Canine Male-Predominant Alopcia Research

This research project to identify a DNA marker (or markers) for Alopecia in Pomeranians and other breeds is funded by a grant from the Canine Health Foundation (Active Grant #2290). The CHF grant is supported by the American Pomeranian Club, whose members have made this research a priority.

The long term goal of this research project is to find the gene or genes responsible for Male-Predominant Alopecia, also knows as Black Skin Disease, in Pomeranians and other breeds similarly affected and make a test available so that wise breeding practices can reduce the incidence of this disease.

Specific objectives for this project are as follows;

  1. Recruit information and isolate DNA from Pomeranians, Alaskan Malamutes, and Keeshonden affected with hair loss and their close relatives (siblings, parents, grandparents, and offspring).
  2. Genotype individual family members with a panel of X chromosome markers and to calculate the most probable location for the alopecia mutation.
  3. Devise new markers within the most probable location identified in the 2nd objective, and identify alleles which appear at a high frequency in affected animals and occur at a relatively low frequency in the normal population (linked markers).
  4. Develop a rapid and efficient assay (test) for the tightly-linked marker, and make this available to the public.

Progress to Date

As of March 11, 2003, we have obtained blood samples and isolated DNA from 125 dogs, including 52 dogs with alopecia and 73 of their relatives. Of these, 117 are Pomeranians. We have samples from only 3 Keeshonden and only 5 Alaskan Malamutes. As a result, our current plan is to identify the gene with the Pomeranian families and then determine if there is a mutation in the same gene in the other breeds. Forty-three of the 52 affected dogs are males, confirming earlier reports of male predominance. As samples and information arrive, families are assembled and included in the marker screening research. Samples from both affected and normal Pomeranians from families where male-predominant Alopecia (BSD) has appeared are still needed, and we encourage owners and breeders to participate.

We are also interested in samples and information from affected dogs and their immediate relatives in Alaskan Malamutes, Keeshonden, and other breeds where adult onset male-predominant Alopecia has been diagnosed and may be an inherited trait.

How Can I Help?

Participate in the research. If you own a Pomeranian or other breed of dog with this type of Alopecia, please send information and samples. Owners of dogs related to the affected dog should also be encouraged to send samples – ideally we would like samples from the affected dog, plus the siblings, parents, and grandparents (if they are still living). If the affected dog has been used for breeding, all the offspring plus the second parent of the pups should be sampled. Half-siblings, aunts, uncles, and other relatives may also be useful. For more information on dogs that should be sampled, please see Useful Research Families. We also have an Alopecia survey, and ask that all owners of affected dogs (sampled or not sampled) please complete this survey.All information is held in strict confidence – the names of individual owners and dogs will not be revealed by the University of Missouri researchers. Forms and instructions for participating can be printed from the SAMPLE SUBMISSION section of this website, or upon request will be mailed or faxed to you.

Tell other breeders, owners, and veterinarians about this project. Because of the typical small litter size in Pomeranians, many families will be needed for this research. Owners and breeders can inform others of the research through club newsletters, club and personal websites, and personal communication. Please tell your veterinarian about the research and this website, so that when they have other clients with affected dogs they can encourage them to participate as well.

Help to fund the research through donations to the Canine Health Foundation, and the American Pomeranian Club. The grant from CHF that funds this research is dependent upon donations from the APC and individuals. Donations of any amount are helpful. All CHF donations are tax deductible.