Why is My Golden Retrievers Belly Black? Causes and Treatments


Despite what many people would say, having a dog really is like having a baby in many ways. One of these ways is that whenever something new happens to them, we freak out.

One of these things is any color change. Whether it’s their fur getting darker, their eyes changing color, or their skin turning black.

If the latter happened to you, here is the short answer;

Why is my golden retrievers belly black? Golden Retrievers’ bellies could turn black because of a condition called Hyperpigmentation which is common in dogs. It’s a darkening of the skin and it happens over time. It can be caused by a skin infection, allergies, endocrine disorders, obesity, contact dermatitis, or hormonal abnormalities.

This is the short answer, but it doesn’t really tell the story, which is why you need the long answer. The long answer tells you whether you should worry about it and what you can do now. Keep reading to get the full answers….

Why is My Golden Retriever’s Belly Turning Black? 

Dog with black belly to illustrate the answers to why is my golden retrievers belly black

Some of the possible causes your golden retriever’s belly is turning black include:

  • Allergies
  • Infections
  • Contact dermatitis 
  • Endocrine disorders
  • Hormonal abnormalities
  • obesity

Let’s quickly go over them and see

Allergies

There are a few things that can make their belly black. For example chronic itching or chronic licking which can happen as a result of some allergies.

What happens is, if they are allergic to something and they eat it, smell it, or just be around it, it may infect their skin and the excessive scratching can make it much worse and rather quickly.

However, their skin color will not change all of a sudden, the change will be more gradual and if you regularly check up on your dog, you will be able to notice it before it becomes a serious problem.

Symptoms of Allergies

  • Redness in the skin (skin rash)
  • Watery eyes
  • Runny and stuffy nose
  • A lot of sneezing
  • Coughing
  • Shortness in breath
  • Wheezing
  • Facial pain
  • Chest tightness
  • Hives
  • Red eyes
  • Itchy eyes 

Infections

Skin infections such as bacterial infections, secondary allergies, and ringworms can cause hyperpigmentation.

Demodex, also known as, sarcoptic mange is also a reason, mange is a skin disease caused by microscopic mites that live under the skin, it will lead to hair loss and chronic itching.

Bacterial infections are common in this disease and in general, it’s the most common cause of skin infections in dogs. Plus if they have a bacterial infection (yeast) they will be less active, vomiting, and diarrhea. 

Symptoms

  • Red areas in their skin
  • Lack of energy
  • Dry nose
  • Vomiting
  • Shivering
  • Coughing
  • Warm ears
  • Laziness 
  • Losing interest in playing
  • Loss of appetite 
  • Red eyes

Ringworms can also cause your dog to lose their hair around the eyes, and you can learn about that here.

Contact dermatitis

Contact dermatitis is a relatively rare skin disease that appears when they make physical contact with a chemical substance or any other irritating substance which causes something like an allergic reaction immediately, so the chronic licking and scratching may lead to hyperpigmentation.

This inflammatory disease is associated with allergies to particular substances and it happens when they are exposed to shampoos, mold spores, airborne pollens, and detergents.

Symptoms

  • Hair loss
  • Inflamed skin
  • Sores in the skin
  • Dark spots

I have included many ways to help kind of isolate your dog from such chemicals on my post on do golden retrievers have sensitive skin here, so make sure to check it out when possible.

Endocrine disorders

Endocrine disorders such as hypothyroidism, diabetes mellitus, hyperpigmentation, and Cushing disease can also cause their skin to change color along with other effects.

Here are the symptoms to look for:

Symptoms

  • Fur loss
  • Thin hair
  • Thirst
  • Change in the appetite
  • Different energy
  • Thin or thickened skin

If you found that your golden has an area without fur, you should take them to the vet who will probably do blood tests to get an accurate diagnosis.

Hormonal abnormalities

Skin problems are common indicators of hormonal issues. If you noticed changes in their skin besides the black belly such as the skin thickness, distribution,  or consistency of their fur, it could be caused by some hormonal abnormalities.

Here are some of the other symptoms to look for:

Symptoms

  • Chronic scratching
  • Chewing on their coat
  • Chronic licking
  • Finding clumps of fur around the house.

Obesity 

Hyperpigmentation can also occur in dogs because of obesity, it appears in these areas

  • Legs
  • Groin
  • Belly

Symptoms

  • Inflammation
  • Odor
  • Pain
  • Hair loss
  • Thickened skin.

Do Golden Retrievers Have Black Bellies? 

Yes, sometimes they do, especially if they are puppies but it will be more purple than black. You probably know it as blueberry bellies which indicate that they have good pigment, they usually have dark noses and eye pigment and dark pads on their hands and legs.

The normal color of your golden retriever’s skin should be light-colored in general, and you will notice it changes from white to kind of pink-ish. Dark-colored skin is often not normal and may be the sign of a health issue as discussed.

Why is my golden retriever’s belly blueberry? 

They may have the blueberry belly because of hyperpigmentation or they could have an allergy, infection (bacterial infection such as yeast), hormonal abnormalities, obesity, endocrine disorders, or contact dermatitis.

It’s common in goldens to have a blueberry belly, however, if other symptoms appear beside the blueberry belly you should take them to the vet as it may be the symptoms of a health issue.

Related Questions 

Why is my golden retriever’s face turning white? 

It’s an age-related process when they are 10-12 years old, they will start growing white facial hair, it’s common in golden retrievers that their face whitens when they pass 8 years old, and sometimes by the age of 6 or 7 years old their whole face will become white.

What to do if your dog’s belly turned to black?

You can search for the cause first and look for any allergic or infection symptoms and limit the scratching and the licking. You should take them to the vet to manage the allergy, infection, or whatever is causing it and they give your dog prescribed medicine and will recommend what to avoid.

Sources

Hnilica, Keith A., DVM, et al. Small Animal Dermatology, 4th ed. Elsevier. 2016.

Miller, William H., VMD, et al. Muller & Kirk’s Small Animal Dermatology, 7th ed. Elsevier. 2012.

Paoletti, Michael. “Post-Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation, Dog.” VIN. December 2017.

Disclaimer
This article was reviewed and edited by a vet for accuracy, but it doesn’t replace your vet.
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