related term: skin-fold pyoderma, intertrigo

What is fold dermatitis?

Dermatitis means inflammation of the skin. Where there are excessive skin folds or wrinkles, fold dermatitis occurs due to rubbing of skin and trapping of moisture in the folds. Pyoderma (bacterial skin infection) commonly develops, almost always caused by Staphylococcus intermedius (which does not cause problems in people).

Common forms are tail, lip, and facial fold dermatitis and associated pyoderma, in breeds where there is skin folding in these areas.

How is fold dermatitis inherited?

Fold dermatitis is directly related to skin folding or wrinkling in a particular breed. The wrinkling trait is considered to be autosomal dominant.

What breeds are affected by fold dermatitis?

The following breeds are predisposed to fold dermatitis and skin-fold pyoderma: bloodhound, Boston terrier (tail fold), Chinese Shar-pei, cocker and springer spaniel (lip fold), English bulldog (facial fold), Neapolitan mastiff, Pekingese (facial fold), pug (facial and tail fold).

For many breeds and many disorders, the studies to determine the mode of inheritance or the frequency in the breed have not been carried out, or are inconclusive. We have listed breeds for which there is a consensus among those investigating in this field and among veterinary practitioners, that the condition is significant in this breed.

What does fold dermatitis mean to your dog & you?

The condition can cause your dog mild to significant discomfort and itching (depending on whether the area becomes infected). Infection is likely to recur.

How is fold dermatitis diagnosed?

The condition is readily diagnosed based on reddened, moist areas in folds of skin.

How is fold dermatitis treated?

This condition can generally be managed satisfactorily. Your veterinarian will recommend a cleansing shampoo for you to use regularly to combat infection which, when it does occur, will require antibiotic  treatment.

If your dog develops a chronic or frequently-recurring fold pyoderma, despite treatment, your veterinarian will likely discuss with you the option of surgically removing the fold which should clear up the problem permanently.

For the veterinarian: Choose cleansers with good residual action but with minimal drying or irritating actions (eg. 0.5% chlorhexidine or 2% benzoyl peroxide).

Breeding advice

Fold dermatitis with associated pyoderma is one of the conditions that results from selection by breeders and a demand from the public for particular features, in this case skin wrinkling, heavy facial folds, or a "corkscrew" tail. These disorders are directly related to the conformation or standards for the breed. Although these conditions have in many cases become so common that they are accepted as normal for the breed, they can still cause serious physical problems and discomfort for the dog.

This condition can be minimized by choosing dogs for breeding with few or no wrinkles, rather than those with pronounced folds or wrinkling. Breed clubs can encourage this, while at the same time educating potential owners on the reasons via breed publications/websites.


Copyright © 1998 Canine Inherited Disorders Database. All rights reserved.
Revised: February 09, 2004.

This database is funded jointly by the Sir James Dunn Animal Welfare Centre at the Atlantic Veterinary College, University of Prince Edward Island, and the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association.