Wobbler's Syndrome

(Cervical Vertebral Instability)

Wobbler's Syndrome mostly affects large, fast-growing dog breeds. It is most common in the Great Dane, where symptoms first appear between the age of 3 and 18 months, and the Doberman Pinscher, where it does not develop until much later (between the age of 3 and 9 years.) CVI is also seen in many other large breed dogs, including the St. Bernard, Weimaraner, Labrador Retriever, German Shepherd, Boxer, Rhodesian Ridgeback, Dalmation, Samoyed, Old English Sheepdog, Bull Mastiff, Borzoi, Rottweiler, Chow Chow, Golden Retriever, Irish Setter, Irish Wolfhound, Great Pyrénées. In addition, it has also been seen in the Basset Hound, Fox Terrier, and Beagle.

Symptoms of Wobbler's include weakness, uncoordination and confusion (ataxia). The symptoms worsen slowly over several months. Over time, an affected dog may develop a stiff, high-stepping, and exaggerated gait that gradually worsens. Eventually, all four legs are affected with the hind legs affected first and more severely. Doberman Pinschers have been known to experience sever neck pain as well as rigid front legs.

Wobbler's is a painful condition caused by an abnormality in the spine. It is a chronic, progressive disease and without treatment, the dog's condition will gradually deteriorate. With therapy (either medical management or surgery) the prospect for recovery remains guarded.

This condition is believed to have a genetic component but it is not known how it is inherited. A puppy buyer is advised to ask the extent of this problem in the pedigree, siblings and offspring of closely related dogs.

Additional Information:

Note: This section of Canada's Guide to Dogs is intended as a source of information only. It is not intended as a substitute for professional care. Always consult with your Veterinarian about health related matters.