When Do Dogs Get Gray Hair?


Noble gray hair on the temples gives charm, but people prefer to hide a completely gray head or scattered strands under the paint. Usually, a person has gray hair – a sign of age. When do dogs get gray hair?

You can often see a pet with a white muzzle or sides, but you cannot judge unequivocally that you have an elderly dog in front of you. Dog gray hair, of course, is not the prerogative of puppies, but older animals are also not necessarily gray hair.

How do dogs turn gray?

It is believed that dogs, like humans, turn gray when they reach a certain age. Large dogs – from 6 years old, medium – from 7, and miniature pets from 8 years old. But this is not entirely true, one might even say, not at all true. Dogs turn gray due to several factors. First, heredity is responsible for the appearance of gray hair. Secondly, a lot depends on the color and breed. It has been proven that in brown poodles, the first gray hair can appear as early as 2 years old.

Gray hair in dogs, like in humans, is not related to age or health.

Causes of gray hair in dogs

There is no exact data on the causes of gray hair in animals, but there are several hypotheses, each of which has the right to exist.

Changes occur in the hair structure – air appears between the keratin fibrils. When light falls on the coat, this creates the optical illusion of gray hair.

In the body of the animal, the production of melanocytes decreases, their function is inhibited, which also leads to discoloration of the coat.

Hair follicles produce less hydrogen peroxide, it breaks down more slowly, which leads to gray hair.

There are many factors that lead to a change in the color of an animal. Scientists still cannot unequivocally determine the cause of gray hair in dogs.

To date, they have only been able to prove that due to frequent stresses in animals (regardless of age, color, and breed), the muzzle begins to turn gray. True, this is also not an axiom: there are dogs whose gray hair begins from the sides or from the back. Stress hormones are to blame for this – adrenaline and norepinephrine.

A study by the journal Applied Animal Behavior Science has shown that gray hair is characteristic of either nervous animals, or those living under constant stress, or dogs over 4 years old.

Of course, not a lot of evidence was collected. The sample included 400 dogs randomly selected. The examination was carried out only visually, the anamnesis of the animal was also collected. As a result, the results look like this:

the pet is healthy or sick – this does not affect the amount of gray hair;

dogs turn gray at the age of 4 years if there are no provoking factors;

stress and fear lead to gray hair in dogs of all sizes and colors from the age of one year.


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