Black Skin Disease in Dogs
Definition of Black Skin Disease
“Black skin disease,” also called Alopecia X, growth-hormone-responsive alopecia and adrenal sex-hormone imbalance, is a hormonally-influenced, progressive loss of hair and darkening of skin in adolescent and young adult dogs. It’s a form of patterned baldness, meaning that affected animals lose hair evenly on both sides of their body. Outer guard hairs usually fall out first, revealing an increasingly dry, “cottony” undercoat. It then falls out symmetrically, and the balding skin darkens. In extreme cases, fur is left only on the dog’s head and paws. Little is known about what causes black skin disease. Obesity, hormonal imbalances, allergies and genetics have all been suggested as contributors. Black skin disease may be a combination of several different disorders, making diagnosis and treatment that much more difficult. Fortunately, it doesn’t seem to be itchy, painful or otherwise affect a dog’s health. Black skin disease is mostly a cosmetic issue for owners.
Little is known about this condition or its cause. Factors such as obesity, hormonal imbalances, allergies and genetics have all been suggested as contributors. One theory is that affected dogs have a genetic predisposition to some sort of hormonal imbalance, which somehow affects the function of cells at the level of the hair follicle. Another hypothesis is that there is some inherited defect in the normal hair growth cycle. It may be that Alopecia X
“Black skin disease” is a phrase used to refer to a form of hair loss (alopecia) in dogs that seems to be caused or at least influenced by hormonal imbalances. The term more commonly used by veterinarians and breeders for this condition is Alopecia X. Affected dogs typically have normal hair coats as puppies. They begin to develop signs of hair loss and hyperpigmentation (darkened skin) in adolescence to early adulthood, usually by three years
Alopecia X, sometimes called black skin disease, is difficult to diagnose. Many other conditions can be confused with Alopecia X, and currently there is no medical test that can definitively diagnose this condition.Faced with a dog whose hair is thinning gradually and symmetrically, a veterinarian will want to perform a thorough physical examination and take a detailed history from the owner. Because this condition can mimic so many others, diagnosis can only be made by
Alopecia X is a form of symmetrical pattern baldness and skin hyperpigmentation seen primarily in Nordic breeds and Toy or Miniature Poodles. While it is purely a cosmetic condition, many owners find it unpleasant to have a progressively balding pet. Treatment protocols for Alopecia X are at best a trial and error approach, since the underlying cause of this disorder is not known. The overall therapeutic goal is to restore the dog’s coat and, hopefully,