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.