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Wednesday, March 22, 2006

The well pigmented LGD nose...

Pedigree has a nice collection of newsletters for those of with a canine persuasion. Since one actually has to be a subscriber to see the content of the newsletters, I'm going to post a possibly helpful teaser here regarding a question on nose pigment.

The Pedigree newsletter this comes from is one called Healthy Matters. If you are interested in subscribing to any of their free newsletters, go here.

I haven't had an Anatolian that has had a color other than black on the nose (and eye rims). Over the years, I have had white ASDs, pintos, a blue, a brindle (pinto) and different shades of regular fawns (red fawn or yellow to greyish fawn with a black mask and ears). Anatolians that are blue or chocolate should have richly pigmented noses that are some shade of gray-black slate (for blue) or reddish bronze to copper colored (for chocolate) since they have genes that derail full development of black on the nose (and eye rims). I have however seen some photos of ASDs that have nonblack areas on the nose. Some dogs with certain dilution (genetic) factors may have a very faded out look on some part of their nose, others might have pinto patches that didn't fully color in as they matured. (some pintos may have areas of pink color (lack of pigment) inside their nostrils, this is fine...). It is normal for dogs with black noses to have a sort of dingy looking dark colored "black but not quite black" coloring from time to time.

I think one objective of the LGD breeder is to do what they can to ensure that they maintain genetics that will support and select for the most richly pigmented noses possible on these flock guardian breeds. This is because the for the most part, these will be outdoor dogs that may lay about for hours each day in extremes of the elements, for which dark nose pigment will provide protective qualities against sunburn and also fly strike. It's difficult to keep livestock without some fly nuisance developing. The last thing you want is a working dog whose nose is chapped from sun exposure and bloody from fly strike. So depth/deepness of pigment on the nose is very important for LGDs. Older LGDs and dogs that are ill may develop a dry nose, so some protection such as Bag Balm can be helpful for these situations. There are however pet LGD lines developing, like some white Akbash colored dogs in Turkey (and I'm sure it happens here in the US too), that sometimes have little pigment on the nose. This is unfortunate and may be due to loss of an allele that protects nose pigment from fading (seems to run in related dogs) -- but since dog lovers may sometimes tend to be well-meaninged backyard breeders (no matter which country) and not genetics minded, this is apt to happen. Let's try to do better than this.

After having said all that, there are nose pigment changes that can happen in an otherwise healthy dog. I do not have experience to know how much more prone to chapping and flystrike some of these dogs might be, but some of the pigment changes are considered by some to be 'normal'. In many of the working breeds that are afflicted by these changes, owners don't usually notice impact from the environment on those noses, and the reason may be that for the greater part, these dogs do not live in areas of high fly exposure and long hours of direct sunlight. In the Old World, LGDs were not dragged to the hospital for every nick and scratch, so problems caused by poor pigment could become deal breakers with affected dogs.

Without further ado, the question on nose pigment...

Dear Dr. Kate,

Why is my young dog’s nose turning from black to pink? Should I be concerned?

Many dogs experience depigmentation of the nose, which is when the nose turns from black to pink. This can happen for a number of reasons, many of which are harmless. But because this problem can be confused with many different conditions, a veterinary consultation is highly recommended.

They include:

1. "Winter, or Snow, Nose." Some dogs' noses have a decrease in the black pigment in the winter, due to seasonal changes. Complete loss of pigmentation is not seen and the color darkens again in spring and summer.

It occurs in Siberian huskies, Golden Retrievers, Labrador Retrievers, and Bernese Mountain Dogs. Though some people have tried sun lamps to counteract this, the change appears to be related to temperature more than sunlight. This is harmless.

2. Nasal depigmentation. (This is also called "Dudley Nose.") For no apparent reason, some dogs lose the black pigment in their nose and it can turn pink or even white permanently.

It's been reported in Afghan Hounds, Samoyeds, White German Shepherds, Golden Retrievers, Poodles, Doberman Pinschers, Irish Setters, and Pointers. A few patients recover spontaneously - for others it will come and go, sometimes seasonally.

This does not appear to be dangerous either.

3. A contact allergy. Your dog may be allergic to his rubber or plastic bowls. Try changing them to ceramic or metal.

4. Vitiligo. This is a skin condition that causes dogs to lose their pigmentation. It is generally not concentrated only on the nose - you should see patches of white fur or skin elsewhere on your dog as well. Vitiligo is common in certain breeds like Rottweilers and Labs, but doesn't appear to affect the dog's general health.

5. Pemphigus. This is an immune-mediated skin disorder, where the immune system is reacting inappropriately, similar to an allergy. With pemphigus, you will see other blisters, pustules, or crusty areas on your dog's face and ears. See your veterinarian because Pemphigus is a treatable condition.

6. Discoid lupus is another immune-mediated skin disease. You'll see sores or a change in the texture of your dog's nose. The symptoms will appear to worsen with exposure to UV light. This should also be treated by your vet.

7. Idiopathic, or unknown cause. This is mainly seen in Newfoundlands, and often involves depigmentation of the lips and eyelids also.

8. Some skin cancers involving the nose can cause depigmentation.

Go to the vet immediately if: Examine your dog's face and body, and take him to the vet right away if you note any of these symptoms:
  • Scales
  • Sores
  • Other whitening of the skin or fur
  • Blisters
  • Discoloration of the mouth or any other tissue.
  • Change in texture
Always consult with your vet to rule out anything serious and to discuss whether your dog may need sun protection - his newly pink nose may burn more easily in the sun.

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Semavi Lady woofed at @ 3/22/2006 07:40:00 PM | Permanent link | (0) Comments

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