Is Your Dog Prematurely Gray? Scientists May Know the Reason Why

 

Did you know that like the hair on your head, your dog’s muzzle hair can go gray prematurely, too?  What makes a young dog’s muzzle go gray?  Scientists studied the personalities of young dogs (aged 1-4 years) with gray muzzles.  What personality traits are associated with premature gray fur in a dog?  The answers are very interesting!

 

 

The study, published in the journal Applied Animal Behaviour Science, examined 400 dogs between the ages of 1-4 years.  The dogs’ faces were photographed and their muzzles were rated on a grayness scale ranging from zero gray to full gray.  Then the dogs’ owners were asked to answer questions about their dogs’ personalities and behaviors…although they were not told the study had anything to do with gray muzzles. 

 

 

The findings reveal a very strong correlation between premature gray and both anxiety and impulsivity in the dogs.  Other characteristics like gender, spay/neuter, health, and size were not factors.  Instead, dogs who had a fear of loud noises, as well as of unfamiliar humans and animals, were especially prone to premature gray.  These three factors were most closely linked to premature muzzle grayness, suggesting that stressors like fear and anxiety have a very real impact on your dog. 

 

 

What are the practical implications of this research?  Gray muzzles on young dogs can be a good red flag for owners and for animal professionals like trainers, behaviorists, veterinarians, and shelter workers.  These dogs can be more easily identified, and preventive steps can be taken to ease their anxiety and fear and improve their overall well-being.

 

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