Hereditary Cerebellar Ataxia

Brain and Spinal Cord

Known as the "oldest" (even reptiles and more ancient species have them!) part of the brain, the cerebellum fine-tunes motor signals from the brain to the muscles, allowing balance and coordination. When the cerebellum does not function properly, dogs become uncoordinated and do not have the ability to perform fine motor skills. SELENOP has an important role in selenium transport to the central nervous system, and this variant causes a CNS selenium deficiency.

  • Signs and symptoms

    Signs of cerebellar disease include dogs having an uncoordinated gait (ataxia) with stilted "toy soldier" leg movements. They can display "intention tremors," where a stretched-out limb or head shakes more and more violently as it approaches its target. At rest, dogs sometimes display a "truncal sway;" their spinal muscles have lost their fine-tuning, pulling the spine (and everything attached to it) back and forth in a struggle to maintain balance. Affected puppies may also show elevated muscle tone and a reduced swallowing reflex.

    Signs can first be seen at only a few weeks of age.

    Uncover health risks with Embark

    Embark Breed + Health Test

    Original price:


    Sale price:



    Embark for Breeders Dog DNA Test

    $129 - $159


  • Diagnosis

    Unless a genetic basis is suspected due to the age, breed, or history of the dog, diagnostics must be performed to rule out infectious, inflammatory, or neoplastic causes. Additionally, affected dogs have a low selenium level.

  • Treatment

    There is no treatment for this disorder. Quality of life should be considered as the affected puppies in the literature were euthanized at an early age. However, one dog was found with this condition and was ten years old at the time of publication.

  • What to do if your dog is at risk


    • The only actions you can take at home are to keep your affected puppy comfortable and give it the best quality of life possible.

  • Genetic Information

    This variant was first described in the Belgian Shepherd.

    This variant is inherited in an autosomal recessive manner, meaning a dog requires two copies of the variant to show signs of Hereditary Cerebellar Ataxia.

    Gene names:

    SELENOP ‐ chr

    Inheritance type:


  • Breeds affected

    This health condition affects the following breeds

Learn about your dog’s unique genetic health

Dog owners

Breed identification, health and trait insights, personalized care recommendations, and the world’s first canine relative finder—all in one leading dog DNA test.

Learn about the report for dog owners
Shop the test
Breeding programs

Embark’s test for breeding programs is one comprehensive DNA test designed with your needs in mind.

Learn about the report for breeders
Shop the test