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Why Does My Maltese Have Brown Spots? (Explained for Owners)

Maltese is known as one of the whitest dog breeds around since their coats are stunning, soft, and white. As they are knowingly white, they tend to brown or discolor. This happens due to a few reasons, and more often than not they are okay to have.

Why does my Maltese have brown spots?

Your Maltese can have brown spots for a variety of reasons such as cosmetic, dietary, and often, health. If it is anything harmful, they can be addressed eventually with attention, supplements, and time. It could also be due to age, but if it happens suddenly, consult the vet immediately.

Since skin discoloration is quite common and normal in canines, happening for natural pigmentation reasons. Unless your dog is showing any other unusual or abnormal accompanying physical discomfort, it should be okay.

A few reasons why my Maltese is turning brown

Maltese are known for their silky, soft white coat and their being in their adorable size is only a bonus. Since Maltese has been bred to only have white hair for a long while, it can be quite alarming if you see yours turn brown, especially if this is sudden.

A few reasons why your Maltese could be turning brown is, 

Tear stains

Tear stains tend to happen since dogs cannot drain their eyes naturally. So, the fur around their eyes becomes wet and collects dirt as they dry therefore turning reddish-brown.

Longer hair in their face or around their eyes, allergy, or changes to diet can be the cause why your beloved Maltese is getting tear stains.

Porphyrins and Malassezia

Porphyrins is a predominant problem in dogs, typically, even more, those with white coats like Maltese. This fur staining is caused by this compound Porphyrin which is an iron-containing molecule that the body produces breaking down red blood cells.

Malassezia is the one that causes the fur to be stained brown. It happens due to skin and ear infections with the yeast named after it. It is possible that your dog has both, and there is staining their fur.

Food stains

If you feed your pup dog food or doggie treats or even chew toys that are full of red or brown pigmentation- it can tinge their white fur.

Wet food can make it stain even almost immediately. Oxidation that is caused by saliva drying on their coat can also cause tinting after having a meal like those mentioned before.

Natural causes

Let’s say you let your fluffy friend outside, their fur could be browned due to playing in dirt pools or maybe even trash. There are times where the water has high mineral content which can cause discoloration.

Other reasons include allergies, fungal infections, or hyperpigmentation. As mentioned earlier, unless it’s causing them discomfort, this issue can be handled easily and harmlessly.

Is it normal for Maltese to have brown spots?

It is normal for Maltese to have brown spots. Owners lovingly call it “cow spots” for harmless black or brown spots on their Maltese. People also believe they are good to have since they indicate good pigment.

By pigment, it means that the pup or dog has skin that is not white. All Maltese do not have pigmented skin so it explains if you see the brown or black spots on yours. The skin can be a little yellow or tan tinged.

Generally, the color turns in these pigmented areas, having a change from the lighter shade to the darkest. It can also happen at any age, but it particularly happens when they are 1 to 2 years old.

So, if your dog has a pigmented skin, it is understandable if they have spots. If you think this is unnatural and may cause harm to your pup, contact a vet.

How to get rid of brown stains on Maltese?

Since white dogs like Maltese tend to get stains on them the most, understandably so, it would do you good to know of the ways to get rid of them. It should be noted, the sooner you clean them or get on the issue, the easier it will be to rid them.

You should also check if the staining is happening due to a health reason since it gets overlooked way too many times. If it is not health-related, there are two ways you can stop the stains- through prevention or cleaning once it is there.

 For prevention, the steps you can take are

Balance the PH of the water

Some ophthalmologists believe that adding slight acidity into the water they are drinking can help with tear and tear stains.

Check if they are allergic

As mentioned earlier, your dog could be allergic to something in the food they are having, which could make the skin flare-up. If that is the case, changing it up and seeing how they react should do the trick.

Trim the fur

As Maltese are the kind that can have long hair or fur on them, trimming them can further make it easier to prevent such issues. If you are worried about hurting them or cutting them poorly, you can always make a trip to the groomer.

Clean, proper water

As surprising as it sounds, the minerals found in hard water can cause or even worsen eye tears in dogs. If you think that is the case, try switching out to filtered water for your pups as well.

Leave in conditioner or sunscreen

There are leave-in conditioners that also act as sunscreen which will stop the sun from harming your lovely pups’ skin by acting as a shield. Apply them over their belly or thinly haired areas.

Let’s say the stain is already here and you would like to clean it away, here are a few ways you can do it-

Tear stain removers or eye cleansers

The easiest and safest way to absolve tear stains is to get removers or cleansers. It could be a little challenging to find one for your Maltese since they are a white dog, but some kinds help to whiten the fur around the eyes.


If you do not want to go for topical creams or want to further have anti-tear or anti-stain options, supplements are a good place to go. Add them supplementary to their meals and it should start working soon.


Wipes are also another way you can remove the stain, and it shows immediate results as well. Just make sure to use the ones that pet friendly and aren’t harsh on them.

Wash them

Probably the most obvious answer, if you want to clean a stain, why not wash your canine friend? There are tons of shampoos that help to clarify, whiten, ‘blue’, and even bleach your dogs’ fur if the stain is that serious.

It should be noted though, if you are using a harsh shampoo, make sure to condition afterward.

All things said, there are ways you can lessen the staining on your dog, though there are times it is inevitable. When that does happen, there are ways where you can get it off of them so it is best not to worry about it.

Are Maltese dogs all white?

Purebred Maltese dogs will always be white since they have been bred to the point of being only in that color.

While you might find some light tanning on the ears or body, Maltese are primarily white. The American Kennel Club accepts Maltese to be in white, white, and tan and white and lemon only.

Can a Maltese be brown?

A pure breed Maltese cannot be brown for they are only found in white and slight variations of white. If you have a brown Maltese, chances are it is a crossbreed.

Maltese are known to change colors as they mature, but it will be in slight and little variations of lemon, brown, or tan spots.

Are Maltese dogs ever black?

Black Maltese is not a true breed. A black Maltese is a hybrid dog since a pure breed Maltese can only be in white and white variations.

There are Maltese-like breeds that can come in darker coats like brown and black, but a Maltese will never be black due to generations of breeding out the genes.

Can Maltese have tan ears?

Maltese dogs can have tan ears. While this breed of dogs is known to wholly white, as they are exposed to the sun their skin can darken due to pigmentation.

Some Maltese can also have some darker fur as they age, with ears being tan or lemon being one of the most common outcomes. 

How do I get my Maltese white again?

You can whiten your Maltese by using shampoos that help get rid of stains and brighten their coats. Conditioning after shampooing will help keep their coat healthy and shiny.

Washing and grooming your dog is always the best option to keep them clean and happy, but do not over wash them.

How often should you wash a Maltese?

Regular grooming is important for your pup, especially if they are a white-coated breed like Maltese. You should fully brush them out 2 to 3 times a week and give them baths once or twice two weeks.

Usually, wash schedules happen anywhere between 1 to 3 weeks depending on the lifestyle you two lead.

Maltese is a wonderful companion to have and looking after them only deepens the bond you two will have. If they are starting to have brown spots, see if they are harmful to your pup and react accordingly to ensure their health and happiness.

Frequently Asked Questions:

What were Maltese dogs originally bred for?

Are Maltese good dogs?

Are Maltese dogs always white?

How big do Maltese get?

Do Maltese have hair or fur?

Do Maltese have curly hair?