Why is My Bulldog Losing Hair? Causes, Diagnosis, and Treatment

a Bulldog with tufts of shed fur from hair loss

If you’ve noticed your Bulldog’s bed looking more like a hair salon floor than a pet’s resting spot, you’re not alone. Bulldog owners often encounter the puzzling hair loss situation in their wrinkly companions. It’s disconcerting to see bald patches appearing on your pup, and you might be scratching your head as much as your pooch is scratching their skin. 

The shedding can be down to something as simple as the seasons changing. However, when the hair loss seems abnormal or excessive, it may be time to play detective to figure out what might be going on. You know what they say; with great wrinkles comes great infection risk. 

Spotting the signs early on and consulting with a vet can set your bulldog on the path to regaining their cuddly coat. We have referred to Dr. Claude Favrot, MsSc, Dip ECVD, concerning canine alopecia to get you grounded in the scientific reasons for this problem. 

So, Why is My Bulldog Losing Hair?

Bulldogs have their fair share of genetic quirks, and their skin health is no laughing matter. Various factors, such as parasites, skin infections, allergies, stress, friction, and autoimmune disorders, can send your Bulldog’s hair follicles packing. Sometimes, the thinning fur could be part of a bigger picture, indicating issues like hormonal imbalances or nutritional deficiencies. 

Understanding Hair Loss in Bulldogs

heavily shedding hair loss on Bulldog rear end standing on street

If you’re noticing bald spots on your pup, it’s time to sleuth out the why behind the woe. Canine alopecia can range from normal shedding to something more baldly obvious, like bald patches where your pooch once sported a luxurious coat.

Firstly, let’s talk shedding. Your Bulldog naturally sheds hair, but when you start finding more fur on your couch than on your pup, that’s a sign of abnormal hair loss. Now, if it’s symmetrical, it might be a genetic thing. Think of it as a hairstyle your doggo was born to rock. No inflammation there!

But let’s say your canine’s skin starts looking more like a patchy quilt? That’s when we might suspect acquired hair loss. Here are some signs:

  • Bald Spots: More skin, less fur.
  • Itching: Scratching more than usual? Could be a clue.
  • Color Change: A funky turn in skin tone.
  • Thickened Skin: Because the skin gets tired of being thin and exposed!
  • Scaling: Not the lizard type, but flaky nonetheless.

The reasons behind your bulldog’s hair mystery can be like a perplexing puzzle. Sometimes hair follicles just give up the grow, or your pup could be parting ways with their hair due to an irritation or a health hiccup. Dr. Karen A. Moriello, DVM, DACVD, notes that hair loss is either congenital (the pup was born with it)  or acquired due to the reasons we discuss below. 

Common Causes of Bulldog Hair Loss

A Bulldog that has a small visible patch on its skin on the back where some hair has fallen out

There are two types of canine alopecia. The first is non-inflammatory, which is mostly congenital or hormonal. The second is inflammatory or acquired alopecia, which is almost always accompanied by pain and itching. It is mostly due to infection, allergies, and the like. 

Here are 11 common reasons for that patchy mess

Inflammatory Hair Loss

With this category, the dog’s skin looks overall infected. You’ll notice your Bulldog’s wrinkles are red, flaky, itchy, smelly, and even painful. 

1. Parasites, Notably Mange

First off, those itchy invaders known as parasites could be the cause of the balding. The number one culprit is mites, specifically those behind demodectic mange and sarcoptic mange (dog scabies). With mange, clinical management such as ivermectin, cefpodoxime, and benzyl peroxide has been studied and is almost always required due to its severity. 

Even fleas and ticks are often to blame. They’re not just a nuisance. They pack a punch with self-harming itching and scratching that can lead to hair loss. 

2. Allergies

Let’s talk allergies. Your pup’s body might throw a hissy fit in response to food, environmental allergens, or even their doggy shampoo. These allergic reactions can cause serious skin allergies and drive your dog to itch and scratch their way to hair loss.

Atopic dermatitis is the most common allergic response resulting in canine alopecia. Additionally, common food baddies for dogs are beef, dairy, wheat, egg, chicken, lamb, soy, pork, rabbit, and fish. Yeah, it’s like their stomachs can’t even enjoy a good barbecue! You’ll notice other signs like sneezing, pawing at the face, swelling, skin rashes and hives, and itchiness. 

3. Skin Infections such as Pyoderma or fungal infections (Malassezia Dermatitis)

Another potential hair vandal is skin infections. Your cute pup’s wrinkles could be troublemakers by harboring moisture and bacteria, resulting in bacterial infections like skin fold dermatitis. Royal Veterinary College research found that flat-faced dogs, such as Bulldogs, were between 11 and 49 times more likely to suffer from the condition. 

These infections can seriously cramp your dog’s style, leading to patchy hair and, sometimes, even a full-on “where did my fur go?” moment. You can’t miss infected pain with all the smell, redness, discharge, slimy or scabies coat, and just overall ugly skin. Check out our post on how to clean infected wrinkles if you suspect these smelly conditions. 

4. Nutritional Deficiencies

Your pup’s woes might be due to nutritional no-nos. According to a Review on The Role of Vitamins and Minerals in Hair Loss, Riboflavin, biotin, folate, and vitamin B12 deficiencies have been associated with hair loss. But don’t worry, most pups get enough of them with enough diet protein (25 to 30%) and the occasional veggie in their food. 

Let’s chow down on more info!

Zinc’s a Big Deal: Don’t skimp on the zinc. Your pup needs it! Why? Well, without enough zinc, your buddy could get something called zinc-responsive dermatitis, causing hair loss. But don’t worry, PubMed lists this condition as uncommon. However, Alaskan Malamutes and Siberian Huskies are notably susceptible to this issue.

Omega-3 to the Rescue: Is your pooch’s skin flaking like a snow globe? Time to talk Omega-3 fatty acids. These slick nutrients can help improve coat health and appearance. They keep the skin moist and the hair stuck on your dog rather than your sofa. Fishy foods and fish oil are jam-packed with Omega-3, so consider them for a shiny, happy furball.

Where’s the Protein?: Dogs need their protein like they need belly rubs. A lack of protein might lead to a deficiency in the vitamins necessary for hair growth listed above. After all, hair is said to be 80 to 95% protein, so why wouldn’t a lack of it wreak havoc?

So, keep your canine’s dinner plate balanced:

  • A sprinkle of zinc (red meat and poultry);
  • A splash of Omega-3 (fish); and
  • A heap of protein.

And voilà! You’re on your way to solving the mystery of the disappearing dog hair. Keep meals nutritious, and your bulldog will thank you with cuddles and a full coat of hair!

5. Lifestyle and Environmental Factors

Hair looking a bit more sparse on top could be down to where they’re hanging out and how they’re living. Here’s how:

Sun & Seasons: Just like people can get a bit dry and flaky, your canine can, too, when soaking up too much sunlight. Love a good sunbathe? Sure, but keep an eye on those sun exposure sessions, especially during winter months. Shorter days mean longer shadows and less natural heat, which might lead to less time spent in the sun’s rays.

Stress Whiskers Away: Just as stress can lead to your hair taking a leave of absence, your pup can also lose fur if they’re feeling overwhelmed. A calm home is a happy home for both humans and canines. In fact, researchers have found that checking out how much stress hormone (cortisol) is in the hair can indicate stress levels in a dog.

Momma Life: Is your dog a new mom? Raising pups is big work and can sometimes lead to a bit of fur loss. It’s their body’s way of saying, “I’ve got puppies to feed, no time for hair care!”

So, make sure your dog’s lifestyle and hangout spots are as chill as they are. Keep them cool, calm, and collected to hold onto those cuddly coats!

6. Friction or Pressure Sores

This issue could be from friction or pressure sores. You know, when their skin gets rubbed the wrong way or squished against something hard like those elbow pressure points from lying on a firm surface too much.

First things first, don’t shrug off your dog’s badly fitted collars or harnesses. They might look stylish, but if they’re too tight, they’re a no-go. You wouldn’t want to wear a tight hat all day, would you? Think like that for your Bulldog’s neckwear. It shouldn’t be a hair-pulling experience!

Now, let’s talk about those wrinkles and folds. Bulldogs have them in spades, and they can trap moisture and dirt. What happens next? You guessed it — more friction! Especially if your fur baby keeps rubbing those skin spots against the carpet during their belly-flop playtime.

Check for pressure sores here:

  • Belly;
  • Hips;
  • Sides; and
  • Elbows.

Here’s how to spot ’em:

  • Look for bald spots.
  • The skin might be calloused and rough to the touch.
  • Gently touch to feel for bumps.
  • If it’s sensitive, you’ll know because your doggo might tell you off!

7. Grooming Issues

These require regular grooming, including cleaning the skin folds, to prevent infections. Lack of proper grooming or the use of harsh products can contribute to hair loss.

8. Poisoning (very rare)

Sometimes, your buddy could be playing with something sneaky like mercury, thallium, or iodine. These are not your everyday dog toys. And when dogs get into these, it’s a no-no for their fur!

What are these things? Let’s break it down:

  • Mercury: This is that shiny stuff in old thermometers. Dogs sometimes find it intriguing. But mercury is super serious and can mess with your dog’s skin and, yup, their hair.
  • Thallium: A real villain in the poison world and pretty rare, but if it’s in rat poison around the house, it can be trouble with a capital ‘T’ for your pupper’s hair.
  • Iodine: Normally, it’s cool for keeping cuts clean, but too much can make your pup’s hair take a hike.

Non-hormonal Alopecia in Your Bulldog

The next set of reasons are either congenital or have something to do with what’s going on inside the body. 

Non-hormonal alopecia happens because of a disruption to either morphogenesis (production of a new follicular shaft). Or abnormalities follicular cycling, which is movement from Anagen to Catagen to Telogen to  Exogen (the hair growth phases) 

These reasons are:

9. Hormonal and Endocrine or Metabolic Diseases

Now, don’t overlook the internal stuff. Things like thyroid problems or a hormonal imbalance could be secretly messing with your bulldog’s luxurious locks. Remember, your vet can check these things out with some tests. They can get to the bottom of the bald spots and help your buddy feel like top dog again!

To sum it up, your dog could be losing hair due to:

  • Hypothyroidism: Not enough thyroid hormone, making things slow, including hair growth.
  • Cushing’s Disease: Too much cortisol leads to more hair on the brush and less on the pup.
  • Diabetes: The sugar mishap that can also lead to thinning hair.
  • Sex hormones: If hormones like estrogen and androgen start acting up, your pup’s hair could pay the price

10. Genetic or Hereditary Disorders

If your pup is losing hair, it might be due to some fancy-schmancy words like genetic or hereditary disorders. Basically, these are issues passed down from your bulldog’s parents, like an unwanted family heirloom.

  • Hereditary Alopecia: This is a fancy term for when your bulldog is losing hair because of its genes. Think of it as your pup’s coat throwing a little tantrum because of what it inherited from its mama and papa bulldogs.
  • Color Dilution Alopecia: Imagine if your bulldog’s color got so bored, it decided to pack up and leave, especially in areas where the color looks a bit washed out. This is particularly common in light and unusually colored dogs like lilac, isabella, and blue.
  • Black Hair Follicular Dysplasia: Sounds like a wizard’s curse, right? But it’s actually a condition where only the black hairs on your bulldog say “adios!” If your buddy has any black spots that are now more spotless, this might be the culprit.
  • Seasonal Flank Alopecia: Some bulldogs lose hair in specific areas at certain times of the year. It’s like their body decides, “Eh, it’s summer, who needs a full coat?” It’s a seasonal fashion choice!

Keep in mind these disorders are often not life-threatening, but they can be a bit uncomfortable or itchy for your pooch. If you see bald spots or thinning fur, a trip to the vet could help you get to the root of the problem. No need to hide under the dog blanket; there’s help out there!

11. Autoimmune Disorders

Autoimmune disorders are mix-ups in your doggy immune system. Your dog’s body gets confused and thinks its own skin is an unwelcome guest. So, it starts a little battle against its own skin cells, causing hair loss.

One problem they might have is called pemphigus foliaceus. It’s a fancy name for when the immune system starts to act up, causing crusty, scaly skin and hair loss. Usually, it throws a party on the face and ears first. Another autoimmune disorder is Alopecia Areata; sounds like a Latin chant, but it does make a patchy fuss. 

Remember, no matter how small the symptom may seem, getting friendly advice from a vet can save your buddy from a scratchy and uncomfortable situation. It’s crucial to tackle these skin conditions pronto to avoid any ruff times ahead!

Diagnosing Bulldog Hair Loss

A Bulldog that has a small visible bald patch on its skin on the chest where some hair has fallen out

Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you understand what’s happening with your dog’s coat:

  1. Check the Symptoms

    Hair loss can show up in different ways. Is it just a small patch, or is your pup losing hair everywhere? Look for any redness, white bumps, or skin condition that might be bothering them.

  2. Visit the Vet

    Your best bet is to see a veterinarian. They’re like hair detectives for dogs! They’ll do some tests to get to the bottom of the hairy situation.

  3. Diagnosis Time

    The vet might check for things that cause inflammation or infections. Sometimes, the hair loss is because of an underlying cause like allergies or hormone issues.

  4. Home Inspection

    Take a peek at your dog’s routine and environment. Have you changed their food recently? Or maybe they found a new place to dig in the yard?

In a nutshell, to stop the hair-fall hullabaloo, you’ll need to get professional help and pay close attention to your dog’s world. Keep it light, keep it fun, and keep those hair fairies at bay!

Preventing Bulldog Hair Loss 

Let’s nip that hair loss in the bud! Shall we?

Diet’s the Deal: Start with a balanced diet. Just like you’d wilt on a diet of soda and chips, your pup could shed more hair without the right nutrients. Make sure they’re nibbling food that’s high-protein, low-fat, and has plenty of vitamins and minerals. Omega fatty acids are like magic for a shiny coat, so consider supplements too.

Skincare is Key: Bulldogs can have sensitive skin – no, they’re not being dramatic. So, proper skincare is a must. Gentle shampoos and regular check-ups will keep their skin happier than a kiddo in a candy store, which means less hair on your couch.

Vaccine Vigilance: Keep up with your dog’s vaccines. They shield against nasty health baddies that can mess with hair health.

  • No Stress Zone: These puppers are chill, so high stress can turn their hair-loss dial up to 11. Keep their environment as calm as possible.
  • If in Doubt, Check it Out: Sometimes, despite your best efforts, losing fur can be a sign of something more. So, if your dog’s more fur on the floor than on the bod, take them to the vet, stat.

And there you have it! Keep these tips in your tool belt, and your pup will be sporting a fabulous fur coat that’s the envy of the dog park!

Treatments for Hair Loss

Losing hair can be a real head-scratcher, huh? If your pup’s adorable coat is thinning, don’t fret! We’re about to explore some pretty solid steps to help your pup look fetching again.

Medical Interventions

First up, it’s vet time. Test for allergies because reactions to food or the environment could leave your pup light on locks. Sometimes, medications like antifungals, antibiotics, or steroids are the secret sauce to getting back that lush coat. For more specific conditions, oral medication might be the ticket. Remember, no medical advice here beats a professional vet’s opinion!

Nutritional Support and Supplements

Let’s chow down on the fact that a high-protein diet is like a fur fertilizer for your dog. Adding supplements to their meals can be a game-changer.

 Omega-3 fatty acids supplements loaded with EPA & DHA can get the hair growth party started. Plus, laying out the welcome mat for zinc, vitamin E, vitamin A, and some vitamin D can create the perfect party mix for a healthier coat.

Topical and Natural Remedies

Now, let’s talk topical — it’s bath time! Suit up because medicated shampoos could help your pooch ditch the itch and pave the way for hair regrowth. Throwing in doses of vitamin E or Omega-3 fatty acids into these sudsy sessions might just add the extra oomph. 

Keep in mind a balanced diet and proper nutrition is like a hug in a bowl; it’s comforting and keeps your bulldog’s coat in check. Plus, who doesn’t enjoy a bubbly bath with some added benefits?

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Don’t scratch your head too much over this problem. Here’s the lowdown on your canine pal’s disappearing ‘do.

Why is my Flat-faced dog getting bald spots?

Your squish-faced friend may be getting bald spots for a few reasons. From allergies to skin infections, Bulldogs face various skin issues that can lead to hair loss.

Could my bulldog be shedding hair because of the seasons?

Yep, shedding is normal for these dogs, especially with the seasons changing. But if you’re sweeping up a small fur coat every day, that might be a bit more than seasonal shedding.

How to fix my Bulldog’s hair loss at home?

Keeping your dog’s wrinkles clean and dry and feeding them a healthy diet can help. Still, for those dealing with more than a bad hair day, a vet’s advice is best. You can also try out omega-3 supplements for a better coat.

What should I do when all my Bulldog’s fur sheds and doesn’t come back?

When your bulldog’s hair pulls a disappearing act and refuses to reappear, it’s time to have a chat with your vet. They can help figure out if it’s a serious health issue or just a passing phase.

Is it normal for my Bulldog’s hair to get patchy on the sides?

Patchiness can be normal, but if your bulldog’s sides are starting to look like a badly mown lawn, it’s worth investigating. It may be allergies, parasites, or something more serious like hormonal and autoimmune disorders.

Why is my dog losing hair on the back legs?

If your dog’s back legs are starting to resemble a plucked chicken, don’t just giggle at the sight. It could be a sign of a skin condition or allergies, and your vet should definitely take a peek.

Final Thoughts

Hair loss could be due to many reasons. It’s like a hairy mystery! These include parasites, allergies, stress, infections, nutritional deficiencies, and even hormonal or autoimmune problems. 

Your best bet? Have a chat with your vet. Plus, learning about what’s causing the loss will give your pup much-needed relief. So keep it cool, stay observant, and help your canine stay as fluffy as possible!

Tamsin de la Harpe

Tamsin de la Harpe, with a lively spirit and 15 years of experience in dog training and behavior, brings a unique flair to the team. Based in South Africa, she is deeply engaged in rehabilitating dogs, focusing on their mental and nutritional health. Tamsin's approach to dog behavior is hands-on and heartfelt, shaped by her life with her own dogs and horses. Her journey in canine behavior is ongoing, as she continues advanced studies in this field.

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