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Premature graying Italian Greyhounds

Why some Italian Greyhounds are greying fast?

Did you ever questioned why some Italian Greyhounds are greying mush faster than others? Here are results of recent scientific study which gives some answers.


The present study examined the association of anxiety and impulsivity with premature muzzle grayness among young dogs of different breeds. A sample of 400 dogs (198 females, 202 males), ages 1–4 years was obtained at dog parks, shows, veterinary clinics, and other venues. Each dog was photographed and the degree of muzzle grayness was rated on an ordinal scale ranging from “no gray” to “full gray.” White or pale colored dogs were dropped from the study because it was impossible to determine degree of grayness.


Each owner filled out a questionnaire assessing the constructs of anxiety and impulsivity, as well as other behaviors and characteristics. To prevent response bias, owners were told that the purpose of the study involved dog lifestyle. Distractor items were added to the survey to prevent the owner from guessing the purpose of the survey.


The 42-item questionnaire was developed by the authors. Demographic data were collected as well as information on the dog’s participation in organized or competitive activities (e.g. agility, search and rescue, service dog work); knowledge of basic obedience commands; the amount of time the dog spent outside unsupervised; presence of other animals (dogs or cats) in the dog’s place of residence; medical history; current medications taken, and pain issues.


The questionnaire included two specific multi-item scales intended to assess levels of fear/anxiety, and impulsivity/arousal in the dogs.

Examples of survey items indicating anxiety included: destruction when left alone; hair loss on vet exam or being in a new place; and cringes/cowers in response to groups of people.

Examples of survey items indicating impulsivity included: jumping on people, inability to calm, loss of focus, hyperactivity after exercise. (See table below).


Table is enlarged by click or tap

muzzle grayness Italian Greyhounds, fast graying Italian Greyhounds


To address the association of anxiety and impulsivity with the extent of graying in dogs, a latent variable regression analysis was carried out.

In the sample of young dogs, latent variable regression showed that the extent of muzzle grayness was:

  • significantly and positively predicted by anxiety (p=0.005) and impulsivity (p<0.001);
  • dog size, spay/neuter status, or medical problems did not predict extent of muzzle grayness;
  • significantly predicted by fear of loud noises (p=0.001), unfamiliar animals (p=0.031), and unfamiliar people (p<0.001).


Premature graying in young dogs may be a possible indicator of anxiety, fear or impulsivity issues in dogs. Therefore the findings of this study involves the possibility of using observations of muzzle grayness in a diagnostic manner to address anxiety, impulsivity, or fear issues. When premature graying is evident, early intervention programs then could be initiated, whereby owners are assisted with teaching their dogs coping skills/default behavior, providing their dogs with mental stimulation and facilitating their dogs’ ability to read body language to help alleviate some of the anxiety/impulsivity/fear problems their dogs may experience and thereby promote a healthy, high-quality life.


Details of the survey you could see by the link in source below.


Source: "Anxiety and impulsivity: Factors associated with premature graying in young dogs" by Camille King Ed.D, MS Thomas J.Smith PhD,Temple Grandin PhD, PeterBorchelt PhD


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