Sebaceous Adenitis

One of the things most poodle-lovers like about the breed is the luxurious, curly coat. But those poor poodles afflicted with sebaceous adenitis (SA), an inherited skin disease, lose their coats after the sebaceous glands become inflamed and are eventually destroyed.

It's seen in all three poodle sizes, though it is seen more commonly in Standard Poodles. All colors are affected. Both parents must be carriers of SA or affected to produce affected puppies.

Poodles with SA develop excessive silvery dandruff that clings to the remaining hair. It can be accompanied by a musty odor and might cause secondary skin infections. Their skin thickens, and they eventually have patchy hair loss. Clinical SA can start showing symptoms when the dog is as young as 18 months or as old as nine years.

Veterinarians diagnose SA with a skin biopsy. After the dog gets a local anesthetic, a biopsy punch removes two or more small cylinders of tissue to be examined.

Unfortunately, statistics show that perhaps as many as 50 percent of all Standard Poodles are carriers or affected. Some Standard Poodles are affected subclinically and show no outward signs of the disease. Therefore, punch biopsies should be done annually on all poodles that are potential breeding prospects.

There is no cure for SA. Antibiotics might be required for secondary skin infections. Most SA-affected dogs are bathed frequently with a hypoallergenic dog shampoo, which helps get rid of the dandruff and makes the poodle more comfortable.


Some owners of SA poodles use weekly oil baths. They mix an inexpensive bath oil with water, spray it onto the dog, and rub it into the skin. After soaking for an hour, the dog is put back in the tub for three shampoo latherings. Before the final lathering, the skin is scrubbed with a soft brush. In some cases, dogs will regrow hair after this treatment.

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