White dog breeds come in all shapes and sizes, from tiny terriers and Pomeranians to the giant Samoyed and Great Pyrenees.
If you’re tempted by a dog with a coat as white as snow, we’ve got a great selection here for you to discover. We’ll show you our favorite big white dogs and some of the most popular small white dog breeds. But first, let’s take a look at white dog breed health, and whether that pristine coat is linked to any other characteristics.
White Dog Breeds And Their Medical Risks
The question of white dog breeds and possible deafness or skin problems is a common source of concern. White dog fur occurs one of two ways:
- in a genetically typical dog who has white fur as opposed to another color
- in a dog who has albinism (lack of pigmentation)
One way to tell the difference is by looking at a dog’s nose and eyes. Regular pooches with white hair typically have characteristic dark noses and dark eyes. An albino pup, meanwhile, usually has a pink nose and pink and/or blue eyes. In many breeds, such as Poodles, white is a normal option for a coat color. This is not the case for some breeds, such as the Doberman. That’s another way to tell if a pooch has albinism.
Are All White Dog Breeds Albino?
Albinism is due to a complete lack of pigmentation or melanin in the fur, skin, and eyes. It occurs in all animals, but it is a rare genetic condition. Since it’s rare, we’ll focus on white dog breeds whose coloration is due to pigmentation.
Still, you may be interested to know that albinism in dogs has been shown to correlate to a much higher risk of certain health problems, including skin cancer. Likewise, studies have shown that pigmented white dog breeds are at higher risk of deafness, as well as skin issues, including increased risk of sunburn. One study revealed that in Border Collies, some of the genes determining deafness also influence pigmentation. Another study found that 20% of white Bull Terriers were deaf.
White fur does not automatically mean that a dog will suffer a particular medical issue. However, it does mean that the dog may be predisposed to certain medical problems. This is a situation you should discuss with the breeder before you bring your white dog home.
Are White Cat Breeds Deaf?
A corresponding question that often arises is deafness in white cats. Interestingly, the white fur/deafness conundrum is a phenomenon also observed in white cats; congenital deafness is rare in a cat who has coloration in its fur, but the same cannot be said for a pure white cat. Roughly 5% of cats worldwide are all-white. These kitties have about a 20% chance of having some degree of deafness.
As is the case with white dog breeds, having white fur does not automatically mean that a feline will experience deafness. It just means the odds are higher that some difficulty in this area will be seen. To sum up, white coat color in dogs may foretell a higher risk of deafness. It is recommended that you work only with responsible breeders who have health certificates for their pups and the parents.
All White Dogs — All The Time
Are you looking for a big white dog or a small white dog? How about a white fuzzy dog or white curly dog? Now that we’ve discussed potential health concerns, we’ll identify all of these and more, including white long haired dog breeds and white fluffy dog breeds.
All White Dog Breeds
As you read more about pure white dog breeds, keep in mind that finding a pooch that matches your lifestyle is key to developing the type of long, harmonious relationship we all seek when looking for a forever friend. The white puppy dog (or mature canine) that you bring home should be compatible with your daily routine and way of life. Do you like a lot of exercise, or is channel surfing your idea of exertion? Do you prefer a tidy home or do you revel in a “lived-in” house, where feet (and dogs) can go up on the table?
You can see what I’m getting at: no matter the color, size, or breed of dog you chose, make sure your mutual habits and personalities are compatible. That way, both of you will be happy.
Your Dream: An All White Fluffy Dog!
To this end, let’s explore the backgrounds, temperaments, and needs of white dog breeds to help you make a match that is suited to your personality and lifestyle. You wouldn’t expect a large White Shepherd to be the same kind of house guest as a petite Pomeranian, right? Luckily, every breed has certain traits that can be reasonably anticipated. We’ll break down our lists into big white dog breeds and small white dog breeds, to give you an idea of what to expect.
Huge White Dog Breeds
Do you have lots of room for a huge dog to run and play? Then one of these big white dog breeds might be perfect for you. For each one, we’ll take a look at some of their history, personality and temperament, and health concerns.
Have you heard of the pedigree Samoyed? This fluffy gentle giant is one of the oldest white dog breeds, with at least 3,000 years of history to its name. This shaggy, snowy white dog hails from Western Siberia, where their formidable strength is put to good use in herding.
Samoyeds are hearty enough to pull dog sleds but playful enough to get along well with active families who have lots of time to spend with them. This breed definitely needs daily exercise to keep his muscular body in tip-top shape.
The Samoyed has a double coat and is considered to be hypoallergenic. Samoyeds are prone to hip dysplasia as well as heart and eye issues.
The White Shepherd (not to be confused with the German Shepherd breed, aka GSD) is another of the big white dog breeds. This canine was recognized by the United Kennel Club in 1999. The White Shepherd is descended from the GSD and has a similarly high canine IQ and sense of loyalty. It is a medium-sized herding dog and has a double coat that ranges from pure white to off-white.
The undercoat is fine, short and thick, and the outer coat is similarly thick but coarsely textured. The breed is self-assured and social with those she knows. Typically, White Shepherds are bred to have a gentler temperament than the GSD, without the “watchdog” personality traits.
Males reach up to 85 pounds and females up to 70 pounds, while both genders average 23-25 inches tall. These are muscular, active dogs who require daily exercise and like other large dog breeds are prone to hip and elbow dysplasia.
Great Pyrenees pedigree dogs are immense, handsome working group dogs; males reach up to 130 pounds and females a bit less at 115 pounds. They rank as the United States’ 67th most popular dog and were bred to protect sheep from large predators. Today they are better known as calm, courageous and careful guardians of hearth and home.
These shaggy, bleached dogs sometimes have a bit of light coloration around the face that usually fades with age. The breed is prone to elbow and hip dysplasia, eye disorders, and luxating patella, as well as bloat.
The Dogo Argentino is a strong, short haired white Argentinian dog that is not for everyone. They were developed to hunt large wild animals and their native intelligence makes them a go-to choice as search and rescue dogs. Like the big-boned Samoyed, the Dogo Argentino is an extremely robust canine who retains an athletic streak and stamina, and requires daily exercise.
Despite their innate hunting disposition, with early training and socialization, the Dogo Argentino can be playful and gentle with their human family members. But this is a dominant breed that can be very protective of their territory, a behavior that requires close supervision around children and smaller pets.
Males and females typically reach two feet tall and average 80-100 pounds; they have a life expectancy of 10-15 years. Like other large dog breeds, hip and elbow dysplasia are potential medical issues.
Originally from Hungary, White Kuvasz dogs belong to the working group and are big boys and girls: they can reach up to 30 inches tall and tip the scales between 70 and 100+ pounds. This loyal, muscular dog has a lush, thick coat and was bred to guard livestock.
The breed has a double coat featuring a fine undercoat and guard hair; luckily, the fur on this immense dog is low-maintenance with weekly brushing recommended. They are prone to hip and elbow dysplasia, patellar luxation, and thyroiditis, as well as heart and eye issues.
Small White Dog Breeds
If your lifestyle is better suited to a small white dog breed, the good news is that there are plenty of petite white breed pups to choose from. Let’s start with the inimitable, historical lap dog, the pedigree Bichon Frise.
This pearly white dog breed features frisky, active pups who love being the center of attention. Luckily, the spotlight is never far from this playful dog. Her cute little face and upturned tail draw attention wherever she goes.
The Bichon Frise has a double coat. The outer coat is full of curls, while the underside is thick and soft. To stay wonderfully white, this white dog breed’s fur needs daily brushing. Monthly baths aren’t out of the question, either.
They weigh 7-12 pounds and reach 9-12 inches. Their lifespan averages 12-13 years. The breed is generally fit, but the National Breed Club recommends that pups have hip, knee, and eye testing.
The regal but spunky white, fluffy Pomeranian breed has a rounded look to them, with some likening their image to a barking cotton ball! They hail from northern Europe and their ancestors were much larger Arctic working dogs. These delightful small pups have a good-natured personality and like to be around their humans. They get along with other pets.
The breed is generally healthy, but luxating patella (slipping kneecap) is the main issue to be found. Thyroid, trachea, and heart issues may also be seen.
The chalky white, long haired Maltese pedigree dog has simply gorgeous silk-like fur. They have an affectionate nature and love gentle play. Members of the Toy group, they reach only 7-9 inches in height and weigh less than 7 pounds. They are a single-coated white dog breed but an ample abundance of lush fur makes a single layer look more like three!
Many Maltese are given fancy hairdos because of their long hair, while other owners choose to keep the fur clipped short. This is mainly done as a way of sidestepping the onerous task of keeping the Maltese’s coat properly groomed. Their hair requires daily attention including brushing, and regular baths are recommended. In spite of all their hairiness, this breed is a low shedder and considered to be hypoallergenic.
This bouncy dog averages 6-9 pounds and reaches under a foot in height (8-10 inches tall on average). The breed enjoys a lifespan of approximately 12-15 years. The breed is prone to congenital heart defect (PDA) and this is an issue that must be addressed with your breeder.
The extremely intelligent and loyal Japanese Spitz is another adorable little cotton ball of a white dog. These loving pups have two coats. The undercoat is thick and soft and the outer coat consists of straight, long hair. They have feathering around their feet. They require daily brushing, and bathing as needed. Unlike many of the other small white dog breeds we’ve mentioned, the Japanese Spitz undergoes periods of intense shedding.
During the times of high shedding, they should be brushed more often to prevent mats from developing. Mats are especially problematic in long haired breeds and can lead to dangerous skin issues.
Personality wise, this dog tends to get excited and frisky, and loves to play. The breed averages 10-20 pounds and reaches a height between 12-15 inches. Overall, the Japanese Spitz breed enjoys a typical lifespan of between 10-15 years.
West Highland Terrier
The independent minded West Highland Terrier, AKA Westie, has a double white coat and is known for its native intelligence as well as a spirited activity level. It was bred to exterminate vermin and retains a bit of spunk and sass in its demeanor.
It has very low-maintenance, coarse fur that measures about two inches long and is considered to be hypoallergenic. They shed minimally and twice weekly brushing is satisfactory.
Westies have a playful nature and enjoy being around people. The Westie weighs approximately 13-22 pounds and reaches about a foot to a little over a foot in height. Cardiac disease and patellar luxation can affect this breed.
Small White Fluffy Dog Breeds
One of the downsides to owning an all-white dog is the maintenance needed to keep it looking sparkling white, instead of dingy gray. Small indoor dogs present less of an issue. But if white is the color you want to preserve in any of the white dog breeds, be prepared to put in a bit of elbow grease! This can be an extra concern when we’re talking about the smaller breeds with a lot of fluffy hair and double coats.
White Dog Breeds – A Summary
As we’ve mentioned, white fur does not cause deafness, but the two appear to be correlated. If you are interested in an all-white pup, be sure to ask your breeder to see the results of a hearing test, as well as hearing tests for its parents. Do you have a white dog? If so we’d love to hear about your experiences with white dog breeds in the comment section below!
Readers Also Liked
- Ahlstrom, L.A., Unilateral deafness in a white Bull Terrier diagnosed by BAER assessment, Australian Veterinary Journal, 2008
- Bergsma, D.R., White Fur, Blue Eyes, and Deafness in the Domestic Cat, Journal of Heredity, 1971
- Famula, T.R., A threshold model analysis of deafness in Dalmatians, Mammalian Genome, 1996
- Famula, T.R., et al, Complex segregation analysis of deafness in Dalmatians, American Journal of Veterinary Research, 2000
- Madewell, B.R., et al, Sunlight‐skin cancer association in the dog: A report of three cases, Journal of Cutaneous Pathology, 1981
- Strain, G.M., Deafness prevalence and pigmentation and gender associations in dog breeds at risk, The Veterinary Journal, 2004
- Stritzel, S., et al, A role of the microphthalmia‐associated transcription factor in congenital sensorineural deafness and eye pigmentation in Dalmatian dogs, Journal of Animal Breeding and Genetics, 2009
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