TinyBear Pomeranians in Ontario Canada




Alopecia X, sometimes called BSD (black skin disease) is a ‘hairloss’ condition which has been known to affect several of the Nordic breeds. It’s more common in younger males but has presented in females and older dogs. There are many theories and much confusion surrounding this condition. As the science progresses, we will learn more about causation and hopefully develop a protocol for breeders to follow when deciding on mating pairs. Dogs that are affected with this problem are not sick. They are not in pain and they do not have a shorter life expectancy than dogs that are not affected. The research is underway and the American Pomeranian Club is collecting donations in hopes of having the Pomeranian Genome mapped. Mapping the Genome should lead to a test which will help breeders to know if they have a ‘carrier’ dog in their breeding program.

We believe that too many coat issues are written-off to Alopecia X, rather than doing adequate and sometimes costly testing. There are too many inconsistencies in symptoms, age, sex and recoating and therefore we believe that some of this is due to misdiagnosis. This only adds to the confusion and certainly to the divisiveness of this issue. As typically defined by the veterinary establishment, Alopecia X is a characteristic coat loss where there are no other obvious causes or systemic symptoms.

We are interested in learning more about the health of Pomeranians in general and the specifics of Alopecia X. The incorrect term “black skin disease” is often used, and though it may imply to some that the dogs are sick, the term disease is defined medically as follows: disease /dis•ease/ (di-zez´) any deviation from or interruption of the normal structure or function of any body part, organ, or system that is manifested by a characteristic set of symptoms and signs and whose etiology, pathology, and prognosis may be known or unknown.

This does not mean that a dog is sick, or sickly or dying if it is characterized as “diseased”. Clearly there is a deviation from the normal coated situation in the structure and function of the hair follicles, whose etiology is not completely defined. Alopecia X is the correct term and is a CONDITION that is apparently hereditary that likely relates to improper signaling in the cell cycle. Dogs can suffer any or all other illnesses concurrently with Alopecia X. Thus far there has been no evidence that there is an immune link: there appears not to be one as the condition is non-inflammatory and despite years of study by vets to determine the cause, no consistent diagnosis of compromised immunity has been made, or an autoimmune link. We encourage further study where someone may believe there is a link. We are not opposed to any conclusion and we have no vested interest in either the idea that Alopecic dogs are sick or are not sick, we simply would like the most accurate, up-to-date and supported information on Alopecia X. Many people state with certainty that these dogs are sick because they have experienced a sick dog that also has had coat loss. This alone does not prove there is a link. We are yet to see any confirmed evidence that any specific illness is linked to true Alopecia X coat loss.

In order to “diagnose” Alopecia X, vets have to do many tests for hormonal levels, including thyroxine to rule out a thydroid issue, adrenal hormones to rule out Cushing’s, etc. A skin biopsy can suggest signs that support the diagnosis of Alopecia X, but there is nothing that is definitive and solely characteristic of Alopecia X. Rather, it is the lack of an apparent cause, along with the dermatological evaluation and clinical manifestations that support a diagnosis of Alopecia X. Some other conditions that cause hair loss are discussed here, www.vet.utk.edu/hairloss/alopecia.html which is a site associated with Dr. Linda Frank, a leading scientist in the dermatological study of coat loss in dogs. She is probably the best “expert” on Alopecia X. Dr. Frank confirms on this site that there “There are no systemic signs associated with this condition.“ If you see other signs and symptoms you should be looking for a health-related cause of the coat loss.


Here is a bit of information on a few causes of coat loss and it is important for the health of your dog to investigate fully why the dog is losing its coat.

1. Cushing’s disease: Hyperadrenocorticism. Essentially the dog produces an excess of certain hormones, usually due to an adrenal or pituitary gland tumour. There are many health effects, including a symmetric loss of coat, increased drinking, increased urination, increased appetite, panting, high blood pressure, enlarged abdomen, thinning of the skin, calcified lumps in the skin, susceptibility to skin infections and diabetes, weakening of the heart and skeletal muscles, nervous system disease and other symptoms. This is a very serious condition. Addison’s disease is the opposite, where damage to the adrenal gland results in lower hormone levels that can also cause coat loss. Cushing’s may be responsible for some of the later-onset cases.

2. Hypothyriodism. This is an unusually low level of the thydroid hormone thyroxine. In dogs it is thought to typically be caused by an autoimmune issue where the body attacks and destroys the thyroid cells that produce the hormone. It is treated with daily hormone pills and dogs can lead a normal life with this intervention. Symptoms include lethargy, hair loss, weight gain, dry coat and excessive shedding, changes in pigmentation of the skin, reduced heart rate, high blood cholesterol and anemia. Paul had a collie who suffered hypothyroidism when he was a child and she actually had weight gain that their very bright vet recognized could be caused by this issue even though it didn’t fit with the text book symptoms and this is why he tested for the issue. She lived many happy years after starting daily treatment with thyroxine pills. Hypothyroidism may be responsible for some of the cases, including some of the later-onset cases.

3. A variety of reactions can also cause hair loss. This can be local or systemic. Some possibilities are: a. Hair loss due to scratching the hair out. This is typically due to allergic reactions, infections or parasites. Think insect parasites like fleas or mites, allergic reactions to things like poison ivy, yeast or fungal infections, bacterial infections of the skin, allergic reactions to other materials that touch the skin or are consumed, etc. This hair loss would likely not be symmetric but rather be in patches where the dog would be able to reach and scratch or bite, and the skin would be raw or damaged, and of course you would see the dog scratching and biting frequently. b. Inflammatory hair loss, typically patchy in presentation, due to infections such as bacterial, fungal, etc. that damage the skin and cause the coat to fall out.

4. Non-inflammatory hair loss is caused by many conditions, including colour dilution alopecia and black hair follicular dysplasia. These two are specific defects that relate to specific colours in certain breeds. The “blue” colour of Pomeranians can be affected by colour dilution alopecia, as it relates in part to the presence of the d/d colour alleles that make a dog blue rather than black. This may sometimes be an issue for the beaver (lavender/Isabella/etc.) dilute brown colour, though typically it only presents in the diluted black to blue poms.

5. There are a variety of other non-inflammatory hair loss conditions due to abnormalities in other hormones in the body. Many such alopecias have been given specific names, which aren’t really important for this discussion. What is important is that a veterinarian should check all hormone levels to see if any are out of normal range and treat appropriately.

6. Alopecia X is the diagnosis, that is supported by certain physiological evidence in a skin biopsy. The skin biopsy can only help to rule out other causes and can’t identify Alopecia X for certain. Hormone levels, possibilities of infection, etc. must all be ruled out. When there are no other possibilities remaining and the dog seems healthy and otherwise normal, a diagnosis of Alopecia X is typically made. There may be one single genetic defect in the hair cell cycle or control of that cycle that is the cause, or perhaps there are multiple possible defects.

We are not closed to new information, or attribution which conflicts from our own. If anyone has an official diagnosis by a veterinarian that, after exhaustive testing for all other conditions, emphatically states that Alopecia X has been proven to shorten lifespan or cause any symptom other than cosmetic or minor skin irritations due to sensitive skin being subjected to the elements without coat, please bring this to our attention.

To be clear; we are not advocating that bald dogs are normal. Nor do we wish to see Standard’s change to include coat loss as a type. No, we believe that our beloved breed is in a crisis situation and that coat loss is unacceptable. We will not standby however while inaccurate and unsubstantiated statements are made. Our critics have made defamatory statements against us, in effort to discredit us while furthering their own agenda of fear mongering and self promotion. All we ask for is truth. It is our ardent hope that all Pomeranian breeders world-wide will employ selective breeding techniques to attempt to reduce instances of Alopecia X, be open and honest about test and breeding results and to please, also donate to the research.

Rick and Paul www.tinybearpoms.com


Attribution: Alopecia X is a cosmetic, aesthetic condition with no systemic signs.


Mar Vista Animal Medical Center 3850 Grand View Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90066 (310) 391-6741 “Alopecia X is a cosmetic condition. It may make the dog look funny, but it does not cause harm.



Wendy C. Brooks, DVM, DABVP Educational Director, VeterinaryPartner.com “Alopecia X is a cosmetic condition.



Animal Dermatology Clinic of BC Dr.Charach Dr. Bajwa “Treatment- Observation without treatment is reasonable because this disease is purely cosmetic and affected dogs are otherwise healthy.” “This is a cosmetic disease only that does not affect the dogs quality of life.



Dr. Adelia Ritchie “For many dogs with this disease, there appear to be no other symptoms, and the disease can be regarded as cosmetic.




Proceeding of the NAVC North American Veterinary Conference Jan. 8-12, 2005, Orlando, Florida “This disease is just an aesthetic problem...



Mr David Scarff BVetMed CertSAD MRCVS Dr Rosanna Marsella DVM DipACVD Prof Linda Frank MS DVM DACVD “Prognosis : good for health since this is a cosmetic disease but poor for permanent hair regrowth.



Dr. Linda A. Frank “There are no systemic signs associated with this condition.



British Small Animal Veterinary Association BSAVA Manual of Canine and Feline Endocrinology, 3rd edition “...nothing more than a cosmetic problem.



McKeever Dermatology Clinics, Inc. “Alopecia X does not affect the animal’s health as the condition is solely cosmetic.



Paul D. Bloom, DVM “...if a diagnosis of Alopecia X is made then the client is counseled about the choice in treating a cosmetic disease w/potent drugs.



Dr. Kimberly S. Coyner, Diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Dermatology Dermatology Clinic for Animals of Las Vegas “Treatment: Alopecia X is a cosmetic disorder which often does not warrant aggressive treatment.



Ron Hines DVM PhD “...only a cosmetic annoyance.



Small Animal Dermatology By Anita Patel, BVM, DVD, MRCVS and Peter J. Forsythe, BVM&S, DVD, MRCVS “Alopecia X is a benign, essentially cosmetic, condition.




Pomeranians Karla S. Rugh D.V.M. Ph.D. “Since Alopecia X is solely cosmetic...



Pomeranians For Dummies D. Caroline Coile, Ph.D “Alopecia X is mostly a cosmetic condition.

http://books.google.ca/books?id=5Sdyzmixkg0C&pg=PT197&lpg=PT197&dq=Pomeranian+cosmetic+alopecia+x&source=bl&ots=285lOPoS2E&sig=FfQqANtmKS6PW09mcr1mkAH3GoQ&hl=en&sa=X&ei=xVx7UP_2AaqVyAGMqYCwAw&ved=0CDoQ6AEwBTgU ------------------------------------------------

Patrick Hensel, Dr.med.vet., DACVD Department of Small Animal Medicine and Surgery College of Veterinary Medicine University of Georgia Athens, GA 30602 CVC Highlight: Clearing it all up: A review of new dermatology drugs “While this is not considered a severe disease but more of a cosmetic problem...



Elizabeth Wells, Ph.D. - Michigan State University “Alopecia X is the name given to a cosmetic condition found primarily in Nordic breeds of dogs, as well as miniature and toy poodles.



Dr. Howard Silberman – Veterinarian Tri-County Animal Hospital “Alopecia X is a cosmetic condition.



Index of Diseases Animal Allergy & Dermatology of Colorado 3515 American Dr. Unit A Colorado Springs, CO 80917 “Alopecia X is a cosmetic disorder.



Blackwell's Five-Minute Veterinary Consult: Canine and Feline, Fifth Edition, Larry P. Tilley and Francis W.K. Smith, Jr. © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Inc. “Alopecia X is a cosmetic condition.



There are more, but this extensive list of veterinary professionals and publications should be adequate attribution for our position.


TinyBear Pomeranians is dedicated to helping with this mission. We pledge a donation of $100 to the Genome project for every puppy that we sell. For more information or to make a donation, please go the American Pomeranian Club website


Dr. Paul Eckford of TinyBear Pomeranians has been appointed as Chair of Health and Genetics for the Pomeranian Club of Canada and to the Canadian Kennel Club’s Medical and Genetics’ Committee. Paul is dedicated to working on behalf of the breeders and pet owners on Pomeranian health and genetic issues.

Please contact Paul if you have any questions or concerns: paul@tinybearpoms.com

To read Paul’s article, a review of the current science of Alopecia X, please follow the link on our website’s Education page or click here: The Science of Alopecia X: Shedding The Myths

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