Wobbler Syndrome in dogs—also known as cervical spondylomyelopathy (CSM)—is a common disease of the cervical spine in large and giant breed dogs. Presently, the genetic basis for Wobbler Syndrome is unknown.
Although the condition mostly affects Doberman Pinschers (~5%) and Great Danes (~4%), it can also occur in Mastiffs, Bernese Mountain Dogs, Borzoi, and Poodles, among other breeds.
Affected dogs may develop a ‘wobbly’ gait as young adults—which can progress to paralysis.
What we know about Wobbler Syndrome in dogs
Wobbler Syndrome can be caused by cervical spinal cord/nerve root compression due to congenital narrowing of the vertebral canal or protrusion of intervertebral discs (disc-associated). In young giant breeds, it can also be caused by abnormal bone growth into the vertebral canal (osseous-associated).
Clinical symptoms of Wobbler Syndrome vary according to the severity and duration of spinal cord compression. The most common sign is an uncoordinated gait, with a tendency to stumble. This may begin in the back legs and progress to all four limbs. Many dogs also experience acute neck pain.
Diagnosis requires an x-ray, an MRI, or a CT scan. Depending on the severity of the condition, treatment may range from physical and laser therapies to disc removal and/or replacement surgery.