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Akita Nose

The Standard and Misunderstandings

Akita nosePer AKC breed standard, the Akita's nose should be broad and black. Black on white Akitas are preferred, but a lighter color with or without shading of black or gray tone is acceptable.

Despite this description, many follow other explanations which essentially state that liver colored noses are sometimes present.

This is misleading and therefore often causes confusion for owners.  While the term of “liver” has been applied for many; liver in its true definition does not exist in this breed.

Therefore, the most common color other than a solid black is a diluted black.  The nose will often not be a dense, deep dark black, it will be faded.

Butterfly

It is not uncommon for a white Akita, (and sometimes others) to have a butterfly nose; this will be a parti-nose; consisting of dark areas and flesh areas.  This lighter hue can vary from white to pink. In some cases, those with this type of nose will also have some spots of lighter pigmentation on either the lips, eye rims or both.

Puppy to Adult – Can the Pigmentation Change?


It is not uncommon for an Akita puppy to have white spots, over a black base. For many, the darker spots will enlarge, eventually covering the entire surface.  If this is to happen, it will occur by the age of 2 years old.  If no, or few, changes have occurred by the age of 18 months, this means that the nose will not change to a solid black.  

The Show Ring

With deep, solid black being preferred, a solid lighter nose is accepted; however a butterfly is a disqualifying feature, as their wording states: partial or total lack of pigmentation on the surface.

Changes and Temperature


Some Akita dogs will have a nose that "fades" in colder months and then darkens in
 
 
   
warmer months.  More a cosmetic issue than a health issue, it is not painful for the dog.

However, some owners can find it to be disturbing.  In many cases, this can be fixed by choosing a sunny indoor spot in the colder months, and encouraging your Akita lay there for naps.  The sun exposure through a window has been shown to work in many cases to bring a faded nose back to its normal color.

Also, sun burns can affect the nose of this dog, with health problems being the main concern.  Sunburn can lead to skin cancer.  If you are to have your Akita outside for any longer than 2 hours in bright sunlight, it is always suggested to put sunscreen on the dog’s nose and tummy.

Burns can also cause blistering.  If blisters do appear, you should bring your Akita to the veterinarian so that lotion and antibiotics can be prescribed.

color change Akita dogMoisture


It is normal for the surface to be moist.  This is because the nose attracts moisture molecules from the air, ground and other elements.  A dog will also lick its nose to keep it moist.  Inside there is also a lot of moisture.  Compared to a human, a dog has about 10 times the amount of nasal membranes which hold nasal mucus.

Temperature


Being cool or cold to the touch is normal, but a warm, dry nose is not always a reason for concern.  It can, however, can be a cause for concern if there are other characteristics associated with it, such as cracked skin, scabs or open sores with changes in color.

Discharge

Canines do not get colds as humans do, however dogs can get:

•    Sinus Infections
•    Lung Infections
•    Bacterial Rhinitis
•    Kennel Cough
•    Distemper
•    Other medical issues that will make it seem as if they have a cold.

It is normal for an Akita to have a very mild runny nose at times.  Many owners do not even notice this, as the dog may lick its nose before anyone sees it.  However, a continuous runny discharge is not typical and is reason to bring your Akita to a veterinarian for a complete checkup.

Sneezing

One sneeze is fine.  50 are not.  In any cases of continually sneezing, it is time for a trip to the veterinarian. Excessive sneezing may be due to:

•    Allergies
•    A nasal tumor
•    A foreign object has gotten stuck in your Akita’s nose - An owner should not try to remove any foreign object, as the inside of an Akita’s nose is very sensitive and damage could be done.  It is best to have a vet take a look; he may need to sedate the dog to properly remove the object.  If the object has caused moderate to severe irritation or swelling, antibiotics will be prescribed.

Cracks

If an Akita has a cracked nose, this is usually caused because of dry skin.  The skin can dry out because of:

•    Cold weather
•    Low humidity in the air (inside or outside)

When the dog’s nose is exposed to these dry conditions over a long period of time, if the top layer cracks, you may see sections of pink.  If a layer peels off completely, a ruddy color underneath will be exposed.  If this happens, it is important to use sunscreen at all times that the dog is outside, even on cloudy days.

To help the cracking issues:

•    Apply Petroleum Jelly several times each day

•    Chapstick may be applied as a good alternative. Many dog owners find that this stays on longer and the dog cannot wipe it off as easily.

•    If the cracks do not improve after 1 week, it is time to take your Akita to the vet for a checkup.  There are is a vast array of canine diseases that can bring about symptoms of a dry and/or cracked nose.  Testing will need to be done to check for them.  Among them is an abnormal thyroid level, which can be diagnosed with a blood test.

Crusting Issues

If your Akita has a buildup of crust on the nose with or without a fluid discharge, this is a medical condition which requires treatment from the veterinarian.  This is medically called Nasal Solar Dermatitis and commonly known as Collie Nose.   Without treatment, the crusting can turn into cracking, bleeding and problems breathing. With still no treatment, a dog can develop cancer.

This will be diagnosed and confirmed with a small skin biopsy.  This is caused by a dog having an allergic reaction to the sunlight, therefore applying sunscreen when this health issue first develops is the best step to help a dog’s nose heal back to normal.  In other cases, a fungus infection is the cause and anti-fungal medication will be prescribed.

Vitiligo

While rare, an Akita’s nose may begin to show white or lighter colored spots. Vitiligo, if it is to occur, it usually does not develop until a dog is about 2 years old.  Studies are still ongoing for the cause of this canine health issue.  Among the theories of what causes this are stress, worms or auto-immune disorders.

In some cases, a veterinarian will prescribe Corticosteroid cream to be topically applied. This condition is not painful but usually cannot be completely reversed. It is theorized that not exposing the dog to sunlight for long periods of time may help. 

Cyclic Depigmentation


This is the most common reason for a dog to lose coloring on their nose.  This usually happens with adult dogs (over 2 years old) that have solid black noses.  Studies are still being done to try and pin down what causes this.   This is not yet treatable.  It is highly recommended to apply sunblock, as any white or very light areas will be very prone to a burn.




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