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The main reason for hairlessness in Scottish Deerhounds found by researchers

The problem of baldness in dogs can be due to deliberate breeding or in some cases, a defect. A fresh study conducted by the University of Helsinki identifies a variant of a gene in the SGK3 gene, present in the Scottish Deerhounds, which is the main cause for hairlessness.

The features of dog fur enable target of breeding which is the reason why the trait has great variation between breeds. As a consequence of breeding selectively, gene variants that affect the quality of coat, differ in various dog breeds. Hence, the length of the coat varies from short to long, from curly to straight or sometimes completely hairless. Presently, some genes have been found associated with canine hairlessness. Out of these, specifically alterations in the SGK3 & FOXI3 are linked with baldness retained as a breed trait.

University of Helsinki’s Doctor Marjo Hytonen explained: “Normally, Scottish deerhound has coarse, longish hair, but every now and then there are hairless individuals in litters. We found that hair loss is connected to the SGK3 gene, but to a variant different from that identified earlier in another breed. However, the end results are similar, as the puppies are born with sparse coats and lose all their hair in a matter of weeks. No other significant disabilities yet seem to be associated with the functional disturbance of the SGK3 gene.”

SGK3 ciphers for an enzyme which influences the normal hair cycle. Scrutinizing dogs who are bald due to an abnormality in the SGK3 protein could help to go into the depths of detail. Hannes Lohi, University’s Professor shed light on the subject: “In certain breeds, hairlessness is desirable, but not, for example, in Scottish Deerhounds. In both cases, gene tests will provide new tools for breeders. Another important finding in this study is the substantiation of the role of the SGK3 gene in human non-hormonal thinning of hair, early hair loss, and baldness. Further research on the gene’s role in human baldness should be carried out.”