Use code DOGLIFE for up to $40 off plus free shipping
For Breeders Last Updated:

Wobbler Syndrome: Help us learn which dogs may be at risk


doberman pinscher

We have begun generating data, but we need your help to continue to collect DNA samples from dogs that have been diagnosed with Wobbler Syndrome by a veterinarian; dogs of any breed will be considered. All that is needed is a simple cheek swab; there is no cost to participate, and home delivery and return shipping on Embark DNA Test Kits are included. 

Take The Survey

Qualifying participants will:

  • A complimentary Embark DNA test, including health, trait, and COI analysis. (Embark provides a free cheek swab with prepaid shipping). All owner and dog information is kept confidential. 
  • Post-study results —Embark strives to publish in open-access journals
  • Future opportunities—participate in new studies on canine health 

Wobbler Syndrome—also known as cervical spondylomyelopathy (CSM)—is a common disease of the cervical spine in large and giant breed dogs. 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. 

At present, the genetic basis for Wobbler Syndrome is unknown—but Embark is currently leading a study to identify genetic variants that increase the risk for this condition. If you have a large breed dog that has been diagnosed with Wobbler Syndrome, we urge you to participate in this research: It’s the first step toward developing a genetic test to help breeders manage Wobbler Syndrome in their lines. 

doberman pinscher

What we know about Wobbler Syndrome

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 4 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.

Get Started Now 

Take The Survey

To see if your dog is eligible to participate, just complete this brief survey. (Please note:  You’ll need clinical documentation from your veterinarian—such as your dog’s medical record, radiograph (x-ray) report, MRI report, or CT report—when you take the survey). Even if your dog is not a participant, you can still spread the word. Tell your breed club and veterinarian about the study.

Thank you for your continued support of canine genetic research. Together with our research partner, the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine and our organizational partners, we’ll realize our shared vision: to improve the health and lifespan of all dogs. To learn more about Wobbler Syndrome, click here and here

Related categories

For Breeders

Shop dog DNA tests