Why Does My Dog’s Fur Change Color?

You may have seen you or your friends’ dogs growing up to be very different colors than what they used to be when they were puppies. Does this happen with all dogs? And when it does, is aging the only reason?

There can be multiple reasons why your dog’s fur changes color. This could even be used to check how old he is. If you want to learn more about how to calculate your puppy’s age, check out this Puppy Age Calculator.

However, if you’re wondering about all the possible reasons why your dog’s fur has changed color, and whether or not you should be worried about it, this article outlines the most common things you should look for.


Just as humans get white hair as they get old, you might see similar changes in your dogs. But while most hair on the human head and body turns white, it does not happen to that extent with dogs.

Why Does My Dog’s Fur Change Color

This happens because creating the pigment that makes fur color takes a lot of energy from the body. When dogs get older, the body chooses to spend this energy on more important bodily functions. This causes the pigment to reduce, causing some whitening.

This does not happen throughout the fur. While some lightening as your dog ages is natural, proper noticeable whitening will only appear near the muzzle. You do not have to be worried about this kind of fur change since it is completely natural.


While this might sound the same as aging, maturing is completely different, and occurs in a much earlier stage of a dog’s life. This is a phenomenon witnessed only in a few dog breeds like Poodles or Labradors.

When these dogs are around 8 to 12 months old, you might see some lightening in their fur. Poodles get a more frosted look on their fur. Labradors might go from a completely black to a dark brown color.

This is natural. If you have a breed of dog that changes some color slightly when it stops being a pup you have no reason to worry.

These are the normal reasons along with genetics as to why you’re seeing these changes in your dog. However, these are not the only possible options. There are some other reasons that might be a problem and might need you to visit a vet.


Is your dog stressed out about something? If he’s afraid of other dogs around him, or there is some family situation that causes him anxiety, this might also cause his fur to become lighter. This is caused because stress directly causes less pigment to be formed in your pet’s body.

While this can be figured out from a dog’s general behavior and eating habits, it might be a good idea to take him to the vet to diagnose this to make sure. Stress and anxiety will not just be a problem in the short run, but might also cause long term health problems.

You might not always realize the kind of emotions your dog is feeling. Believe it or not, stress is a common problem in dogs. Did you know that your dogs also get embarrassed? Check out this article about how your dogs might feel embarrassed to learn more.

Physical Injuries

Mental health can show signs of premature aging and whitening in your dog’s fur, but physical injury is a more obvious reason for why your best friend might not look like he used to. If your dog gets into fights, or just gets an injury from an external object, the wound would take some time to heal and grow new fur.

The fur that grows in this place will be darker than the original color of his fur. If it is a large wound, you might see a noticeable difference in just the area that the wound has affected.


There are multiple diseases that can cause fur lightening. Hormonal problems are common within dogs, the most common being the malfunctioning of the thyroid gland. This can not only cause your dog’s fur to change color but also lead to hair loss, brittle fur, and mood changes.

Vitiligo is another disease which can cause premature whitening of your dog’s fur, especially around his head. His face, ears, and snout will be most affected by this disorder. This disease causes the cells that contain melanin to stop functioning.

A much more serious issue in this case would be cancer. This is especially difficult to notice because it can cause both lightening and darkening of the fur due to decreased or increased pigmentation.

These are very serious diseases that you need to look out for when you’re looking for signs of problems in your canine friend. If these problems persist and you believe that your dog might be suffering from something serious, the best option is to visit a vet and understand why exactly his fur looks the way it does.

Final Word

There can be a lot of reasons as to why you’ll see your pet’s fur changing its color. Some of these might be completely harmless reasons like maturing or aging, and you do not need to worry about them too much. Some reasons like mental or physical health might be the root of these problems. If you see dog fur change color for these reasons, you should definitely visit your vet.

I hope that this article has given you a good idea of what you should know if your pet’s fur doesn’t look like it used to. If you’re interested in similar topics about dogs and their well being, our website has a lot of informational articles, reviews, and buying guides. Please check them out!

And as always, Live, Love, Laugh, and Scratch our bellies often!

Love you guys,


P.S. If you’re new to this world, you may want to check out my Ultimate Guide for First Time Dog Parents. It’s a great reference to get you started on this journey.


This article has been reviewed by our Editorial Board and has been approved for publication in accordance with our Editorial Policies.

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