The Complete Guide For White Pugs + (Leucistic & Albino Pugs)

While most types of pugs are usually seen sporting a brown or creamy appearance with a mask or a few colourful spots dotted around their coat, they can also come in white and while it may be a rarity, even now they have begun growing tremendously in popularity. 

However, unlike what many people believe there isn’t just one type of ‘white’ pug, instead, there are a few different variants that differ slightly in several ways that make each of them incredibly unique not just from each other, but from all other dog breeds too. 

Here is all you need to know about white pugs including why they look the way they do, how many kinds there are, and if they require you to care for them any differently. 

What Causes A Pug To Be White?

While there are many dog breeds that can naturally come with a white appearance such as the Maltese or Japanese Spitz, pugs are a little different.

One reason for a pug being white is through crossbreeding, and while this can often be looked down upon by some pug enthusiasts who therefore don’t consider the dog to be a ‘true pug’, it is still fairly common among breeders.

The west highland white terrier and pug pairing is a common example of crossbreeding that will lead to a white pug. 

The more common reason some pugs will don a white appearance however is due to genetic mutations, specifically leucism and albinism which are both conditions that cause a lower amount of melanin to be produced in the body which is required to give a dog their coat and skin its natural colour. 

Because this is more down to chance or the parents needing to pass these mutations down to the offspring, it makes white pugs incredibly rare and while both these conditions are not unique to pugs, they have been known to affect them more than many other breeds. 

What Is Albinism In Pugs?

Albinism is caused by a genetic mutation known as tyrosinase which results in an absolute lack of melanin in the pug’s body.

Since melanin is required to give dogs their colour, pugs with albinism therefore lack any colour on their coat or on their skin, eyes or nose, with them having a completely white appearance with no patches of colour to be seen. 

Albinism is a lot rarer than leucism when it comes to pugs because of how specific the requirements are for a pug to be born with it.

For one, both of the pug’s parents would need to already be carrying albinism genes for them to be passed down to their offspring, but because albinism leads to a weaker immune system, it means that many of these dogs don’t even get to breed because their lifespan is so short. 

Albinism is a lot similar to leucism in the way that it changes the pug’s appearance, however albinism is seen as a lot more serious since it makes the pug much more prone to developing health complications down the line and because leucism still allows a small amount of melanin to be produced, it does also mean that pugs affected by albinism will be much whiter than those with leucism. 

Albinism Health Issues

Pugs are already known as a breed that is very prone to suffering from a range of different health issues and disabilities such as hip dysplasia and Brachycephalic Syndrome, however because of the albino pug’s weaker immune system, they are far more susceptible to developing these kinds of issues while also being very prone to suffering from a few other complications aswell. 

Because of their lack of melanin and weak skin tissue, this makes albino pugs a lot more vulnerable to skin cancer since their skin won’t be strong enough to protect them from the sun.

Because of this, it’s crucially important for any owner of an albino pug to choose wisely when the best time to take them out for a walk is and to always make sure that they are dressed up and protected when the temperatures start to spike outside. 

Sun cream for dogs should also be covered over the entire body of the pug before you take them outside when the sun is beaming down, just always remember never to use human sun cream since this can be toxic to many dogs. 

Albino pugs are also incredibly susceptible to photophobia which affects the development of the optic nerves which can then lead to problems with their vision and also means their eyes will be incredibly sensitive to sunlight. 

While albinism does not guarantee that a pug will lose their vision, there is a much higher possibility than with regular pugs, especially if they have already begun developing an eye condition such as cherry eye or corneal ulcers. 

What Is Leucism In Pugs? 

Leucism is one of the mutations that can cause a pug to sport a white appearance and refers to the melanin being affected at a DNA level which in turn affects the pug’s pigmentation, giving them a white appearance around their entire body. 

Unlike albinism however, leucism does not rid all pigmentation in the body since the pug will still possess melanin on its paws, nose and iris. They will also usually have a dark shade of blue or brown for their eyes which is an easy way to tell a pug with leucism apart from an albino pug. 

Because of this, leucism reduces but does not fully eliminate melanin production which is a major reason many pugs will have white fur and pale skin, however it should be noted that this reduction in melanin can also cause the pug to have a creamy coat or a colour that is still bright and noticeable, but not always completely white. 

Leucism Health Issues

While albinism can come with a range of health issues due to the complete absence of melanin in the pugs body, because pugs with leucism still produce a tiny amount, it does mean that they tend to be a lot healthier and don’t carry the risk of catching as many diseases along their way. 

This does mean that pugs with leucism do have a slightly weaker immune system and will pick up infections and diseases a little easier than regular pugs. They are also at a much greater risk of developing issues with their vision as they get older.

It should be noted however that while pugs with leucism are a lot more likely to develop these health complications than regular pugs, they are still considered a lot healthier than albino pugs and so are at a lower risk than they are.

In fact, many veterinarians actually say that pugs with leucism are still classed as healthy and are more at risk of developing issues that affect regular pugs such as obesity and stenotic nares. 

Difference In Appearance Between Albino And Leucistic Pugs

Because both genetic disorders adjust the levels of melanin in a pugs body, both types of white pugs will be a lot more recognisable to their counterparts since they will always have bright fur that stands out a lot more than the regular brown coating that many pugs are known for.

However, this really is where the similarities end as while albino pugs will always have a white coat, leucistic pugs have a chance of their fur being a different colour.

It will still be very bright, however because they possess a little more melanin, it means that they can sometimes have an appearance that is a little more creamy or even just a very light shade of brown or beige. 

On top of this, leucistic pugs can also be seen with colours dotted around their coat whereas albino pugs will always be completely white since they have no melanin to produce any variation of colours. 

Albinism also affects the colour of the pugs eyes with most of them possessing bright blue or pink eyes which makes them extremely recognisable. On the other hand, leucistic pugs tend to have darker eyes that can range from brown all the way to a darker shade of blue or even pink. 

An albino pug also tends to have much paler skin compared to leucistic pugs which is why they are a lot more susceptible to health complications when left out in the sun for too long. 

Other than these differences that set the two apart, white pugs still grow to similar sizes as other pugs and weigh the same at between 14 and 18 pounds. They also have the familiar wrinkles and skin folds that pugs are so well known for, along with their short and flat muzzle and floppy ears. 

Misconceptions About White Pugs

There are a few misconceptions and false remarks that some have claimed relate to only white pugs and that separates them from regular ones, however these have proven to be false and should never be believed since they can unfairly paint a white pug as being a lot more dangerous and unpleasant than they actually are.

Here are some of the most popular misconceptions when it comes to white pugs. 


Albino and leucistic pugs may look a lot different to what most people are used to seeing, however unlike what many people will claim, this change in appearance and the genetic differences have not been shown to correlate with the dog’s temperament in any way. 

Therefore, you can guarantee that a white pug will be just as charming, friendly and loving as any other pug, the only real difference is that they may be a little slower to catch onto things because of their worse eyesight and hearing, though this does not mean the pug will ever become annoyed or more aggressive towards their owners. 

White Pugs Always Go Blind

This is a rumour that more-so relates to albino pugs rather than leucism and suggests that because albino pugs are incredibly susceptible to eye diseases and impairments, this means guarantees they will become blind later down the line. 

If they are not properly cared for and taken to the veterinary as soon as an issue with their vision is noticed, then there is definitely a chance that they can become blind, however, no research has suggested that albinism guarantees that any white dog will soon become blind. 

White Pugs Can Become Deaf

This is again another common rumour that centres primarily around albino dogs, however unlike blindness where there is a chance of this developing if the dog is not properly cared for, studies have shown that there is absolutely no correlation with albinism and leucism to deafness. 

White Pugs Require More Exercise And Training

While it might initially seem like white pugs may need a little more exercise in order for them to keep healthy, the truth is that they only require the same amount as any regular pug to ensure they remain fit and active. 

Because pugs are such active dogs and love to stretch their legs, they usually only require 40 minutes to an hour of exercise each day. If you try to push them to exercise or train for more than this, it can just end up making your canine companion exhausted rather than benefiting their health in any way. 

How To Care For A White Pug

While white pugs are a lot similar to regular pugs in terms of their behaviour and general attitude, there are a few key considerations every owner should take to ensure the pug is as comfortable and healthy as possible since they will require a little more love and care to make sure they are active and happy at all times. 

Here are a few of the main considerations you should always keep in mind when taking care of a white pug. 

Use A Soft Brush

For one, because they tend to have softer and more sensitive skin, it’s always important to use a gentle brush with rounded or ball tips since these will be far smoother and more comfortable for the pug as opposed to spikier brushes which can end up hurting them.

Nutritious Diet

You should also always be mindful of a white pugs diet since while they will eat many of the same types of dry food as regular pugs, it can be a good idea to mix in a few nutrient-dense pieces of food into their diet and especially those that are rich in zinc such as grass-fed beef and pumpkin seeds.

The reason for this is that albino and leucistic pugs have a weaker immune system and are a lot more susceptible to catching diseases and infections, so keeping their diet full of antioxidants and foods that are rich in vitamins will help to resist any potential illnesses.

Carrots and broccoli are other excellent options to incorporate into a white pugs diet since they are incredibly rich in fibre, potassium and vitamin A. 

Walk Them In The Morning Or Evening

Since skin cancer is one of the biggest dangers to white pugs, it’s also important for owners to be mindful of when is the right time to be taking their canine companion for a walk.

While this isn’t too much of an issue in the winter where the temperatures are a lot cooler, it can be a much bigger problem in the spring and summer months when the temperatures start spiking. 

The best way to keep your white pug safe at these times of the year is to walk them when the temperatures haven’t yet reached their peak for the day which usually means taking them for a walk in either the morning or the late evening.

A relaxing night walk is also a good way to make sure the pug stays cool and comfortable without getting irritated.

If the pug is being a little irritable and you have no choice but to take them out when the sun is shining, it’s always worth fitting them with a light vest to protect their skin, however, try to avoid puffy coats since these could cause them to overheat. 

Also, make sure to cover them in dog sunscreen that is preferably high in UVA and UVB levels to add an extra layer of protection. 

Controversy Surrounding White Pugs

White pugs are therefore mostly born through genetic mutations that impact how much melanin they produce in the body, which is why it can become easy to see why they would raise such controversy when it comes to breeding them. 

Undoubtedly, white pugs have become something of a fan favourite among many pug fans which is why the specific variant has caught the attention of many breeders who over recent years have begun attempting to produce white pugs through breeding dogs that already have the genetic disorder that will affect the amount of melanin produced. 

However, as seen previously, albinism comes with a whole range of health issues that can affect the pug as they grow older including being more prone to developing eyesight issues, much higher sensitivity to the sun and a weaker immune system that leads to a lower expected lifespan.

Many of these issues can also develop if the pug has leucism, though they are a lot rarer. 

This has raised a discussion surrounding the ethics of producing dogs purely for their looks and market value who are going to have physical disabilities and a worse quality of life.

Many breeders have also been careful not to tell new owners about these health risks so that they can make as much profit as possible. 

While this practice is yet to be banned or monitored in any way, it does unfortunately mean that the chances of these white pugs being neglected or abandoned are a lot higher since they will require quite a bit more care than regular pugs. 


White pugs may look different than other pugs and can take a little more effort to care for, however, they are just as loving and lively as any other dog of its kind, so if you do decide to pick one up, just make sure to always make them feel as comfortable and healthy as possible while in your care. 


  • Jonathan Spaeth

    I'm a professional business person who loves dogs. I'm motivated by a passion for dogs and a deep understanding of pet care and behavior. I have more than 10 years of experience in animal healthcare—my lifelong passion for helping dogs.

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