Why is My Black Dog Turning Brown?

brown dog laying on grass

If your black dog is turning brown, that typically means they’ve had extended periods of sunlight on a consistent basis. For some dogs, it could also be part of the natural aging process. Some dogs’ coats change color as they age. Regardless of the cause, you likely have nothing to worry about. 

It isn’t uncommon for black dogs to turn brown at some point in their life. The change can be a bit confusing or concerning for dog owners, but not all pigment changes in a dog’s coat are considered “bad.” 

There’s a variety of reasons a dog’s coat could change from black to brown. Some reasons are preventable, others aren’t.

Pigment change is typically attributed to sun bleaching, age, or genetics…sometimes all three. A black dog turning brown can also be caused by underlying health issues and/or poor nutrition.

Now that we know the basics of what causes it, let’s dive into what this means for your dog. 

Should I Be Concerned if My Black Dog Is Turning Brown?

The thought of a dog’s coat changing color is bizarre. It’s not something we think will happen when we adopt a new furry friend. Funny enough, this is actually a very common process for dogs to go through.

Haircuts, aging, nutritional balance, sun exposure, and health conditions (including medication) are all possible causes for this.

While coat color change is not something to be immediately concerned about, some signs will signal this is not a natural transition. If symptoms such as redness and irritation occur along with hair loss, there’s a possibility that the color is changing due to an underlying health condition or poor nutritional balance.

If your dog’s coat changes colors, we recommend keeping an eye on your dog the next few days, especially if they are on medication or have a known health condition. Otherwise, there’s no need to panic. In most cases, this is a natural process.

Possible Causes of Black Hair Turning Brown

Now that we have gone over the basics, let’s dive in and explore the possible causes for your black dog turning brown. 

Sun Exposure

Like humans, dogs are susceptible to skin and hair damage from sun exposure. Extended periods of sunlight on a consistent basis can cause a sun bleach effect in your dog’s coat. This response is because of the UV rays of the sun damaging and destroying melanin in the hair. Loss of melanin causes a loss of pigmentation.

Black dogs experience this often, especially if they like to sunbathe or play outside regularly. Unfortunately, this is inevitable with some dogs, while others who do not spend too much time outdoors might be lucky enough to avoid it.

Aging

Aging is one of the top causes of a pigment change in a dog’s coat. Unfortunately, this is not a preventable cause. Pigmentation loss varies from dog to dog. Some dogs experience coat changes from puppyhood to adulthood, while others do as they age from an adult dog to a senior. 

Color change occurs in senior dogs because it takes quite a bit of energy to make pigment. The body chooses more important bodily functions over creating coat pigment, causing a lightening of color. In puppies, color change will occasionally happen as they age because of genetics. 

Genetics

Genetics can play a big part in a black dog turning brown. Based on a couple factors — breed and parents — pigmentation can evolve over time.

This is another cause that is not preventable, but if it is a concern and something you don’t want to happen, there are ways to work around it. 

If you are adopting a black puppy, request to see the puppy’s parents to decide whether or not they will go through a coat change. If both parents have a black coat, the puppy will probably retain a black coat. But if one or both have lighter coats, the puppy will likely develop a lighter coat as they age. 

Health Issues and Medications

When you notice a coat color change in your dog, it is important to consider underlying health conditions or medications. Skin irritation, hair, and pigment loss are all signs that your dog may suffer from these changes because of their medication or a health condition. 

Nutrition

Dogs are in constant need of healthy fats, quite a few calories, and a variety of vitamins and minerals. That is why we need to provide our canine friends with the best diet we can. 

Nutritional balance is essential in maintaining a healthy coat. If your dog lacks the proper vitamins and minerals, calories, and fats, it will inevitably have a weak coat that lacks its natural pigmentation. 

Is it Possible to Prevent My Black Dog From Turning Brown?

Unfortunately, with aging and genetics, there’s no way around it.

In some situations, it is possible to prevent your dog’s coat from changing color. Nutritional balance, health conditions, side effects to medication, and sun bleaching can all be managed.

Nutritional Prevention

As we’ve said before, nutritional balance is the primary key to maintaining a healthy and full-colored coat. 

For first-time dog owners, it can be a bit confusing as to what you need to feed your dog. Should you just buy the most expensive dry kibble and call it a day? Or read the ingredient list and make an educated decision from there? 

Research foods before you buy them to ensure that it has the essential ingredients your dog needs for a healthy coat and well-balanced diet. 

When buying your furry friend’s food, look for foods with copper, zinc, omega-3, and omega-6 fatty acids. Keep an eye on the ingredient lists to make sure they are rich in amino acids, especially phenylalanine. 

Other things to consider adding to your dog’s diet are eggs and almonds. 

Eggs are rich in Omega fatty acids, which promote a healthy and thick coat and moisturized skin. Omega-3 and 6 fatty acids aid in balancing immune health and cell growth. When a dog receives enough of these, it will be more likely to have a shiny and healthy coat.

Almonds are also an excellent source of zinc and copper, two key ingredients for a thick and full-colored coat. Adding almonds to a dog’s diet is easy. Simply chop them up and add them to dog food.

Health Monitoring

We all know the importance of monitoring our dog’s health, especially when something seems wrong. If you notice your dog is suffering from dry skin, irritation, redness, and hair loss, it is important to consult with a veterinarian. 

Things like hyperthyroidism and side effects to medications can cause these reactions as well as a pigment change in the fur. Your vet will know the best steps to aid in recovery for these issues.

Sun Bleach Management

Sun exposure is hard to avoid. Whether you are outside with your dog for a walk or a nice lounge in the sun, they will experience damage to their fur. There are ways to ensure that this does not become too big of a problem. 

There are coat restoring shampoos and conditioners that aid in color correction. Using these will promote a healthy coat and a nice layer of protection from the sun’s UV rays. 

We recommend bathing your dog with moisturizing and restoring shampoos at least once a month and no more than once a week unless otherwise recommended by a veterinarian.

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