Why Is My Dog's White Hair Turning Brown?

By Lanh Ma

Whether you are interested in showing your dog or in simply maintaining its appearance, seeing white fur take on a brown appearance is distressing. This is a common feature among white dogs of all breeds, and learning a little more about the causes can help you decide what to do about it.

Causes

A dog's tears contain trace amounts of iron. When a dog drools or cleans his eyes with tears, the liquid sticks to the fur. If it is allowed to dry there, it can leave small amounts of iron, which will produce rust. Similarly, a dog that drinks water high in iron can leave rusty streaks on his mouth or on his body when he cleans himself for the same reason. Some dogs also have reactions to different types of shampoo, which can give them a brownish, dirty color.

Location

While any fur on a white dog can turn brown, it is most common around the dog's eyes, around its mouth and on its paws. Dogs groom themselves with their tongues, and these are the areas that are the most likely to remain damp and thus, they are the most likely areas to be affected by this condition.

Misconceptions

Some people believe that only white dogs are affected by browning or discolored fur. The truth of the matter is that dogs with darker fur are affected as well; their darker fur simply hides the staining better.

Prevention/Solution

When you want to keep your dog's fur white and pristine, you can take a soft damp washcloth to the discolored areas on its face or paws. You may also switch it to distilled water to prevent the consumption of water that is high in iron, and you may also try switching shampoos.

Warning

Sometimes white fur that turns brown can be a sign of something more serious. Consult your veterinarian if you notice any discharge from the eyes or if you see your dog pawing at his face. If the dog's eyes are bulging or if the eyelids are swollen and unable to close, seek veterinary assistance immediately.