Ichthyosis is a condition characterized by scaley skin and dandruff. It does not cause itching, scabbing, or hot spots and it is not the same thing as allergies. In Golden Retrievers, it is usually very mild, though in other breeds it can be much more severe. The Golden Retriever Club of America says that it is a rare condition even though a high percentage of dogs are testing positive for it. A few breeders are making a big deal out of it. Some don’t test for it at all. A growing number of breeders are taking a middle of the road approach. We at Heaven Sent Golden Retrievers do the test and use the results in making good breeding decisions.

What is Ichthyosis and How Does It Affect a Dog?


Ichthyosis is doggy dandruff. When a dog has symptoms, those symptoms are usually a light flaking of skin. There can, however, be a wide range of possibilities with regard to the severity of the condition. Many dogs that receive DNA results that indicate that they are affected with Ichthyosis have no flakes or any other kind of skin problem. Some dogs with Ichthyosis have a light flaking of skin, mostly seen when brushing. It does happen at times, however, that Ichthyosis is bad enough for there to be a constant flaking of skin. Even then, it is more of a nuisance to the owner than a bother to the dog. A severe case could cause a dog to leave flakes of skin wherever he sits or lies. These cases are not common. By far, the majority of Golden cases are very mild.
Ichthyosis is not anything like allergies that many Golden Retrievers suffer from. Ichthyosis very rarely bothers a dog. It doesn’t cause itching or scabbing like allergies. Ichthyosis in Golden Retrievers whether in its mildest form or its most severe is simply dandruff or flaky skin. The condition isn’t curable, but is usually well controlled with brushing, mild shampoos and conditioners, and a diet high in fatty acids.
Ichthyosis is a recessive trait which means that both parents have to carry the Ichthyosis form of this particular gene for there to be any possibility of any of the puppies to be affected with the condition. If either parent is clear, there is no chance of any puppies being affected. There are three possible results of the DNA test, affected, carrier, and clear. If both parents are carriers, 25% of the puppies will be affected (not necessarily clinically, but will have a DNA test that says they are affected), 50% will be carriers, and 25% will be clear. If one parent is a carrier and the other is affected, 50% of the puppies will be DNA affected (again, this doesn’t mean clinically affected). If both parents are DNA affected, all puppies will be DNA affected. A dog that is a carrier will have no chance of having the condition, either by DNA test or clinically. A carrier is simply a dog with only one copy of the defective allele for the gene. Two copies are needed for a dog to be DNA affected.