Canine atopic dermatitis (AD) is considered to be an immunoglobulin E (IgE)-mediated hypersensitivity response to environmental allergens. The role of other antibody isotypes and nonenvironmental allergens in disease pathogenesis remains unclear. Objectives: The objective of this review is to provide an update on advances in the understanding of the relevance of specific antibody isotypes, autoallergens and nonenvironmental allergens in the pathogenesis of canine AD. Methods: Citation databases, abstracts and proceedings from international meetings published between 2001 and 2013 were reviewed. Where necessary, older articles were included for background information. Results: Neither total nor allergen-specific IgE necessarily correlates with clinical disease in canine AD. Some dogs exhibit clinical signs that are indistinguishable from AD but have no demonstrable allergen-specific IgE (atopic-like dermatitis). Allergen-specific immunoglobulin G may be demonstrated in canine AD, but there is no evidence that this isotype plays a role in disease development. Although humans with AD may develop serum IgE against autoallergens, this finding has not been substantiated in the dog. In contrast, adverse food reactions are frequently co-associated with AD in the dog. Ingestion of food and environmental allergens may trigger exacerbations of AD. Conclusions and clinical importance: Determination of the role of IgE in the pathogenesis of canine AD still requires clarification. Clinical trials and research studies must distinguish atopic dogs with allergen-specific IgE or skin test reactivity from those without. There is no convincing evidence demonstrating a pathogenic role for either allergen-specific immunoglobulin G or autoallergens in canine AD, but food items may be triggers for disease flares in certain individuals.