How Follicular Dysplasia Affects Dogs
Dogs with follicular dysplasia typically do not suffer any adverse effects from their condition. The only time that they may be itchy or distressed is if their hair loss is significant and they develop secondary infections, sunburn or other irritation of their skin.
Symptoms of Canine Follicular Dysplasia
There are two general forms of canine follicular dysplasia: that which affects the ventrum of the dog (its belly area) and that which affects its ears (pinnae). In most cases, dogs are born with a completely normal haircoat and then, over time after about one year of age, have a gradual and progressive thinning or loss of their hair. Lightly colored dogs with color dilution alopecia (CDA) tend to develop hair loss by around 6 months of age, but it may not appear until 2 or 3 years of age in dogs that are darker, such as steel blue Dobermans. These dogs are prone to developing plugged hair follicles and recurrent secondary bacterial infections that can exacerbate the hair loss associated with the disorder.
Dogs with black hair follicular dysplasia (BHFD) typically have progressive hair loss and skin scaling, almost exclusively in areas of black skin. This can be seen as early as 4 weeks of age. Pattern alopecia on the ventral part of the dog’s body (the belly area) is typically progressive starting at around 6 months of age. This syndrome is most commonly described in the Papillon and the Bearded Collie.
Dogs affected by cyclic flank alopecia usually develop symptoms between 1 and 5 years of age. As the name of the condition implies, they develop hair loss on their flanks and on the sides of their trunk; this hair loss is usually symmetrical. The skin in areas that are affected by this hair loss is often hyperpigmented, which means that it becomes darker than normal. Dogs with cyclic flank alopecia usually develop signs seasonally during periods of decreasing day length. Hair loss in these dogs tends to appear during the winter to spring months. Seasonal flank alopecia is seen in Boxers and Airedale Terriers, among other breeds.
Dogs at Increased Risk
Irish Water Spaniels, Red, Blue and Black Doberman Pinschers, Chesapeake Bay Retrievers, Portuguese Water Dogs and other breeds are predisposed to developing follicular dysplasia. The condition can develop in dogs of either gender, whether or not they are spayed or neutered. Non-color linked follicular dysplasia usually develops during adulthood. Color-linked follicular dysplasia, such as color dilution alopecia, black hair follicular dysplasia and pattern baldness, usually are apparent before one year of age. Color dilution follicular dysplasia is typically seen in dogs with diluted haircoat colors, such as blue Dobermans, Yorkshire Terriers and fawn Irish Setters, among others. Cyclic flank alopecia is seen in Airedale Terriers, Boxers and English Bulldogs, among many other breeds.