Canine Collie Nose: Discoid Lupus Erythematosus (DLE) In Dogs

In spite of its name, the canine collie nose is not limited to Collies.

Canine Collie Nose: Discoid Lupus Erythematosus (DLE) In Dogs

What is lupus?

Lupus is an autoimmune disease, which means that a dog’s immune system attacks their own tissues.

There are two types of lupus in dogs: systemic and discoid.

Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is fortunately relatively rare in dogs. The immune system of dogs suffering from SLE attacks various tissues in the body. This includes the kidneys, skin, heart, lungs, nervous system, blood, and/or joints. It is a chronic and often fatal disease.

Discoid Lupus Erythematosus (DLE) is a form of the same disease, but its impact is local rather than systemic.

Collie Nose: Discoid Lupus Erythematosus (DLE) In Dogs

Localized condition

SLE and DLE can have similar skin symptoms. However, DLE only affects the skin. The lesions are typically limited to the face and nose.  However, other diseases can also cause similar skin problems. A definite diagnosis requires a biopsy.

Affected breeds

Breeds most commonly affected by discoid lupus are Collies, German Shepherds, Huskies, Shetland Sheepdogs, Brittany Spaniels, and German Shorthaired Pointers. A genetic predisposition towards developing DLE is thought to be responsible for the increased incidence in these breeds.

Canine collie nose symptoms

The first signs usually include:

  • a loss of pigmentation around a dog’s nose
  • abnormal smoothness to the texture of the nose

In more advanced cases, y red and flaky skin, ulceration of the skin, open sores, and crusts can develop. Affected areas most frequently include the nose, lips, ears, the skin around the eyes, and sometimes the genital region.  All of these body parts are sparsely covered with fur and exposed to sunlight.


Ultraviolet rays aggravate Collie nose. 

Therefore, it is most likely for the disease to develop in dogs that live at high altitudes. Flare-ups are most likely during times of high sun exposure such as:

  • during the summer
  • or with the increased glare off of a persistent snowpack

Often, keeping the dog out of direct sunlight is all that is needed. Sunscreen protection is also helpful (use sunscreens made specifically for dogs.  The Zinc Oxide that is included in many human sunscreens can be toxic to dogs if they lick it off). Supplements with anti-inflammatory action, such as omega-3 or vitamin E can also help.

Consult your veterinarian before using any supplements.


Immunosuppressive drugs, such as corticosteroids, are also commonly used to treat DLE.  Topical therapy may be sufficient. Topical treatment significantly reduces the chances of unwanted side effects developing. However, in severe cases, systemic treatment and close monitoring for side effects may become necessary. Before reaching for any of these drugs, I would definitely want to consult a TCVM (Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine) or holistic veterinarian for alternative options first.

In rare cases, dogs with DLE have developed a type of skin cancer, squamous cell carcinoma, at the site of their skin lesions.  It is likely that the increased tendency towards developing a sunburn (because of the loss of protective pigments) and chronic inflammation of these areas is to blame.

Related articles:
Alternative Treatment Options for Discoid Lupus (DLE) in Dogs

Further reading:
Discoid Lupus Erythematosus (DLE) in Dogs

Categories: Collie noseConditions

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Jana Rade

I am a graphic designer, dog health advocate, writer, and author. Jasmine, the Rottweiler of my life, was the largest female from her litter. We thought we were getting a healthy dog. Getting a puppy from a backyard breeder was our first mistake. Countless veterinary visits without a diagnosis or useful treatment later, I realized that I had to take Jasmine's health care in my own hands. I learned the hard way that merely seeing a vet is not always enough. There is more to finding a good vet than finding the closest clinic down the street. And, sadly, there is more to advocating for your dog's health than visiting a veterinarian. It should be enough, but it often is not. With Jasmine, it took five years to get a diagnosis. Unfortunately, other problems had snowballed for that in the meantime. Jasmine's health challenges became a crash course in understanding dog health issues and how to go about getting a proper diagnosis and treatment. I had to learn, and I had to learn fast. Helping others through my challenges and experience has become my mission and Jasmine's legacy. I now try to help people how to recognize and understand signs of illness in their dogs, how to work with their veterinarian, and when to seek a second opinion. My goal is to save others the steep curve of having to learn things the hard way as I did. That is the mission behind my blog and behind my writing. That is why I wrote Symptoms to Watch for in Your Dog, which has turned out being an award-winning guide to dog owners. What I'm trying to share encompasses 20 years of experience.

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