The black cute nose is a loved canine feature and it’s the most common color you will see. But just like different coat colors, your dog can have different nasal tones. There are five main nose variations: black, liver (pink), blue, dudley and butterfly.
Genes directly affect the coloring of a dog’s nose but also pigment loss can cause a change in color resulting in the dudley nose. Injuries can lead to damaged pigment on the nose which could be temporary or permanent. If you want to learn more about the pink phenomenon then keep on reading.
Why Do Dogs Have Pink Noses?
Dogs come in all shapes, sizes and color variations. Most of them have been achieved through selective breeding or mutations that have been past on over generations.
Some dogs are born with a black nose and others have matching snouts to their coat colors. Color is generally regulated by the amount and distribution of melanin in a dog and can change with age and breed.
But why do they have pigmented noses? Melanin is used to protect the nose from sunburn and skin cancer and we utilize its pigmentation to determine a dog’s true color.
Do Dogs Noses Stay Pink?
Puppies may be born with a light or pink nose that darkens as they get older. This change in color could already happen by the age of 8-16 weeks or even one year.
Genetically red or liver dogs are being born with a liver nose that stays pink their whole lives. If a liver puppy is born with a black nose then the breed isn’t truly red and shouldn’t be sold as such.
Even dogs with pink noses can experience a slight color tone change over the years which is also affected by the amount of sun exposure.
Dog Breeds With Pink/Liver Nose
The liver gene is recessive so it must have the genotype bb in order to be superficially present, so a BB or Bb dog would have a normal black nose. For a liver dog, it’s genetically impossible to develop a single black or grey hair.
Liver will turn the coat brown, the eyes amber and the nose color will range from brown to pink. Certain dog breeds may look liver like the Irish Setter but are indeed just a recessive red with dark pigmentation.
On the contrary, liver dogs might not even be labeled as such as in the case of the Chocolate Lab. The brown nose and yellow eyes are results of the liver gene and are therefore liver dogs.
Other dogs that can carry the liver gene including the Field Spaniel, Pointer, English Springer, Cocker Spaniel, Dalmatian, Australian Shepherd, Siberian Husky and Nova Scotia. Bull Terriers, Boxers and Heelers may be born with a pink nose that stays for their whole life.
In conclusion, a red, brown or even white-coated dog with amber eyes and a liver or pink nose is carrying this gene. Sometimes the liver color might not be included in the breed standard so be careful when choosing your dog.
The dudley nose is the result of pigmentation loss due to illness or environmental influences which I will be talking more about below. The usually black nose begins to turn pinkish in the middle, spreading outwards until almost the whole nose is covered.
Compared to the pink of a liver or butterfly nose, this color appears rather dull and always leaves a rest of dark pigmentation around the edges. Pink noses in Bull Terrier are often referred to as dudley noses although the color mostly emerges from the white coat than a loss of pigmentation.
Breeds like the White German Shepherd, Doberman Pinscher, Pointer, Poodle, Irish Setter, Golden Retriever and Samoyed are more prone to developing a dudley nose.
Snow noses, also called “winter nose”, are similar to dudley noses with the big difference that they are not permanent. During the winter months, the dog’s nose might turn pink and turn back to its natural color in spring.
Weather dependent color changes appear in the Siberian Husky, Labrador Retriever, Bernese Mountain Dog, German Shepherd and Golden Retriever. But don’t be fooled by the name winter nose, dogs that don’t live in cold temperatures can also develop this color change.
The cause of the snow nose is unbeknownst but treatment gladly isn’t required as the nasal color change is only a cosmetic issue. Some suggest that the enzyme Tyrosinase (which is controlling the production of melanin) causes this phenomenon because it’s temperature-sensitive.
Causes for Loss of Pigmentation
Dudley noses can develop from a variety of causes. If you suspect that the depigmentation of the nose is linked to an underlying disease, consult your vet immediately. I have listed the most common reasons below:
- Age: As the body ages, the production of melanin decreases causing grey hair and paler skin in humans. Depigmentation of the nose is a common occurrence in senior dogs.
- Weather: The snow nose is the result of weather dependant nasal color changes and develops back to its natural state after the cold season ends.
- Bacterial Infection: Infections that affect the nose result in an inflamed, crusty or sore appearance. The nose leather may seem lighter than usual and your dog might display additional symptoms like sneezing or fever.
- Injury: Cuts caused by trauma may turn pinkish in the recovery process as the healing tissue builds up.
- Allergies: A skin reaction to allergies might manifest in the nose area after direct contact with the trigger. The nose might appear sore and crusty and symptoms similar to a nasal infection may develop.
- Sunburn: The sensitive non-pigmented part of your dog’s nose will get sunburned if it’s excessively exposed to sunlight.
A butterfly or parti nose is defined as randomly located patches of unpigmented (pink/liver) and black spots that resemble the wings of a butterfly. This beautiful and unique looking nose is mostly associated with merles but also breeds like the Dogo Argentino, Boxer and Bull Terrier can have it.
How to Care for a Pink Nose
Similar to pale human skin, pink noses need more protection from the sun than dark skin or black noses. Applying specialized doggy sunscreen like the Handy Hound SnoutScreen during the summer month will prevent painful sunburns on your dog’s sensitive nose.
Apart from that, pink noses need the same care as darker ones and should be regularly moisturized with the Dog Nose Butter to avert and cure chapped and crusty snouts.
Labs With Pink Noses
Labrador Retrievers can have a pink nose and are oftentimes referred to as “Dudley” Labradors. Yellow Labs are usually born with pink noses that turn dark when they grow older but Dudley Labs stay that way.
These Yellow Labs are pretty special and only occur out of specific mating combinations. In dogs shows however the Labrador would lose some points for his pale nose and it’s not part of the AKC breed standard.