D. Caroline Coile, Ph.D.
See Spot. See Spot's spots. See Spot's spots run. Spot has black-hair follicular dysplasia, one of several diseases ranging from unsightly to deadly that are associated with coat color in dogs.
Black-hair follicular dysplasia is one of the more minor conditions. the coat is normal at birth, but in dogs as young as 4 weeks of age, the black hairs become brittle and break off. The hair may be completely lost of just look somewhat grayish. In spotted dogs, only the areas of black hair are affected. The conditions is probably caused by a defect in melanin transfer and hair-shaft formation. It's believed to be inherited as a simple recessive gene, and has been reported in American Cocker Spaniels, Basset Hounds, Bearded Collies, Beagles, Dachshunds, Gordon Setters, Papillons, Pointers, Salukis, Schipperkes, Large Munsterlanders. Besides clinical signs (loss of black hairs), veterinarians diagnose by analyzing the hair follicles, which resemble those seen in a related disorder, color-dilution alopecia.
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