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Surprise: This Dog Doesn't Have a Weird Coat as Thought

There are several articles featuring dogs with the most unusual coat colors and markings, but one particular dog that is often featured as having a unique coat pattern, actually shouldn't be there. Why shouldn't this dog be there? Because this dog in particular isn't sporting a striking coat pattern as many may assume, but is actually suffering from a particular skin condition that causes a loss of pigment. As striking as this dog may appear, his presence among a compilation of unusual dog coat markings and patterns is therefore a mistake, possibly due to not knowing about this condition.

A Skin Condition

dog vitiligo

Several of the dogs often making their appearance as having the most striking markings are dogs who are actually suffering from a medical condition known as "vitiligo." This skin condition is not very common, but it's surely an attention grabber, and possibly one reason why these pictures of dogs with unusual coat patterns have become popular and gone viral.

Vitiligo causes loss of skin pigmentation affecting the areas around the muzzle, nose and eyes. What causes this skin condition? The exact underlying cause still needs to be discovered, but there's belief that it results from an autoimmune disorder causing antibodies to mistakenly attack melanin, which is responsible for giving color to a dog's skin and coat. The skin disorder is believed to be genetic. Triggers may include stress, exposure to toxins and certain neurological factors. This condition seems to affect more certain breeds such as dachshunds, German shepherds, dachshunds and Old English sheepdogs.

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Signs and Treatment

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The signs of vitiligo are quite straightforward, the dog develops evident patches of non-pigmented skin. Because the hairs covering the non-pigmented skin areas are also affected, white skin patches appear. Vitiligo can start from early puppy-hood, but in the majority of dogs, it develops at a later time. In some cases, the skin condition can also affect the eyes causing the inside of the eyeball to also be discolored.

While there is no treatment to cure this skin disease, there are some therapies that may help. Exposure to sunlight may stimulate the cells responsible for creating melanin (melanocytes) according to Vet Info. Another treatment option is vitamin C, claims veterinarian Dr. Debbie.


  • Vet Info, Vitiligo in Dogs, retrieved from the web on June 4th, 2016

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