Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Boston terrier frosty faces: Gray hairs come early

SInead the Boston terrier with gray hair

Boston terriers are relatively long-lived dogs. If they aren't saddled with congenital issues and they get a reasonable amount of veterinary care (including swift treatment for the mast cell tumors they tend to be prone to), these dogs can live to be 15. Many live even longer.

But many of these dogs look much older than they are, due to a silly quirk in Boston terrier fur genetics.

Sinead the Boston terrier in profile

Boston terriers are an early-gray breed, meaning that these guys have white faces very early in life. Sinead is only 4 years old, and this is already happening to her. See all of those white dots around her eyes? Those are very white hairs that just appeared this spring. Every time I look, she seems to have a few more.

Sinead is also sprouting a few of these white hairs on her backside, and I've seen one or two on her legs as well. I fully expect that she'll be sprinkled with silver all over her body in a year or two.

This can cause people some concern, as they worry that all of this gray is a sign of premature aging that will shorten the dog's life. In reality, gray hair has nothing whatsoever to do with some kind of underlying disease process.

But here's an interesting tidbit: Some researchers suggest that dogs that are nervous by nature might be more prone to gray hairs than their mellower counterparts. The two Bostons I've lived with, including Sinead, have been very thoughtful critters that seemed to carry the weight of the world on their shoulders. Unlike my pug, who is a glass-half-full kind of guy, my Bostons seemed concerned about the future. They're planners.

Sinead the Boston terrier giving me the stink eye

These are all generalizations, of course. And Sinead is giving me the stink eye for suggesting that all of the dogs in her breed class are the same. That's certainly not true. But it is interesting to think that a level of skepticism and wariness could be part of the breed, and THAT could be part of the gray hair process. Breed temperament begets breed appearance. It's an interesting theory.

But in any case, people who have frosty-faced Bostons don't need to worry about a shortened life. But thinking about ways to help your Boston enjoy life and find that half-full glass might be wise. Regular walks, lots of toys, positive reinforcement--and above all, time with you--can really help these old souls to live not only long but happy lives. And that's what we all want.


  1. Well, it's a cute little face. :)

  2. Purrty Sinead!!! Mee wood luv to play an snuggull with you. Mee LUVSS doggiess!
    An guess what? LadyMum has found singull silver furs thru out mee back fur! Weerd issn' it?
    Sinseerlee, Siddhartha Henry =^,.^=

  3. Awww! I wants to kiss and snuggle the silver fur faces! Thank you for visiting our bloggie!

  4. I also read that research news about the pups who are worriers turning gray sooner ... made me think Rita will be prematurely gray since (like her momma!) she's a worrier.

    Love that last picture. So cute!