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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
related terms: colour mutant alopecia, blue or fawn Doberman syndrome, fawn Irish setter syndrome, blue dog disease

What is colour dilution alopecia?

This condition develops in some, but not all dogs that have been bred for unusual coat colour, especially "fawn" (a dilution of a normally red or brown coat) or "blue" ( a dilution of the normal black and tan coat colour). Alopecia means hairlessness - affected dogs have a poor, patchy haircoat progressing to widespread permanent hair loss. At the cellular level, there are abnormalities of the hair follicles and uneven clumping of pigment (melanin) granules in the hair shafts in affected areas

How is colour dilution alopecia inherited?

The inheritance is unclear. The condition is thought to be due to the interaction of different factors at the gene position for colour. It is not simply determined by the genes at that locus, because not all dogs with colour dilution develop coat problems.

What breeds are affected by colour dilution alopecia?

This condition is seen most commonly in Doberman pinschers with unusual coat colours (as many as 90% of blue Dobermans and 75% of fawns). The condition also occurs but is less common in other breeds bred for unusual coat colours: Bernese mountain dog, chihuahua (blue), chow chow (blue), dachshund (blue), Great Dane (blue), Irish setter (fawn), miniature pinscher (blue), saluki, schipperke (blue), Shetland sheepdog (blue), standard poodle (blue), whippet (blue), Yorkshire terrier (grey-blue).

For many breeds and many disorders, the studies to determine the mode of inheritance or the frequency in the breed have not been carried out, or are inconclusive. We have listed breeds for which there is a consensus among those investigating in this field and among veterinary practitioners, that the condition is significant in this breed.

What does colour dilution alopecia mean to your dog & you?

Dogs with this condition are born with a normal haircoat. Those with lighter blue or fawn hair coats usually start to show changes by 6 months while in dogs with darker steel blue coats, the changes may not be evident until 2 or 3 years of age. Your dog will experience hair loss and dry skin. Sometimes the earliest sign is a recurring bacterial infection (folliculitis), generally on the back, where you will see small bumps which are infected hair follicles. This clears up temporarily with antibiotics, but the affected area is very slow to regrow hair, or remains hairless.

Hair loss is usually first apparent on the back and by 2 or 3 years has spread over all the light coloured areas of the body. The exposed skin is often scaly and is susceptible to sunburn or extreme cold. Your dog's health is not otherwise affected by this condition.

How is colour dilution alopecia diagnosed?

Your veterinarian may suspect this disorder if your dog has typical haircoat changes and is an unusual colour for the breed. The diagnosis is confirmed through microscopic examination of plucked hairs or a skin biopsy. The latter is a simple procedure, done with local anesthetic, in which your veterinarian removes a small sample of your dog's skin for examination by a veterinary pathologist. The biopsy will show changes characteristic of this condition.

For the veterinarian: Careful microscopic examination of plucked hairs will show large clumps of melanin distributed unevenly along the hair shaft.

In young dogs, demodicosis or other inherited hair defects should be considered while in dogs with a later onset (2 to 3 years of age), endocrine disorders (particularly hypothyroidism) should be ruled out.

How is colour dilution alopecia treated?

Your dog can lead a normal healthy life with periodic symptomatic treatment as needed - moisturizing rinses for dry scaly skin or antibiotics for bacterial infections.

Since early hair loss occurs due to breakage, you may be able to slow the rate of loss by avoiding harsh shampoos and vigorous grooming.

For the veterinarian: There have been some early reports of hair regrowth using etretinate treatment . (See resource below.)

Breeding advice

Affected dogs, their parents and siblings should not be used for breeding. The condition can be entirely avoided by the use of non-colour-diluted dogs in breeding programmes.


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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
Koke has just recently been diagnosed with Color Mutant Alopecia.
I am trying to research some treatments, but so far it does not look promising.

If anyone has any information about treatments, please post them or links to them.

To start off:

My vet recommended trying 3mg. of Melatonin once a day.
This medicine is used as a treatment in humans for sleeplessness and it can cause drowsiness. The vet told me to give it to her at night.
The problem with this is if you use it once and get results (it can take anywhere from 3 to 6 weeks to see any relults) then you give the medicine for 1 week when you start to see hair growth, then stop the medicine. The alopecia may reacure, but the medicine may not work the second time.

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Wow, you found some good info.
I have a male that is blue-his mother was not a blue, but his father and his grandmother are blue.
I have been told by other breeders never to breed a blue to a blue, because of color mutations.
One problem that I can see, is that if the mutation you found info about, does not appear until 2-3 years, you may have bred and had litters of puppies with the dog. It specifically says not to breed, but by that time it may be too late.
Unfortunately, the blue coloring, even 3 years ago, was a VERY RARE color, but now we are seeing more and more of the blue coloring. Does that mean that breeders are breeding for the coloring or are we as breeders not be careful enough and diluting the genes by too much line breeding for color. I have even seen the coloring of Blue Merle, now in a is not a recognized color-how did we get to that color without diluting the gene pool
Thanks for your info-hope you have good luck with your treatment. Do keep us informed... :wave:

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Interesting, Ms_P. I know about alopecia in humans but never heard of it in dogs. A human usually sees a dermatologist for this condition . There are animal dermatologists now, I've heard. Probably few and far between, though.
This may be totally different in dogs, but often times humans are treated with cortisone topicals (steroid creams, lotions or ointments), or cortisone (steroid) injections to the affected sites. Alopecia can occur due to inflammation around the hair follicles (for a number of reasons). The cortisone helps decrease the inflammation allowing new hair growth. This only works in non-scarring alopecia, I believe.
I couldn't find the info on the vet treatment Etretinate.

I bet Nate, ilovesadie's boyfriend could offer info, as he is a vet tech. I think Angel5218 is also.

Good luck with Koke. :)

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
From what I have read Entretinate was taken off the US and Canadian markets in the late 60's because it caused deformaties in human infant fetuses. They didn't know how long Entretinate stays in the body, so even if a woman got pregnant years after having stopped taking it, it could still cause deformaties.
It was origanally used for severe soriacis (sp).
I think there might be some scientists doing studies with it some where, but I haven't found any information other than that.
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