When Dan fell in love with “Gracie,” she was the smallest in her litter. She was also an albino Great Dane who was less robust than the other puppies, but loving and wicked smart. Because of a highly sensitive stomach, run-of-the-mill dog food made Gracie sick, so Dan decided to learn to bake to help her thrive.
He used only natural ingredients that he would himself eat, and in 1989, this just wasn’t being done. As it turned out, Gracie loved her meals.
So did “Dottie, the Dalmatian owned by Dan’s friend, Mark.
So did “Sarah Jean, the Biscuit Queen,” a Lab mix owned by another friend.
Equipped with nothing more than a 59 cent biscuit cutter, Dan and Mark started a business to sell the dog biscuits their own dogs relished. They named it “Three Dog Bakery” (after Gracie, Dottie and Sarah Jean), and the rest is history. Word of the treats spread well beyond Kansas City, and soon the guys were selling their snacks in Neiman Marcus stores.
Today, there are well over 140 bakeries world wide. The fellas set up the Gracie Foundation which serves as a sort of “Red Cross” for dogs, and throughout the year, they host dog friendly events. And it all started with a Great Dane named, “Gracie.”
We use this as a “teachable moment” to talk about white Great Danes.
There is a definite connection between a white Great Dane, and Deafness. Sometimes, Double Merle Danes that are often partially or completely white in coat color are sometimes referred to as being albinos, but this is inaccurate. Double Merle Danes are not albinos. Their white coat is produced by a doubling up of the gene responsible for the merle gene which is a “bleaching pattern,” not a color. These dogs’ coat is light colored with irregular spots. Merle simply makes the melanin pigmentation less intense in random areas of the dog’s body. Sadly, substandard breeders (add to that “ignorant,” or just plain “unethical”) often market white Great Danes as a lightly marked Harlequin, or a complete Harlequin. They often leave out that the puppy may be deaf and/or blind, sometimes because they honestly don’t know because they never educated themselves. It isn’t necessarily a given that a white Great Dane is always going to be deaf and/or blind. They can be one or the other or even neither, though finding a healthy White Dane tends to be uncommon.
The Great Dane Club of America talks about this on their website. They point out that in breeding Harlequin and Mantle Danes, whites and merles may result, and Danes that are predominately white are typically deaf and may have various eye anomalies.
True albinism is a genetic condition recognizable by the total absence of pigmentation in the eyes, coat, and skin.