The default color of a dog’s nose is black. You may have seen dogs that have a pink nose. This is generally for two reasons.
- they are of a breed of dog that commonly has a pink nose. This is caused by genetics and has been passed down from their parents.
- the dog has had a black nose and it has changed color. This is due to a loss of pigmentation, often referred to as Dudley nose. This is different to Snow nose which is a seasonal occurrence in the colder weather.
Puppies born with pink noses
Many puppies may be born with a pink nose. In most cases, they will darken and turn black by between 8 to 16 weeks old. Often white puppies are born with a pink nose which may darken later.
What breeds of dogs have pink noses
However, there are breeds that may have pink noses their whole lives. This includes breeds such as Bull Terriers, Boxers, Dalmatians, and Heelers. Other examples may be Sharpei and Chow Chow. Pitbulls are often referred to as blue nose or red nose. They are in fact the same breed and the nose color is determined by their bloodlines.
Quite often liver and white springer spaniels will have a pink nose. Liver dogs have noses ranging from deep brown to pink. It is genetically impossible for a liver dog to have a black nose.
Dudley nose is when a dog is born with a solid black nose gradually fades to a pale brown, pink. In the case of complete depigmentation, the nose may turn pinkish white.
This should not be confused with snow nose. This is a separate but common condition in which dark pigment on a dog’s nose fades during the winter months and darkens again in spring and summer. Complete depigmentation never occurs. Snow nose is often seen in Siberian Huskies, Golden Retrievers, Labrador Retrievers, Bernese Mountain Dogs, and a few other breeds.
Loss of pigment is usually harmless. However, it can indicate an underlying problem that requires medical attention. Consult your vet if you have concerns.
There are a few reasons why a dog may have loss of pigment in their nose.
- Snow nose. It is thought a dog’s nose lightens in winter due to the breakdown of tyrosinase – a temperature-sensitive enzyme responsible for producing melanin. Melanin gives color to our hair, skin, and eyes.
- As a dog ages. Melanin-producing enzyme tyrosinase also gets weaker with age. That’s why we often see a dog’s nose lose pigment and become pink as he or she gets older.
- Injury to the nose. A cut or abrasion on the nose may cause it to have a pink appearance as it heals.
- The result of an infection. If a dog has a bacterial infection, it may manifest on the nose. Look for a lighter color along with an inflamed, crusty, and otherwise unhealthy appearance. If you notice these symptoms in your dog, contact a veterinarian to rule out any serious health conditions or for treatment if a problem is found.
- Caused by allergies. Dogs can have allergic reactions to things they come in contact with. If this happens, your dog’s nose and surrounding area will appear lighter and may seem inflamed or sore. Then, do some investigative work to find out what your dog is allergic to.
If a dogs nose is turning pink but they seem healthy it is probably not a problem. However, if you think your dog may have an infection or allergies or the nose looks unhealthy, consult your vet just to be certain.
Sunburn on a dogs nose
If you have a dog with a pink or lighter color nose there is a risk that they can get sunburn on it. This can cause real discomfort for your dog or even have a potential cancer risk. It is a good idea to apply dog sunscreen lotion when they are outside in the hot sun.
The body is protected by their fur so sunburn is less likely. However, with light or white colored dogs it is best to avoid overexposed and too much time out in the hot sun.