Feminizing syndrome

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Clinical appearance of an entire female dog with hyperestrogenism[1]
A seminoma resulting in feminizing syndrome[2]

Feminizing syndrome is a rare hormonal disorder of dogs characterized by excess estrogen production and hormone-responsive dermatoses.

In most dogs, clinical signs relate to overproduction of estrogen hormones due to neoplasia or congenital hermaphroditism.

Neoplastic conditions that cause canine feminizing syndrome include Sertoli cell tumor (paraneoplastic syndrome)[3][4], seminoma and prostatic squamous metaplasia[5].

Clinically affected dogs present with signs referable to overproduction of estrogen including non-pruritic, bilateral symmetrical alopecia, hyperpigmentation, gynecomastia, edematous and pendulous penile sheath, prostatic dysfunctions, attraction to other males, and standing in a female posture to urinate[6].

Prostatic dysfunctions may be diagnosed during the development of this syndrome. These include benign prostatic hyperplasia, squamous metaplasia, prostatic adenocarcinoma and prostatic cysts with related symptoms[7].

A differential diagnosis would include other paraneoplastic syndromes such as dermatofibrosis, superficial necrolytic dermatitis and paraneoplastic pemphigus[8].

In paraneoplastic syndrome, estrogen assays usually confirm increased levels of estrogen. These levels return to normal a few months after surgical removal of the neoplastic testes in sertoli cell tumors.

Retained neoplastic testes are considered to be more predisposed to testicular torsion that can aggravate the clinical signs and result in an inauspicious prognosis[9].

In female dogs with this condition, ovariohysterectomy is usually curative.


  1. TPV Experience
  2. Vetnext
  3. Quartuccio M et al(2012) Sertoli cell tumors associated with feminizing syndrome and spermatic cord torsion in two cryptorchid dogs. J Vet Sci 13(2):207-209
  4. Heidbrink U & Kaup FJ (1990) Case report: Sertoli cell tumor with feminisation syndrome in a male dog (Deutch Langhaar). Kleintierpraxis 35:661–665
  5. Feldman EC & Nelson RW (1987) Canine and Feline Endocrinology and Reproduction. 2nd ed. Philadelphia: Saunders. pp:481–523
  6. Metzger FL et al (1993) Hematuria, hyperestrogenemia, and hyperprogesteronemia due to a Sertoli-cell tumor in a bilaterally cryptorchid dog. Canine Pract 18:32–35
  7. Gill CW (1981) Prostatic adenocarcinoma with concurrent Sertoli cell tumor in a dog. Can Vet J 22:230–233
  8. Turek MM (2003) Cutaneous paraneoplastic syndromes in dogs and cats: a review of the literature. Vet Dermatol 14(6):279-296
  9. Pearson H & Kelly DF (1975) Testicular torsion in the dog: a review of 13 cases. Vet Rec 97:200–204