Pyotraumatic dermatitis (hot spot) is a common clinical syndrome in dogs but there are few prospective scientific studies related to it. The aim of this study was to investigate correlations among clinical pyotraumatic dermatitis, histopathology of the lesions and possible predisposing causes. The relationship of these with breed, age, sex and location of lesion was assessed statistically. A clinical diagnosis of acute pyotraumatic dermatitis was made in 44 privately owned dogs. Males exceeded females (P = 0.0348) and lesions were more common in dogs aged 4 years or less (P < 0.0001). Lesions were most often seen on the cheek, neck and lateral thigh with a significant correlation between breed and site of lesion (P < 0.0001). In 31 cases a possible underlying cause was found or suspected. In contrast to previous studies, no otitis externa was recorded and the study was conducted in an area without endemic fleas. Fourteen breeds were represented of which Rottweiler, German shepherd dog and golden retriever were most common. There was no significant seasonal incidence and no correlation among site of lesion and cause, time of year, age or sex. Histopathologically, the dogs could be separated into four patterns by the presence or absence of eosinophils and/or folliculitis. Eosinophils have not previously been recorded in pyotraumatic dermatitis but were seen in 29 cases. Acute folliculitis was seen in 20 cases. However, no correlation was seen among age, sex, breed, underlying cause or site of lesion and histopathology. Twenty-seven cases were cultured for bacteria of which 25 grew Staphylococcus intermedius and two were negative.