Abstract Although canine atopic dermatitis (cAD) is common, few models are available. The aim of this study was to evaluate high-IgE beagles epicutaneously sensitized to house dust mite (HDM) as a possible model for cAD. Six high-IgE beagles were environmentally challenged with HDM using various doses and protocols. Similar challenge protocols were used in positive and negative control dogs: three dogs with naturally occurring cAD and positive intradermal skin test (IDT) to HDM and three normal dogs without history of skin disease and negative IDT to HDM. All high-IgE beagles and all atopic dogs developed severe cutaneous lesions and pruritus after challenge. Lesions were erythematous papules and macules in contact areas such as face, ears, ventral abdomen, groin, axillae and feet. They were first visible after 6 h and increased in severity over time. No normal dog developed pruritus or lesions. Biopsies of representative lesions in the high-IgE beagles were taken for histopathology and immunohistochemistry. There was superficial perivascular dermatitis with mononuclear infiltrates and spongiosis. Lymphocytes and eosinophils accumulated in small epidermal micro-abscesses with hyperplasia of epidermal IgE-bearing dendritic cells. These findings suggest that this colony of high-IgE beagles develops a dermatitis that clinically, histopathologically and immunologically resembles the naturally occurring canine disease. It is also concluded that this modality of challenge is not irritating to normal dogs but induces flare-ups in hypersensitive atopic dogs.