Pommania Pomeranians 

Show Kennels in England.




Hair loss (alopecia) accompanied by darkening of the skin (hyperpigmentation) is often termed "black skin disease". Other names applied to this condition include wooly coat, coat funk, pseudo-Cushing?s syndrome, and severe hair loss syndrome.

In Pomeranians, this condition is suspected to be an X-linked inherited disorder since many more males than females are affected, and research is being carried out to identify a linked gene marker so that dogs in this breed can potentially be tested for the condition. Other breeds with increased prevalence of black skin disease include the Alaskan malamute, keeshond, poodle, dachshund, chow chow, Samoyed and American water spaniel.

Many of the afflicted dogs are diagnosed with growth hormone responsive alopecia. Not all affected dogs have abnormal growth hormone levels though, and though many affected dogs develop abnormal signs after puberty, dogs of any age can be affected. In Pomeranians, late onset signs are sometimes associated with reduced 21-hydroxylase levels, enzymes which are involved with processing of some of the reproductive hormone precursors.

Currently, the condition is still considered to be of unknown cause since similar signs of hair loss and black skin are not consistently associated with a standard set of hormone changes. Other conditions that can mimic this condition include Cushing?s disease, hypothyroidism, chronic skin infections, and reproductive hormone disorders that should all be ruled out by testing.

If the condition is due to a laboratory confirmed growth hormone deficiency, hormone therapy is instituted. Benefits last from six months to a few years. As hormone therapy can produce diabetes as a side effect, so the attending veterinarian will recommend close monitoring of the urine and blood sugars weekly during treatment.


Research project on Alopecia X

>>> Alopecia X has been described in several breeds including Keeshonds,
Pomeranians, Alaskan Malamutes, Chow Chows and Miniature Poodles. Affected
animals suffer from hair loss, which usually starts at the neck and body of
the animal, whereas the head and front legs are typically spared.
Additionally, darkening of the affected skin areas may also be observed.
Symptoms typically show up between 1-5 years of age.
We would like to investigate the genetic causes of Alopecia X. For our
research we need DNA samples from affected dogs as well as their healthy
relatives. If you would like to participate in our research project, please
follow the instructions shown below. <<<


if you have any pictures we could use please e-mail them, we don't need to know who you are or the name of the dog. Also if you you like to share your experiances with us please e-mail so i can add to this page to help others mailto:pommania@live.com


Many young Pomeranians develop a luxurious puppy or first hair coat which fails to shed and is not replaced by an adult coat. As the puppy coat ages it breaks off and falls out and can result in a dog that is hairless over much of its body. This disease is sometimes called black skin disease, coat funk or woolly coat. It also occurs in Keeshonden and Alaskan Malamutes. Although females can have the disease, it is much more common in males.

There are many things which can cause Alopecia: Hypothyroidism; Cushing?s Disease; Addison?s Disease; contact and/or generalized allergies; excessive female estrogen (usually found in recently neutered males); stress; fleas; mites; mange; unknown (usually labeled ?Black Skin Disease).  Some of these problems are genetic, some are familial, and some are neither.

Interestingly, many of these conditions affect males much more often than females.  You must rule out all other possibilities via skin and blood test before you can label a dog with ?black skin disease?.  Also, be aware that hypothyroidism will increase the dog?s chances of having allergies and other diseases as the thyroid is an important part of the immune system.

Neutering will cause a decrease in testosterone over time and that may be why the coat renews.  On the other hand, some dogs acquire Alopecia after being neutered.  This is usually due to excessive female estrogen (due to the lowered testosterone to balance the estrogen) and is characterized by hair loss, excessively oily skin which smells, and usually very waxy ears.

Addison?s and Cushing?s diseases both cause shortened life spans in dogs (and other mammals) but many can live well for years.  They are characterized by hair loss along with a thickening and darkening of the skin all over with a definite cracking pattern.  They are often called ?Elephant Skin Disease?.

Nizoral shampoo.  This is a shampoo made to treat human ringworm but I have heard several stories of it helping dogs with Alopecia even though skin scraping have proven that they do not have ringworm.  Unfortunately the benefits of Nizoral are usually short-lived and the dogs return to their original coatless state.  I have also heard of many dogs being helped with repeated tar/sulphur shampoos and their coat regeneration seems to be permanent. 

As you can see, one can make an occupation of studying Alopecia.  Alopecia is the generic term and Black Skin Disease should only be used when all other options have been ruled out.  One interesting fact about Black Skin Disease is that most breeders have already determined that it is genetic.

Pom Owners Experiances

I would like to share with you my experience with Alopecia in my pomeranian named Milo.
At the age of about 2  1/2  I notice that Milo's hair was thinning on this tummy. He also
seemed to have a few mole-like spots on his tummy.  I was not concerned at this time as
I put it down to normal casting and was not sure if the spots had been there before as normally
 he had so much hair that his skin was not visible. Sometime later he was completely bald
underneath but otherwise was ok.  I took him to the vets and he was not overly concern and
told me not to worry as he seemed healthy. But to bring him back if he lost anymore hair.  
Over the next 18 months he started losing firstly from his hind legs then his sides and eventually 
all his back. Only the top of his head, face the and bottom on his legs were unaffected. (as seen in photo)  
I visited the vets many times and he did various tests, thyroid, and parasite tests. 
He then referred milo to a dermatologist who did skin scrapings biopsy's, and more blood tests.
Result Alopecia X -sex hormone imbalance and might respond to castration.
If not then we could get some sort of medication which may or may not work and would
probably have side effects and make Milo ill. 
We decided to try castration first. I took him to be castrated. Nothing happened for about 4 months
and just as I was giving up hope of Milo ever having hair it started to grow.
It took about 1 year to get back to the stage you see in the photos enclosed.
He is still got a bald line down his spine and the back of his hind legs are still bald.
I have noticed that the skin on his hind legs are starting to turn pink.
I hope this is a good sign. I have been warned that he may loose his hair again, there is just no way of knowing.
The photos on attachment are:     
Milo with no hair-February 2006
Milo with new hair growth-February 2007
Apart from the hair loss Milo is a healthy happy dog.
I am happy for you to give out any of this information to anyone who needs it or to post it on your site.
I know when I was looking for information a lot of the help was on USA sites and
I was beginning to think that I was the only one in the UK with a pom with this problem.
Thank you so much for sending this in maybe more people will come forward and we can get more information
on this and try to learn how to stop it and test for it. I have had a number of people in the UK contact me about poms with this condition and it is a problem in the UK which needs to be addressed. pommaniapoms@live.co.uk

"Tangie" - Pomeranian with Alopecia X in the UK