Whether you've had your loyal friend since their puppy stage, or if you gave a senior dog a second chance, your love for them is all the same! If you have an adopted dog you may not know their exact age. Your dog's muzzle hair may be starting to get gray and you may be wondering if he is starting to enter his senior years! Luckily, we've got some insights on why your dog's face is turning gray.
One of the most common reasons your dog may be going gray is because they are getting older. This usually starts between 7 and 10 years. This range varies and depends on your dog’s size.
Small breeds are considered senior dogs around 10-12 years old. Medium-size breeds are considered senior dogs around 8-9 years old. Lastly, large and giant breeds are considered senior dogs around 6-7 years old.
While the age ranges above may be a good gauge of when your dog is considered a senior, genetics and lineages can also play a role in aging. In fact, certain breeds have a predisposition toward turning gray, as do dogs with an inherited trait. This is very similar to when humans start to turn gray before the age of 30!
Dog breeds like Schnauzers are known for their gray beards. Additionally, Greyhounds and Weimaraners are naturally gray in color. It is also common for black dogs to start showing gray earlier than lighter colored dogs.
Behavior and stress
Although gray hair typically shows up in senior dogs, it can also appear as soon as one year for a younger dog. A study published in Applied Animal Behaviour Science, of 400 dogs, showed that dogs with high anxiety or who were quick to show fearful responses to strange circumstances are known to have premature graying. It is not much different than humans who say stressful situations are the reason they have gray hairs.
Lastly, another reason that premature graying may be happening could be because of an underlying disease. If your pet appears to be graying prematurely, you should consider taking them in for a visit with your veterinarian. If liver or kidney disease or hypothyroidism are determined to be the cause of the premature graying, your veterinarian may refer you to a specialist.
Gray facial hair, as well as gray hair on your pup’s muzzle, is just a natural part of aging. It is just like the (sigh) regretful gray hair we humans get. But since dogs age faster than people, their gray hair may start to show up sooner. Just remember that your dog will still be the same lovable pooch that brings a happy spark to your life!
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