White Pugs: The Difference Between Leucistic & Albino Pups

The Pug is one of the smallest canines in the world. He is a very popular family pet and has a large following of fanciers and enthusiasts across the globe. A rising trend within the Pug community is the Albino Pug, or what some people call, the Pink Pug.

He isn’t new in himself, as Albino animals have been around for as long as ‘normal’ animals have existed, but the increasing popularity of the Albino pup is the latest, and somewhat disconcerting, designer puppy trends.

His appearance is very different, and with his flawed genetic makeup comes additional health issues to that of a normal Pug. If you’re here because you’re wondering what this new craze is, or you’re here because you want a new addition to your family, then read on for the in-depth details and controversy surrounding this little guy.

History

The Pug is one of the oldest canine breeds, dating back to 400 B.C. His journey started in China where all of the Chinese Royalty adored him, as well as all of the other flat-faced toy dogs like the Pekingese and the Shih-Tzu. Soldiers kept the Pug under close guard, and no one other than Royalty or appointed noblemen were able to have one of their own. This changed in the 16th Century, when Dutch traders returned to Europe with the Pug. Of course, he was favored by the local Royal family once again, but this time he was also enjoyed by ordinary citizens, and this was where his popularity really began. The Pug is known by other names, such as the Mopshond, which derives from the Dutch word ‘to grumble’, which suits this little guy aptly. He is also less commonly known as the Dutch Mastiff.

The Pug was introduced to America after the Civil war, and he was first recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC) in 1885. His popularity somewhat dwindled, and only a few breeders continued breeding from their small stock of dogs. However, since the Pug Dog Club of America was established in 1931, he has gained popularity once again. The AKC has ranked his current popularity at number 28 out of 193 breeds in America.

It is not known when the first Albino Pug was born, but due to celebrity trends, the Albino Pug seems to be the latest craze, albeit not a new or healthy one.

What is Albinism?

Albinism is a rare genetic mutation that causes a complete lack of pigmentation in an animal’s body and features, such as their skin, hair, eyes, as well as their blood vessels. Despite being an extremely rare congenital condition, it is seen in all animals, as well as humans and even plants across the world. This condition occurs when an animal inherits one or more mutated genes from both of his parents, and if this occurs, it will interfere with the ability to produce melanin. Melanin is the main pigment that determines the color of everything in and on an animal’s body. Because it is a congenital gene, the Pug will only be Albino if both of his parents are carriers of the mutated gene.

There is a difference between an albino Pug and a white Pug. It is important to note that white is ultimately a color, whereas albino is not a color, but simply transparent. A white Pug will have colored features such as black lips, black noses and black rimmed eyes. The albino Pug’s features will be light pink with light blue eyes.

Albinism in humans is rare, and it is believed that 1 in 20,000 people have Albinism in America, and it is even rarer in animals. Albino animals find it extremely difficult to survive in the wild for various reasons, and natural selection has dictated that the Albino gene is slowly being bred out in the wild. Of course the Pug is not wild, and unfortunately with this new trend of breeding Albino Pugs together, means that the chance of Pugs being passed the carrier gene is increasing with every litter.

What is Leucism?

Leucism is a similar medical condition that is commonly mistaken for albinism, so it is likely that pure albinism is even rarer than first thought. Leucism is similar to albinism, in that pigmentation is affected by the levels of melanin within the D.N.A, however Leucism is characterized by hair that has no pigmentation within the fur, and very low levels of pigmentation in all other features. Because it is also a very rare condition, but less well known, it is assumed any lack of pigmentation is simply albinism. The difference is, more often than not, that there are no health issues associated with Leucism, whereas there are a multitude of health issues associated with albinism.

The easiest way to determine if a Pug has Leucism or Albinism is by looking at the color of his eyes, but truth be told even the experts misdiagnose Leucism for Albinism based on appearance! In a true albino Pug, the total lack of pigmentation means that his blood vessels will show through due to the lack of melatonin in the iris and retina, and so the ‘color’ of their eyes will be light blue, or translucent. In a Pug with Leucism, his features will be an ever so slightly deeper pink, and the eyes may be slightly bluer in color, but it is extremely difficult to recognize the difference between the two without medical testing.

Appearance

The Albino Pug’s features are light pink in color, such as his lips, nose, ears, paws, and skin. Unlike other albino animals, his eyes may not be pink, but are more likely to be translucent or very light blue. His hair will be technically translucent, but white through to cream in appearance. Other than this, the general appearance of the Albino Pug is the same as any other colored Pug.

The Albino Pug is a small canine, who weighs 14 – 18 pounds, and only measures 10 to 13 inches in height, from paw to shoulder, in both males and females. He is part of the toy group, who are particularly popular with city dwellers, given that they are suited to apartment living. Wrinkles and skin folds are the Pug’s most recognizable feature, especially around his face concentrated around his nose, and then up his forehead. He has a short and flat muzzle, and small floppy ears. His coat is short, shiny, and surprisingly double-coated to keep him warm. He has a curly tail, just like that of a pig. They are symmetrical and square in appearance.

The AKC approved breed standard of the Pug outlines the physical features and temperament to ensure that breeding practices retain the Pug’s true characteristics. The only acceptable AKC colors for a Pug are complete black, and fawn with a black mask; any other color is unacceptable. Other kennel clubs, such as the Canadian Kennel Club, accept other additional Pug colors, Silver Fawn and Apricot Fawn, which are lighter and darker shades of the traditional fawn color. Both the brindle and the white Pug are extremely rare.

Temperament

It is not believed that the color of the Albino Pug is correlated with his temperament. The Albino Pug will have the same temperament as any other Pug. The Pug is described as ‘Charming, Mischievous, and Loving’ by the AKC. This cheeky chap is a companionship dog. He is neither a worker nor a hunter, so don’t expect anything else from him.

He is mostly a sedentary pooch who will shower you with affection and cuddles and will happily sit in your lap all day. However, he is equally playful if you initiate playtime, and he is said to be a bit of a class clown with his silly antics.

As Pets

As with any Pug, their temperament means that they are great with children; they will happily relax in their lap and be stroked, but will also be up for a bit of fun! Their small size means that there is not much chance of knocking a child over compared to a medium sized dog. As long as they are socialized properly as a pup then they are also great with other dogs and animals in the household.

Unfortunately, as the Albino Pug is very rare and often very expensive, they are more than likely to be targeted and stolen by criminals in order to earn a quick buck as there is so much demand for them. Because of this there is the extra worry of leaving your pup unattended in an accessible yard. Of course, there is this worry with any pup, but undoubtedly a rare Albino Pug will attract more of the wrong attention, so be prepared to be more vigilant.

Health

The health of any colored Pug is less than the average pup. Pugs are known to suffer with Hip Dysplasia, Luxating Patella, Pug Dog Encephalitis and various eye issues, and their parents will be required to undergo testing and evaluations for all four of these common health issues. The Pug Dog Club of America offers an extensive guide of all Pug health issues, so if you are thinking about getting a Pug, be that a normal Pug or an Albino Pug, then do your research and make yourself aware of the symptoms.

The Pug is also known as a Brachycephalic Syndrome sufferer, and as such he will face breathing problems. In Europe some countries are to introduce fitness tests for flat-faced dogs, including the Pug, to deem whether he is suitable enough to breed.

In addition to the general Pug health issues, the Albino Pug will suffer from the following:

Skin Cancer – Melanin also affects their skin tissue, and as such they are vulnerable to skin cancer more so than a normal dog because it removes the natural sun block from the skin. As with pale humans, they are more likely to get sunburnt, and will require higher levels of protection. An Albino Pug will require complete protection, and it is advised to invest in bodysuits so that his skin is not penetrated at all, as the slightest exposure to UV rays will irritate and harm his skin immediately. For areas which you cannot offer complete protection, such as his face, a strong doggy-appropriate sun cream will also be needed.

Photophobia – Melanin also affects the development of his optic nerves, and as such the majority of Pugs with albinism will suffer with additional vision problems to that which they already suffer with. They will be photo-phobic, which means that direct sunlight will cause them severe pain and irritation to their eyes. As a result, sun protection goggles should be purchased, or the Albino Pug should only be walked first thing in the morning and last thing at night when there is no direct sunlight at all.

Exercise and Training

The Albino pug requires the same level of exercise compared to a normal Pug; he will require just under 40 minutes a day and is considered to be a medium energy dog.  Because they are food obsessed, they need this exercise to burn off the extra calories and keep their hearts healthy.

Despite being a silly and fun-loving creature, the Pug is very intelligent, and they will pick up commands easily. However, they are also known to be stubborn and run on ‘Pug Time’, so if you want a well-mannered pup you have to be patient and consistent with your training.  If you plan to train on a harness, make sure you buy a harness that’s specifically made for pugs.

Nutrition and Grooming

The Albino Pug will eat the same amount of food compared to a normal Pug, which is 1 cup of food a day. As the Pug suffers with various skin allergies and dermatitis it is important to ask the Veterinarian what particular food will suit your Pup, as they may require specialist kibble.

The Albino Pug will require the same amount of general grooming as any other Pug. They will require a bath every two to three months. Be sure to use gentle products and refrain from washing them more than the recommended amount as you risk damaging their natural coat oils. As the Albino Pug’s skin is even more sensitive, it is advised that you seek advice from your Veterinarian. Additionally, their wrinkles will require extra attention; cleaning in between and under the skin folds with special cleaning products is imperative to keep skin infections at bay.

Breeding and Prices

The average cost of a normal Pug ranges, on average, from $1,500 to $6,000. Because the Albino Pug is extremely difficult to come by, they are priced extortionately, and have recently been known to sell for almost $19,000. This is super expensive, and that is just the initial cost of the puppy, not including health and insurance bills, as well as specialized equipment to manage their health issues.

Purposely breeding Albino Pugs together means that the Pug gene pool is increasing in the amount of Albino gene carriers. Breeding of any color other than black or fawn colors, is not an acceptable practice for a reputable breeder. Rogue breeders will also claim that their light-colored Pugs are rare Albino or Pink Pugs, and as such will trick buyers into paying extortionate prices. So, be sure to do your research into the breeder and the pup that you are about to buy.

Many kennel clubs and trusts across the world also comment that the rising trend of the Albino Pug is linked to puppy smuggling, to keep up with the rising demand of the latest ‘puppy fad’.  If you are sure that you want one of these pups then be sure to see the parent’s and their living conditions, and do not buy from a puppy mill, because the chances are the pup will be riddled with health issues.

Famous Pugs

Albino Pug’s are extremely rare, and as this frowned upon breeding practice is the current toy dog craze, there aren’t many famous Albino Pug’s. However, an Albino pup who has recently been snapped by the Paparazzi is the new puppy of the United Kingdom’s celebrity, Kerry Katona, and it is rumored that she spent nearly £15,00 on her!

A Facebook famous white Pug, called Marshmallow, has over 50K likes on her page, and her bright white fur is similar to that of the Albino Pug appearance.

Mister Cornelius is also a famous Instagram pug. Officially, he is not an Albino Pug, however, he does have Leucism which looks very similar to Albinism, as mentioned above. With over 41K followers on Instagram this Pug has found social media fame with his brindle Pug sister Bowie. He has helped to spread the news about Leucism, and it has helped many people across the world to correctly diagnose their Pug with Leucism rather than Albinism. According to his human parents, Mister Cornelius has secured a perfect bill of health from the Veterinarian other than his partial loss of pigmentation. If you want to follow his journey, then follow him on his Instagram page.

Frequently Asked Questions

Question: If two Albino Pugs are bred together, is a full Albino litter guaranteed?

Answer: No, an Albino pup is not guaranteed, and an entire litter will not be Albino. If both the parents are Albino, then there is only a 1 in 4 chance that he will be an Albino himself. As the average litter of a Pug is 6 puppies, the law of averages will say only 1, possibly 2, will be an Albino pup. This is the reason why Albino Pugs are in demand and highly-priced.

Question: Are Albino dogs born deaf?

Answer: No. It is a common myth that Albino animals are born deaf, or very likely to be born deaf. However, it is now agreed amongst scientists that Albinism has no correlation to deafness. So, this is one less health issue to worry about in regard to the Albino Pug.

Question: What is the most popular Pug color?

Answer: The most popular is the fawn at 62%, the black is 22%, the apricot is 8% and the silver is 8%. The Pink Pug is so rare it does not account for 1%.

Final Thoughts

The Albino Pug is extremely rare and hard to come by, so if you want one of these guys then you will have to invest a lot of time into researching the ins and outs of the genetically flawed canine, and their significant amount of additional health issues. If you are still sure that you are ready to take him on, then your next step is to find yourself a breeder.

Pugs are undeniably cute, and Albino Pugs are no different. However, there is a lot of controversy surrounding them. Because of their health problems, and the practice of breeding them precisely for their Albino looks, it is seen as unfair and somewhat cruel. Additionally, purposefully breeding these designer dogs is affecting the entire gene pool of the Pug race, and it is argued by professionals and fanciers alike that this is not acceptable.

If you come across an accidental Albino or Leucism pup in a litter, as Mister Cornelius’s parents did, then he will clearly be as awesome a pet as any other Pug is, and you will be sure to have a lot of fun with him.

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