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Alopecia, Bald Thigh Syndrome, Greyhound Hair Loss

I was recently contacted by someone who owns a Blue Lacy with a skin condition which is rather common in Greyhounds. Since our breed is from Greyhounds it is bound to pop up every once in a while so thought I would adress it here. Does your Beast have a bald bum? If so he/she has alopecia. Read on to find out more about the condition.

  • Alopcia is greyhounds is fairly common,
  • In some dogs it comes and goes to a greater or lesser extent, in others once the hair has gone that’s it, and in yet others it sometimes corrects itself,
  • No-one seems to really know what causes it.

Greyhounds are generally healthy hounds, but it does seem that alopecia in greyhounds is a fairly common condition; it even has it’s own name, bald thigh syndrome (BTS). Anecdotally, it’s my impression that it’s more prevalent in the darker dogs, blacks and blues.  My initial research on the web and asking around was that a cause of alopecia is hypothyroidism, an under performing thyroid. This leads to a low metabolism, which in turn affects just about every organ in the body. Symptoms of hypothyroidism include: alopecia, lethargy, weight gain, dry skin and coat, cold intolerance, and neurological disorders such as incoordination. It turns out that dogs naturally have fairly low thyroid hormone concentrations, and greyhounds are typically below the normal level for dogs. As such, hypothyroidism is unlikely to be the cause of alopecia in a greyhound. In any event, a full thyroid panel should be carried out before any treatment is started. Treatment is lifelong, and may harm a dog that does not have hypothyroidism. *

Whilst there are of course numerous skin diseases that show as hair loss, it is well recognised amongst greyhound enthusiasts that a proportion of otherwise healthy greyhounds develop hair loss or a thinning of the hair coat in certain regions of their body, that seems to occur for no specific reason. When the hair loss affects the thighs, it is often called the ‘bald thigh syndrome’, but other body regions may also be affected. The extent of this hair loss or coat thinning can vary from mild to large areas of obvious hair loss. In any individual dog, the hair loss may be getting steadily better or worse, remain unchanged, or come and go.

Although there are numerous opinions on possible causes and treatments for this type of baldness, really very little is known about the extent of the problem, the cause, the heritability, the course, the prognosis or effective treatment. The problem is also not well recognised in the veterinary profession. *

Many Greyhounds experience bald-thigh syndrome while at the track.  This hair loss can be caused by thyroid insufficiency, stress, micro nutrient deficiency, laying on harsh surfaces, flea allergy, or genetics. Most cases clear themselves up within 6 to 8 months of retirement.  Dynamite Showdown, Clovite, and vitamin supplements are all recommended as a way to start hair growth if the thyroid level tests normal in a bald thigh Greyhound.*

Alopecia areata: Thought to be an autoimmune disorder.  Patches of hair loss especially on head, neck, and body; no itching. Usually recover spontaneously.*

My conclusion is it is a purely cosmetic condition and doesn’t effect their health in any way and we’ll have to leave it at that.

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