What is Pattern Baldness?
Three main types are recognized. The most common occurs most frequently in female dachshunds but has been reported in other breeds. Starting at 6 months of age affected dogs lose hair at the back of the ears, the underside of the neck, chest, and belly and inside of the thighs. Loss of hair continues up to a year of age but does not involve any other areas. The second type occurs in almost exclusively in male dachshunds involving just their ears. The third type occurs in a few breeds and involves just the underside of the neck, inside of the thighs and tail. The hair follicle is not lost but is much smaller than normal producing very fine and short hairs.
How does my dog get Pattern Baldness?
Pattern Baldness is believed to be an inherited disorder but its mechanism is uncertain. As in humans, it is likely that both male and females parents contribute to this condition. Since the underlying pathology is similar it is believed this condition in dogs is autosomal dominant with mixed penetration. Meaning it’s not sex-gene linked and hair loss can be from mild to severe.
How do I know if my dog has Pattern Baldness?
Hair loss can start as early as 6 months of age in most affected dog breeds. If it occurs later in life your veterinarian may want to rule out other causes of baldness such as lack of estrogen-responsive dermatosis (hypoestrogenism). A definitive diagnosis requires a skin biopsy where miniaturization of the hair follicle can be seen.
What can I do about Pattern Baldness?
There is no cure for Pattern Baldness. The disorder is benign and is mostly cosmetic in its affect. Due to carful breeding, many of the breeds affected have reduced the incidence considerably.
Is there anything I can do to prevent my dog from getting Pattern Baldness?
Genetic disorders are best prevented by careful breeding where possible. Obtaining dogs from breeders who keep records on progeny is the best way to prevent this disorder.
Are there certain breeds that get Pattern Baldness more often?
The Dachshund is the breed affected with these disorders however it has been reported in American Water Spaniels and Portuguese Water Dogs. The male is most often affected. However one type of Pattern Baldness is seen almost exclusively in female Dachshunds and is reported in female Boston Terriers, Chihuahuas, Whippets, Manchester Terriers and Greyhounds