White dog breeds, such as the Maltese and bichon frise, look brilliant when their coats are pristine. But that brilliance fades with the appearance of rusty brown stains. These dirty spots appear for a number of reasons, and can be eliminated with regular cleaning and a change in daily habits.
Bacteria and Yeast
Those unsightly stains growing under your pooch's eyes, mouth and on his legs are most likely evidence of a massive microscopic house party. Your pup's tears and saliva provide the optimum environment for bacteria and yeast growth. When his eyes water or he licks himself, he's wetting the hair, introducing more bacteria and giving existing microscopic nasties the opportunity to feed and multiply. The larger the collection of these tiny buggers, the darker and larger the coat stains.
Food and Water Stains
If you had a beard and stuck your face into a bowl to drink or eat, odds are you'd end up with dark stains too. Artificial coloring in your pup's food can transfer to his hair as he eats, leaving him with a strained ring around the mouth. Minerals and other impurities in his drinking water can also leave stains behind, and encourage growth of the already-present bacteria and yeast. Switch to a food brand with as little artificial colors as possible and use filtered water to minimize staining.
As if it weren't bad enough that what's in his bowl could cause this ugly staining, the type of bowl he noshes from could also have a hand in his dirty face. Plastic feeding and drinking bowls are common choices for dogs, but these can develop tiny cracks over time. Bacteria live in these cracks and transfer to your pup as he stops for a snack or drink. Bacteria growth means more staining. Use stainless steel, glass or ceramic bowls to eliminate this bacterial barrage, and wash them regularly with hot soapy water.
Because of the number of factors involved, you may not be able to completely eliminate any and all staining on your pup. But you can minimize the appearance by adopting a few habits to keep the stains from setting or growing too dark or large. Wipe your pup's prone-to-stain areas with a wet washcloth every single day to stop stains before they get a foothold. Bathe him with a shampoo specially formulated for white dogs, as this helps remove stubborn stains and return his coat to the gleaming white it's meant to be. Commercial products specifically for the removal of tear and face stains are sold in retail stores, but read all instructions to the letter and be very careful when you use these around your pup's face.
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