All white Great Danes are not seen very often unless a breeder is purposely breeding for this distinct and beautiful color.
The American Kennel Club (AKC) doesn’t recognize the white coat color as an approved registered color of Great Danes.
The white coat has several different health issues that may appear in white Great Dane puppies that are not because of their color, but they are common in the white coats.
Are All White Great Danes Blind and Deaf?
White Great Danes have a higher rate of health issues than other colors of the same breed, but it is a misconception that all with a white coat are born blind and deaf.
In order to produce all healthy puppies in a litter, it’s advised not to breed some color and coat patterns of the gentle giant together.
AKC-approved breeders will only breed healthy dogs together to get litters of pups that are healthy.
Health issues can be handed down over many different generations of dogs and arise if the parents are not health screened before breeding them together.
Which Coat and Color Patterns Can Produce White Great Danes?
There are several coat colors and coat patterns that can produce all white Great Danes. If a dog has a double merle pattern with two copies of this gene, it will be white in color.
The merle Great Dane has the main coat color of bluish-gray with irregular torn patches of black all over the body.
The harlequin Great Dane looks much the same with the same torn and irregular black patches, but they are in the main coat color of white.
The double merle that produces all white puppies is considered spot and spot breeding in the most general terms.
It’s when two harlequins are bred together, two merles are bred together or any two quins of a harlequin, merlequin, brindlequin, or fawnequins are bred together or any quin and merle breeding.
The harlequin is an AKC-approved color although the other quins are not. The fawnequin is a white Great Dane with fawn patches and spots in a harlequin coat pattern.
The brindlequin has a white main coat color with brindle patches all over the body in a harlequin coat pattern.
The merlequin has a white base coat that is marked with merle or bluish-gray torn patches and it may include some dark speckles and spots as well.
Every spot and spot breeding litter has puppies with a 25% chance of being born as a double merle or solid white Great Dane.
Pure white puppies are more likely to suffer from vision and hearing impairments than any other color and pattern of Great Dane puppies.
There is a lack of pigmentation in the inner ear which can cause deafness and congenital eye defects can make them blind.
The double merle is not an albino dog, but it’s a factor when the merle gene is doubled, as it’s a bleaching pattern and not a color. Less melanin pigmentation is in random areas of a dog’s coat, but all white dogs are not double merles.
An Overview of Great Dane Genetics and Color Patterns
In the simplest terms of genetics, Great Danes have three different gene series that is responsible for the color and color pattern of the coats. Great Danes are available in an amazing number of unique colors that are beautiful.
An allele is a DNA coding that usually involves two of the same gene to assign the color and patterns of a Great Dane.
The three series are M, H, and S, in which the M is a dominant merle gene and the M is a recessive merle gene.
The H series is for the harlequin coat pattern with H being dominant and h being recessive. The S-series genes are for spots, with the S being dominant and the s being recessive.
Each allele in the gene-sequencing contains two of the genes in the series. The M-series for merle coloration has a dominant gene M for merle and the recessive gene m is non-merle coloration.
If two dogs with MM (both dominant merle genes) are mated together they will produce some pure white puppies.
When the gene sequence is Mm (one dominant and one recessive merle gene), then the coat color will be a blue shade with irregular torn patches over the body in black. This is considered a merle coat color in a Great Dane.
The H-series is an incomplete dominant gene and if a dog carries recessive genes, the dominant gene will have no effect on its color. It may have some irregular torn patches in black and the blue shades will become pure white.
In the S-series, it controls white spots on a Great Dane. Two dominant genes of this type (SS) will diminish the white in the body with a little bit of white on the chest and toes.
If one of these genes is recessive and one is dominant (Ss), it will increase the amount of white on the face, toes, chest, feet, and neck so that 25% of the dog’s coat is white.
What Are All The Health Issues of White Great Danes?
White-coated Great Danes are more susceptible to many other health concerns as well as blindness and deafness.
The white Great Danes also have many more instances of skin problems that are caused by allergic reactions.
Social Instability and Inadequacy
Double merles can have sensory defects that inhibit their natural ability to interact with other dogs or humans.
Many of them fail to adapt to all different situations because they lack social skills and have many problems just dealing with normal day-to-day activities. With a lot of training, these things can be overcome by a loving family.
If a double merle Great Dane is born deaf or becomes deaf within the first month after it’s born, it is irreversible and can be debilitating to the dog.
White and lightly marked harlequins have a lack of pigmentation in their skin which doesn’t protect them from harsh UV sunlight, which can lead to severe sunburns and then develop into skin tumors and skin cancer.
White Great Danes can inherit congenital cataracts which lead to blindness.
This condition is characterized by small eyeballs that lead to total blindness and at times the eyeballs need to be surgically removed.
The lack of pigmentation of a white coat can cause broken and dull hairs with a pimply appearing skin infection.
Should I Adopt a White Great Dane?
White Great Danes are very adaptable. If you choose a puppy, you should make certain of his eye and ear conditions so there won’t be any surprises later on.
Pure white coats are absolutely stunning on a giant breed of dog that is very regal in appearance.
If you decide to adopt an adult white Great Dane that you know is either deaf or has eye issues, you can find extra resources to help you with training him to be a perfect family member who is loyal, a guardian, and a protector.