A dog owner in Germany was surprised to see one of her Golden Retriever’s nine puppies wasn’t so golden. In fact, it was a strange shade of green.
The mint green puppy was born last week – just in time for Halloween – in the north German town of Wermelskirchen at the home of dog owner Joanna Justice, German news agency Deutsche Presse-Agentur (DPA) reports.
Justice was concerned about the color at first, however, she quickly realized the puppy was otherwise healthy, as were the eight other siblings.
She aptly named the puppy “Mojito,” inspired by the mint and lime-infused white rum cocktail.
Fear not though, young Mojito won’t stay this faint shade of green for too long. Christian Dimitriadis, a veterinarian in Düsseldorf, told DPA that the color will eventually fade and grow out of the pup’s hair. After a few days or weeks of licking from its mother, Mojito will be bright white, just like the rest of the litter.
While extremely rare, green puppies are not as uncommon as you might think. In fact, over in the US this week, a green “shamrock-colored” Great Dane puppy was born too. She’s been named “Verdant,” and is healthy, her owners have confirmed.
Back in 2017, another litter of Golden Retrievers was born in Scotland with one greenish puppy, as reported by CNN.
There’s very little scientific literature about dogs having this curious coloration, however, it’s generally explained as exposure to the bile pigment biliverdin in the womb. It’s most often documented in white dogs, such as Golden Retrievers, simply because the pigment shows up against their pale fur much more starkly than other breeds. Biliverdin is a greenish color and can be found in bile, bruises, the placenta of dogs, and many other biological phenomena. Scientists have even found biliverdin in the shells of 6-million-year-old dinosaur eggs.
On the subject of strangely colored animal babies, it crops up across the animal kingdom. Most orca calves are born with a peachy-orange coloring, instead of white. It’s thought this is due to being born without a thick layer of blubber, so their blood vessels near the surface of their skin can be seen more clearly. Just like these green puppies, the color fades as they mature. François’ langur monkeys also give birth to bright orange fur babies, that lasts for just a few weeks before they turn black, possibly to help adults identify them when they are infants.