A puppy with green fur has been born in Italy - here's the reason behind it

The surprise arrival of a green puppy in Italy has provided yet another shock in a year of strange and unprecedented events.

The puppy with an unusual coat was born on the Mediterranean island of Sardinia to a dog belonging to Italian farmer, Cristian Mallocci.

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The dog, a mixed breed named Spelacchia, has white fur, and gave birth to a litter of mostly white puppies - except for one.

One puppy came out with bright green fur, and has consequently been named Pistachio to reflect his unusual colour.

Green puppy born in Italy 😮https://t.co/ztVOOTzjmM

— BBC News (World) (@BBCWorld) October 22, 2020

The farmed told Reuters that he plans to raise the puppy to look after sheep in the same way as his mother, on the farm that Cristian Mallocci runs with his brother-in-law, Giannangelo Liperi.

Why does the puppy have green fur?

It's rare for a dog to be born with green fur. The phenomenon is believed to be caused by one of two factors.Green fur can occur when dogs with pale coloured fur get stained with meconium in the mother’s womb, which is the earliest stool produced by young animals.The fur colour could also have been caused by a pigment in the mother dog's womb called biliverdin. It's the same pigment that causes a green colour in bruises.

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The colour, however, is likely to fade over time as the mother washes the puppy and the puppy grows older.

The phenomenon has occurred before - most recently in January, when a German Shepherd puppy was born to a family in North Carolina, US, with shockingly green coloured fur. The family named him Hulk.

It's likely that Hulk was also coloured by a pigment in the womb, as the rest of his litter was white in colour.

Mr Mallocci has said that the colour green represents luck and hope, adding that his arrival during a very difficult year means his colour was "meant to be" in order to make people smile.

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