Dilute Dachshunds & CDA
The dilute mutation is a recessive gene affecting color. Two dilute dogs or dilute carriers must come together in order to produce dilute puppies. The dilute to Black is Blue, and the dilute to Chocolate is called Isabella in the Dachshund breed.
It's often claimed that dilute dogs are less healthy than those with normal pigment. This misconception has come from the prevalence of a condition known as Color Dilution Alopecia (CDA). This condition can cause hair thinning/loss, bumpy or scaly skin, and sometimes bacterial infections in the affected areas. Hair thinning and/or loss ranges in severity from small patches to widespread. Affected puppies will appear completely normal at birth and may remain so for 2-3 years. Diagnosis can only be confirmed with a skin biopsy of the effected areas. Dachshunds typically show symptoms on the tips of ears and tails.
Not Every Dilute Has CDA
CDA is not the ONLY reason for poor or uneven coat quality. Hormonal imbalances and other diseases can also cause hair loss symptoms. It is also true that any Dachshund, dilute or not, can have a poor coat often referred to as “broken coat”. Quality breeders strive for ideal features in all their breeding members, but that does not mean that all puppies produced will have perfect features every time. This is why some pups are considered “pet quality”. A poor coat would be a pet quality feature. Unfortunately, dilutes that simply have a broken coat are often mislabeled as CDA affected. Nobody would question a red doxie with poor coat, but uh oh if he is blue he must have CDA. Don’t let the internet, message boards, and facebook groups scare you into that belief. This is simply not always the case and leads many Dachshund enthusiasts to believe that CDA is more prevalent then it truly is. Please do not just assume your dog has it just cause his ear hair is a bit thin and somebody told you that was a sign. One must have the skin biopsy done to confirm. If you receive a diagnosis without a biopsy your vet is just assuming, not actually confirming, which fuels the cycle of misconceptions. Please always follow through with testing to be sure.
CDA Is Not The End Of The World
Treatments for CDA are a range of over the counter inexpensive supplements including melatonin, vitamin A, essential fatty acids, biotin, moisturizing rinses for the skin, and sometimes antibiotics if secondary skin infection should occur. Your vet can help you decide which options may help and the correct dosages. If your pup has CDA he can live a long, wonderful, healthy life usually completely unaware of his own condition.
At this time, because of the lack of understanding of the exact cause of CDA and the inability to genetically test for it even a great breeder can end up with a CDA puppy. The best any breeder can do is research the family trees of their breeding program in an effort to avoid affected lines, and then discontinue use of any member that develops late onset CDA or produces confirmed cases in their offspring. Should your pup receive a confirmed diagnosis please report those documented results to your breeder so they can have the opportunity to do the right thing and discontinue breeding of the parents. Contributing DNA samples of affected dogs to research labs and genetic facilities will aide in further research to identify the gene(s) and hopefully the eventual eradication of this disease.