Dog Breeds Prone To Back Problems

Spine problems such as herniated or slipped discs tend to develop in all dog breeds with age. But the incidence is exceptionally high in dogs who were originally bred for their short stature.

Short legs but a heavier body above makes them more prone to degenerating and hardening of the cartilaginous disc between the vertebrae.

Beagle dogs are prone to back problems

It, as a result, loses its function of shock absorption. A little strain can then push it aside, herniating it. And the animal is left with the agony of back pain and mobility problems for the rest of its life.

Let’s have a look at the dog breeds prone to back problems in the form of IVDD or some other pathology:

Dachshunds

Dachshunds are known for their thin, lean, tall bodies. Dachshund is undoubtedly one of the most irresistible dog breeds with its velvety coat and long spines.

This very spine is why dachshunds are prone to developing back problems, specifically speaking, intervertebral disc disease (IVDD).

How Does This IVDD Precipitate?

IVDD refers to a condition where the disc between the vertebrae, i.e., the intervertebral disc, degenerates and hardens.

It is a process that relates to the age of the dog. But in Dachshunds, it starts to happen at an earlier age.

The disc, which is supposed to be jelly-like to absorb shock, slips out from its slot on the slightest pull or push.

This protruding or prolapsing disc compresses the spinal cord. The Dachshund, as a result, experiences pain and slowly develops neuronal dysfunction.

At what age does a Dachshund develop Back Problems?

If it is going to happen, a Dachshund owner will first notice IVDD between the ages of 3 and 7.

This is because these are the most active years of a Dachshund. And it’s mostly a push or a pull that precipitates IVDD in high-risk breeds such as a Dachshund.

Bulldogs

Bulldogs and French bulldogs are genetically predisposed to developing back problems any time in the course of their lives.

A large majority of this population is born with spinal deformities, mostly hemivertebrae, which finally lead to Intervertebral Disc Disease (IVDD).

Intervertebral Disc Disease In Bulldogs

A hemivertebra is a congenitally malformed vertebra that may be fused or wedge-shaped. Hemivertebrae insert a twist in the spine of Bulldogs.

These abnormally shaped vertebrae compress the neighboring spinal cord, causing pain and gradual or sudden neuronal dysfunction. And this finally leads to a full-fledged IVDD.

Bulldogs may or may not develop IVDD depending upon the part of the spine affected. Let’s say the hemivertebrae is located in the dog’s tail.

In that case, he will most probably not develop IVDD at any part of his life. But if the deformity is located in the cervical or lumbar region of the spine, IVDD is bound to develop.

At What Age Do Bulldogs Develop IVDD?

You may discover hemivertebrae accidentally in an X-ray or a vet checkup before the symptoms appear. But the first signs usually manifest during puppyhood.

And the symptoms keep getting worse until the spine stops growing around nine months to one year of age.

Corgis

Corgis are extremely intelligent, skilled dogs, initially bred by shepherds to take care of the cattle. They have long bodies and short legs. It is where spine diseases come in!

Why Corgis?

The long torso and belly, short legs, and muscular body strain the Corgis’ spine. In addition, Corgis is a breed with a different cartilage composition of the intervertebral discs.

These intervertebral discs connect the vertebrae and also dampen and absorb shock. Under high-stress conditions such as the Corgis breed, the disc may prolapse or herniate.

It compresses the spinal cord, and the animal slowly falls prey to the Intervertebral Disc Disease (IVDD).

In addition to IVDD, Corgis are prone to developing degenerative myelopathy. It is a nerve condition that begins in the spinal cord.

In this disease, the motor nerves of a Corgis’ body degenerate and slowly stop functioning. The poor dog loses most of its motor functions. It may eventually end up with partial or complete paralysis.

First Signs Of Back Disease In A Corgis

Corgis live quite a healthy life before they develop either IVDD or degenerative myelopathy at the age of 11 years.

Degenerative myelopathy first manifests with limb weakness and swaying when moving.

Foxhound dogs are prone to back problems

Basset Hounds

Bassets are heavy, large, bony structured animals disproportioned in size than other breeds.  Basset

Hounds are prone to developing a list of diseases, including Osteochondrosis Dissecans (OCD), elbow dysplasia, ear infections, herniated discs, and back problems.

Two major features particularly predispose them to develop back problems:

  1. Firstly, their body shape is such that it puts stress on the spine.
  2. Obesity. Bassets tend to gain weight very easily, which worsens back problems.

The way it happens with most other dog breeds, the intervertebral disc slides or herniates to one side and compresses the spinal nerves.

It happens more commonly when the spine refuses to comply, such as when the animal is obese.

At What Age Do Basset Hounds Develop IVDD?

Basset hounds have a life span of almost 12 years. On average, Basset hounds begin to present symptoms of the back disease by the age of 5 or 6.

But it is quite variable. For instance, the Basset may have been in a trauma that strained his spine enough to herniate a disc.

Or if a Basset gets overweight early in life, his back problems are prone to appear and worsen sooner in life.

Beagles

Beagle has to be your favorite pet dog breed. They are aesthetic with velvet coats, lean, long bodies, large ears, and a lovely face.

They are intelligent, active, and smart little dogs. On top of that, they go extremely well with families and humans.

Another dog breed with a long body! Same old story with short legs, more stress on the spine, and finally IVDD.

But Beagles are predisposed genetically to developing another disabling disease, that is meningitis.

Back Diseases In Beagles

Beagles live maximally up to 13 to 15 years. And back diseases, particularly IVDD, set in between the ages of 3 and 6 years.

But Beagle owners can notice the symptoms of the back disease as early as two years of age. In addition to developing IVDD, Beagles are dog breeds genetically predisposed to developing steroid-responsive meningitis arteritis. This disease has been particularly associated with the Beagle dog breed.

Meningitis settles in with severe neck pain and fever and slowly spreads out to the whole body. The dog eventually develops limb weakness and incoordination, along with back pains.

It is an infection in the nervous system that slowly but eventually gets to the spinal nerves.

Final Thoughts

Dogs have their vertebral column or spine just like humans’. Vertebrae have cartilaginous discs in between, and the whole spine surrounds the spinal cord.

So, the spinal cord, and hence the spinal nerves, lie in close apposition to the vertebrae and the discs.

The slightest herniation or slipped disc can cause many problems for the innocent animal ranging from back pain to immobility.

The dog breeds we have discussed above are particularly prone to back problems. The reason is a genetic predisposition, and in others, it is the shape and build of the body.