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Color Changes

Chihuahua Color Changes

Skin, Nose, and Coat


Color changes may happen with a Chihuahua in regard to both skin and coat. Some are gradual changes that happen due to the dog maturing. Other changes are due to environmental elements and some are due to health conditions.

Here in this section, we are going to discuss:
  • What it means if the skin turns a different color
  • What causes a Chihuahua's nose to develop colored spots
  • Why the coat may change color

Skin Color Changes

The most common question we receive from owners is the issue of a puppy or dog's skin turning black. With some Chihuahuas, it will be a dark brown but in all cases spots, splotches and areas of the skin will become darker. When black or brown spots appear on a Chihuahua's skin, this may be noticeable through a light colored coat (tan, white, fawn, etc.) For all dogs, this will occur on the stomach which has little to no fur over most of it.

The # 1 Reason

The most likely reason that this happens is due to sun exposure. While dogs may become sunburned with skin turning bright pink or red and be sensitive to touch, quite often when exposed to daily UV rays, the skin will react by developing brown or black spots. This process is called hyperpigmentation.
The Chihuahua breed is notorious for being sunbathers. Many of them enjoy soaking in the sun's rays. Some will seek out a sunny spot in the house; others will take advantage of opportunity to lay belly up outside on warm, summer days.

If a pigmentation change is indeed due to exposure to sunlight it may lessen or completely go back to its normal pink during winter months when the sun is not as strong and days are shorter (more so for those who live in areas that experience four seasons).

In and of itself, if the skin is flat and there are no other signs or symptoms other than the color change, this is not dangerous and is not considered to be a health concern.

4 Top Medical Reasons

There is a wide range of health issues and skin issues that can cause a Chihuahua's normally white to pinkish skin to change to black. In most cases, there will be other physical signs that something is wrong. 

Here are the top health disorders:

1) Vasculitis. This is an inflammation of blood vessels due to a variety of reasons; one of which is a bad reaction to vaccination shots. In many cases, the skin will develop reddish purple spots. Other signs of this are: Painful areas on the body most notably on the paws, lips and tail, swelling in the legs, itchy skin, ulcers, lack of appetite and fever.

2) Allergies. In most cases, there will be rashes, scaling and pink irritated areas, however with some dogs - especially those that were not treated early - the skin may turn black or purple. 

Other signs are itching, vomiting, coughing, shortness of breath, wheezing, runny eyes, runny nose and/or sneezing. These will vary depending of if the allergy is a contact, inhaled or food allergy. 
3) Sweat Gland Cysts. The Chihuahua's sweat glands may become inflamed which can cause black, raised nodules. Note that not only does the skin turn color, the affected area is raised.
4) Hypothyroidism. This refers to the dog's thyroid gland not properly producing hormone levels. The skin will not change color at the onset of this; however if left untreated the skin may indeed turn black. There will other symptoms as well, including a thinning of the coat, dry skin, weight gain and change in appetite.

Other Causes

While rare, there are countless other causes including Bowen Disease, infection, cancer, parasites and yeast infections.

How to Know if Black Skin is Normal or Not

In just about every case, if a darkening of the skin is the ONLY change and there are no raised areas, itching, fur loss, discomfort or other signs, the blackening of the belly and other areas such as the legs will be due to the sun.

If you notice ANY other sign - as odd or as unusual as it may seem - it is highly recommended to bring your Chihuahua to the veterinarian for an evaluation. A checkup will be needed because some of the medical conditions can be quite serious.

Change in Nose Color

What color is a Chihuahua's nose? You're not alone if you wonder about this. While a deep, dark black nose is common, a Chihuahua may also have a tan nose (this is referred to as self-colored in tan or fawn coated dogs), blue (the nose will be deep navy and any Chihuahua with a blue nose will officially have a blue coat, no matter the actual color of the fur), brown (called chocolate with chocolate coated dogs) and possibly pink - while rare, a pink nose is permissible in show.

With this in mind, there are cases of a Chihuahua's nose changing color. This will usually not be a full changeover, but rather the development of different hues on the leather. There may be a lighter pigmentation that comes in or the gradual darkening.

Why does a Chihuahua's nose change color? There are 3 potential reasons for this:

1) Genetics. A puppy may be born with one color on his nose and as he matures, the nose may change in color. A pink nosed Chihuahua may end up being an adult with a black nose, brown may change to black, etc. Some puppies are born with small pink areas that will slowly turn to the main color as they mature.

For some, there will be an inherent change that leaves the nose with two colors. This is referred to as a Dudley or Butterfly nose. The difference between a Dudley nose and a Butterfly nose is where the loss of pigmentation occurs; though many people use these terms interchangeably.

With a Butterfly nose, there will be randomly located and differently sized lighter colors. Merle dogs may be more prone to this, such as a blue merle Chihuahua.

Dudley denotes to a lighter color in the middle that may or may not spread outward.

2) Change of the Season. Opposite to how the belly may change color (black in the summer and back to pink in the winter) a Chihuahua's nose may fade in color during cold, winter months. Black may become brown. Chocolate or tan may even turn pink. When the color change is due to a change in the season, some call this snow or winter nose; though it should not turn white.     

Two possible reasons for this reaction is a response of the tyrosinase enzyme which is responsible for producing nose pigmentation and shorter days of less sunshine.

3) Medical Issues. While very rare, Lupus Erythematosus and cancer are possible causes. With Lupus Erythematosus, there will be other issues such as scaling, crusting and swelling.
Should You Be Concerned About Color Changes to the Nose?

If there are no other signs such as cracking, raised areas, changes in appetite, skin problems, etc. the reason will most often be due to genetics or seasonal color changes. If you have any doubts, always consult your Chihuahua's veterinarian who will be able to rule out any health problems.

Coat Color Changes

It is completely normal for a Chihuahua's fur to change color. In fact, it is almost expected. Many Chihuahua puppies are born with one color and will have change to another color as they mature. For most, this will happen during the first year. For some, there will continue to be subtle changes until the age of 18 months.

This can be startling for new owners who assumed that they had a certain color Chihuahua, only to see that after the first year, their Chi was drastically different. Many things can happen… Brindling may come in or fade out, sabling may darken or fade out, the coat may deepen or lighten, and spots may appear or diminish.

It is not uncommon for a tan to turn into a red or a solid fawn to change into a fawn with white spots, etc.

While genetics is in charge and it is very hard to predict the final color of a Chihuahua, very drastic changes can be ruled out. For example, a red sable cannot change into a solid cream. A black and white puppy cannot mature into a brindled tan, etc.

In addition, senior dogs may have a graying to the coat. This will not envelope the entire coat, but there may gray hairs intermingled with the hairs as a dog ages. 
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