be born without eyes.

double merle great dane

                                     White Great Dane with deformed eyes, by Eimann

                                                             CC BY-SA 2.0 de

2. Ear problems

White Great Danes have a higher risk of developing defects in the auditory system which includes the ears and the parts responsible for hearing.

White Great Danes are white because they lack coat color pigment which also includes pigment in the inner ear. 

This is because the merle gene suppresses coat pigment cells and also inhibits the expression of pigment in the eye’s iris and the inner ear. 

This is why a White Great Dane with blue eyes is a characteristic of this Great Dane and the lack of pigment in the inner ear causes partial or complete deafness.

3. Sun sensitivity

A White Great Dane’s skin lacks pigment that would protect them from the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) light. 

This makes their skin sensitive and prone to sunburns quite easily. Their skin also becomes sensitive to the touch after long periods in the sun.

They, therefore, require shelter and sunscreen when outside to protect their skin. 

To prevent sunburn in hot weather, the application of a child-safe SPF 30 – 50 sunscreen is necessary. This is applied to their nose, belly, and other exposed skin patches on their coat. 

4. Skin cancer

The increased sun sensitivity also makes all White Great Danes more prone to skin cancer. Skin cancer appears as lumps or bumps on the skin of a Great Dane.

Squamous cell carcinoma is the most common cancer that they can develop. The cancer appears as lumps or raised wart-like patches on the skin which commonly develop on the head, abdomen, lower legs, and the rear.

Early detection of any lumps or bumps on a Great Dane’s skin can help in the early diagnosis and treatment of cancer.

Are all White Great Danes Deaf and Blind?

No, all White Great Danes are not deaf and blind. Some do not have hearing or visual problems, however, it is uncommon to find healthy ones.

See Also: Do Merle Great Danes Have More Health Problems?

Are White Great Danes rare?

White Great Danes are becoming rare because merle to merle breeding is highly discouraged in breeding practices, therefore they are easily available.

Professional Great Dane breeders carry out genetic testing of parent dogs to ensure that they do not produce double merle offspring.

The health problems that the White Great Dane faces make them live low-quality lives and the care involved is also costly therefore breeding the dog is frowned upon.

Related: Can You Breed Merle And Harlequin Great Danes?

Summary: White Great Dane Health Problems

The White Great Dane also commonly known as a double merle Great Dane faces many health problems due to the merle gene. This makes them more sickly compared to other Great Dane coat colors.

Research has linked the merle gene, especially double merles to specific health problems, which make them live a low-quality life.

Hence, because of the health issues, the White Great Dane is likely to face, breeding these dogs is discouraged. 

Although not all suffer from these health conditions, the majority do and it is important for potential Great Dane owners to be aware of the health implications of the White Great Dane before considering adopting one.


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