Why is My Golden Retrievers Face Turning White? 5 Causes Besides Age

When your dog starts going into their senior years, a lot changes, both on the inside and outside.

You will see them getting a bit less active, a bit less hyper, and a lot sweeter.

One of the major ways their age show is on their face, quite literally. You will see that their golden hair starts being more grey or white, so if this is happening to you, don’t worry, it’s fine.

So, Why is my golden retrievers face turning white? Your golden retriever’s face is turning white because they are getting old. It’s part of the aging process and it starts to show at 10-12 years old. Most goldens’ faces whiten when they age past 8 years or even as young as six. Most 6- or 7-year-old golden have gray- muzzles by that time.

This was the short and sweet answer, but there is much more to the topic than that, of course. Nothing inn life is quite so simple, and it gets more interesting as you read. Let’s dig in a little deeper and see what you can expect…

Why is Your Dog’s Face Turning White? 

A photo of a senior dog to answer why is my golden retrievers face turning white

As established earlier, your dog’s face is probably turning white because of age, but this is not the only reason your golden’s face could be turning white.

Your dog’s face could be turning white because of one (or more) of the following reasons:

  1. Age
  2. genetics
  3. Health issues
  4. Vitiligo
  5. stress


Just like us, when golden retrievers age and they become seniors, they grow white facial hair so it’s perfectly normal. By the age of 10-12 years old, their faces will whiten. Most dogs, of any breed really, will have grey muzzles by this age.

As your dog gets older, the time you have left together gets shorter. There are ways you can help your dog live a little longer, and I have discussed 20 ways to help your golden live longer here, make sure to check them out as I really do think they can help.


Sometimes they grow white facial hair but they are too young for this aging process to have started taking place, so you are right in thinking it has to be caused by something else.

If they are less than 6 years old and their face starts to whiten, it’s probably because of genetics.

Genetics can play an important role in anything that’s related to their hair, you can think about it this way; you probably met one or two people in your life who have a grey in their hair that gives them an elegant look but they are too young to have grey hair yet. Most of them are because of genetics and it’s the same thing with dogs.

Health issues

There are some health issues that can cause early graying such as hypothyroidism, liver disease, and kidney disease. Hypothyroidism is a condition that makes them have underperforming thyroid glands. 

If they have hypothyroidism other symptoms will appear for example;

  • Weight gain
  • Skin issues
  • Graying of the fur

If you noticed any of these symptoms, take them to the vet and the treatment will stop their hair from becoming white.

But the chance of growing white facial hair because of kidney or liver failure is pretty rare but not impossible.

When the kidney or the liver stop removing toxins from their body, one of the symptoms are growing white facial hair. 

However, their face will not whiten all of a sudden, it will whiten over time. When the disease is treated, their hair will stop turning white.


Vitiligo is a rare skin condition, it will cause white facial hair, pigment loss, and hairless patches.

What causes vitiligo is still unknown but many scientists and vet believe that it’s an inherited disease, meaning they get it from their parents.

Vitiligo appears when something (unknown) happens to the cells that produce melanin in their body.


  • Spread of depigmentation 
  • Dandruff
  • Hairless spots
  • Skin lesions
  • Affected spots

It is more common in purebred goldens because of the hereditary reason.


Stress or anxiety could be a possible reason for your pooch’s face to turn white. Stress can make the body stop producing pigment in the same way, so this dysfunction can affect them by growing white facial hair.


  • Shedding
  • Yawning
  • Panting
  • Changing in body posture 
  • Shaking
  • Whining 
  • Drooling
  • Dilated pupils
  • Pinned back ears
  • Licking
  • Avoidance
  • Hiding
  • Barking
  • pacing
  • Escaping behavior

If you noticed any of these symptoms you should take them to the vet because anxiety and stress may lead to depression.

One of the most common stressors and one of the strongest as well is loneliness. Goldens are incredibly social and get super attached to their owners. You can learn what else does loneliness do to your golden here. I have also included ways to help you protect them from some of the negative effects of loneliness.

At what age does a golden retriever’s face turn white? 

Golden retriever’s face turns white when they are eight years old or even as young as six years old, but it’s not normal for their face to whiten when they are at their prime (when they are less than six years old).

It’s really rare for golden who is less than six years old to grow facial hair, but if they do you should consult their vet.

Do Golden Retrievers have white markings? 

It is possible for golden retrievers to produce white markings, actually, it was very common for golden retrievers fifty years ago to have white markings. That’s why it is possible for white markings to pop up every once in a while.

At what age do golden retrievers go Grey? 

Golden Retrievers begin to turn grey by six years old but it is noticeable when they are 7 or 8 years old, this lighter hair appears on their face and muzzle.

But whether their grey hair appears too early or too late depends on their genetics which plays the most important role.

Before you go, if you have a Goldendoodle, make sure to check out my guide to why your Goldendoodle is turning white here.

Related Questions 

At what age does a dog’s muzzle turn white? 

Graying muzzle or face starts to appear when the dog is senior, and they become seniors between seven and ten years old, however, it depends on the dog’s breed and size. Large breeds can be seniors by the time they turn five, small or medium breeds are considered seniors around the age of seven.

How do I identify my golden retriever?

Golden retrievers can be easily identified because of their extraordinary fur, their coats have different shades such as light cream and reddish gold, so you can identify them from their coat shade, body structure, their ears, eyes, tail, personality, and their energy.

What are the three types of golden retrievers?

There are three types of golden retrievers; English, Canadian, and American. You probably think that golden retrievers are, all the same, and they look very similar but actually golden retrievers have three colors, light golden and dark golden and golden.


Golden Retriever Dog Breed

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