Does a white dog ever really get clean? Is there a white dog that stays small? Why am I asking you these questions? Because this article is packed with information about those dogs that have snowy white coats.
From small to big dogs, there are those you’re probably familiar with and some you’re not unless you’re Cesar Milan!
Now, let’s get technical. White dogs and albino dogs are two different animals. Not all white dogs are albino, which is caused by a genetic disorder resulting in the inability to produce pigment. True albino dogs are rare.
Okay, that’s your first science lesson. Moving forward, let’s talk more about the beauties known as white dogs.
White Dog Breeds
To recognize the difference between an all-white dog and an albino, most pure white dogs have normal pigmentation, which shows in their nose, eyes, skin, and paw pads. Albino dogs have blue or pink eyes/irises and white coats with pink noses, skin, lips, and paw pads.
Albinism is a genetic disorder, but having a white coat alone isn’t a disorder for most dogs. (Interesting note: There are genetic tests for albinism.)
White hair occurs when skin cells don’t produce any pigment.
Without getting too much into the weeds, there’s something called ‘white spotting.’ This means there’s an absence of melanocytes (pigment-producing cells) in the hair follicles or skin. The condition results in dogs that have any white on their bodies – many breeds – or all white dogs.
Dog coat color changes are probably one of the first characteristics that occurred during the domestication of dogs. We know from records and photos of dogs that white spotting happened thousands of years ago.
The bottom line? White-haired dogs are solid white due to genetics/cells/white spotting. End of science lesson.
|Coat||Double coat – Dense, long, straight outer coat; Full, soft, thick undercoat|
The Samoyed doesn’t know what getting cold means. They prefer cold temperatures, and although they should live inside with their guardians all the time, they especially shouldn’t stay outside during hot weather.
These dogs are energetic, social, and loving. Their name comes from the Samoyedic people of Siberia. Fans of the breed call them “Sammies,” and they’re pros at:
- Agility (canine sports where dogs are directed through an obstacle course and are timed)
- Carting (an activity where dogs pull a cart, wagon, or sled)
- Mushing (the sport of dogs pulling a sled or vehicle over snow or dry land)
- Herding (mostly herd reindeer)
- Skijoring (a winter sport where a person is pulled on skis by an animal)
- Dog shows/competitions
2. Bichon Frise
|Weight||Weight: 12-18 lbs.|
|Coat||Double coat – Silky, curly outer coat; Soft undercoat|
|Lifespan||Lifespan: 14-15 yrs.|
Bichons are little “fluff balls,” and their hair is often clipped in the most adorable shapes. They certainly need bathing and grooming regularly. The word “Bichon” means white dog, and the word “frise” (pronounced free-zay) describes the corkscrew curls of the coat.
They’re famous for receiving positive, emotional outbursts from crowds at dog competitions. Bichons are curious, affectionate, gentle, and playful but, as with all other dogs, should be monitored with young children.
The breed originated in the Canary Islands off the coast of Spain, and in 1956, they were brought to the US by a French family. The Bichon was recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1972.
3. Great Pyrenees
|Coat||Double coated – Long outer coat; Soft undercoat|
With a plush coat and a ready smile, these large white dogs originated in the Pyrenees Mountains in Europe by the Basque people. They wanted to protect their flocks from bears, wolves, and sheep and have done this for over a thousand years.
Great Pyrenees dogs are independent, strong, highly intelligent, and territorial with medium energy. They conserve it in case there really is a threat.
In Europe, the Great Pyrenees dog is called the Pyrenean Mountain dog. Shepherds could leave them alone to do their work since these dogs can tend to the flock independently. Today, this breed still guards homes and property.
|Weight||Under 7 lbs.|
|Coat||Single coated – Long, straight, silky|
This incredibly affectionate, lively, and beautiful breed with a silky white coat is named after the island of Malta in the Mediterranean. Once the pet of only the wealthy and aristocratic, today you can find them in all types of homes.
Leona Helmsley, an American businesswoman who was labeled the “Queen of Mean,” gifted her Maltese named Trouble two million dollars as an inheritance. The Maltese enjoy participating in:
- Obedience training
- Scent work
Guardians should be aware of them at all times, due to their size, to protect them from other animals and anything heavy in the home.
5. West Highland White Terrier
|Coat||Double coated – Harsh/Rough outer coat; Short, soft, close undercoat|
Friendly and independent, the “Westie” originated in Scotland in the 15th century. They were bred to hunt vermin. It’s not a good idea to have other small animals in the home with them, like rabbits, gerbils, or birds.
They’re high energy, and so need to be exercised accordingly with short walks plus puzzle toys and backyard time daily.
The Westie is loving and friendly, and lap time should be a priority. They’re actually excellent watchdogs since they’re barkers and dedicated to their families. Wonderful with older children; they need to be watched with little ones since tail pulling isn’t high on their list of desires.
|Coat||Double coated – Curly, wavy, course, corded outer coat; Dense, soft, wooly undercoat|
The Komondor, or the “carwash dog,” as I like to call it, has drop-dead gorgeous corded hair. When they compete in shows, they’re usually a favorite. If you’re not up for daily grooming responsibilities, this wouldn’t be the dog for you.
The breed originated in Hungary and is the largest of the Hungarian herding breeds.
Innately untrusting of newcomers, these dogs make fantastic watchdogs. They’re naturals in their role of herding/guarding flocks. Early socialization and positive reinforcement training are mandatory due to their wariness with strangers.
The Komondor was recognized by the United Kennel Club (UK) in 1983 and by the American Kennel Club (AKC) in 1937.
7. American Eskimo
|Height||9”-12” (toy); 12”-15” (miniature); 15”-19” (standard)|
|Weight||6-10 lbs. (toy); 10-20 lbs. (miniature); 25-35 lbs. (standard)|
|Coat||Double coated – Long, fluffy outer coat; Short, dense undercoat|
These poofy and floofy white cuties look like Barbie dogs, with the inside of their ears being a true pink. Here are some other traits they have:
- Good with other dogs
- High energy
Eskies’ ancestors – German Spitz dogs, including the Pomeranian, Samoyed, and the Keeshond – reach back 6,000 years ago. In the early 1800s, German immigrants/farmers came to America and brought the Spitz with them.
In 1917, when America entered WWI, the German Spitz’s name was changed to the American Eskimo dog.
8. Japanese Spitz
|Coat||Double coated – Long outer coat; Thick undercoat|
|Group||Foundation stock service|
During WWII, records that would tell us the history of the Japanese Spitz were destroyed, so we don’t have the entire story. They’re believed to have been relatives of the white German Spitz, who were brought to Japan around 1920.
These dogs are great with young children and other dogs, and they’re loyal, smart, and highly trainable companion animals.
They enjoy warm temperatures and have a burst of hair surrounding the face, giving it a mane-like appearance. These white dogs were introduced in 1921 at a Tokyo show, and in 1925, Canada imported two of them to America. In 1948, the Japan Kennel Club recognized the breed.
|Coat||Double coated – Medium-length, coarse outer coat; Dense undercoat|
These big white dog breeds are muscular with floppy ears and have two types of coats: Medium and long. They are guardian dogs that protect livestock from predators and originated from Turkey. Akbashes watch over their herd by staying in one position overseeing them rather than moving around continually.
In the 70s, they became popular in the US, although they’re still quite rare.
This breed is territorial and not very good with strangers, so early socialization is required for them to be comfortable with new faces.
10. Coton de Tulear
|Coat||Double coated – Long, soft, thick outer coat; Dense undercoat|
Don’t mistake these little white dogs for wallflowers. They’re energetic and enjoy their playtime. Great with cats and other dogs, this breed is social but will probably leave a load of hair in their path, so grooming is regularly required.
Coton de Tulear means “cotton of Tulear,” and they’re named after their soft, fluffy coats as well as where they originated from in the town of Tulear in Madagascar. And they weren’t common dogs; rather, they were the companions of royalty and were actually known as the royal dog of Madagascar.
They would probably respond to strangers with kisses, charm, and cuteness, so don’t expect them to be guard dogs since they’re too friendly for that.
|Coat||Single coated – Thick hair, wavy/curly|
|Group||Foundation stock service|
Talk about fluffy clouds of hair…You wouldn’t know their heads from their tails if not for their nose, eyes, and mouth. Bolognese dogs love to be around their people. They don’t need to be exercised for long periods of time (but still daily), so they’re the perfect dog for seniors.
These small dogs are not big barkers but will sound off if something alerts them. They have a calm, good-natured temperament and are social but need to be watched around small children.
The Bolo originated in Bologna, Italy, and belongs to the Bichon family. These fluffy dogs have been favorites of aristocrats since the 11th century.
12. Maremma Sheepdog
|Coat||Double coated – Long, thick, coarse outer coat; Dense undercoat|
“Shaggy” might be your description of this breed. But still gorgeous. Affectionate and devoted, these dogs will protect their people. They’re just as devoted to their flock because it’s in their bloodline when they guard sheep and goats from predators.
These best guard dogs are ancient working dog that was first mentioned in Roman literature over 2,000 years ago.
In the 70s, the Maremma sheepdog came to the US to participate in a research project that researched the effectiveness of livestock guardians. These muscular, strong dogs are high energy and need to be exercised daily with long walks or runs plus mental stimulation.
13. White German Shepherd
|Coat||Double coated – Dense, close-lying outer coat; Soft undercoat|
White German Shepherds were bred to work but also to be good family dogs. They’re loyal and courageous, and if you think of a K9 (police) dog, you know they’re built to be fearless. Cautious with strangers, they can eventually warm up to them.
Great with kids, since they like to have fun, early socialization will also set the stage for good interactions with other pets. These big white dogs shed profusely and need a hearty regular brushing to keep it under control.
Watch for hip and elbow dysplasia since it’s the number one health concern with this breed.
14. Dogo Argentino
|Coat||Single coated – Short, smooth|
This large white dog breed is built of solid muscle, and they’re intelligent dogs, loyal, and protective. They were bred to be hunting partners for large game in the Republic of Argentina by a breeder named Dr. Antonio Nores Martinez.
These large dogs have moderate to high energy levels, so daily exercise sessions need to be fairly intense – long walks, runs, frisbee throwing, etc. They’re protective of their families and also love snuggle time.
15. White Swiss Shepherd Dog
|Coat||Double coated – Two varieties: 1 medium, 1 long outer coat; Dense undercoat|
White shepherds originated in Germany as early as 1882 but weren’t widely accepted. In 1933, the republic banned white-coated dogs from being registered.
The Kennel Club (UK) recognized the breed in 2017, but in 1991, Switzerland had already recognized them. Their intelligence and trainability have made them popular dogs in several countries.
White Swiss shepherds have a strong prey drive and are protective, so socializing them is important to ensure they get along with other family pets.
16. Siberian Husky
|Coat||Double coated – Medium-length, straight outer coat; Soft, dense undercoat|
This stunning breed is super smart and independent and loves being around people. (If you’re looking for a guard dog, a husky isn’t your best choice.)
Siberian Huskies were originally bred by the Chukchi people/nomads of Siberia to help them hunt, pull sleds, and be family companions.
These dogs were imported to Alaska in 1908 and used as sled dogs during the gold rush. From 1908-1917, huskies participated in the All Alaska Sweepstakes held in Nome. The breed’s strength, endurance, and physical attributes made them perfect for the job.
|Coat||Double coated – Wooly, curly outer coat; Fine undercoat|
|Life expectancy||10-12 yrs.|
These large dogs are a thing of beauty and make excellent watchdogs. Originating in Hungary, they’re a livestock guardian dog breed who’s not very fond of kids (always supervise them), other dogs, or strangers. But with early socialization, they can be loving and accepting.
Kuvasz dogs have a high prey drive and are active, so give them plenty of exercise, like a good run or going hiking daily.
Taking Care of a White Dog Breed
1. White dog breeds need to be bathed about every 3-4 weeks. This will ensure dirt and debris don’t stay trapped in their hair. Just don’t bathe them more often since it could dry the skin out and interfere with their skin’s natural oils.
Discuss using blue-ing shampoos with your vet to make sure they’re safe for your unique dog.
2. Brush your dog daily to make it easier to keep dirt and debris to a minimum.
3. Brush their teeth weekly. Infection can lead to other, more serious issues.
4. Most of these dogs need lots of exercise to keep them healthy physically and mentally, and even small dog breeds need to be exercised. Without it, your dog can become destructive or even aggressive.
Preventing Tear Staining in a White Dog
- Examine food and water quality. Make sure they’re getting a high-quality, grain-free diet. Use purified or distilled water.
- Trim facial hair (not whiskers) regularly. Wash the muzzle hair with dry shampoo.
- Wipe tear stains and crusts away with veterinarian-approved wipes.
- Get your dog checked for any skin issues that could enflame the skin. Environmental and/or food allergies and intolerances can affect skin health. Also, ear infections, blocked tear ducts, or other health issues. Be sure to visit your vet if you begin to see tear staining.
Is a White Dog Good for the Home?
As long as they’ve been well-trained (using positive reinforcement) and socialized, most white dogs are wonderful family animals. But remember, white dog breeds like an Afghan hound need proper grooming to keep their white fur neat and clean.
What is the Fluffy White Dog that Stays Small?
These are the most popular breeds that are small dogs with white coats:
- Bichon Frise
- Coton de Tulear
- Japanese Spitz
- West Highland white terrier
There are more small white dog breeds, but these are the ones included in this article.
All canines are gorgeous dogs in their own way, but a white dog is especially head-turning. If you’re up to the task of grooming them regularly, they’ll make the perfect addition to your family.
Just make sure they don’t get a big head when they’re complimented.