Canine Chondrodysplasia: What is it?
Chondrodyspasia, also known as canine dwarfism, is a recessive genetic defect found in pure bred dogs. This disorder causes the abnormal growth of cartilage and results in the disproportionate growth of a dogs limbs which causes dwarfism. The chondrodysplasia gene changes the way that joints develop as well as the speed in which they grow, resulting in disproportionate growth as well as other possible health issues.
- Leg's proportionate to each other but not to the dogs body
- Slow or total lack of growth in a puppy
- Protruding lower jaw
- Crowding teeth
- Crocked spine
- Bowed front legs
- Short or disproportionate stature
- Heart issues
Typically you won't be able to notice the chondrodyspastic traits when the puppy is first born, the physically symptoms will develop as the dog grows. Their bones will not grow at the same speed as a "healthy" dog.
In some breeds the truncated, shorter limbs are encouraged to meet "breed standards". This is seen often in dachshunds and corgis. This practice can have a negative impact on the breed and can lead to serious health and mobility problems within the breed.
Is Canine Dwarfism Fatal?
Dwarfism is not a fatal disease, many dogs with chondrodysplasia actually have been continued to be breed with to encourage the recessive trait like Basset Hounds, Corgis, and Dachshunds. For dog's who aren't specifically breed to be dwarfs, you will notice at 5-6 months of age that they have stopped growing and aren't developing as normal.
Dog's can live extremely normal heathy lives with chrondrodysplasia but you will want to be extra cautious with your dog's health, they are more likely to suffer from heart abnormalities, joint pain, and decreased bone density. Depending on the severity of the symptoms, canine dwarfism can shorten a dog's life and impact its quality of life. It's vital that your dog receives regular Veterinary care and treatment for the condition. A dog with minor complications from chondrodysplasia can lead a fairly comfortable life.
However, it's important to monitor his weight, as a dog with dwarfism is prone to obesity, which can make living with his condition challenging. An excess weight will lead to more pressure on your dog's joints which are already smaller and holding more weight than they should. Keeping your dog trim and exercised will help lessen the risk of arthritis and joint pain.
Dwarf dogs could have some of the symptoms of the dwarfism corrected with surgery, but it is usually not rewarding and tends to only cause complications with early arthritis down the line. Your Vet may recommend pain relievers, anti-inflammatory medications, and joint supplements as bone deformities can cause significant pain for your dog.
In some cases, chondrodysplasia can lead to mobility problems where an assistive device or dog wheelchair may be needed to keep the pet active and reduce joint pressure. There is no definitive treatment for chondrodysplasia and every dog's treatment plan will vary.
As dogs with dwarfism age, there can be an increased risk for severe arthritis, obesity, and joint pain. Regular Veterinary care, a healthy diet, and lots of exercise can make a huge difference on their quality of life and overall health as they age.