Laryngeal Paralysis


Laryngeal paralysis is a condition where a dog's larynx (voice box) doesn't function properly, and they can have difficulty breathing and vocalizing. There are multiple genetic variants that can potentially cause this disorder.

  • Signs and symptoms

    Most dogs with laryngeal paralysis have noisy or raspy breathing, changes in barking, and do not tolerate exercise. Some dogs can have difficulty walking, uncoordinated motion, and muscle weakness.

    The age of onset varies by breed. In Leonbergers, the average age of onset was 3.4 years. In Saint Bernards, the average was 2.1 years. Labrador Retrievers' average age was 7.5 years (Letko, 2020).

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  • Diagnosis

    Diagnosis is made based on history and physical examination of the function of the larynx, which is typically performed with sedation.

  • Treatment

    Treatment is aimed at reducing episodes of respiratory distress and environmental modification. Some dogs may be candidates for the surgical opening of the larynx (often referred to as a “tie-back”). However, there is an increased risk of aspiration pneumonia after the procedure.

  • What to do if your dog is at risk


    • Maintain your dog at an ideal body weight, and consider a harness instead of a collar.
    • Exercise intensity should be reduced, and exercise should be avoided in humid conditions as this can lead to increased respiratory difficulties.
    • Seek veterinary care immediately if respiratory difficulties are observed.

  • Genetic Information

    This variant was first identified in the Saint Bernard, Labrador Retriever, and Leonberger.

    The publication reports that 4.1% of Leonbergers with unexplained laryngeal paralysis had two copies of this variant. In Saint Bernards, 41.6% of diagnosed dogs had two copies of the variant. In Labrador Retrievers, 4.7% of diagnosed dogs had two copies of this variant. The variant was also found in at least 25 different breeds, but the clinical impact in those breeds is unknown (Letko, 2020).

    Gene names:

    CNTNAP1 Exon 18 ‐ chr

    Inheritance type:


  • Breeds affected

    This health condition affects the following breeds

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