In writing about our personal experiences, we sometimes mention products or services that we use or recommend. This page may contain affiliate links for which we receive a commission.
Thinking of dying your dog’s fur to make it a different color? Some popular dog fur colors are:
- Pink dog fur for Valentines Day
- Green dog fur for St. Patrick’s Day
- Red & green dog fur for Christmas
- Red/white/blue dog fur for an election year or 4th of July
- Colorful circles on dog fur for the Olympics
- Years or numbers on dog fur for New Year’s Day
…You get the idea. The safest way to do it is to use basic food coloring — either the juices from colorful foods that are safe for dogs to eat or organic food coloring that contains all-natural ingredients. Following are some helpful tips for dying your dog’s fur… without hurting your dog or making him uncomfortable in the process. Remember, the pH level of your dog’s skin is very different than a human’s.
That’s why you cannot use regular hair dye to color your dog’s fur. Therefore, first and foremost, don’t use any products with harmful chemicals in them to dye your dog’s fur. The chemicals — including bleach — will irritate your dog’s skin and you’ll have to undergo a series of vet visits to get your dog’s skin and coat back to normal. Don’t make your dog suffer through this.
The safest option is to use food coloring. This will not harm your dog if he should happen to lick his paws or his coat while it’s drying.
5 Ways To Dye A Dog’s Fur With Food Color
#1 – First, try to find real foods that are safe for dogs to eat and that will produce the color you are after. Some examples:
- Beets (red/pink)
- Blackberries (purple/black)
- Blueberries (blue/purple)
- Carrots (orange)
- Cranberries (red/pink)
- Raspberries (pink)
- Red Cabbage (blue/purple)
- Spinach (green)
- Strawberries (red/pink)
- Sweet Potatoes (orange/tan)
- Turmeric Powder (yellow)
The juice from any of the above should tint your dog’s fur enough to be noticeable. You can use fresh or frozen. Either squeeze fresh or thawed varieties and use a potato masher to get the most juice. Or toss into a blender or food processor. Combine 2 or more to create a whole new color. (Remember: yellow+red=orange and blue+yellow=green and red+blue=purple.) Psst… you’ll find some helpful tips in these 8 ways to make organic food coloring.
In South America, the juice of red sweet potatoes is combined with lime juice to make a dye for cloth. By varying the proportions of the juices, every shade from pink to black can be obtained. Source
#2 – If you can’t find any dog-safe foods to create the perfect color, then look for all-natural or organic food coloring — like India Tree Natural Decorating Colors. They are made from highly concentrated vegetable colorants. Best of all, they contain no synthetic dyes and no corn syrup.
#3 – Alternatively, you could use regular artificial food coloring. Just be sure to use a little at a time, until you’re clear how dark the resulting color on your dog’s fur will be.
There is some evidence that many commercial artificial food colorings (like red 40 or yellow 6 or blue 2 for example) may have carcinogenic properties if fed long term (such as every single day over the life of a dog). This is one of many reasons that any pet food with artificial coloring added to it is best to avoid. However, the amount of food coloring that would be in your biscuits fed occasionally to a dog is exceedingly unlikely to cause any harm to a dog. If you want to add orange food coloring to the biscuits for a festive flare, go for it. At Christmas time I will make “candy cane” cookies by adding red food coloring to half of the biscuit dough and twisting two rolled pieces of dough together and bending the top. It has never hurt any dog I’ve ever met. Source
#4 – Lastly, there are a few dog-safe hair dyes on the market. However, you’ll want to check the ingredients and precautions closely because most of them do contain chemicals that could irritate your dog’s skin — especially if your dog already has allergies or skin issues. Use with caution.
#5 – As for using the Koolaid hair color method on your dog… it’s not highly recommended. Even if you use sugar-free Koolaid, you’ll end up with a sticky mess that will probably make your dog uncomfortable. In addition, the ingredients aren’t good for your dog if he should happen to lick his skin or fur. And the ingredients in Kool-aid are not good for your dog’s skin either.
Apply the dye in one of two ways: (1) Mix the dye in a sink or tub full of water and submerge your dog in the colored water. This will provide a faint color effect. (2) For a more drastic dye job, sit your pup in the sink or tub (depending on its size) and apply the dye with a brush. If you’re using drink mix, combine the powder with water to create a paste. Then apply the paste to small patches of fur until your dog is covered in color. Source
DIY Dog Hair Dye Tips
- For the best outcome, start with a clean dog that has been bathed and brushed.
- Light-colored dog fur works best for coloring. The darker your dog’s fur is, the harder it is to find a color that will tint it.
- If your dog is unhealthy in any way (either temporarily or ongoing), do not dye your dog’s hair.
- Be careful not to get any of the dye into your dog’s eyes — even natural food coloring.
- It’s best to dye your dog outdoors where nothing could become damaged (or spotted) when your dog shakes his fur.
- Be sure to wear thick rubber gloves so your hands won’t become stained.
- If you use a towel to pat dry your dog, keep in mind that towel will become permanently stained.
- Depending on how dark you tint your dog’s fur, it usually takes 4 to 6 weeks before it completely washes out and your dog’s fur is back to its normal color.
The best way to apply the tint is to use a spray bottle. Mix the dyes with water and spray it all over the dog. Don’t assume that the color in the bottle is the color you will end up with on your dog. For instance, a white poodle will be much easier to dye than a black terrier. The color in the bottle will likely be accurate for the light-colored dog but will need to be much darker when you’re tinting a dark-haired animal. Source
Pictures Of Dog Fur Colors… For Inspiration!
Enjoy the following links to photos of DIY dog hair dye experiments — some gone wrong; some are oh so right.
- Polka dot dog looks like an Easter egg
- Rainbow colored poodle
- Colorful clown dog
- Green, blue & pink dogs in a basket
- Pastel colored dog
- Dog’s hair dyed to look like a lion
- Red & white poodle
- Dog with a coat of many colors
- Blue fringe on a white dog
- Chihuahua dyed to look like a giraffe
- Gay pride dog
- White dog dyed brown
- Now that’s a pink dog
- Pink dog with pink stripes
Have you seen the dog that was dyed to look like a Panda?
Here’s the story behind the Panda dog.
Along those same lines, here’s a creatively dyed Tiger dog:
Here are more photos of tiger dogs and panda dogs.
I like to help Dog Parents find unique ways to do things that will save time & money — so I write about "outside the box" Dog Tips and Dog Hacks that most wouldn't think of. I’m a lifelong dog owner — currently have 2 mixed breed Golden Aussies that we found abandoned on the side of the road as puppies. I've always trained my own dogs and help friends train theirs, as well. Professionally, I worked at a vet and have several friends who are veterinarians — whom I consult with regularly. (And just because I love animals so much, I also worked at a Zoo for awhile!) I've been sharing my best ideas with others by blogging full-time since 1998 (the same year that Google started… and before the days of Facebook and YouTube). My daily motivation is to help first-time dog owners be better prepared from the first day your new puppy enters your home. I like to help dog owners understand what's 'normal' and what you can expect in terms of living with and training your dog — how to get through the ups & downs of potty training, chewing, teaching commands, getting your dog to listen, and everything else that takes place during that hectic first year! When I'm not training, walking, grooming, or making homemade treats for my dogs, you will find me at the corner of Good News & Fun Times as publisher of The Fun Times Guide (32 fun & helpful websites). To date, I've written over 500 articles for dog owners on this site!