View Full Version : Wobblers in dogs as compared to Wobblers in horses??

Feb. 9, 2010, 07:51 PM
Trying to avoid a general dog question, per rules.

I know a Wobblers diagnosis in horses is generally a death sentence on quality of life...is it the same in dogs? I know nothing about either species and that syndrome other than what I can read online (impingement of the spine, hind end uncoordination, eventually becomes a danger to themselves and others, EXPENSIVE). Been offered a puppy of a very large breed, not a Doberman or Great Dane, who may have it. Large puppy, biggest in the litter, prone to tracking sideways and plopping down randomly. We're talking 150+ mature weight, probably closer to 180.

Are they similar enough to compare the problem in both species?

Feb. 9, 2010, 08:06 PM
Don't take the dog without full xrays...done by someone who can properly read them. In giant breed dogs having issues with spine, hips or other joints becoming "floppy" happens and some do grow out of it with proper feed and exercise. It *might* not be canine wobbles.
However there are also neuro issues with many giant breeds...and oversized bred ones can 'outgrow' their own organs and pass away at an early age from inadequate organ function.
There's a host of very serious health issues with many giant breeds...I wouldn't get one without both parents being certified OFA Excellent and having clean health records through a few generations.
One last thing to consider with a giant breed...if it does have serious issues it can be next to impossible to get it to a vet asap in an emergency...it isn't easy to pick up a dog that weighs more than you do. Have had that issue more than once, have had multiple giant dogs in the past. I adore them, but many are walking vet bills. :no:

Feb. 9, 2010, 08:10 PM
I only have experience of one wobblers dog personally. My sister had a Great Dane who had it and the problem was in his neck. In his case, there was some uncoordination and, later, difficulty with hind limbs, but the real problem was that he was extremely sensitive about the affected area. He would snap at people and dogs. You couldn't trust him around children. Eventually, he began biting people and seriously injured another dog. It was a very sad decision, but she put him down. :(

It's not the same kind of danger as wobblers in horses, but it was dangerous just the same. And very heartbreaking.

Feb. 9, 2010, 09:17 PM
We had a Doberman with it. By 2-1/2 years old he had to be put down. He had a peculiar gait - sort of a bunny hop canter, going sideways in a shoulder-in. Could not eat normally, had to lie down. Sorry to say.

Feb. 9, 2010, 11:18 PM
We had a doberman 30 years ago that bunny hopped as a puppy and young adult, then started to become uncoordinated, became touchy, would only let me help her up and down.
She was diagnosed with inherited wobbler disease and when she could not get up and down any more she was euthanized.

Very hard to live thru that, for the dogs and people around them.
Sorry, I would not get a dog with those problems, in case we had to go thru that heartbreak again.
If she was your dog already, you could not help it, but that dog is not yours now.
I can't imagine anyone giving a dog with those problems away.:no:
If you own such a dog, it is yours to help and see thru to the end, not push on someone else.:eek:

Now, you may want to check some more, see what is really going on there, because there are other than wobbler disease out there that may have similar symptoms, like hip dysplasia.

Feb. 9, 2010, 11:35 PM
Don't buy it. Wobblers can progress rapidly at any time due to instability of the neck and can become a down dog, being completely non-ambulatory. Surgery may be successful, but there definitely dogs out there that won't walk normally again or even at all after surgery. Managing a large dog, if something happens, is a nightmare-- sling-walking multiple times a day to express the bladder and have it poop, offering food/water to the face, etc. It's a poor prognosis in general.

If you're madly in love with the dog and want it, seriously consider having an orthopedic surgeon or a neurologist look at it and do full spinal films +/- CT or MRI. It's really helpful in getting an opinion as to the degree of the Wobblers as well as the % in terms of prognosis, etc.

Feb. 9, 2010, 11:51 PM
We've done several "wobbler" surgeries in the past, all have been great danes. Of the 4 I can remember off the top of my head, 3 did well post surgery and one did not.

What wobblers is in dogs, is some type of cervical lesion/compression. Its not its own "disease" but a name for a condition of the cervical spine. Similar to nivicular disease in horses...a "problem" with the nivicular bone.

Not all dogs are surgical candidates, many are. Not all dogs will recover from a surgery, some will stay ataxic - some recover 100%.

Just like any spinal surgery, it would have to go to a board certified surgeon. Likely, a neurologist for initial exam and a radiologist to review myelogram and/or MRI/CT findings to distinguish the exact area or lesion causing the problem.

"Wobblers" is for great danes as "Slipped discs" are for Dashunds. Fixble for some, and if youre willing to put in the money (and it will be lots!!) there is often a fair chance of recovery.

Also, there isnt a correlation with wobblers and aggression - aggression is often seen in great danes healthy or not!! It is also seen in animals in pain.

ANyway, back to the dog in question....how old is he? Can he walk in a straight line? Young puppies will often show this kind of behaviour (plopping down randomly). If you really liked the dog, could you take him to a neurologist for an assessment before commiting to taking him? A boarded neurologist will likely be able to give you ALL the information your brain can handle about wobblers, and OTHER common causes of ataxia.

Feb. 10, 2010, 10:43 AM
It's not my dog. It's a neighbor's, from a litter of rare (hence why I'm not naming, the world can be small) breed large dog. Rare enough that the other pups went/going for $1800-$2000. This puppy was the largest of the litter, so she thought he was just "big" and "slow" and "clumsy." She told me yesterday that she thinks it's Wobblers and is taking him to a neuro.

She offered me him, ie free, as a special needs dog, since she knows I'm casually looking for a friend for Jake the Dog. I'm not going to make that sort of investment, I had just never heard of it in dogs before.

Feb. 10, 2010, 11:01 AM
Also, there isnt a correlation with wobblers and aggression - aggression is often seen in great danes healthy or not!! It is also seen in animals in pain.

In the case of the Dane I knew, we saw a progression in aggression that correlated to the progression of the wobblers. This dog was owned by a vet tech and radiographed on a fairly regular basis to confirm what was going on. By the end of his life, he was completely defensive about anyone or anything coming near his neck, which was where the x-rays showed the spinal problems.

Just sayin'...

Feb. 10, 2010, 03:27 PM
I have an older dobe who developed "Wobblers" except that it wasn't wobblers at all, it was rocky mtn spotted fever causing wobbler-like symptoms. Thank goodness for a vet that questioned the original diagnosis and pursued it. The dobe showed all the signs of traditional wobblers. But the vet just had a gut instinct that maybe there was something more here. After a very expensive blood test that showed a low level of rocky mtn spotted fever, she took a chance on treating the dog. After 2 months of treatment with doxy and pain meds to make him comfortable, we weaned him off the pain meds and kept our fingers crossed. All the wobbler-like symptoms totally disappeared. No wobblers at all.

Feb. 10, 2010, 04:03 PM
Likewise ---- Some years back, my mare was diagnosed (at a university where she went for unrelated surgery) with wobblers. They spotted it because she had difficulty turning in very tight circles in the aisleway, so they thought.

My chiropractor took a look and got her perfect. She went on to have a very active life.