Abstract Clinical, histopathological and immunological features of exfoliative cutaneous lupus erythematosus, an uncommon generalized exfoliative dermatitis occurring exclusively in German short-haired pointers, were characterized in 25 dogs. The disease affects young adult dogs and its familial incidence strongly suggests a hereditary origin. Lesions were characterized by scaling and alopecia affecting 100 (25/25) and 76% (19/25) of dogs, respectively. Follicular casts were present in 28% (7/25) of dogs. The muzzle, pinnae and dorsum were typically affected. Generalized skin lesions were described in 52% (13/25) of dogs. Systemic signs of pain and lameness affected several dogs. Anaemia and thrombocytopenia were detected in several dogs with a more severe clinical phenotype. The most common histopathological features were hyperkeratosis and a lymphocytic interface dermatitis. Direct immunostaining revealed IgG deposition in the epidermal and follicular basement membrane of 100 (19/19) and 41% (7/17) of dogs, respectively. Circulating antifollicular and antisebaceous gland IgG antibodies were demonstrated by indirect immunostaining in 57% (4/7) of dogs. This disease usually responds poorly to immunosuppressive therapy and it has a guarded prognosis. Where outcome was recorded, 85% (10/12) of dogs were euthanased due to either a failure to respond to, or complications associated with, immunomodulatory therapy. Two affected dogs are in remission and maintained on immunomodulatory dosages of prednisolone. This study demonstrates the existence of a cellular and humoral immune response directed against the epidermal basement membrane of dogs with exfoliative cutaneous lupus erythematosus. Additional studies are required to further characterize the immunological pathogenesis of this disease.