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Personality & Health Differences in Mostly White Dogs?


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These may be dumb questions, but here goes anyway . . .

 

I've been watching a couple rescues for about 6 months looking for a pup or young dog to adopt for therapy work.

 

One of the rescue coordinators just notified me of a litter or 8 week old puppies that just came in.

 

One of them's mostly white and 2 of the others are smoothies (there's a 4th rough coated black & white as well). I mentioned that, probably due in large part to my background in working border collies, I like smoothies (she says most adopters don't) but am not especially fond of the white dogs, adding that there may be some long term health concerns with them.

 

She replied saying that "some of the whites we’ve had would make fabulous therapy dogs, much easier going dogs."

 

So, question #1 is whether anyone's noticed that white dogs are indeed easier going dogs? I suspect her comment could just be an observation based on the particular dogs she's known and not a true generality. I've never been a believer in the color/temperament links some people make (e.g. some I've heard about red dogs but don't remember because I didn't believe them) and would like to know if anyone has any opinions. I'm not asking about suitability on sheep because sheep may not perceive them the same way they do a darker dog, but issues about temperament.

 

The white pup in this litter has a normally colored head and ears, but the body is mostly white, so I'd also like to know if there's anything to the white dogs possibly having more health issues than colored dogs. It seems I may have read something to that effect here, but am not sure where. Again, I'd welcome any light anyone can shed on the subject.

 

Thanks so much!

 

roxanne

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I have a mostly white border collie registered with the ABCA and he is almost 16. The only concerns is when they have no pigmentation around the eyes and ears which makes them being prone to blindness or deafness. There are no health concerns other than that for a bc being mostly white. Color has nothing to do with personality, therefore you cannot predict if they are going to be more easy going.

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M Tommy is mostly white. She has the black head markings and black and tan on one leg.

 

She had a bout with polyarthritis when she was 1. The emergency vet thought being white made her more prone to autoimmune stuff. My own vet disagreed and said it had nothing to do with it.

 

She has a pretty laid back temperment but she talks all the time. About everything.

 

She'S a nice dog send I love her to pieces.

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The litter that I am getting my pup from has a mostly white puppy. She's the opposite of calm and easygoing! She's a spitfire and full of fun, that's for sure. Her very dark sister is similar in temperament. These dogs are from working parents and registered ABCA, btw.

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Tess is white with black ears, a black patch on her back. She does have black eye rimms. She's my only experience with white dogs.

She was born with congenital chataracts, which I discovered when she was 5 mo. She had surgery and regained her eyesight. From what I have understood, congenital chataracts have nothing to do with her being white, or a bc. Her parents and litter mates had no problem. Otherwise she has been a healthy active athletic dog.

 

Temperament wise, she would not be a good therapy dog, but she would be a good assistance dog (assuming I got it right and therapy means working with old or sick people, and assistance means helping the owner with this and that). She's confident and curious and likes most people, but she doesn't LOVE people, she's not that easy going and has too strong a personality I think to be good for therapy work. And although she's not scaredy, she does get a bit spooked by this and that sometimes. My experience with bc's is limited, but from what I gather she seems to be a pretty normal bc temperament wise.

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I have never noticed as association with 'looks' and temperament/personality. If I was not able to meet the parents I would much more concerned with how the pup related to litter mates and people than its coat color.

Other than the known problems with health I am not aware of others that are suggested but unproven.

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In some animals, coat color is indicative of some personality traits, but remember, white on a Border Collie is from a gene that tells the body to not use the underlying color, so the underlying color is what color the dog is genetically, if BCs have color related personality traits. I always thought reds were different, personality wise, but I've only known 2 personally and not that many other BCs personally, so I'm willing to believe it was just these 2 dogs that are different.

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I have a mostly white border collie with a split face (shelter foster that never left). Severe fear aggression issues and poor socialization along with spine/pelvis/hip issues- background unknown but most likely from poor care/training by previous owner. Concerned about vision issues at 9 months, noted vision issues at age 4, confirmed going blind from autoimmune disorder before age 5. Also has issues telling which direction you are calling her from-- assume deaf in one ear but haven't bother to BAER test. BC's with primarily white bodies are at high risk for autoimmune disorders, allergies, etc. BC's with white on ears or over 50% white on heads (or littermates with such) are more likely to be deaf in one or both ears. BC's with white around eyes are more likely to have chronic issues with painful sunburns around eyes for their entire lives.

I wouldn't get another white BC for all the money in the world. They can make nice pets however I've spent over 7 thousand in medical bills on my white BC. Also trained her in agility but can't trial her. She can trial in rally obedience either as blind dogs not allowed to compete in most venues. If you want a pet, then get the dog you like despite it's color. But get medical insurance right away before any health issues are found. No insurance company will insure my white BC. . I've tried.

Having said that I've met lots of white BC's with little health issues and I know several with significant health issues. So yes, there is a risk. :(

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As far as I know there is no evidence that color affects temperament in any way.

 

As for physical problems, it depends on what kind of white you have. There are 3 kinds - albinos, self-colored whites and dilute whites, which are got by merle to merle breedings. Albinos are scarce as hen's teeth and they do have issues, notably a sensitivity to sunlight. But this can be problematical in any white dog.

 

Self-colored whites, like the white German Shepherd Dogs, Samoyeds, Maltese, etc. are usually a uniform shade of white or pale cream. They typically have black eye-rims, nose-leather and pads.

 

The potential for blindness, poor vision, deafness and poor hearing in a white Border Collie, Collie, or Shetland Sheepdog tends to be mitigated by the dog having a colored head, with or without a blaze. (I've never seen a white, colored-headed dog of any of these 3 breeds that didn't have a blaze.) As long as the ears, (including inside) the area around the ears, the eye-rims and the nose-leather are pigmented, they are less likely to have sun-sensitivity issues or hearing/vision problems. I have known all-white Collies, and white color-headed Collies with poorly pigmented eye-rims and nose leather that were fine with normal exposure to the sun, but I've known more that did have problems, notably sunburn. There was a higher incidence of "Collie nose" and skin cancer as well. I've never seen an all-white Shetland Sheepdog, but I have heard that they do happen rarely.

 

I recently fostered a red & white dog that had a lot of white on it, and only partially pigmented eye-rims and nose leather. She also had light-colored eyes, and one ear that was almost entirely white. She seemed to have no hearing or vision problems, (I didn't have either tested) but I expect she will sunburn easily around her face, especially the bridge of her nose.

 

post-10533-0-64885400-1453082278_thumb.jpg

I would not worry about sun sensitivity in this dog,

 

post-10533-0-12840300-1453082340_thumb.jpg

but his one will be more at risk for that.

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Coming late to this, but as the owner of a mostly white border collie (colored head only; ticking on rest of body), I can say that my sample of one has been extremely healthy (despite epilepsy in the litter, he was not affected) and has a great personality. The latter I attribute to his lines (the males from those lines tend to be happy, friendly dogs in general, through there are exceptions, and the females of those lines have a tendency toward snark), NOT his color.

The only health issue he has had is a shoulder injury related to work. I had him and littermates BAER tested as pups because of the association with excessive white and deafness (which can affect the entire litter, not just the one with a lot of white).

My white dog is pretty well known around here because I set sheep at a lot of trials, including the novice field at the Bluegrass. Working breeders have actually approached me about taking their (unexpected) white puppies because it's obvious I don't have the usual prejudice against white dogs. If I liked the breeding, another white dog is not outside the realm of possibility. I don't go looking for them, but I certainly wouldn't turn one down based on color alone, if the dog came from lines I liked. Pip is 9.5 years old and still going strong as my main work dog (and he just recently won a double lift trial, so he's got what it takes to be a winning open trial dog too).

A friend of mine also has a rough coated white dog (she's actually a tri, and has some color on her face, but less than my white dog). My friend's dog is an agility dog, who was retired early due to jumping problems. Again, the problem was not related to the dog's color.

Any individual dog can have issues. Other than problems known to be directly related to color (color dilution alopecia, for example), I don't think white dogs are more prone to health issues than any other color.

(And there is a very well known trial big hat who thinks red dogs don't hold up as well, yet I had two different red dogs who lived to be nearly 16, both successful open trial dogs, and neither with any health issues except those associated with old age or genetics that have nothing to do with color--that is, CHD.)

So, I agree with Donald, if you like a puppy, no matter what the color, I'd go for it. And if someone offered me a well-bred working pup who happened to be white, I wouldn't bat an eye, as long as the basic testing (BAER) had been done on it (or the parents in the case of hips or potential genetic issues like IGS <--again, none of these are related to color).

As with any question like this, most of what folks experience with their white dogs may not truly be correlated to color, but because the problem happened with the oddly colored dog people will attribute the problem to the color. In other words, until I see a well-thought-out study that points to color being associated with things like allergies or autoimmune disease or the like, I will be rather disinclined to believe that white dogs are more prone to those issues. My opinion of course.

These were taken New Year's day as we were helping our friends shear their flock.

 

Working the small pen where we were pushing the sheep into the chute of the handling system:
0102161428_zpsakiuai4i.jpg

 

Moving the shorn sheep back to their pasture at dusk (hence the blurriness):
0101161712a_zpsyzbhowh0.jpg

 

What's a self respecting dog supposed to do when being harassed by piglets?
0101161433a2_zpsor5fi3mv.jpg

J.

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Thanks, everyone, for your input.

 

As I said in my original post, I didn't really believe there'd be a difference in personality linked to color, but I wanted to be sure I wasn't missing anything. I've never believed what I've heard about differences in red or merles on that score either -- or in working ability for that matter -- so it didn't make sense to me that it would be any different with whites.

 

Good to know the health issues are probably unfounded as well.

 

It turned out that all of these pups are male, and while I have no gender preference I am pretty severely allergic to dogs. So knowing that males produce more allergens than females (and confirming this, locating some studies online) I've reluctantly decided to pass on these pups. :(

 

I'll keep watching and waiting. . . .

 

If anyone hears of a young female (up to 2 yrs old) who seems like she's calm, confident and outgoing enough to make a good therapy dog or a puppy young enough to train and could be adopted into upstate NY, please LMK about her. :D

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I'll keep my eyes open... I know Texas is a long way away, but the group I volunteer for here will adopt out of state. You never know!

 

Edit: I shared what you're looking for, just in case. They said there's a waiting list for females under 2, but they've adopted as far ask Alaska so NY is no problem. If you thought it'd be worthwhile, you could fill out the application just in case (http://www.allbordercollierescue.com/#!adoptions/coq4). I don't know how wide a net you want to cast, but they do get some nice dogs... and there was mention that several litters of puppies have come in recently!

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Thanks, TxMom.

 

I looked at their website but didn't see the answer. Do you know if they'll ship or arrange transports, or do adopters have to pick the dog up in person? The latter certainly isn't unreasonable, but good to know what to expect.

 

Thanks!

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I think they'll work to arrange transport, at least as close as they can get, but I'm not 100% confident so I've asked and will let you know what I hear back. I seem to recall hearing that some sort of volunteer group flew the dogs adopted to Alaska out there, but I could be mistaken.

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If anyone hears of a young female (up to 2 yrs old) who seems like she's calm, confident and outgoing enough to make a good therapy dog or a puppy young enough to train and could be adopted into upstate NY, please LMK about her. :D

I will keep my eyes and ears open as well. I occasionally foster for BRBCR (in VA). I don't hear about all the dogs that come through (since some will get adopted before being listed on the website), but I could send an email to the group to be on the watch for such a dog if you wish.

 

I wish I had known as I fostered a possible candidate over the holidays. (Check out Lya on the Blue Ridge Border Collie Rescue FB page. She was officially adopted as of last Saturday (the end of her two-week trial period) so they took her photo and description off the website.)

 

BRBCR wants the adopter to come and pick up the dog (in case they don't click when they meet). I have only known one or two exceptions.

 

Good Luck

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Thanks so much, Jovi. I'd really appreciate your sending an e-mail on my behalf.

 

I'm going to be filling out some applications to other rescues (beyond the couple I've already been approved with) this weekend, and BRBCR is on my list. I'll PM you with my name so they'll know which app it is.

 

I'm in the central southern tier of upstate NY, so traveling to VA wouldn't be a problem.

 

One thing, though . . . I'm only looking for a border collie, not a mix. I've loved my mixes very much, but they've also been my most difficult dogs. (My 4 year old lurcher was supposed to be my next therapy dog, but so far it just ain't happening. :rolleyes: ) At least with a border collie, quirks and all, I know what to expect.

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Roxanne,

I'm also part of BRBCR so can keep an eye out for you. I also have other contacts and sometimes hear/know of young purebreds (older puppies) looking for placement. I will keep you in mind and also let my contacts know you're looking.

 

It's a shame about males being more problematic WRT allergies. My males are my most outgoing, easygoing dogs. My females can be quirky and snarky, but as I said in my earlier post, that seems to be a trait of their breeding....

 

J.

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Is the study you are referring to about gender effects on allergen production?

 

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1398-9995.2005.00824.x/full

 

If so I don't find the distributions between males and females that different to draw the conclusion that most females are less likely to cause allergic reactions than most males.

 

Skin health (seborrhea) had a greater impact on how much allergen was found on fur clippings.

 

The study did confirm significant variation in can f 1 levels between individuals within the same breed.

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Here is a newer study that draws the conclusion females have higher can f 1 on fur than males.

http://www.waojournal.org/content/pdf/1939-4551-8-S1-A177.pdf

 

 

 

What's an allergy sufferer to do (one who is allergic to dogs, as am I)? Make sure to get a dog with good skin health.

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Yes, Mark. The first link is the one I'd found.

 

My problem with understanding the data they provided was that they gave no reference range for the Can f 1 so that I as a lay person reading it could understand how significant the difference really was, and in my reading they even seem to contradict themselves, saying both that "Males displayed significantly higher concentrations..." and "Within breeds, there was no statistically significant difference between levels of Can f 1 in hair from male and female dogs, but for all breed there was a trend for the levels to be higher in males..."

 

Males displayed significantly higher concentrations of Can f 1 on hair than females: 11.75 μg/g of hair for males vs 8.89 μg/g of hair for females (P = 0.0365) (Table 2). Within breeds, there was no statistically significant difference between levels of Can f 1 in hair from male and female dogs, but for all breed there was a trend for the levels to be higher in males, reflecting the small numbers in each group. (http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1398-9995.2005.00824.x/full)

 

So are you saying that your reading of this is that it's really not a significant difference?

 

And then the other study says the opposite!

 

Both studies seem fairly small to me. And how I wish border collies had been one of the breeds included in the first study

 

Oy veh! You're right. What's an allergic dog lover to do?

 

And this litter I mentioned has just been posted to the rescue's website and 2 of them have been adopted or pending adoption already! Not that I'm surprised. But now I don't know what to do. :blink:

 

As an aside, I have a fairly strong suspicion that my male Bodhi produces more allergens than female Tilly did. A very allergic friend did OK with Tilly when she visited them, but he had a very pronounced and uncomfortable reaction to Bodhi. That's only 2 dogs, so not a large enough sample to be statistically significant, but it did lend support to the allergist's cautions against males.

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