This is an inflammatory condition affecting the sebaceous glands of the skin.   

Clinical Findings

  • Alopecia (hair loss) and scaling of the skin
  • Bilaterally symmetrical, heavy adherent scale on the dorsum of the body including the head and the extremities (silver-white scale encases tufts of matted hair creating keratin casts
  • Lesions are usually not malodorous or greasy
  • Secondary bacterial infections are common, especially in the Akita breed
  • Breeds affected include: Standard Poodle, Akita, Samoyed, Vizsla as well as other pure and mixed breeds


  • Genetic predisposition - suspected to be an autosomal recessive mode of inheritance
  • The exact cause is unknown, however theories include:
    - Sebaceous gland destruction is due to a developmental and inherited defect
    - Sebaceous gland destruction, associated with granulomatous inflammation, is due to an immune-mediated disease directed against a component of the sebaceous gland
    - The initiating problem is a keratinization defect that leads to obstruction of the sebaceous glands; the keratinization defect is the result of a defect or abnormality in lipid metabolism (resulting in the formation of toxic intermediate metabolites)

Diagnosis - clinical suspicion can be quite accurate as the lesions are characteristic but a skin biopsy is the only specific diagnostic test



  • This condition is not curable, only controllable
  • Oral medications vary with the severity of the clinical signs and often include cyclosporine as the most effective therapeutic
  • Topical therapy includes:
    Keratolytic shampoos
    Keratolytic rinses and sprays
    Emollient rinses, soaks, sprays and topical spot-on preparations

Contributed by: Karen Helton-Rhodes, DVM, Diplomate ACVD