Why Does My Dog Have Black and White Nails?

Dog with White and Black Nails

There are actually quite a few reasons why the nails of your dog will change color becoming either white or black. Although this might seem like a minor symptom, you should try to find its cause and address the health issue behind it, to make sure it doesn’t get worse.

Below you will find some of the most common health issues that might be behind nails that are either white, black, or discolored in your dog:

  • Growth or Tumor
  • Nail Detachment
  • Autoimmune Disorder
  • Nail Trauma
  • Some kind of infection, either with bacteria, a fungus, or yeast infection trauma
  • Allergies & Aging

Now let’s go through them one by one and see what each of them means:

Growth or Tumor

When a dog’s nail is changing color and is getting darker, it can be a symptom of a tumor or a benign growth. Although this is one of the less common issues, it is still a possibility.

When growth is found right at the bed of the nail this can cause an infection or inflammation, which will make the nail look discolored, white, or black. Although it might sound pretty severe, keep in mind that a tumor or lump in your dog’s pay isn’t necessarily something you should get concerned about. The growth might also be created by benign cells.

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Nail Detachment

Dog With One White NailAnother very common reason why a nail of your dog will become white or black is that it might be falling off. Before it is completely detached from the paw, a dead nail will first become black and then detach just partially. This is one of the natural processes that happen to nails so it’s usually nothing to get concerned about.

Autoimmune Disorder

This is another cause that is pretty rare, although it also has the dog’s nail turning black or becoming discolored as a symptom. One such disease is called Asymmetrical lupoid onychodystrophy and will be characterized by discolored nails. Labradors Greyhounds and German Shepherds are the breeds that will most commonly develop this illness, also called SLO.

Nail Trauma

As a result of trauma, dog nails can become discolored or damaged, or change color completely to white or black, just like human nails. This can be due to all sorts of things, from leaping when chasing a ball to getting into a fight at the park, anything can cause the nails of the dog to suffer just enough damage that they change their color.

If the dog’s nail turns black, then that’s not really a problem. There is a problem, instead, if it turns red because this usually means that blood is building up under it.

Yeast infection or infection with bacteria or fungi

There are quite a few species of parasites behind infections in the nails of a dog. Your dog can pick up this illness in backyards, dog parks, or other locations that have damp soil and it might be brought on by the busy lifestyle of your pet. When your dog suffers from a bacterial or fungal infection, its nails can change colors becoming either discolored, white, or black.

Allergies and Aging

There are some dogs that simply have differently colored nails naturally. Natural pigmentation occurs differently between dogs even from the same breed and will cause the nails of the pet to be colored differently.

It can also happen that some puppies have a combination of black and white nails, or white nails altogether at birth, that will get darker or even black through time, as they grow. A stripe on the nails can also occur because of a gene the dog has.

As a dog grows, so do its nails, becoming more rigid. Very frequently, this alteration will be followed by a color shift from red to brown or from black to white.

Most of the time, just because a nail has lost or changed its color, especially when caused by allergies, doesn’t require medical attention.

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