Most puppies portrayed in picture books have brown or black noses. So, if you see a pup with a light pink nose, you may wonder what is going on.
For most breeds, being born with a pink nose is entirely normal and caused by genetics. For many pups, their pink nose will tend to darken as they get a little older.
Are Certain Breeds More Prone To Have Pink Noses?
A newborn puppy commonly has a bright nose and pink paw pads. This is true for the majority of breeds. The nose may be completely pink or may have some darker pigment too.
Conversely, if your pup is born with a pigmented (black or brown nose), this is also normal and is of no concern.
This is most commonly seen in black or dark brown furred dogs. Noses that already have a lot of pigment will not change much as the pup ages.
While the general rule is that the pink nose changes to a darker color over time, some individuals keep that cute, pink nose.
Breeds who can potentially go on to keep their pink nose include:
- Bull Terriers
- Border Collies
- Brittany Spaniel
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Will My Puppy’s Pink Nose Change Color?
Yes, for most pups born with a pink nose, the color will change.
This is not something we can ever predict 100%, but if both parents have a dark nose and the fur is dark, it is almost a certainty.
In some breeds, there will be individuals who retain that pink nose. This occurs more commonly in dogs with less pigment i.e. those with white fur or albinos.
When Will My Puppy’s Nose Change Color
We tend to see noses darkening in the first few weeks of life and by about 8-10 weeks, most pups have a dark nose.
However, sometimes the process is slow or delayed and we may not see the change until the pup is a few months old.
Less commonly, an individual’s nose will not darken until adolescence or even older. This is the exception rather than the rule and is within the realms of normal, so is not something we need to be concerned about.
4 Types of Pink Noses In Dogs
There are multiple ways to describe the pink noses on dogs. Let’s run through them below.
The Dudley Nose
A Dudley dog is one who lacks pigment all over: including their nose, eye rims, and paws. These dogs should have pink noses from birth through to old age. The Labrador has many breed members who are ‘Dudleys’.
If a black-nosed dog loses their nasal pigment as they age, they would not ‘become’ a Dudley dog. These guys would lack the genes for the pink nose and would not pass it on to their offspring.
The Snow Nose
Amazingly, some dogs only have a lighter nose during winter. This is known as “snow nose”. As the weather warms up, their pigment can darken once again! The exact way in which this happens is not known but the process is called ‘hypopigmentation’.
While we more often seen a dark brown or black nose that becomes a few shades lighter, it is not impossible for a nose to become temporarily pink.
Liver is a specific color that is used in dog terminology. A liver nose is more of a purple/light brown color than pale pink. For many breeds, it will be written into their breed standard.
Dogs breeds that may have a liver nose include the Siberian Husky, Dalmatian, and Cocker Spaniel.
Dogs may have a mix of pale pink and brown or black noses. The pigment can be blotchy or spotty, or we may even see a nose that is ‘half and half’.
We can see this occurring in those with winter noses, or when a pup’s nose changes its color. However, it can also be seen in adult dogs and a small number will retain both pigments throughout their life.
What To Know About Your Dog’s Nose
Here’s an interesting video by Dr. Karen Becker explaining the most important things to know about your dog’s nose.
Can a Dog’s Skin Change Color?
Absolutely, yes! While most of a dog’s skin is hidden away under their fur, it is usually a mix of pink and brown.
As light-colored dogs age, they develop darker skin due to more ‘liver spots’ occurring.
This is best seen when your dog is very wet and their fur parts to show the skin underneath. The most obvious place where this is seen is on the belly, where the fur is thinner. Many owners worry when they first see this, but these pigmented blotches and splotches are entirely normal.
These spots cause no discomfort or itching and the skin is smooth and unbroken. They develop gradually over years. If your dog is bothered by its skin lesions, chewing or licking, there is likely more going on.
Extra info: MSD Veterinary Manual: Hyperpigmentation In Dogs
Are Pink Nosed Dogs Prone To Health Issues?
Potentially, yes. As pink noses lack melanin, they are more prone to sunburn.
Due to this, it is sensible to use dog-safe sunscreen during the warmer months.
It is also a good idea to keep your dog out of direct sunlight in the summer. This is especially true if they also have pale skin and white fur, as they will be more prone to sun damage.
Can a Dog’s Dark Nose Become Pale Again?
Isn’t the body a wonderful thing? Just as the nose can go from pink to black, this process can reverse too.
In much older dogs, we sometimes see a loss of pigment and the nose can lighten.
This old age change shouldn’t cause discomfort, scabbing, or dry skin on the nose.
If the nose is unhealthy looking, there may be more going on, such as an autoimmune disease or fungal infection.
Extra info: AKC Loss of pigmentation
Should You Be Concerned By a Pink Nose?
In some instances, when a dog is not supposed to genetically develop a pink nose, the nose may change color due to a disease process.
Autoimmune diseases such as pemphigus and lupus, zinc deficiency, fungal infections, and cancers can all cause the nose to change color.
In these instances, we would usually see other signs occurring alongside the color change such as dry and flaky skin, nasal rubbing, and bleeding.
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What colour noses can dogs have?
Noses can be pale pink, liver, brown, or black. What color a dog’s nose is, largely depends on their genetics as well as their age and whether or not they have underlying medical or autoimmune issues.
Can dogs with pink noses compete in the show ring?
The answer to this will depend on what is written into the breed standard. For some, it would be a fault and they may get penalized, or even disqualified, for having a nose color other than what is written in the Kennel Club rules.
Do I need to see the vet if my dog’s nose turns pink?
As part of the aging process, dogs can undergo hypopigmentation. This can result in a nose that is suddenly paler than before. If there are no other signs accompanying the colour change, chances are there is no medical issue.
Do dogs with pink noses need sun cream?
When in the sun, it is sensible to protect pale noses from the sun. Other places with thin fur (such as ear tips and bellies) may also need sun cream to be applied. Be sure to use a dog-specific cream as some human creams could be toxic to dogs (and, of course, your dog is likely to lick the cream from their nose!).