Why is my dog’s hair grey – this is a question a few dog owners get to ask whenever they notice a change in the pigmentation on their dog.
Greying is a natural phenomenon in dogs just like it is with humans. The melanin in dogs stops being produced as the dog grows older and this will definitely change the hair strands’ color–making them lighter or white.
These changes should be expected to come around the age of 5 for some dogs but could show up way earlier in other dogs even those from the same breed. Dog greying can occur anywhere, but it tends to be most prominent on their muzzle.
When it comes to going grey in dogs, stress and genetics are the two prominent factors may be behind it.
Causes of Greying in dogs
In addition to the prominent factors mentioned earlier, there are other factors that could be responsible for your dog going grey. Below is a list of all possible factors that can cause your dog to go grey;
This is one of the most prominent factors when it comes to going grey. If you think your dog isn’t old enough to start greying, it may interest you to know that some dog breeds are prone to grow grey early. Genetics plays a major role when it comes to greying in dogs. Some breeds like poodles, bearded collies, some sheepdogs, etc. are very likely to start going grey early because of their genetic configuration.
The Schnauzers are also known for their gray beards, while others like the greyhounds and Weimaraners are naturally gray in color. Also, black dogs show grey hairs earlier than their white counterpart.
Anxiety & Stress:
Anxiety & stress at any level could be a potential cause of growing grey hairs in dogs. This is because stress may impact melanin production. In a recent study, researchers predicted premature greying in dogs exhibiting anxious or impulsive behaviors at home such as;
- Fear of noises
- Fear of unfamiliar people or animals
- Jumping up on people (being impulsive)
The study found no predictors of premature greying when looking at a dog’s age, size, sex, or spay/neuter status.
Another study also pointed to the fact that premature graying could be linked with anxiety, impulsivity, or fear issues. Should you be confused about whether or not stress or anxiety are causing problems for your pet, you can speak to your veterinarian or a veterinary behaviorist about what you can do to reduce the stress in your dog’s life.
Vitiligo in Dogs
This is a rare skin condition in which the pigment is lost from areas of the skin and fur, causing whitish patches, often with no clear cause. Although there’s no clear cause, there are hypotheses that point to vitiligo as being hereditary. Sometimes, vitiligo is the cause of your dog going grey earlier than it should. Different dog breeds respond differently to vitiligo – some breeds just get white spots intermittently on their body while others lose the whole fur color. Some dog breeds that are more likely to have vitiligo include;
- Belgian Tervuren
- German Shepherd
- Old English Sheepdog
Vitiligo is more common in purebred dogs as opposed to crossbred dogs, this is a result of the hereditary nature of the condition. Although the symptoms of vitiligo are painless, it could cause other skin irritations as well as dandruff on your dog’s body. Always be sure to consult your vet and give your dog proper clinical treatment always.
Some dogs are prone to start greying as a result of some health issues like underperforming thyroid glands (this is medically referred to as hypothyroidism). Other symptoms of hypothyroidism include excessive weight gain and other skin problems.
Liver or kidney disease is another medical condition that can lead to your dog’s hair going grey earlier than normal although this is quite rare. Why these diseases lead to graying fur is because the toxins aren’t being removed from the body quickly enough.
Whatever health condition leads to greying in your dog, it is very important to consult your veterinarian in order to diagnose and provide possible solutions/remedies to the condition.
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