A German dog owner was surprised to discover that one of her Golden Retriever’s nine puppies was not so golden. It was, in fact, a strange shade of green.
The mint green puppy was born last week, just in time for Halloween, at the home of dog owner Joanna Justice in the north German town of Wermelskirchen, according to German news agency Deutsche Presse-Agentur (DPA).
Justice was initially concerned about the puppy’s color, but she quickly realized that the puppy, like the other eight siblings, was otherwise healthy.
The puppy was appropriately named “Mojito,” after the mint and lime-infused white rum cocktail.
But don’t worry, young Mojito won’t stay this pale green for long. According to Christian Dimitriadis, a veterinarian in Düsseldorf, the color will eventually fade and grow out of the pup’s hair. Mojito will be bright white, just like the rest of the litter, after a few days or weeks of licking from its mother.
Green puppies, while extremely rare, are not as uncommon as you might think. In fact, a green “shamrock-colored” Great Dane puppy was born in the United States this week as well. Her owners have confirmed that she is healthy and has been named “Verdant.”
According to CNN, another litter of Golden Retrievers was born in Scotland in 2017 with one greenish puppy.
There is very little scientific literature on dogs with this unusual coloration; however, it is generally explained as womb exposure to the bile pigment biliverdin. It’s most common in white dogs, such as Golden Retrievers, because the pigment contrasts with their pale fur much more starkly than in other breeds. Biliverdin is a greenish substance found in bile, bruises, dog placentas, and a variety of other biological processes. Biliverdin has even been discovered in the shells of 6-million-year-old dinosaur eggs.
Strangely colored animal babies are common throughout the animal kingdom. Instead of being white, most orca calves are born with a peachy-orange coloring. This is thought to be because they were born without a thick layer of blubber, allowing blood vessels near the surface of their skin to be seen more clearly. The color of these green puppies fades as they grow. François’ langur monkeys also have bright orange fur babies that last only a few weeks before turning black, possibly to help adults identify them as infants.