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"Blue dogs" are dogs who have a dilution of normal coat colors as well as various other body parts. Dogs with this abnormality are prone to coat problems such as color dilution alopecia, a condition that is genetically linked to the abnormal color and that can result in skin problems.
"Blue" or dilute-colored dogs have a recessive genotype of dd. Despite the "blue" moniker, dogs afflicted by this condition may not be exclusively blue; they may also be fawn, blue-fawn, taupe, bronze or variations of these colors. In addition, their lips, eye rims and noses are often blue, lavender, blue-gray or flesh-colored. Dilute pigmentation regularly occurs in many breeds nowadays and is not exclusive to Dobermans. Chow chows, Great Danes, salukis, dachshunds and Yorkshire terriers are among the other breeds that may be so afflicted.
Color dilution alopecia (CDA)
Color dilution alopecia, which is sometimes referred to as "blue Doberman syndrome" despite the fact that it is exclusive to neither blue nor Doberman dogs, is characterized by a loss of hair from dilute-colored areas. At birth, coats are normal in texture, albeit dilute-colored. Hair loss usually begins between 6 months and 3 years, often beginning along the mid-back; it does not usually extend to the head, tail or limbs. Normal-colored areas do not suffer from this hair loss.
This loss of hair from dilute-colored dogs may be partial or total in the affected areas. As a result, these dogs often have exposed patches of skin that would normally be protected by their hair. This skin can become scaly as a result of exposure. If the exposed skin gets infected, pruritus or itching can result. Dogs that scratch these parts frequently in response to the itching can break the skin even more by doing so. This can make the condition more serious unless it is successfully treated.
Current veterinary medicine can cure neither color dilution nor color dilution alopecia. However, the symptoms of the scaliness and pruritus can be controlled. Various shampoos, rinses or skin treatments such as topical anti-itch solutions can be applied. For example, medicated shampoos, such as Dermaplex, and tar shampoos or those containing such active ingredients as benzoyl peroxide may be effective against scaliness.
Proper treatment of dogs that may be suffering from color dilution alopecia first requires that potential causes of hair loss other than CDA be ruled out. Dilute-colored dogs, just as "normal" dogs, can also suffer from other conditions that can cause hair loss and pruritus. A veterinarian can test for hormone-related hair loss, thyroid malfunctions, fungus infections, parasitic mites and so on.