A deformity that can affect GSDs and other breeds:
At the moment we do not know what is causing these anomalies, although the thought is that it may be a motor neuron disease with the orthopedic changes being secondary.
No matter the cause, what we do know is that breeders have had puppies like this showing up in litters for years, but have typically culled them. Thing is, if this is genetic, the problem is just hidden for a generation or so.
I am working with vets at NC State vet school to collect samples in the hope that we can eventually determine the cause, but to do so I need to get the word out to breeders as well as owners of affected dogs.
If any of you guys could put the word out about this condition and let people know that we have a website and are actively looking to find out how prevalent this problem is I'd greatly appreciate it. We are not going to identify dogs or breeders, we just want to collect as much information as possible, in the hope that we can work towards determining the underlying cause.
The website is: http://www.straightlegshepherds.org/
Posted on 3/1/2011:
It is with great sadness that I am writing to say that one of my straight legged GSD's died a couple of weeks ago. I had a necropsy performed which has found some very unusual things.
The necropsy showed that my dog’s spinal cord started to duplicate itself just before it reached the hind legs. The new spinal cord that started to develop did not have normal arrangement of neurons though AND it compressed the more normal cord that was going through the region. The combination likely caused poor nerve transmission to the hind limbs. We believe lack of proper nerve signal to his back legs caused him to develop the muscle atrophy and then subsequently all of the changes in the joints and bones.
We really have no idea why the spinal cord is doing this and there are no similar cases reported in veterinary literature. I am working with Veterinarians at NC State vet school to understand more about this condition, to investigate if a hereditary German Shepherd Dog breed problem can be identified.
I would be most grateful if you could pass the word far and wide. The first part of trying to figure this out is to find out how many dogs with these hindlimb deformities there are. There is a website http://www.straightlegshepherds.org
that has photographs and videos that show the problem and provides more information. While we are primarily interested in German Shepherds, I'm interested in hearing about dogs of any breed or mix with similar limb deformities.
Any and all information received will be completely confidential and anonymous - at this stage all we are interested in are numbers and affected breeds.
my e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org