Thursday, December 9, 2010

ALBINOS


Sometimes animals, and people too, are born with something called albinism.  This means that they don't have pigment in their skin, hair, and eyes.  They may be missing this pigment all over their bodies or just in certain places.  And the reason they don't have this pigment is because they don't have the enzyme that makes melanin.  Or if they do have this enzyme, it's not working the way it's supposed to.




Okay, well, that's a really, really simple explanation of the science that makes albinos.  I don't understand all the details, but what I do understand is that you can inherit albinism through your genes, but it is very rare.  And if you have it, there is more of a chance that you will get skin cancer because you don't have any pigment in your skin to protect you from the nasty UV sun rays that cause cancer.  And also you might have some eye problems.



If a wild animal is an albino, that animal doesn't have a very good chance of hiding from its predators because it is white, and this means it probably won't live very long.  But albinos that are domestic animals or that are in zoos can live a long life, just like regular-colored animals.



The eyes of albino animals look red or pink because there is no pigment in the eye, which means that you can see the blood vessels inside the eye.  A partial albino will have blue eyes because there is a little bit of pigment.  Also some partial albinos look like piebalds because their white patches are just here and there, instead of all over their bodies.



Albino dogs are pretty rare, just like albinos of other kinds of animals.  Lots of dogs are white, but very few of these are true albinos.  So how can you tell if a dog is an albino?  Well, first of all, the dog will have a nose that is light pink.  It is even lighter pink than a pig's nose.  Also the dog will have pink eyelids.  The eyes might not be pink, but the eyelids will be pink.  And the eyes will probably be a lighter color than most dogs' eyes.




So if you ever meet any white dogs, now you know how to tell if they are albinos or not.  Personally, I think it's better to be a black-and-white dog than a pink-and-white dog, but of course that's just my own humble opinion!


16 comments:

  1. Are there albino cats?

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  2. Yes, there are albino cats, but I chose to mostly write about dogs, since I am a dog. You can put "albino cat images" in Google, and you should be able to see some pictures of albino cats.

    Sincerely, Piper

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  3. I have an albino dog. did you know that most albino animals are deaf?
    thanks for bloggin!

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  4. I didn't know that most of them are deaf. That is very interesting. You're welcome for my bloggin. Thanks for readin!

    Piper

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  5. is it possible to have an albino horse?

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    1. Well, I would have said yes, but then I did 5 minutes of in-depth research, and I learned that there are NO albino horses. You can read more here: http://whitehorseproductions.com/white.html I don't understand all the technical genetic stuff, but what I did understand was that the horses that people call "albinos" really have eyes that are blue or green, instead of being pink, like a true albino animal would have. So thanks for asking this interesting question, because now I learned something new!
      Piper

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  6. and thank you for teaching me about albinos piper!

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  7. This is my albino dog..

    http://img850.imageshack.us/img850/6803/dsc0022ot.jpg

    http://img3.imageshack.us/img3/5605/dsc0027hjv.jpg

    http://img17.imageshack.us/img17/8016/dsc0019dq.jpg

    http://img814.imageshack.us/img814/4011/dsc0018p.jpg

    http://img192.imageshack.us/img192/2025/dsc0070ah.jpg

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    1. Your dog is very cute! Thanks for sharing the pictures!

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    2. Hi,

      I'm a researcher who studies the genetics of coat color in dogs (please see http://homepage.usask.ca/~schmutz/dogcolors.html). We are interested in obtaining DNA cheek brush samples with photos of abino dogs of any breed other than Doberman Pinschers.

      If you are willing to do this, please email me at sheila.schmutz@usask.ca with the information and I will mail the cheek brushes.

      Thanks!

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  8. There actually are albino horses or horses with lack of pigment. In paint horses there is a genetic syndrome called overo leathel white syndrome (OWLS). These foals are born with a pink colored eye or extremely light pink around the eye & the lips also the genitals are pink in color also. The foals are generally underdeveloped in some areas such as there intestines & GI tract giving them problems digesting & processing any nutrients from the mother's colostrum . The life span is often short and paint ( apha ) breeders avoid horses who are overo color pattern carrying this gene breeding them with another overo to keep from creating this "lethal" foal.

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    1. This is very interesting. Thanks for sharing. Genetics is a very complex subject when you get into the details!

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  9. I have not noticed if anyone has mentioned Leucism here. Leucistic animals and people are those who have white hair, but have normal colored eyes or blue eyes and normal colored skin, like on the nose and lips. Some leucistics will have patches of normally patterned fur or feathers and some patches of pure white. One of the first animals recognized as a leucistic was an American Alligator at a zoo. It was entirely white except for its blue eyes. Here's the Wikipedia page describing it further. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leucism

    Oh, and you may have heard of the sacred white buffalo that was born some years ago. Born entirely white except for normal colored eyes and a normal black nose. A true albino has no pigment producing ability at all, and thus would have a pink nose and eyes.

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    Replies
    1. Thanks so much for this information! I was fascinated by the pictures of the leucistic animals.

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