Don't try this at home! (Unless you're a professional groomer.)

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small dog dyed pink held by a woman with pink hair
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There are plenty of occasions that might make you consider using dog hair dye to give your pooch a pop of color. Maybe it's for Halloween or a pride parade or you want your pup to match his favorite bandana or leash.

Regardless of the reason, there are a few things you should know about dog fur dye before you try it yourself at home: Namely, don't try it yourself at home. This is an instance when you'll want to see a professional groomer to make sure your pup looks extra spiffy and the dye is applied safely. 

That's according to a pair of groomers, Brian Taylor of Harlem Doggie Day Spa and Gloria Hardaway, of Petcare Plus by Gloria the Groomer who told Daily Paws that dyeing your dog a certain color is a decision that needs plenty of thought. The coloring can be done safely, but will your dog be OK sitting through the long process it takes to dye their coat? And will you still like seeing the colored fur for potentially months and months?

"Hey, it's going to stay on for a while," Hardaway tells her clients. "This isn't something I can just take right back out."

How to Dye Dog Hair

After you and your vet have decided that your pooch is a candidate for dog hair dye, the next step to dyeing your dog's fur—like we outlined above—is very easy and your only step: Have a pro do it. Seriously, unless you are a professional dog groomer reading this, start looking for groomers in your area rather than buying the dye yourself. 

Be prepared for a long process. Both Taylor and Hardaway say they'll meet with their clients before the grooming session to make sure they know about the process and how long the dye will stay on their dogs. Plus, certain dogs, which we'll outline below, shouldn't get coloring.

Your groomer will also know which dog-safe hair dye to use, whether that's Opawz (Hardaway's go-to) or Crazy Liberty. If you do visit your groomer for a dye job, be sure to ask them which kind of dye they use and why it's safe for dogs.

"You've got to make sure it's safe in case the dog licks it," Hardaway says. 

Then comes the coloring process itself. Taylor, who's known as the Dog Father of Harlem, says the dyeing process will take about 30 or 40 extra minutes after your dog's regular grooming. He makes sure he's careful, staying away from the dog's skin and looking out for any signs the dog is stressed or anxious.

"We have those handling tools, and we understand how to handle the dogs," he says.

Trying this yourself without that knowledge is how you may inadvertently hurt, poison, or even traumatize your dog. You might also end up with an unwelcome, colorful addition to your new couch. 

Once it's on the dog, the dye will last a long time, surviving 10 or more washes. For some short-haired dogs, you might see the dye remnants for up to a year, Hardaway says. That's a long time to hang with a festively colored pooch—do you really want to see that holiday-themed floof well into summer? The safest way to remove any dye is shaving your dog's hair, which might not be the best option for a short-haired or double-coated dog breed. (Maybe that's why poodles, with their ever-growing hair, are typically the best dye candidates.)

Dogs Who Shouldn't Have Their Fur Dyed

Hardaway and Taylor say there are a few doggie ailments that are red flags for dogs looking for a dye job. Those with the following should reconsider dog fur dye: 

Dogs with those probably won't qualify for dog hair dye. Same goes for older dogs. The dye process can take a while, so Hardaway and Taylor say they prefer working with dogs who have the energy to make it through the session, which can leave some pups exhausted.

"[It's] so much extra work for the dog," Taylor says.

Keep in mind that your groomer might only color the fur of certain breeds. Taylor, for instance, prefers coloring hairy dogs like poodles, doodles, and Maltese while Hardaway will dye dogs with shorter hair—just as long as pet parents know what they're in for.

Is Human Hair Dye Safe for Dogs?

Nope! Don't do that! Our hair dye can have toxic chemicals that can really hurt your dog. Take Violet, who nearly died after her fur was colored with a human product. As always, you can talk with your preferred groomer or veterinarian about any products you should stay away from when looking for fur dye.

After all, you don't want to be like the person who came into Hardaway's shop recently, asking her to undo the dog's Kool-Aid dye job. That's not cool.

You'll want trusted hands like Hardaway or Taylor. They've both heard from people who say that fur dye is inhumane, but they argue that the dye is safe when applied properly to the right dog. The dog stays happy, and the dyed, groomed fur is much better than what's on the other end of the spectrum: a dog with unkempt, matted fur.

"I'm not neglecting my dog because of its color," Hardaway says.