Dachshunds aren't heavy shedders, but some amount of hair loss is normal in the smooth and long-haired varieties of the breed. The wire-haired doxie doesn't shed. Losing large amounts of hair -- with no regrowth -- or hair falling out in patches isn't the norm in any doxie. If your wiener dog starts to go bald, your vet needs to determine the cause. Dachshund hair loss may be simply cosmetic, or indicate a serious medical condition.
Doxies are prone to pinnal alopecia, or hereditary pattern baldness. In this breed, hair loss usually begins on the outer ears, eventually spreading over all or most of the body. By late middle age, the affected dog's hair is virtually gone. His skin darkens completely or in patches.
Although it's tough to see your dog go bald, the good news about pinnal alopecia is that hair loss is the only symptom. Your doxie shouldn't develop conditions common in other types of hair loss, including infections, itching or rashes.
Acanthosis nigricans is another genetic disorder of dachshunds, appearing by the dog's first birthday. While acanthosis nigricans refers to skin darkening, it's the not the same affliction as the darkening in pinnal alopecia. If you're lucky, the condition remains primarily cosmetic, but it can develop into serious skin lesions. While there's no cure for acanthosis nigricans, topical and oral or injectable steroid medications are often prescribed for treatment of accompanying sores.
Color Dilution Alopecia
Dachshunds of certain shades are prone to color dilution alopecia, genetic hair loss appearing mainly in blue and fawn coats. Your doxie of a different color has a normal hair coat in puppyhood, but by the time he's 3 years old -- and probably earlier -- much of that hair is gone for good. While not all "dilute" dachshunds are affected, the condition is quite common. Besides hair loss and thinning, your dog may suffer from secondary skin infections. His health isn't otherwise impaired. Your vet can prescribe antibacterial shampoos to minimize infections, and may recommend fatty acid supplements for skin health.
Hair Loss and Disease
Hair loss may indicate that your pet is suffering from an underlying disease, usually endocrine-related. In doxies, the primary culprits are hypothyroidism and Cushing's disease. Both of these afflictions more often occur in older dogs.
Hypothyroidism results from lack of sufficient thyroid hormone production by your doxie's thyroid glands, located in his neck. These glands regulate much of your dog's metabolism. Besides hair loss, other symptoms include:
- Frequent skin infections
- Weight gain
- Cold intolerance
- Scaly skin.
Via blood, urine and other tests, your vet can determine whether your dog's thyroid hormone levels are deficient. Fortunately, a daily thyroid pill, given for the rest of your dog's life, usually solves the problem. His hair should eventually grow back.
Cushing's disease, or hyperadrenocorticism, results from excessive amounts of cortisol hormone in your doxie's bloodstream. Other symptoms include:
- Increased drinking and urination
- Constant hunger
- Development of a pot belly
- Muscle weakness
- Frequent panting.
Your vet conducts tests to determine the amount of cortisol in your doxie's bloodstream. Since benign -- or occasionally malignant -- tumors on the adrenal gland often cause hyperadrenocorticism, initial treatment often consists of surgical removal of these growths. Your dog may receive medication in lieu of surgery, which he must take for the rest of his life. You must bring him to the vet for regular monitoring.