White Hair On A Young Dog’s Face. The Cause? Anxiety.
Exactly as it happens to humans, who from the age of 30/35 begin to have some white hair, the same thing happens to our dogs. The reason is that from a certain age the process of pigmentation of the hair begins to degrade the melanocytes become less effective.
Enchantment (white hair) can also occur at a young age, due to hereditary factors, illnesses or strong stress that cause hair loss and subsequent white regrowth.
The Study On The Dog
Research conducted by Applied Animal Behaviour Science has analyzed the living habits of over 400 dogs. A team led by Dr. Camille King from Denver (Colorado), a veterinarian and ethologist, interviewed their owners to find out if there was a correlation between the dog’s lifestyle habits and premature whelping.
The dogs in the study were all between 1 and 4 years old, since above this age white hair could be attributed to a normal aging process. In addition, dogs with a rather dark coat color were chosen so that the white hairs were clearly visible.
In order to estimate the level of stress and anxiety, the owners had to answer many questions, among them:
- Does he tend to cower when he sees a stranger?
- Does he destroy objects in the house if left alone?
- Do you lose a lot of hair in uncomfortable situations (at the vet, for example)?
- Are you afraid of thunder, New Year’s Eve barrels and loud noises in general?
Subsequently, a different team analysed photos of the dogs and ranked their white hair level on a scale from zero (no white hair) to four (graying).
From this study it emerged that the dogs most susceptible to loud noises or most frightened by the sight of other animals or people were also those who had the most white hair on their muzzle and the rest of their body.
The size of the dog and health conditions in general do not have a direct impact on the dog’s health, while it was found that females tend to have much more white hair (and more quickly) than males.
The results of this study give us an important indication. In case there are signs of premature fetching in our dogs, it is to be considered an important warning sign about their living conditions. It is not always easy to become aware of a dog’s mental well-being.
We can give him everything (the sofa, plenty of food, cuddles, blankets) and not be enough for him. Or rather: it may not be what he needs at that moment.
Just to give an example: he may need an extra walk a day rather than free access to the couch. Or: he may need a life with less stimulation than he currently leads.
If we care about our dog’s welfare, it is important to consult a dog educator, trainer or behavioural veterinarian to get a clearer view of his needs.