Top Five Reasons Why Your Dog Is Turning Gray

Is your JRT showing signs of having a "Frosty Face".  Is he getting a little "Snow On The Mountain Top?"  That's pretty common with age, but you may even see gray hair sooner than you think.  Here are some things to consider if your JRT is now beginning to look like a sly "silver fox."

Age 

The most obvious explanation for gray hair is age.  In dogs and in humans, hair goes gray for the same physiological reason. Essentially, the cells that create red, brown or blonde start to slack off and eventually die. Your body still produces the hair, but it stops getting pigment, because the pigment-producing cells are no longer working. That means that over time the color will grow out of the hair and will be replaced with colorless hair instead. This is true in humans, and it’s true in dogs too.

Hypothyroidism

If your dog seems young to be graying, it’s possible that there is a case of hypothyroidism. With hypothyroidism, the thyroid gland is under-performing.  Dogs with hypothyroidism might experience weight gain or skin problems.  A sluggish thyroid can also impact hair follicles and block the pigment needed for a bright coat. If you get your dog treated for the thyroid condition, the graying should reverse itself.

Environmental Response

Your dog might go gray in response to something in his environment.  For example, dogs in sunny climates might actually get bleached from the sun, which is technically not graying at all. In this case, fur is naturally bleached by contact with the sun and may appear white or gray. Meanwhile, dogs may also acquire gray patches through other environmental factors. An injury to the skin, for example, may damage hair follicles and make the hair grow back gray.

Genetics

Some dogs are simply designed to go gray early. Just like some people have snow-white hair before age thirty — and are perfectly healthy — some dogs are just genetically predisposed towards graying. Some dogs are gray from the time that they are puppies and just get more silvery with age. It’s totally natural, and it’s especially common in a few breeds.


Stress and Anxiety

Scientists still aren’t sure that stress causes graying, but some say it points to a definite link.  Dogs who exhibit anxiousness and excitability are more likely to go gray early. It’s possible that anxiety and stress send some kind of chemical signal that tells the pigment-producing cells to stop working.  So if your dog is going gray and seems young, check to see if there’s anything in his environment that’s freaking him out, like a new sibling or a new home.  You may also want to contact your vet about medications to help stabilize his mood.

As always, it is recommended that you see your vet yearly to express any concerns you have about the wellness your JRT.  In the meantime, relax, and take comfort in that your JRT is looking wise and distinguished.  Take many pictures and celebrate your time together.