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Patterned Baldness

The "Curly Coat Problem" can be frustrating -- it is often misdiagnosed for other diseases such as thyroid deficiency, and it is detrimental to a breeding program trying to establish the proper coat. It is difficult to say how many Curlies are affected with this, as many are not shown, are not noticeably affected, or the problem is thought to be something else, such as wear from the collar. In mild cases, the patterning may appear once and then never again when the coat grows back in. While mildly affected dogs generally lead normal lives, it is an indicator of more serious trouble, as it is caused by some type of auto immune problem. Affected dogs are more likely to have allergies, reproductive problems; in its severest form, it affects the growth hormones and the dogs mature at about 40lbs.

Very often dogs with patterned baldness will have good coats as a puppy, with the bald spots appearing at sexual maturity. Bald patterning appears on the backs and/or insides of the hind legs, and/or on the flanks, and/or on the front and/or sides of neck, and/or the deepest part of the chest and/or as an overall thin or brittle coat. A minor indication of the problem are dogs that are fully coated but only have real curls on their necks and backs. The hair loss is very distinctly bilateral -- that is, on both sides of the dog. There are varying manifestations of this syndrome, from appearing nearly normal to being almost completely bald. In some cases, hair grows back after shedding, but within months rather than weeks.

Diets and supplements do not take care of patterned baldness. You should inform your dog's breeder (send clear, closeup photos of all the spots) of any symmetrical bald spots appearing on your puppy so that they can take this information into account in their breeding program. Unaffected dogs seem to produce affected puppies, implying a recessive gene or genes, but the exact mode of inheritance is unclear. Very few veterinarians know about this problem in Curly Coats.

Pattern Baldness is often misdiagnosed for other diseases. Many pet owners take there Curly to the vet with brittle coat, bald patches, uncurled hair. Often thyroid deficiency, parasite problems, or food allergies are blamed.

No one is 100% sure what causes Curly pattern baldness. It is believed to be caused by some type of immune problem.

The hair loss is bilateral. Bald patterning appears on the backs or insides of the hind legs, flanks, and on the front and sides of neck. A minor indication of patterning may be overall thin or brittle coat, or dogs with uncurled hair on there sides.

Some dogs pattern only once.
Some when they are immature, (Some call this juvenile patterning)
Some do it every time they shed or come into heat. (Sometimes called seasonal patterning)
Some are patterned for life.

Some are so slight you only notice when they get wet then you can see that the hair on the backs of the rear legs is thin and not a good covering of curls. Often people blame neck patterning on the type of collar they use. But even if you call it a collar rub, the Curly Coated Retriever's coat should be strong enough not to break to the skin when they wear a collar.

Some people have had their curlies tested for Follicular Dysplasia. Follicular dysplasias are a group of syndromes which have in common abnormal hair loss and changes in coat quality.

This is some information about Follicular Dysplasia from the PWD site:

Hairloss Follicular Dysplasia: Individual Portuguese Water Dogs can exhibit a genetic form of hairloss expressed as follicular dysplasia. It presents itself as patterned hairloss generally on the torso of the dog but can affect larger and larger regions of skin over time. The follicles of the hair are abnormal, or dysplastic, allowing the hair to fall out. In the early stages of this genetic hairloss, the hair will re-grow. Episodes of hairloss are often associated with environmental stress factors; such as but not limited to, inoculations, surgery, and / or illness. Many different breeds (Dobermans, Malamutes, Irish Water Spaniels, Boxers, etc.) have a follicular dysplastic condition. Some are structural follicular dysplasia like the PWD, while some are cyclic. Breeds with the cyclic problem produce normal hairs but the hair cycle is abnormal so that hairs fall out. Dogs with structural follicular dysplasia, the PWD, Doberman Pincher, etc., produce abnormal hairs that become more abnormal with time. After numerous episodes, the hair ceases to regenerate. It has been found that all Portuguese Water Dogs with genetic hairloss have follicular dysplasia. It appears to primarily present itself in curly dogs produced from the mating of a curly sire to a curly dam. To date there is no verification of a genetically wavy Portuguese Water Dog exhibiting this genetic condition.

Follicular dysplasia does not cause itching or scratching. If a dog is itching and scratching with possible skin lesions and eruptions these are not caused by follicular dysplasia. The cause of these symptoms lies elsewhere; possibly parasites, allergies, tumors, sun exposure, dry skin or other causative reasons. The results of this itching and scratching are magnified in a dog that has hair loss due to follicular dysplasia as there is less or no hair to protect the skin on the affected areas of the body.

Pattern Baldness, pinnal alopecia, saddle alopecia. (from a dachshund site)

With this condition there is gradual, symmetric thinning and loss of hair (alopecia) that usually begins by 6 to 9 months of age and progresses slowly until the affected areas are completely bald. Areas of hair loss are not itchy but may become darkened and scaly over time. There are 3 different patterns of baldness that occur. In the most common syndrome, dachshunds and other breeds (mostly female animals) experience hair loss around the temples, underneath the neck, and on the chest, abdomen and back of the thighs. In dachshunds with pinnal alopecia (mostly male), the hair is gradually lost from both ears. Saddle alopecia occurs in American water spaniels and Portuguese water dogs, with hair loss underneath the neck, on the back of the thighs, and on the tail.

Tail gland hyperplasia

Why does my curly have a bald spot on his tail?

There is a scent mark on the tail (also called the precaudle gland) which is located about 1/3rd of the way down the length of the tail.

You may notice a change of color in a liver dog. Other times the texture of the fur will be different. Sometimes it is characterized by an oily or scaly matting of the hair over the tail gland which may or may not be accompanied by hair loss.

In dogs this gland is no longer functioning. Although, cats also have this gland, and it still functions. Also called Stud Tail.

Many times this bald spot, if present, clears up and fills in at maturity.

Some remedies that have been tried by dog lovers to get the hair to grow back sooner:

Washing with a good dermacidal soap and using Oxy10

Using Oxy Wash on the area.

A horse product called "Epi-Coat" two times a day to area.

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