What is Cerebellar Hypoplasia?:
The cerebellum is the part of the brain that regulates the control and coordination of movement. In this condition, the cells of the cerebellum do not mature normally before birth - this causes clinical signs related to poor balance and incoordination. It is most common in kittens that have been exposed to panleukopenia virus (also called feline distemper) in utero. It is less common in dogs, where it may be related to in utero parvovirus infection. Some cases are believed to be inherited.
How is Cerebellar Hypoplasia inherited?:
Autosomal recessive. This disorder is rare. There are sporadic reports of this disorder in breeds other than those listed below.
What does Cerebellar Hypoplasia mean to your dog & you?:
The cerebellum is the part of the brain that regulates the control and coordination of voluntary movement. The clinical signs of cerebellar dysfunction in affected puppies range from mild to severe, and may include poor balance, a wide-based stance (feet planted far apart), stiff or high-stepping gait, apparent lack of awareness of where the feet are (standing or walking with a foot knuckled over), and head or body tremors. Affected pups have normal mental alertness. In this condition signs of cerebellar dysfunction are evident at birth or by 2 weeks thereafter, and do not get worse as the pup ages. Other than the abnormalities in balance and coordination, the animal's general health is unaffected.
How is Cerebellar Hypoplasia diagnosed?:
The clinical signs (relating to uncoordinated movement and lack of balance) are evident as soon as the pups are walking (tends to be around 2-3 weeks of age) and are suggestive of a cerebellar disorder. Your veterinarian will do tests to rule out other conditions that can cause similar signs.
How is Cerebellar Hypoplasia treated?:
There is no treatment for this condition. Affected dogs will not get any worse (or better) and, especially when the signs are mild, may be able to lead a relatively normal life, particularly if owners can adjust their expectations to the dog's limitations.
Affected dogs, their parents and their siblings should not be used for breeding.
What breeds are affected by Cerebellar Hypoplasia?:
Airedale terrier Boston terrier Bull terrier
Chow Chow Dachshund Irish setter
Labrador retriever Weimaraner Wirehaired fox terrier
Ivan, shown here at 4 1/2 months old, has cerebellar hypoplasia. His littermate sister shows no sign of the disorder.
In this video you can see that his back legs tend to splay as he runs.
In this video of Ivan you can definitely see his head tremor.