Skin Allergies And Eczema In Dogs:
Allergic eczema (atopy) is a skin condition characterized by severe itch, scratching, paw licking and face rubbing.  Some breeds have a hereditary predisposition to allergies, in a similar way that humans have to hay fever and asthma.  Dog are usually 1-3 years old when the condition starts.
Cause Of Allergic Eczema:

The most common "allergens" include fleas, pollens, house dust, wool, feathers, or kapok.  The list of potential allergens unfortunately runs into hundreds of substances, so tracking down the offending substances may be exceedingly difficult.

The most common route by which the dog picks up the allergen is through inhalation.  In human, an inhalation allergy usually results in "hay fever" - sneezing and congestion.  This is not so in dogs.  The usual result in dogs is intensely itchy skin.  Relief (but not cure) can be obtained by using cortisone.  Under strict supervision, some dogs can be maintained on low doses of cortisone every second or third day for many years.

Other Treatments For Allergies In Dogs:

Remove the offending allergen from contact with your dog - if you can.  This is easy if it is wool, feathers or kapok, but almost impossible if it is pollens or house dust. 

Another cure (not always successful) is a course of injections of antigen hyposensitization aimed at reducing the dog's sensitivity to the offending antigen.  Such a course tends to be expensive.
Breeds Affected By Skin Allergies:

Any breed can be affected, including cross breeds, but white haired Terriers, Poodles, and Dalmations are especially prone.
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