What is Black Hair Follicular Dysplasia?
Hair loss in dogs affected by this type of follicular dysplasia starts early in life, usually around one month after birth, and progresses at a slow rate. Generally, all of the hair is lost in black colored areas of the coat by 8 to 9 months of age. Though this condition doesn’t affect a dog’s health much beyond the hair loss, it can leave the skin more highly susceptible to bacterial skin infections.
Black hair follicular dysplasia is a rare inherited skin abnormality in dogs that is characterized by hair loss in black colored areas of a dog’s coat. It is believed to be a genetic disorder, and is seen in both purebred and mixed dogs with bicolor or tricolor coats.
Book First Walk Free!
Symptoms of Black Hair Follicular Dysplasia in Dogs
Black hair follicular dysplasia occurs in black, or black and white dogs. While the coat seems normal at birth, symptoms begin to appear within the month, and can include:
- Alopecia, or hair loss of black colored areas
- Dull coat quality in black areas, while white areas remain normal
- Dry skin
- Scaling skin
- Abnormal hair growth
- Shorter hairs
- Skin infections
Additional symptoms from secondary skin infections resulting from black hair follicular dysplasia are:
- Red, raised, pus-filled skin pustules
- Reddened skin areas
- Circular crusts
- Dry and flaky skin patches
- Skin odor
- Oily skin
- Darkening of skin
Causes of Black Hair Follicular Dysplasia in Dogs
Unlike other follicular dysplasias that may have other underlying causes, there is only one cause of the black hair variety, which is the genetic inheritance of an autosomal recessive trait. Black hair follicle dysplasia is more common in these breeds:
- Bearded and Border Collies
- Basset Hounds
- American Cocker Spaniels
- Jack Russell Terriers
- Boxers and Airedale Terriers, which can exhibit seasonal alopecia on flanks
- Spitz-type breeds, which can exhibit woolly syndrome and post-clipping alopecia
Diagnosis of Black Hair Follicular Dysplasia in Dogs
Diagnosis of this type of follicular dysplasia is made with the present symptom of hair loss in black coated areas at a very early age. This can be confirmed with an examination of a skin biopsy that will show skin changes appropriate for this condition. Anesthesia may be administered.
Other follicular dysplasias can have endocrine causes that may need to be ruled out before a correct diagnosis is made, such as hormonal imbalances, hypothyroidism, and hyperadrenocorticism. Thyroid hormone testing may be needed to eliminate an endocrine issue.
Cases of alopecia caused by parasitic, bacterial and microbial infections, or allergies, also may need to be ruled out. Tests for these can include examining skin samples, hairs, biopsies, blood and urine tests, and intradermal or blood allergy testing.
Your veterinarian will also examine affected skin areas for signs of bacterial infections, which are common in hair loss disorders. This may involve testing samples of affected skin tissue or pustules.
Treatment of Black Hair Follicular Dysplasia in Dogs
The coat changes resulting from black hair follicular dysplasia are permanent. Since it is considered a cosmetic issue, treatment may not be deemed necessary.
However, your veterinarian may recommend treatments for the symptoms. Treatments for dry or scaly skin can include bathing with medicated shampoos and leave in conditioners that are antimicrobial, antibacterial, anti-itch, and contain ceramides. The administering of omega essential fatty acids, vitamin E and vitamin A supplements may also be recommended. Moisturizing rinses and sprays can also be prescribed.
Skin infections can be treated with oral antibiotics for at least 2 to 6 weeks, and topical therapy, such as medicated shampoos, topical treatments and antibacterial wipes.
Recovery of Black Hair Follicular Dysplasia in Dogs
Though the hair loss in black coated areas of affected dogs will be permanent, recovery is good with treatment for the resulting skin issues. Any medications or supplements prescribed by your veterinarian may be administered at home for a period of weeks. Topical applications, wipes, antibacterial conditioning sprays, and medicated baths can be used as needed to relieve itch, reduce bacterial infections, and help to make your dog more comfortable.
Be sure your pet has clean and dry bedding to reduce the risk of skin infections. Prevent the passing of this inherited follicular condition by refraining from breeding affected dogs.