Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Name That Disease #17

Images are from Wikimedia Commons under Creative Commons licenses: one, two.

The above dog is a fawn Doberman, and this dog has color dilution alopecia. It is caused by malformation of the folicles, thus leading to hair loss, or alopecia. It is termed "color dilution alopecia" due to the link to the dilution gene, which turn black to blue and liver to fawn. Since it is linked to this dilution, the hair on the body that is red is completely unaffected. The inheritance of the condition is not clear. It can be diagnosed by examining the melanin distribution of the diluted hairs.

Some of the earliest signs of the disease include infection of the affected hair follicles. The hair breaks due to the condition, and may or not grow back after it is initially lost. Some of the ways to prevent breaking of the coat is to not groom the dog very vigorously and to use mild shampoos. The bare skin is sensitive to cold and sun, so car needs to be taken when the dog is exposed to these conditions. Other than the loss of hair, the dog's health will be normal. 

It is especially common in Doberman pischers, but is also known to occur in numerous other breeds, such as whippets, dachshunds, great Danes, and Chihuahuas. Interestingly enough, however, not every breed that has the blue dilution gene has color dilution alopecia.

One of my former neighbors has a blue Doberman with color dilution alopecia.

Source is University of Prince Edward Island's Canine Inherited Disorders Database.


  1. Are you going to give the answer at some point? :)

  2. If you click "Read More" you can see the answer. ;)
    I always set the posts up like that so readers can get an immediate answer to whether they guessed right or not.

  3. I guessed right on this one! Probably because we have blue dogs :)

    Interestingly, our blue and blue fawn IGs, while they have lost hair (only the blue hair in the case of the blue fawns) they have not had the skin issues that our blue Great Dane had.


  4. That is quite fascinating. At this point, I've been taking a close look at any blue or fawn dog I meet to see if they have hair loss.

    Most recently, I met a classmate's blue great Dane who had a full coat. She was only sixteen months, though, and the hair loss usually becomes most apparent at two to three years. However, she had gone through a skin infection, so it makes me wonder.

  5. Vlad, our blue Dane, was officially diagnosed with Color Mutant Alopecia (as it was called back then) via biopsy. He never had a thin coat, and never lost hair (he died of bloat just shy of eight years old.) He did have persistent problems with ear and skin infections, though.

    We have two blue IGs with no skin issues and normal coats. Even though she is normal, all of Poody's pups, blue and blue fawn, have lost blue hair starting when they were about five. Their sire has a normal coat as well, which makes me think that whatever causes the alopecia is recessive.


  6. That's quite interesting. It makes me curious about how often a dog has the condition but is basically asymptomatic.

    As far as I could find, inheritance studies have been inconclusive. It could very well be polygenic, which could possibly explain different levels of severity and somewhat unexpected inheritance patterns. Difficult to say, though.

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