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Category: Dogs

Description and Characterization of a Hair Coat Disorder in Schipperkes (Study Closed)
September 25, 2008 (published)
Elizabeth May

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Study Start Date: 04/01/2008
Study End Date: 06/01/2009

Description and Characterization of a Hair Coat Disorder in Schipperkes

Alopecia X has been described in many dog breeds, such as Pomeranians and Chow Chows. Schipperkes have a similar hair coat to these breeds and they are also considered "plush coated" with two different types of hair. Abnormalities related to the hair coat in the Schipperke typically begin as a loss of the smooth outer guard hairs progressing to complete hair loss commonly affecting the trunk, neck and rear legs. Some dogs will experience bleaching of the remaining hair before the hair loss, which is unique to the breed. The head and legs are spared and remain completely normal. While many reports have examined this type of disorder in other plush-coated breeds, to the author's knowledge a description of a similar type of condition in the Schipperke has not been reported. We propose to evaluate both healthy Schipperkes and those affected with this type of hair loss to determine if it is the same condition and possibly identify additional options for treatment. 

Study Design:
Prospective case-controlled.

Sample Size:
6 healthy, 12 affected dogs.

Inclusion Criteria:

  • Affected dogs must have evidence of a symmetrical non-inflammatory alopecia. Related dogs are desired, if possible.

Exclusion Criteria:

  • Patients with evidence of infectious or inflammatory causes for hair loss will be excluded from the study.

Study Controls:
Healthy Schipperkes with normal hair coats.

Having the patient present to one of the co-investigators is preferred if at all possible.  However, clinicians can enroll cases and collect samples for Dr May. If you have a potential case, please contact Dr May to obtain sample submission information and supplies.

A routine complete blood count (CBC), serum chemistry panel and urinalysis (UA) will be performed to rule out the presence of systemic disease. Testing to rule out hypothyroidism, including thyroxine (T4), free thyroxine (fT4 by equilibrium dialysis), and thyrotropin (TSH) will be submitted to a commercial laboratory. In addition, hyperadrenocorticism will be excluded by normal results of a urine cortisol: creatinine ratio (UCCR), normal cortisol concentrations post- ACTH stimulation as well as the lack of supporting clinical symptoms and absence of clinico- pathological abnormalities from the screening lab work. A first morning urine sample will be collected by the owner in the home environment and submitted for determination of the UCCR by a commercial laboratory. Sex hormone concentrations will also be evaluated both pre- and post-ACTH stimulation in conjunction with cortisol concentrations. Samples for measurement of cortisol and sex hormone concentrations will be submitted to the Clinical Endocrinology Laboratory at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, TN. In addition, skin biopsies from both haired and alopecic areas will be obtained and submitted to the pathology service at Iowa State University for further evaluation.

Please Contact Dr May for further information regarding sample handling and submission.

Files for Download:
Owner questionnaire for mailing to Dr May.

Study Website.

Costs of testing and sample submission are reimbursed.  Visit fees are not reimbursed.

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Full Disclosure Information:

  • The study is funded by a grant from American Kennel Club.
  • The investigator does not have a conflict of interest.
  • The study will be published if results are negative.
  • The study will be reported on VIN.
  • The authors will acknowledge VIN if the study is published.

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