While miniature poodles can suffer from hereditary skin problems, they're not as common as in other breeds. That doesn't mean your adoring, faithful, curly companion won't be diagnosed with a skin issue at some time in his life. Certain skin disorders do appear in poodles, usually in older dogs.
Although relatively rare in the breed, miniature poodles are subject to the dermatological condition known as alopecia X. According to the University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine, the exact cause of the condition is unknown. The hair loss usually shows up in young dogs but can start later in life, too. Hair falls out, beginning on the back and thighs. Alopecia X doesn't cause hair on the face and front legs. In a worst-case scenario, from the shoulders back your poodle will be completely bald with pigmented skin, while the front part of the dog looks normal. There's no cure for alopecia X, but it doesn't affect the dog other than cosmetically.
Aging poodles might develop papillomas, benign growths resembling warts. Miniature and toy poodles are prone to these growths more than other breeds. Papillomas won't hurt your dog, but you need to ask the vet to ensure any growths on his body are papillomas and nothing more. Your vet can determine the nature of the growth and whether it requires removal or treatment. Papillomas, resulting from exposure to the oral papilloma virus, usually develop on dogs' bodies or feet. It's possible for the growths to become infected or constantly opened because the dog chews on them. Your vet can remove them.
Hypothyroidism occurs when the thyroid gland doesn't produce sufficient thyroid hormone. Middle-aged and older miniature poodles are especially prone to this condition, which is more prevalent in the poodle than in some other breeds. Signs of this endocrine disease include hair loss and dry, scaly skin. Your poodle might develop secondary skin infections when suffering from hypothyroidism. Fortunately, thyroid medication generally solves your poodle's issues. Your vet might also prescribe antibiotics and recommend antibacterial shampoos to clear up any resulting skin infections.
Ear infections are fairly common in poodles because of their floppy ears. Without consistent cleaning, the folds of your miniature poodle's ears can become a breeding ground for infection. If you notice an odor from your dog's ears, or that the skin is dry or oily, or has discharge, take your poodle to the vet for diagnosis and treatment. Ear infections are another possible sign of hypothyroidism. In addition to an examination, your vet takes a sample of the ear discharge to determine exactly what's causing the infection. She can then prescribe appropriate antibiotics and medication.
Jane Meggitt has been a writer for more than 20 years. In addition to reporting for a major newspaper chain, she has been published in "Horse News," "Suburban Classic," "Hoof Beats," "Equine Journal" and other publications. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English from New York University and an Associate of Arts from the American Academy of Dramatics Arts, New York City.