Defining hues

Does the colour of your furry friend matter?
By Latasha Seow
Published on Thursday, 13 July 2017

Did you know that an animal’s coat colour plays a major role in determining how humans view them? Sadly, black dog and cat syndrome, in which lighter-coloured animals are preferred over their darker counterparts, still exists.

Cultural beliefs in Singapore could contribute to this ideology. Derrick Tan, president of Voices for Animals, explains the Chinese belief that black animals with white paws bring bad luck is one reason why black animals are stigmatised at shelters. “We have to come up with taglines to promote our black animals like ‘black pets make good pets too’ at adoption drives,” he shares. Cathy Strong, co-founder of Animal Lovers League, adds that a combination of education and personal interaction with black animals are important if this ideology is to be reversed.

Puss’ and Fido’s colour also affects them beyond their appearance. Congenital deafness is a disorder that is associated with the pigmentation of dogs. The piebald and merle gene are the two genes that are linked to this form of deafness, and both are what cause the presence of white hair in pooches.

According to Dr Brian Loon, principal veterinary surgeon at Amber Veterinary Practice, these genes are present in certain dog breeds, like Jack Russell Terriers and Boston Terriers. This form of deafness usually develops shortly after birth, where degeneration of blood vessels that supply blood to the cochlea (the auditory portion of the inner ear) results in permanent deafness.

Skin cancer is another ailment that is more commonly observed in dogs and cats with lighter-coloured coats. “Their fur has less pigment to protect them from UV exposure,” Dr Loon explains.

To read more about how your furkid's colour matters, flip to Paw Prints (pg 24) of our Jun/Jul 2017 issue!