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Why Is My Dog’s Fur Changing Colors?

July 8, 2022

 One of the most notable features of any dog is its coat. From long to short hair, moppy dreads to golden locks, curly to wirey fur and everything in between – all breeds boast unique and beautiful coats!

Unlike some other species in the animal kingdom, dogs cannot change their fur color at the drop of a hat to camouflage themselves. Because of this, you might not expect your dog’s fur to change colors at all! Now, your apricot dog won’t turn black or vice versa, but there might be some changes in their tone. So if your dog’s fur color does start to shift – you may wonder, “Why is it changing colors?”

If the color changes – don’t worry. It is most likely nothing to stress over! It is actually completely natural and somewhat common. But, some reasons might indicate a more significant health issue. Let’s talk about some of the reasons why dogs’ coats change colors.

Reasons your dog’s coat is changing colors

 Your dog is maturing – A puppy’s coat can look pretty different than its full-grown one. As your pup ages, don’t worry if their coat changes too – this is because their body is maturing! A part of that is growing into their adult fur. Around 8-12 months old, your pup will get this more mature coat. This might bring increased shedding as their puppy coat falls off. Even past this stage, their coat might continue to change. Some breeds are more prone to this. Poodles, Labradors, and Tibetan Terriers are just a few that are known for shifting color tones.

You might also notice your dog greying with age. Like humans, dogs’ hair can grey in their senior years. The older your dog gets, the less time their body devotes to maintaining intense pigments, so the color will naturally fade. This is totally natural and nothing to be worried about. After all, who doesn’t love an adorable grey face!

Changing seasons – If you’ve been outside a lot in the summer, you might notice some natural highlights in your hair. This is the same for dogs! The warmer seasons bring along more sunshine – and probably more time outside – and can bring out lighter tones in your pup’s fur.

Hair is growing back differently after a haircut – This is the reason your groomer might have you read a disclaimer before your grooming session! After being shaved or receiving repeated groomings, the hair on your dog might grow back differently. It can affect the texture and hue of the hair that grows back, but it won’t be too drastic. Typically, the hair will grow back softer and lighter. This will increase in intensity depending on the frequency of grooming sessions.

An injury – If your dog has had surgery or a wound, you might notice some discoloration in their fur around that spot. It is common for the hair in the affected area to grow back darker as your dog’s body sends extra melanin to that spot to help the area heal. This will only happen in the wound area and won’t affect their entire coat.

Staining – You might’ve seen some dogs with tear stains or discoloration around their nose, and this is because it is stained! Not like a pesky stain on your white jeans from a coffee spill, but instead from your dog’s saliva and tears. Over time as tears or saliva seep from your dog’s eyes and nose, the porphyrins in them can cause staining. As saliva and tears leave a natural residue of porphyrins, they can create reddish rusty marks. Although this is natural, an abnormal buildup of tears and increased stains can mean that your dog might have clogged tear ducts. Check with your vet to ensure these stains are not symptoms of blocked tear ducts or excessive drooling due to a different illness.

Lack of Nutrition – Your dog’s health and happiness are inexplicably connected to nutrition. Making sure your pup gets everything needed for a solid and balanced diet can help their coat be as healthy as possible! If you notice dry skin, a dull coat, or hair loss, you may want to check in with your vet to make sure your dog is getting everything they need diet-wise. The vitamins and minerals your dog gets from their food will directly impact their coat. A good sign of a well-fed pup is a shiny and soft coat without abnormal loss of pigmentation. Since this can be hard to differentiate from natural color changes as your dog ages, pay attention to their skin. Skin issues will be the best indicator that you might need to up their nutrition!

A medical condition – Changes in your dog’s coat can also indicate a medical issue.

  • Vitiligo: This is a skin condition that results in loss of color around the nose, lips, and face. It happens because the cells responsible for pigmentation in your dog’s coat stop functioning, explaining the loss of color. These cells, called “melanocytes,” can die due to autoimmune diseases, viruses, or genetics. The bad news is that there is no known way to reverse this discoloration, but this condition is only cosmetic. So, therefore, there is good news! Vitiligo causes no discomfort for your pup – only a few white spots!

  • Hormonal Imbalance: If your dog is experiencing hormonal conditions, it can manifest in pigmentation changes. Hypothyroidism is caused by low thyroid levels; it can result in hair loss, brittle hair, and other skin infections. Symptoms to look out for if you suspect your dog has hypothyroidism are obesity, lethargy, and a slower heart rate.

  • Cancer: Skin cancer can show itself in pigmentation changes; although rare, this is something to consider. Although uncommon in dogs, always consult your vet if you find any mysterious lumps or lesions on your dog’s coat.

While this list isn’t exhaustive, it most likely provides a reason for a change in your dog’s fur. And most of these are no cause for concern!

If you notice a change in your dog’s fur that isn’t explainable, consulting your vet is your best option. Looking out for any other symptoms, as well as hair loss or lesions on the skin, will help inform whether the color change is a result of an underlying issue or just a natural evolution of their fur!


  • Can A Dog’s Fur Change Color? |

  • Why Do Dogs’ Fur Change Color? |

  • Why Is My Dog’s Fur Changing Color & Thinning? |

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