What Causes Brown on White Fur on Dogs?

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What Causes Brown on White Fur on Dogs?
There are many reasons why white fur on dogs may turn brown. (bichon havanais posing image by Lars Christensen from Fotolia.com)

In show dogs, white fur needs to be unstained and as white as possible, and even pet dogs look better when their white fur is white. However, many dog owners notice that over time, their dog's fur can turn brown. The brown colour returns even after washing. If you want to get rid of this brown colouration for good, you first need to look at the possible causes.

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When your dog's white fur is stained around the eyes and down the face, tears might be the culprit. Your dog uses tears to clean his eyes, and tears contain a small amount of iron. When the tears are shed, they can leave iron sediment on your dog's face, which will then rust. These tears occur on darker-coloured dogs as well, but tends only to be noticeable on dogs with white fur. They are normal, but you should consult your veterinarian if it looks like your dog is pawing at his face or experiencing some kind of discomfort.

Water Quality

When your dog is drinking water that is high in mineral content, she may end up with iron sediment in her fur. When she drools or when she licks her lips, this iron sediment can be deposited on the white fur around her jaws. Changing the quality of water that your dog drinks can fix this problem almost immediately.


When your dog has allergies, he may very well respond to the itching and irritation by constantly licking his fur. Due to the water quality, his saliva might be turning his fur rusty brown or reddish brown. Because one of the areas that constantly gets inflamed when your dog is having an allergic reaction is between the toes, many dogs start showing brown feet when they are having issues with allergies.


In cases where the fur is turning brown all over the body rather than in localised areas, the culprit might be the shampoo that you are using. Switch shampoos to see if it will help. Individual dogs might have reactions to different types of shampoos that lead to fur discolouration.

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