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Hypotrichosis in Animals

Updated on November 14, 2016

Hypotrichosis is a lack or paucity of hair (a.k.a. being bald) . It can be causes by toxins, parasites and other environmental causes. The cases shown in this hub, however, are mainly congenital--meaning they are the result of a genetic defect.

This hub is specifically about hairless individuals from normally-coated breeds, not breeds deliberately selected to be hairless such as the Sphinx cat or nude mouse.


Cats with fine or curly hair such as the Cornish Rex can be prone to baldness. But hairless kitten are occasionally reported from any breed or mixed-breed cat. In the Burmese it may relate to abnormalities in the thymus.

A 1936 report detailed a "cat-dog" called Nonesuch. This hairless kitten had three haired litter mates, two of which were born with missing or partial tails.

Seasonal alopecia in a Boxer
Seasonal alopecia in a Boxer | Source


Various dog breed suffer from a form of alopecia that causes variable degrees of hair loss. This is considered a desirable trait in hairless breeds and a disorder in the other breeds where it occurs such as Boxers, Bulldog or Airedale.

Alopecia is also found in dogs wit blue or fawn coats. These coat colors are produced by black or brown genes and another gene called a dilution factor that produces a paler shade.


There are six known mutation that lead to hairlessness in cattle and examples are shown here. Hair loss can also occur secondary to disorders such as sweating sickness (shown below).


A few almost completely hairless horses have been documented, and some become minor celebrities. Such as Blue Bell who was featured on postcards in the Victorian era.

Blue Bell (1871)
Blue Bell (1871)


Hypotrichosis is particularly rare in sheep but has been reported in the Polled Dorset. It can also occur as a complication of sarcoptic mange (Trioli et al, 2013).


Various forms of hypothrichosis also occur in humans including alopica.

Alopecia | Source


  • Tsioli, V., R. Farmaki, A. Papastefanou, A. D. Galatos, M. Marinou, D. Tontis, V. S. Mavrogianni, D. Doukas, M. N. Saridomichelakis, and G. C. Fthenakis. "A case of bilateral auricular haematoma in a ewe-lamb with sarcoptic mange." Small Ruminant Research 110, no. 2 (2013): 145-149.


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