Please note the chi in the photo is not a full albino chi.
Albino chihuahuas; It’s not as clear as you think!
Albino is not just another name for a white dog. In a white dog the genetic marker for the dog is white, while in an albino dog has no melanin or pigmentation at all. If you wanted to be sure that your chihuahua is a true albino chihuahua you would need to get him genetically tested at the vet, but albino chihuahuas typically presents as; very pale eyes, pink around the eye sockets, pink nose and lips.
You could also part his fur and look at the skin. A white dog will still have some colour in his skin, but an albino’s skin under the fur will be pink.
True albino chihuahuas are rare
But very importantly be aware that it is possible for your chihuahua to present with these traits and not be a true albino. This is known as partial albinism.
True albino chihuahuas are rare. So, some breeders might feel this is a reason to charge you more for your puppy. But, as a white puppy can present as an albino it would be a good idea to resist paying extra. You could also be buying a partial albino chihuahua that may have additional health problems.
Health issues associated with albinism
Melanin in the eyes will help filter light, so for your albino chihuahua, the lack of melanin will make him sensitive to light and cause pain in bright light situations.
They can also be prone to sunburn and extra special care needs to be taken in the sunlight. Skin cancers can also be an issue for albino chihuahuas.
Not necessarily deafness
Deafness is not necessarily a symptom of being a true albino, this is something that is more likely to affect partial albino chihuahuas. A partial albino may have odd small swatches of colour. These colour patterns are known as “piebald” and “merle”.
” Piebald dogs have mostly white-coloured coats that display spots or patches of dark coloration. Merle-coated dogs exhibit splotches or patches of colour, not only on the coat, but on the skin as well.” (www.dogster.com)
The issue with deafness comes when you have a Mm breeding which is a double merle. Read the controversy over merles.
Also, merle is considered a genetic fault, this is the reason that merle chis are not eligible to be registered with the kennel club or enter formal shows.
Should be we breed albino chihuahuas?
Albino chihuahuas need just as much loving as any other chi. They are beautiful and unique. But as true albinism is rare the casual breeder is unlikely to know themselves and your puppy could be the result of a double merle (Mm) paring.
So, on top of the extra precautions an albino chihuahua needs over light and sun sensitivity they could be inheriting deafness and neurological issues associated with double merle gene.
Chasing designer colours
My advice is don’t pay extra and don’t take the word of the breeder that your puppy is a true albino chihuahua. Don’t go searching for an albino because it is unusual. You could end up with a world of problems and vet bills. Plus the breeding of designer coats weakens the breed.
Some breeders will try and engineer a litter of puppies with unusual coat marking because they believe they will be able to get more money for them. Sometimes without realising the health implications and some not caring.
A good breeder will not sell a puppy to just anyone and they are unlikely to risk the health of the puppies to get unusual or designer coat colouring. So, if you are going to buy a puppy rather than adopt make sure you go to a reputable breeder and you can see both the parents. Read how to spot a puppy farm chihuahua.