My experience with how BSD came to my pup
I purchased Teddy at the age of 6 weeks after a very long search for "my perfect little boy". He was the most magnificent Pom I had ever set my eyes on. I am not a breeder and was not looking for a Breed/Show Pom, but was told by the breeder that he could have been. The breeder was a friend of a Pom breeder I had become friendly with over the internet. So, as a "favor" to this breeder she "let him go" as a pet to me.
He was listed as cream, but he was mostly white. The most beautiful little teddy bear face I have ever seen.
He was fully coated. (You know, the full, cottony coat that everyone wants, but are now saying maybe you shouldn't be looking for in such a young pup.) The night I met the breeder and got Teddy, she held him up and said I was getting a "more than perfect Pom". That he had "better than perfect coat". He had a perfect head and tail.
We did keep in touch and the breeder had told me that she would never show a Pom puppy to a perspective buyer at the age of 12 weeks "because they look like monkeys". When Teddy reached 12 weeks, 14 weeks I wrote the breeder that he did not lose his puppy coat. He was a big giant fluff ball. I was thrilled as I had no idea what BSD was. No red flags went up for me because I didn't know that I should have been concerned. The breeder wrote me back and said none of that damís puppies ever went through that kind of a shed and that I should be very happy for that. And so I was .....
It wasn't until another person had written me to tell me they had found a cream Pom for me. (Other's were looking out for a cream Pom for me and hadn't realized I had gotten a puppy already.) I wrote to tell them how happy I was with this beautiful Pom and that he didn't even shed his coat ... how lucky that he would not go through his uglies etc.
It was then I was made aware that this could be a sign to him developing BSD. My search began as to what it was and any information I could gather on the subject.
I had contacted the breeder to tell her of my concerns, but she treated me like garbage and told me I was a fool. That I didn't know what I was talking about. Said I was a bad mother to him since I was "looking for things for him to get". All I can say is I thank God for the people who made me aware of what BSD is. I was able to educate myself about it and when the hairloss came, I knew what he was in for.
Anyway ... In looking back over Teddy's pictures from the first year I had him, I can now see how there were subtle changes to the length and texture as early as 4-5 months of age. His hair was becoming more wooly, dryer and very unmanageable. He looked beautiful on bath day and maybe the next day, but after that, I could not get a brush through it. Also, it seemed when I looked at his sides, his fur seemed to part in several areas all along his sides. He would look very disheveled all the time. The area where his tail would sit on his back would also part and that parting seemed to get larger.
When I would groom him, I noticed I no longer had to trim the hairs around his anus or the belly hairs from around his penis. It just stopped growing back in those areas.
Teddy often looked like Don King on a bad hair day (if you can imagine that), but by his first birthday his belly was balding. (I should say that prior to the balding belly, I still had no clue that the coat texture changes and the parting of fur etc. were early signs of BSD. I had no prior experience with BSD nor were there any sites on the internet which listed these changes as signs of it).
I was never able to see skin on him even at bath time which for the most part took me at least 3 hours to do from start of bath to end of drying time as his fur was so thick. But suddenly there was pink skin and a real thinning to his hair. Over the year, his hair had become very harsh in texture and very dry feeling.
He spent his first birthday at the vets trying to see if my worst nightmare was coming true. That's when he was neutered and Thyroid tested etc. I was waiting until he was one year old to neuter him anyway, but I hated the idea that I was now doing it to try to save his coat.
None of the measures were successful in bringing his coat back. He is now totally bald on belly, hind legs and sides. His "mowhawk" along his back is thinning and becoming very short. He is now in the midst of losing his beautiful mane. It was what I hoped he could keep if all else was to go. It also seemed that it was his white hairs that seemed to break off and fall out first. The cream guard hairs actually seemed to get a little darker in color as this was happening.
He has gone the same road all other BSD dogs have ... the blood tests, the biopsy's, etc. I think we go through all this testing to give our Pom's every chance that maybe their hair loss is hopefully from "something else" and that we can get their coats back with a simple pill and all will be fine again.
I'm well past the "This can't be happening to my little boy" phase. I am trying to help him with itching now (he also has allergies). The hairloss is not really a concern. I have resolved myself to the fact that he will be bald. It is now his comfort, health and happiness that is my greatest concern.
I never thought I'd be dressing my dog and always thought it was silly since dogs already have hair that Mother Nature had provided for them. (Certainly I didn't think a Pomeranian needed to wear clothes). But I must admit, I have had a lot of fun finding great outfits for him to wear. I love the pajamas and warm-up suits they make as they cover his back legs also. I find that to be the best thing for him to wear around the house since it is now winter and I'm sure he is cool walking on the floors.
I hope what I described as coat changes helps you and others to use as a guide for what to look for. This is a process that ocurred over an entire year (and continues).
Others have said that it is in the gorgeous, thick cottony coated Pom puppies that this seems to be happening to.
I'd also like to mention that my dermatologist said that this is very common and that most Poms are not shown past 4-5 years old as most all show some signs of hair loss. I don't know if that statement is true as I don't think she is seeing healthy Poms in her practice. People do not bring their healthy, fully coated Poms to a dermatologist just for the hell of it. So I think this is a statement of the balding Poms that she is seeing and reflects the young age that Poms are losing their hair. But it still was interesting to hear that she sees this very often.
I think a first step is the realization of this disease not going away unless you openly speak to each other about your experiences and try to come up with a solution. Those of you who have openly admitted you have BSD dogs is a brave and courageous step. You can only help the future of the Pomeranian breed by coming forward with your information and experiences. And it is for your unconditional love for the breed that I know you are doing this.
I hope it is a help to you.
He is, and always will be, the most precious little being that has come to my life.
Hair or no hair ... he will always be beautiful to me.
Thank you to Pattie and Pomeranian Teddy!
Photos © Pattie