What exactly is a Dudley nose in dogs? When it comes to dog noses, they can be colored in many different ways, the most common being black, but once in a blue moon you may stumble on what is called a "Dudley nose."
So what is a Dudley nose and how does it impact dogs? The American Kennel Club glossary informs us that a Dudley nose in dogs is simply a flesh-colored nose. Other sources describe it as being a nose that lacks pigment and therefore is pink.
On top of a nose lacking pigment, often the dog's eye rims and foot pads tends to also be pink.
These Dudley nose definitions though don't tell us much about what causes a Dudley nose in dogs and whether it's a problem or not.
It's interesting therefore discovering more about why a dog's nose would appear flesh-colored or lacking pigment in the first place.
What is a Dudley Nose?
As mentioned, a Dudley nose is a flesh-colored nose, which differs from the usual solid black pigmentation seen on the noses of most dog breeds.
If you were to look at the usage of this term in many dog breed standards, you would soon notice that it's often listed as a fault.
In some breeds the presence of a Dudley nose is considered a serious fault and in some others it can even be means for disqualification!
For instance, in the Labrador retriever breed standard the nose is expected to be black on black and yellow Labradors, while it should be brown in chocolates. Nose color fading to a lighter shade is not considered a fault, but a thoroughly pink nose or one lacking in any pigment is means for disqualification.
Did you know? Nose color in dogs is often related to coat color. From a genetic standpoint, black dogs have black noses while brown or liver dogs have liver noses.
Not to Be Confused for Snow Nose
A Dudley nose in dogs should not be confused with the term "winter nose" or "snow nose." In the case of snow nose or winter nose, the loss of pigmentation is, as the name implies, seasonal, therefore causing a temporary change that takes place in the winter.
Generally, in snow nose, the middle of the nose loses color, then, once winter is over, the nose returns to its normal original color. Snow nose is thought to occur because of lack of sunlight and is commonly seen in Siberian huskies, Labrador and golden retrievers and some other breeds.
In the case of a Dudley nose instead, the dog is typically born with a solid black nose, but then as the dog matures, the nose starts gradually fading becoming brown until it reaches the point of turning pinkish white. Unlike "snow nose" the change in color is permanent.
The Importance of Pigmentation
The next question one may think of is: why is nasal depigmentation in dogs such a big deal? Is it just a matter of looks or is there more to it?
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Turns out, for a very good reason a solid black nose is the default color seen in most dogs.
Nasal pigmentation is ultimately what protects the dog's nose from sunburn and potential skin cancer. Generally, the darker the nose, the better UV protection.
Dogs with a Dudley nose therefore benefit from the application of sunscreen purposely made for dogs.
It's important to note that sunscreen designed for humans can be toxic to dogs due to its zinc content. This common sunscreen ingredient causes anemia in dogs. Here are the risks of dogs ingesting zinc oxide and what types of sunscreen are OK to use in dogs.
"A dog with a black nose would be considered “protected” from the sun. A dog with a pink, fading to pink or pale nose needs sunscreen applied to this area...AVOID sunscreens with zinc oxide. Pet caregivers can also opt for a visor."~Dr. Jean Dodds
From a Medical Standpoint
The term Dudley nose is used in breeder circles, but the actual medical term for such reduction in pigmentation is "idiopathic nasal hypopigmentation."
The word idiopathic denotes a condition that has an unknown cause. Basically, what triggers Dudley nose in dogs remains for the most part a mystery. It just seems to happen spontaneously for no particular reason.
The word nasal, obviously refers to nose, while hypopigmentation simply refers to low or lack of pigmentation.
Fortunately, a Dudley nose as with some other nose color changes in dogs doesn’t seem to affect a dog’s health overall as long as there are no other signs of problems going on such as scaling, crusting or cracking.
"The only time we need to be concerned about a change in color is if the leather starts to appear abnormal in texture (smooth and shiny rather than the normal textured appearance) or the spots become ulcerated or crusty.
Those changes can signify autoimmune disease, some types of fungal infections, zinc deficiency dermatosis in some arctic breeds, or cancerous changes like squamous cell carcinoma." ~Dr. Kara, veterinarian
Dog Breeds With Dudley Noses
According to Ryane E. Englar, author of "Common Clinical Presentations in Dogs and Cats," a Dudley nose is more commonly seen in certain dog breeds such as pointers, Doberman pinschers, Labrador retrievers, Afghan hounds, Irish setters, poodles, Samoyeds and white German shepherds.
Did you know? The word Dudley derives from bulldogs with flesh-colored noses that were bred from a part of Black Country in Worcestershire, known as "Dudley" explains Rawdon B. Lee in the book "A History and Description of the Modern Dogs of Great Britain and Ireland."
- Ear, Nose and Throat Diseases of the Dog and Cat, By Richard G. Harvey, Gert ter Haar, CRC Press; 1 edition (October 14, 2016)
- A History and Description of the Modern Dogs of Great Britain and Ireland, By Rawdon B. Lee, 1893
- Rawdon B. Lee "A History and Description of the Modern Dogs of Great Britain and Ireland."
- Pigmentary Abnormalities In Small Animal Dermatology (Fourth Edition), 2017