What are the treatments for black skin hair loss on a dog?

Written by rena sherwood
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What are the treatments for black skin hair loss on a dog?
Papillions are affected by black hair dysplasia. (Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images)

Black hair follicular dysplasia, or black skin hair loss, is an incurable genetic disorder in dogs with areas of black in their coats, according to "Dog Owner's Home Veterinary Handbook." Although it can appear in mixed-breed dogs, black hair follicular dysplasia is found mostly in many pure breeds that sport patches of black hair and skin. Any dog with this malady should never be bred.

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Breeds Affected

Black hair follicular dysplasia occurs mostly in Papillons, bearded collies and Doberman pinschers, according to "Dog Owner's Home Veterinary Handbook." Other affected purebreds include beagles, Rottweilers, dachshunds, Jack Russell terriers, Salukis, Gordon setters, boxers, American water spaniels, American cocker spaniels, Portuguese water dogs, curly-coated retrievers, bulldogs, Staffordshire bull terriers, German wirehaired pointers, German short-haired pointers and Chesapeake Bay retrievers. Puppies of these breeds will begin losing black hair and developing scaly, itchy skin patches anywhere from 3 months to 4 years of age.

Cause

Black hair follicular dysplasia runs in dog bloodlines because it is a recessive genetic disorder. One or more faulty genes causes the black hair shafts to not form and does not cause enough melatonin to get to the black hairs. Just why these genes manifest in some dogs and not others is currently unknown. Puppies or young dogs with this condition will pass these genes on to their offspring, which is why all affected dogs need to be spayed or neutered.

Easing Symptoms

Although follicular dysplasia cannot be cured, symptoms can be eased to give the dog a happy, healthy life. Since the bald spots will dry out and itch, keep the skin hydrated with lotions and moisture-rich dog shampoos. Use sunscreen on the bald spots or keep the dog indoors during the hottest parts of the day to avoid sunburn. If the dog scratches its skin open, ask the vet for antibiotics to prevent skin infections. "A Colour Handbook of Skin Diseases of the Dog and Cat" suggests feeding dogs melatonin or fatty acid supplements to help strengthen individual hair shafts.

Warning

Many dog skin conditions exhibit identical symptoms to black hair dysplasia. Some of these conditions are treatable. These include ringworm infection; allergic reaction; post-clipping alopecia failure of hair to grow back after being shaved or clipped, and traction alopecia, or bald patches developing because the hair is constantly rubbing against an object such as a collar or chest harness. A vet needs to examine the affected dog's hair samples in order to make a diagnosis so the dog can get effective treatment.

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