Recently I had a puppy parent contact me about their puppy’s nose turning pink. So I thought I would write some information regarding “snow nose” or “winter nose”. This is something golden retrievers and many other breeds, like labrador retrievers, do experience.
So what is snow nose? Snow nose occurs when a black colored nose on a dog begins to turn pink during the colder months. When warmer months come back, the nose returns back to black. In colder areas the results can be more extreme, than in areas where it doesn’t get as cold. The pink on the nose will begin at the center and go towards their perimeter. Many articles will state various reasons as the cause, but the most widely considered cause is a decrease in tyrosinase during winter months. Tyrosinase is needed to produce pigment. Hence, the color black. Also, since winter months have days that are shorter there is less light. Thus exposure yielding less melanin.
When a dogs nose turns pink it generally does return back to its predominant color. Not all dogs will experience this either. Some dogs will remain all black in the winter. Recessive genetics determines if a puppy will or not will have it, but it is not something to worry about.
As a dog grows up, it is also typical to see a loss of pigmentation in the nose. It’s similar to humans hair going grey or white. It’s part of their aging process. Their hair color can turn lighter as well. With “English Cream Golden Retrievers” it’s less visible as their hair is already light.
If a puppy or a dog’s nose begins to change color in say the summer, then there may be an alternative issue at stake. In those cases I would seek a veterinarian advice. Many cases are caused by contact dermatitis. I’ve seen dogs who continually rub their nose on various objects leading to their nose turning pink. Alice’s father recently was doing this on a fence prior to a dog show. Luckily he wasn’t faulted for this. Additionally a laceration, scratch, or bite will cause the nose to turn pink on the wound area. After time the nose generally does return to it’s black color. In cases where none of this is explained with previous examples then indeed there could be something abnormal. Once again I would advise a veterinarian consult.
Since I live in a warmer area, we don’t generally experience this issue. If they did, I’d enjoy their Rudolph noses.