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You remember the time you first saw your dog. It was an exciting day whether they came into your life after months of planning or whether they unexpectedly became a part of your family. However, you also remember one more detail: your dog’s fur was black and now it doesn’t seem as pitch black anymore, instead it has turned brown or rusty red!
This change can be alarming and it will definitely make you wonder, “Why is my black dog turning brown?”
Your black dog’s coat might be turning brown because your dog’s diet is missing essential amino acids that make the black pigment. Exposure to sun, seasonal shedding, as well as aging can also make your dog’s coat appear brown. Simple genetics, a skin condition, allergies, and excessive licking can also turn your dog’s coat brown.
These are some of the reasons why your dog could be turning brown, so let’s take a closer look at each one of them and a few more!
Reason 1: Your Dog Is Blowing Their Coat
Your dog’s fur might be turning a rusty color because your dog is blowing their coat.
It’s not an uncommon fact that many dogs shed their fur. However, when a dog blows their coat, we are talking about the process in which double-coated dogs switch their winter coat for their summer coat or vice versa. Because of this change in fur, the new coat might be a little lighter in color compared to the one before.
According to the American Kennel Club (AKC), double-coated dogs have a layer of soft fur closer to their skin. Its purpose is to be an insulating layer that keeps the dogs warm in the colder seasons and cool in the warmer seasons.
There are many dog breeds that have double coats. Some examples are the Great Pyrenees, golden retrievers, border collies, and German shepherds. Grooming and a lot of brushing can help control the fur from going everywhere.
Check out this video of a Siberian Husky getting their coat blown out:
Reason 2: Sun Exposure
Dogs are like people in more ways than many people think! While some might love the sun more than others, a dog’s coat can also be affected by sunlight just like a human’s.
Your black dog’s fur might be turning red or brown because of the regular exposure to the sun.
Like with human hair, extended periods of time being exposed to sunlight often can result in a bleaching effect on dog fur. Sun bleaches the melanin, the factor that gives color, in hair, skin, and your dog’s fur.
If your dog sunbathes on multiple occasions or very often, sun exposure may be the reason your dog’s fur is getting lighter. Sunlight affects every dog differently. One might spend more time in the sun but their fur might not turn as light as another dog that spends far less time in the sun.
While sunlight is good for many people and their health, it is important to keep everything in moderation. Excessive sun exposure can be dangerous to your and your dog’s health. It can lead to skin conditions including cancer and sunburn.
Reason 3: It Is In Your Dog’s Genetics
Dogs come in all shapes and sizes! Some factors that make your dog unique can be caused by the genes that are passed on from their parents.
Your black dog might be turning brown because it is in their genetics.
Through many years of breeding, changes within a dog breed can happen. That’s why it’s important to consider the parents of your pup.
When your dog was born, genes from both the mom and the dad were passed on. If both of the parents have black fur, your dog will most likely have black fur as well. If one of them has lighter fur, there is a chance that your dog will take that gene and also have lighter fur when they get older.
If you know that one of the parents of your fur baby is lighter in color, there is a possibility that your pup is going from black to brown because of genetics!
Reason 4: Your Dog Is Getting Older
Unfortunately, everyone gets older with time, including our pups, and that comes with certain changes. So, it’s quite possible that your dog’s black fur might be turning red or brown because they are getting older.
This change in color is also noticeable in people. Older people tend to start growing gray hairs and eventually, many white hairs. Dogs are similar in that some experience a change in coat color from the moment they are a puppy to when they are a senior.
As mentioned before, not all dogs are the same. Some may show more drastic changes in fur color while others might not even look noticeable. As a dog gets older, their body isn’t as good at making more pigmented furs. This results in the loveable gray faces that many senior dogs have!
Reason 5: Diet And Nutrition
Like with humans, what dogs eat can greatly affect how they act and look. A dog’s diet is essential to their health and well-being, and your black dog might be turning brown because of their diet and nutrition.
Certain parts of a dog’s diet are important for their skin and coat health such as protein and fat. Additionally, the two amino acids that are responsible for maintaining the black color of your dog’s coat are phenylalanine and tyrosine.
If your dog’s diet doesn’t have enough phenylalanine and tyrosine this can lead to what is reported as “red hair syndrome” because of the reduced production of two types of pigments produced by melanocytes; black eumelanin and brown pheomelanin.
Too much of a good thing can be a bad thing! It’s important to keep every part of your dog’s diet balanced and in moderation. Here are a few tips on maintaining your dog’s nutrition from the ASPCA.
If you are concerned about your dog’s coat health or diet, asking your veterinarian is the best option. They can let you know if your dog needs a change in their life or if you are both doing well!
Reason 6: Your Dog Might Have A Skin Condition
There are different skin conditions that could lead to a change in fur color and also a change in skin color. These conditions are also called depigmentation dermatoses. Some parts that you might notice this change in pigmentation are the stomach, the ears, and even the face.
The range in color could be from a lighter black all the way to completely white. What causes these conditions? An autoimmune disease, infection, or allergy could cause depigmentation dermatoses.
If you notice your black dog gaining lighter spots when they weren’t before, consulting your vet is the best action to take whenever you are concerned about your pup.
Reason 7: Your Dog Has Allergies
If you’ve noticed that the fur around your dog’s eyes has been turning red then allergies are another possible reason. Dogs can be allergic to different things like grass, certain food, and pollen. Because of their allergies, dogs can produce tears like humans with allergies.
Your dog’s tears contain something called porphyrin. This porphyrin gets into the fur around their eyes and stains that area. The staining could result in the fur turning a rusty color.
Most dogs can produce tears that could stain their eye area, but this effect is most noticeable in white dogs. If you notice that your dog is tearing up more than usual, scheduling a check-up could help you recognize allergies your pup may have or other conditions that could be causing them to have watery eyes.
Reason 8: Your Dog Is Licking Their Fur Often
Your dog’s saliva, like their tears as mentioned in the previous reason, contain porphyrin that stains their fur. The more they lick a spot, the more likely for that spot to turn a rusty color. While this can be the case with black dogs, this effect is most noticeable in lighter-colored dogs.
Of course, all dog owners have seen their dogs licking themselves at some point. But how much is too much?
Dogs will usually lick to groom themselves, but there are other less innocent reasons they would lick themselves, causing their fur to change into a red color.
Just like with the tears mentioned in the previous reason, dogs have allergies as well. They might feel itchy and will scratch and lick a spot on their body. Looking for other signs that your dog has allergies can help you discover if your pup has an allergy you didn’t know about.
Our dogs are our babies! They even act like them sometimes! Your dog has to be entertained and exercised or else they might start to feel a little restless. Without another outlet for their mental and physical energy, they may turn to other ways to release that energy. Some may choose to be destructive and do things like going through the trash, others may be more calm about it and decide to lick themselves for a long time.
Finding different ways to keep your dog moving and mentally stimulated is important for their health. Many dog breeds were bred for a job and giving your pup something to do gives them a purpose. Going to different places, meeting new people and dogs, and even giving them various toys can help your dog exercise their brain and body.
Watch this video of a dog work on different puzzle feeders:
There are many reasons why your black dog could be turning brown. That is why looking for other symptoms and signs can give you a better understanding as to why this is the case.
It’s important to keep checking up on your dog for any strange changes in their behavior and their appearance like your dog’s fur changing from black to brown. While it is often not something to worry about, researching and asking a veterinarian to check on your dog can ensure your dog is happy and healthy.