Color Dilution Alopecia And Silver Lab Dogs – What Do You Need To Know?

Last Updated on November 11, 2023 by Linda Richard

Noting that your dog’s coat is getting patchy or outright bald can be quite distressing. However, if you have a light-colored dog such as a silver lab, the reason for that can be pretty common. So, color dilution alopecia and silver lab dogs – what do you need to know?

Color dilution alopecia or CDA for short is a very annoying but quite common problem in certain dog breeds. It’s basically just alopecia (hair loss) caused by the color dilution of certain breeds. In the case of silver labs, it’s that color dilution that gives them their unique silvery color. But, if you’re worried that your dog is going permanently bald, don’t be – there are plenty of things you can do about it.

 Color dilution alopecia and silver lab dogs – what is it?

CDA is a hereditary condition that’s passed from the parent to the pup. As such, reputable breeders do their best to avoid breeding dogs with the condition. However, the presence of puppy mills and pet stores (as well as amateur breeders) who breed dogs indiscriminately, has made sure that a certain percentage of dogs with the color dilution gene still have CDA.

As for the condition itself – we don’t know exactly what causes it, other than the fact that it’s related to the color dilution (dd) gene that’s also responsible for the unique color of silver labs. So, there isn’t really a way to test for CDA other than to see if the pup’s parents have it.

The condition is harmless, however, so it isn’t something that should worry you all that much. Hairloss is annoying but there are things that can be done as we’ll cover below. All in all, CDA is far from the worst thing that can befall a dog.

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Symptoms Of Color Dilution Alopecia

CDA can start affecting your dog’s coat and skin as soon as the pup turns 6 months of age. It usually happens after the dog’s second birthday, however, which further makes preventing the hereditary spread more difficult as some dogs have already bred before they start exhibiting symptoms.

The symptoms themselves are pretty self-explanatory:

Unfortunately, there aren’t any “warning” symptoms. Instead, hair loss, dry skin, and itching are the first and last CDA-related issues you’ll encounter and have to deal with.  

 How common is color dilution alopecia in silver labs dog?

We don’t have a concrete number or percentage as the vast majority of CDA cases are left undiagnosed. Additionally, silver labs are far from a common breed and neither of the three popular lab types (black, brown, and yellow) has CDA.

However, CDA is categorized as a “common condition” for other dog breeds with the color dilution gene so the same is likely true for the silver lab as well.

Read more about: How To Stop A Lab From Shedding And Should You Shave Your Dog?

Can CDA Lead To Other Silver Lab Skin Issues?

Aside from the risk of Pruritus or bacterial infections, color dilution alopecia won’t really lead to another major health problem. CDA is a pretty isolated condition that doesn’t affect the overall health of your dog.

That being said, bacterial infections can become quite nasty if left untreated and they can lead to other issues in the more extreme cases. So, it’s still strongly recommended that you get both the CDA and any bacterial infections under control as quickly as possible.

Can You Treat Color Dilution Alopecia In Silver Lab Dogs?

Having a hairless Labrador that’s itching all the time is no fun neither for you nor for the dog. Fortunately, while CDA can’t be “cured” it can be treated fairly easily.

We’re not veterinarians so we’d advise you to just contact your vet as soon as you notice the problem. However, if you’re wondering what you’ll be prescribed, CDA treatments typically involve:

  • Various shampoos, ointments, and rinses.
  • Dietary supplements or a whole dietary switch to a more nutritional food
  • The occasional oral antibiotic prescription in case your dog has developed a severe skin infection

And that’s about it. Even if antibiotics are necessary, that’s only for the short term. Once the infection has been dealt with, the rest is just a matter of good skincare and diet. So, while CDA will remain a permanent part of life with your dog, it isn’t something that will affect your or your dog’s experiences too much Take care of it well, and the CDA will become completely unnoticeable after a while.

 Which other breeds also suffer from color dilution alopecia together with silver labs?

You’ll rarely see people talking about color dilution alopecia and silver labs online simply because silver labs are quite rare themselves. Instead, CDA is most often associated with the following breeds:

  • Bernese mountain dogs
  • Boston terriers
  • Chihuahuas
  • Chow chows
  • Dachshunds
  • Great Danes
  • Irish setters
  • Italian greyhounds
  • Newfoundlands
  • Salukis
  • Schipperkes
  • Shetland sheepdogs
  • Standard poodles
  • Yorkshire terriers
  • Whippets

 Should You Be Worried About CDA When Getting A Silver Lab?

Some breeds and sub-breeds are known for the health issues that plague them. In some cases, the breeding or purchasing of certain dogs is considered to be outright unethical because of the severe health problems they can have and pass on to in their own pups.

This really isn’t the case with silver labs and color dilution alopecia, however. While the problem is common and annoying, it isn’t life-threatening nor is it going to drastically decrease your dog’s quality of life. Unlike other conditions such as blindness or deafness in certain white dog breeds, CDA simply requires a special shampoo and a dietary supplement – most of the time that’s all.

So, if you’ve found a cool silver lab in need of a home, there’s nothing wrong with adopting or even buying such a dog. Ideally, you will be aware of the risk of CDA, especially if you’re thinking of breeding the dog. And, should hair loss start to appear, you’ll do what’s necessary to take good care of your dog’s skin. 

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Linda Richard

I know that all dog breeds are different, but Labradors exude a special energy, don’t they? I believe everyone deserves the unconditional love of a pet, so my main goal is to make sure you can experience it.

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