Canine acne

What is ... ?: 

Dogs with canine acne develop multiple comedones on their chin, lips, and muzzle. These plugs of keratin and sebum block the hair follicles, and are commonly called "blackheads."

How is ... inherited?: 

The mode of inheritance is unknown.

What does ... mean to your dog & you?: 

Animals with this syndrome have bumps, scabs and blackheads on their lips, chin and muzzle. These usually do not bother the dog unless a secondary bacterial skin infection develops. This can cause pain and itching and your dog may paw at his/her face or rub it along the carpet.
The dog's general health is not affected by canine acne.

How is ... diagnosed?: 

The diagnosis is made based on finding comedones or blackheads. Your veterinarian may take a skin biopsy to confirm the diagnosis. This is a simple procedure done with local anesthetic, in which your veterinarian removes a small sample of your dog's skin for examination by a veterinary pathologist.

How is ... treated?: 

This condition can not be cured but it can be controlled. Mild cases need no treatment. In other cases or where there are repeated infections, regular cleaning with acne cleaning products or mild anti-seborrheic shampoos will be required. Your veterinarian will work with you to find a regime suitable for your dog.
If a secondary bacterial infection develops, your dog will need to take antibiotics for 3 or 4 weeks.
For the veterinarian: Refractory cases may respond to retinoid therapy.

Breeding advice: 

It is preferable not to breed affected dogs.


Campbell, K.L. 1997. Diagnosis and management of keratinization disorders in dogs. ACVIM- Proceedings of the 15th Annual Veterinary Medical Forum. p 220-222.