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Everything You Need to Know About Pink Dog Noses

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The black cute nose is a loved canine feature and it’s the most common color you will see.

When running across a puppy or dog that deviates from the norm you ask yourself “why do some dogs have pink noses”?

But just like different coat colors, your dog can have different nasal tones and pigmentation.

There are five main nose variations: liver (pink), dudley, butterfly as well as blue and black.

Genes directly affect the coloring of a dog’s nose but pigment loss can also 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. You’ll also get a few tips on how you have to care for your dog’s pink nose.

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.

Nose 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, it’s a sign that the puppies from this particular bloodlines aren’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.

Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever with a pink nose.
Photo by Laula Co

Dog Breeds With Pink/Liver Nose

The liver gene is recessive, so it must have the genotype bb in order to be superficially present.

On the other hand, a BB or Bb dog (meaning either or both carry the dominant black gene) would have a normal black nose.

For a liver dog, it’s genetically impossible to develop a single black or grey hair. Instead, liver will turn the coat brown, the eyes amber and the nose color will range from brown to pink.

Certain dog breeds like the Irish Setter may resemble a liver dog 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 therefore they are liver dogs.

Dog breeds that can have liver/pink noses include:

  • Field Spaniel
  • Pointer
  • English Springer
  • Cocker Spaniel
  • Dalmatian
  • Australian Shepherd
  • Siberian Husky
  • Nova Scotia
  • Bull Terriers, Boxers, and Heelers may be born with pink noses that stay for their whole lives.

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.

Genetics is a very interesting matter and can be highly interesting for any potential puppy buyer when it comes to temperament and behavior.

Dudley Nose

White dog with a pink dudley nose.

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 Terriers are often referred to as dudley noses although the color mostly emerges from the white coat, not from a loss of pigmentation.

These breeds are prone to developing a dudley nose:

  • White German Shepherd
  • Doberman Pinscher
  • Pointer
  • Poodle
  • Irish Setter
  • Golden Retriever
  • Samoyed

Recommended Reading: Do dogs have lips?

Snow Nose

Husky with a snow nose pulling on the leash.
Photo by Azat Satlykov

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 in spring it will switch back to its natural color.

Weather dependent color changes appear in the:

  • Siberian Husky
  • Labrador Retriever
  • Bernese Mountain Dog
  • German Shepherd
  • 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.

What Causes Pink Noses on Dogs?

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.

Recommended Reading: Everything you need to know about dog jowls

Butterfly Nose

Staff mix with a butterfly nose.
Photo by Lucas Ludwig

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 courtesy of these breeds:

  • Dogo Argentino
  • Boxer
  • Bull Terrier
  • mostly associated with merles

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 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. However, in conformation the Labrador would lose some points for his pale nose since it’s not part of the AKC breed standard.

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About Danielle
I am the founder of PawLeaks where I share weekly tips on dog training and behavior. Sharing a passion for dogs and helping owners to solve problems through understanding canine behavior and modification is my number one goal.