Dog Hair Loss Overview


Posted by admin | Posted in Dog Hair Loss Overview | Posted on 15-08-2010

Hair loss in dogs (Alopecia) is fairly common in one form or another.  There are dozens of causes, many diseases and conditions can be attributed to a dog losing its hair–some being very rare.  Some of these causes and conditions are considered normal, while others may well indicate there is a serious disease present.  Many occurrences of hair loss are caused by parasites or infectious diseases.  In some instances the loss is caused by hygiene (generally poor hygiene) issues for the dog.  Some conditions causing hair loss may be more common in certain geographical areas than others.  Most hair loss problems can be corrected with proper care and treatment.  If you’re not sure, and the problem persists after simple care and treatment, or the dog displays additional symptoms associated with other diseases, consulting with a veterinarian is warranted and recommended.

The goal of this website is to share information which would be considered useful to dog owners to both recognize the possible causes of some hair loss problems, and provide some reasonable treatments or solutions.  This is not an all inclusive treatise on the subject matter of dog hair loss, and thus consultation with a veterinarian, as noted above, may be prescribed and warranted.

We have selected some of the more common causes of dog hair loss to review and discuss.   Below are listed some conditions or diseases which can cause dog hair loss:

  • Dog Calluses
  • Calluses on dogs are very common and a cause for dog hair loss.  These calluses are generally located on the dog’s elbows and back legs.  This condition is predominately found in larger dog breeds (Great Dane, Doberman pinscher and Standard Boxer to name a few) with short hair, but can appear on most any dog under the right the conditions.    Read More >>>

  • General Dog Dermatitis
  • a catch all term often used with inflammatory skin ailments which can cause hair loss in dogs. There are specific causes for different types of dermatitis. Some of them may be transient or chronic. Dermatitis in any form can affect the dog and its overall health. As previously noted the sheen of the dog is often an indicator of problems–some of which may be associated with dermatitis.  Read More >>>

  • Dog Dermatitis (Flea Allergy)
  • is caused by an allergic reaction to the saliva from a flea bite.  A single flea can cause this uncomfortable irritant in dogs.  A flea bite, where the saliva is exchanged, can set off itching over the entire body, not just where the flea bite may have occurred.  Fleas tend to enjoy the haunch and tail area of the dog.  This little (by size) pest can cause a significant discomfort for the dog, and incessant scratching in an attempt to eliminate the pest or the problem–neither of which is very successful.  Treatment with a topical flea-control is the best solution to this problem.   If the problem persists, check with your veterinarian.  Read More >>>

  • Canine Atopy
  • is an allergy disease that is passed by heredity, and is induced when there is exposure to the exciting antigen. This chronic itching aliment affects a significant number of dogs. This disease seems to be passed genetically from parents (if the parents had the problem their off spring most likely will have the problem too). This ailment is the result of allergic reaction to agents in the dog’s environment–much like allergies human’s get from various things . This is a respiratory tract disease that in dogs is manifested by itchy irritation to the skin.   Read More >>>

  • Dog Mange
  • is a condition in dogs that is caused by microscopic mites that burrow under the dog’s skin. The itching caused by the mite is why the dog tries to gain comfort from these pesky mites by scratching and licking the affected area. The scratching and licking is the prime reason for the dog’s hair loss in the affected area.  There are basically three types of mange in dogs: Demodectic Mange, Sarcoptic Mange and Cheyletiella Mange.

    Demodectic Mange

    Another name for Demodectic Mange is Demodicosis.  The cause of this malady in dogs is from a little bug–a mite–so small you can’t see it with your naked eye.  This mite’s technical name is Demodex canis.  The interesting thing is all dogs have these mites.  The mites are transferred from mother to puppy.  The problem begins when the dog’s immune system is unable to fight off the effects this little mite causes.  Read more >>>

    Sarcoptic Mange
    Another name for Sarcoptic Mange is Canine Scabies. Sarcoptic mange is caused by a microscopic mite or parasite called Sarcoptes scabiei. The female mite burrows into the dog’s skin to lay her eggs creating an inflammatory disturbance to the dog bringing on the itching incidence in the dog.  The dog’s itching and licking is the cause of hair loss on the dog.   Read More >>>

    Cheyletiella Mange
    Another name for this malady is “walking dandruff” that tends to be highly contagious to younger dogs when they come in contact with other affected animals.  Unlike the mites that are the cause of Demodectic and Sarcoptic Mange, which are microscopic, this mite can be seen with the naked eye.   Read More  >>>

  • Hot Spots
  • This dog hair loss dermatitis problem is found most often in long haired, thick-coated dogs, like the Saint Bernard, Newfoundlands, Golden Retrievers and Spaniels to name a few. The problem begins when moisture is trapped on or near the skin by a dog collar or matted hair. This condition is a great host for the bacteria that naturally lives on the dog to grow. Something give the dog reason to scratch which breaks the skin and allows the bacteria to create an infection. The infection causes the dog to react to the pain and itching discomfort by licking or scratching at the irritation.   Read More  >>>

  •  Ringworm
  • is a fungus which causes the skin infection.  This infection is easily transmitted by an object such as a grooming brush or clippers.  The infection is not itchy like many other dog hair loss maladies, but the dog does lose hair.  The problem area usually is located on the leg, face or ear.  Read More  >>>

  • Cushing’s Disease (Hyperadrenocorticism)
  •  is a condition resulting from the chronic overproduction of the hormone Cortisol (also called hydrocortisone). (or too much glucocorticoid) by the adrenal glands located in the dog’s belly. This disease impacts the middle aged (6 to 7 years) dogs, but can be in dogs younger and older. This is slow progressive disease, and may take years before sufficient symptoms appear to assume this specific problem. The general symptoms give the appearance the dog is much older than it may be. There are two types of the disease, each has it’s own treatment course. Diagnosis and treatment of this disease are best suited for your veterinarian.   Read More  >>>

Other ailments affecting dogs that could be a cause of hair loss are, but are of a lesser occurrence would include, or may be associated with one of the other causes :

Hypothyroidism which causes a hormonal imbalance;

Canine acral lick dermatitis where the dog licks a specific area incessantly; Contact dermatitis that can develop when the dog comes into contact with such items as: flea collars, caustic or corrosive substances like chlorine bleach, carpet cleaners, strong acids, alkali, and fertilizers;

Food Allergins;

Distractions, Nervousness or Stress-Boredom.

While dermatitis may seem like a minor ailment, care and caution should be exercised. Good hygiene is helpful in most all cases where your dog may be suffering–both for you and for your dog. When simple treatments do not give satisfactory results you should see your veterinarian.


The information contained in the articles on this website is provided for information purposes only. The articles are not written by veterinarians per se. As such, the information should not be considered as a replacement for the advice of a veterinarian. Great care is made in the creation of these articles; however, we cannot guarantee their accuracy and/or omissions. In all cases where doubt may exist, we recommend seeking appropriate professional veterinary advice and assistance.