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." What exactly is a Dudley nose? The American Kennel Club glossary informs us that a Dudley nose in dogs is simply a flesh-colored nose. This Dudley nose definition though doesn'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 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, the Labrador retriever breed standard mentions that the presence of a thoroughly pink nose or a nose lacking any pigment is a disqualification.
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.
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?
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.
"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
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.
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
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
- Flickr, Creative Commons, Shutterbug 70, Close up of Teazer's nose. CCBY2.0