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What Miniature Schnauzer Owners Need To Know About Schnauzer Comedo Syndrome

The miniature Schnauzer is a plucky, confident and popular small dog breed that makes for both a good watchdog and family pet. The smallest of the three different Schnauzer dog size ratings, they are also the most popular, falling in 36th place in the UK overall out of a total of over 240 different dog breeds and types.

These lively, alert and intelligent little dogs tend to be robust and healthy, but there are also quite a large number of different canine health conditions that have been identified to occur more commonly within Schnauzer breeds than others.

Schnauzer comedo syndrome (sometimes referred to as Schnauzer comedone syndrome) is one of them, and this is a skin disorder that can lead to the formation of blackheads (comedos or comedones) on the dog’s skin. Whilst this health condition is one of the less acute and potentially harmful health conditions that Schnauzer owners should be aware of, it is also one of the more common ones, and one that owners of dogs of the breed should commit to learning a little bit about.

In this article we will examine Schnauzer comedo syndrome in more detail, explaining what it is, how it affects dogs, and how it can be controlled and managed. Read on to learn more.

What is Schnauzer comedo syndrome?

Schnauzer comedo syndrome is a health condition that only affects Schnauzer dogs, and it can affect dogs of all three size variants within the breed.

It is a skin condition that causes small surface lumps or bumps to form, which are usually clustered into groups and that often appear most commonly along the top and sides of the dog’s spine.

A comedo or comedone is essentially just a clogged hair follicle – a spot. Schnauzer comedo syndrome presents with symptoms when a significant number of hair follicles become blocked and form little raised bumps or spots, which might look like whiteheads or more commonly, blackheads. The spots themselves arise when the follicles get blocked with sebum, an oily substance produced by the skin to protect and lubricate it. Blocked sebaceous glands tend to cause the onset of Schnauzer comedone syndrome, although exactly what causes these flare-ups to occur can be highly variable.

These individual spots can also become inflamed and infected, and will also make your dog’s skin rough, dull and dirty-looking. Schnauzer comedo syndrome is a type of follicular dermatitis, and it can be either chronic or acute in nature.


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Why are some miniature Schnauzers affected by comedo syndrome?

Why some dogs of the Schnauzer breed are affected by flare-ups of comedo syndrome and others aren’t is something that we’re not entirely sure about. It is the blockage of a dog’s hair follicles that causes the condition, but why some Schnauzers suffer from this when others don’t – and why breakouts are often clustered along the spine – are also questions we don’t have a definitive answer for.

The fact that Schnauzer comedo syndrome is a breed-specific condition indicates that it is hereditary and likely dependent on the inheritance of a certain combination of gene anomalies or mutations from the dog’s parents, but the genes in question and why certain breed lines are more predisposed to the condition than others are again not widely understood.

Due to this, there is no DNA testing protocol that can be used to identify carriers of the condition prior to breeding, and no way to tell for sure if or why any given miniature Schnauzer may be affected by comedo syndrome.

What are the symptoms of comedo syndrome in miniature Schnauzers?

If you know the signs of comedo syndrome in miniature Schnauzers, you will be better able to spot it if it develops on your own dog’s skin. Brushing and grooming your dog regularly and getting to know what their skin and coat looks and feels like all helps when it comes to identifying problems and anomalies of this type.

How obvious or severe the symptoms are in any given dog, and even the exact symptoms that each individual dog displays can be quite variable, and could include:

  • A collection of raised bumps or spots on the skin, often (but not always) following the path of the dog’s spine. These may be dry, or moist and crusty.
  • The bumps might look very obviously like spots – whiteheads or more often, blackheads, or they may simply be little bumps that you can feel better than you can see.
  • Comedo syndrome can change the texture of your dog’s skin too, leading to it becoming thicker, rougher and less elastic in texture.
  • The spots might also be itchy, inflamed or irritated, leading to redness and potentially, discomfort.
  • In more extreme presentations of comedo syndrome, affected dogs may suffer from thinning hair or even bald patches in the areas in question.
  • In some cases, an unpleasant smell may accompany the development of the spots or bumps.

Can the condition be treated or cured?

Schnauzer comedo syndrome is a chronic condition that cannot be prevented or cured, and dogs that have been diagnosed with the condition will tend to suffer from flare-ups from time to time throughout their lives.

This means that the condition is managed rather than treated, which involves regular monitoring, checking for infections, keeping the skin clean, and if necessary, using antibiotics and/or topical treatments to deal with infections or irritations.

Generally, comedo syndrome in miniature Schnauzers does not have a huge negative impact on the dog’s quality of life, but it can make them uncomfortable and irritated, particularly if an infection sets in.

Work with your vet to monitor and control the condition, and ensure that your dog leads a full, happy life despite their condition.


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