to Pet Health Network or

Answers from vets about your dog:

Hair Loss in Dogs

Posted November 09, 2014 in Dog Diseases & Conditions A-Z

Does your dog seem to be going bald? What does that mean? Is he sick? Why is it happening? And what, if anything, can you do about it?

There are lots of reasons why a dog can be bald or suffer from hair loss or alopecia.

Dog in grass

Sometimes dog are born bald.
Some dogs, like the Mexican Hairless and the Chinese Crested breeds, are born with hardly any hair. In these dogs, the lack of hair is genetically determined and a desirable characteristic among proponents of the breed. It is no different than choosing a yellow Labrador over a chocolate Labrador.

Sometimes dogs just go bald.
Other dogs (like Dachshunds, Chihuahuas and Boston Terriers1) develop a pattern baldness or symmetrical thinning of their haircoat. This thinning is not present at birth but usually becomes apparent between 6 and 9 months of age and ultimately leads to complete baldness in the affected areas, says the University of Prince Edward Island. It is important to note that pattern baldness is not a disease in need of treatment. Affected dogs are not uncomfortable or painful. It’s like going gray or going bald for human beings. Not only is it not physically painful, but dogs do not even suffer emotionally from losing their hair like we might. There is no reason to treat or to change these entirely cosmetics disorders.

Sometimes canine hair loss is benign and temporary.
There are also transient reasons for hair loss. Just like people go through stages where they lose more hair, dogs do too. Shedding is a natural and normal process that can vary in degrees. Dogs that are sick or stressed for other reasons (illness, fevers, pregnancy, etc) can also ‘blow coat’ or shed excessively. Again, these are not conditions that demand treatment.

Sometimes the hair loss is medically important.
It is important, however, to consult your veterinarian if you are noticing any changes in your dog’s coat or if he is developing bald areas. Sometimes hair loss is due to a medical problem that does require intervention since the underlying reason for it can cause more serious and systemic problems relating to your dog's overall health.

Your veterinarian will want to determine if your dog’s hair is falling out on its own or if your dog is scratching, licking or chewing the hair off as a result of some inflammation or irritation.

Related symptoms: 

Share This Article

Mike has more than 35 years of experience in companion animal veterinary practice and is a valued member of IDEXX’s Pet Health Network team since 2013.