The term “Wobblers Syndrome” is descriptive of the gait exhibited by dogs affected by CVI. However, an unstable or “wobbling” gait can be caused by a slipped disc,  a misshapen or misaligned vertabrae, instability of the vertabrae,  narrowing of the spinal canal, and other causes. All of these medical conditions affect the Dobermans ability to stand, move properly and to be pain free.  The compression of the spinal cord then produces the awkward wobbling movement that gives this disease its call name. The primary disease condition lies in the bony structures that surround and normally guard & support the spinal cord.
In Doberman Pinschers, the majority of cases involve C5, C6, or C7. These are cervical or neck vertabrae.   The front or the hind quarters of the dog can be affected, as can be the raising or lowering of the neck, or basically any part of the body.   Dogs can “knuckle over” on their rear feet. Some have no neck pain, some exhibit neck pain upon manipulation.

Treatment usually starts with doses of corticosteroids and rest. Surgery is frequently prescribed for these dogs. Newer, less invasive, controversial therapies that have been used in some cases with some success, includes gold bead implantation, a special neck wrap, and accupuncture.

Diagnosis is usually via a procedure called a myelogram. The myelogram is a fairly invasive procedure, so one would be cautious and have it administered by *experienced* professionals, as the adverse effects of some myelogram can be as devastating, and in some cases worse than the original disease. An alternative, less invasive, imaging therapy is the MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) is now available through most large specialty veterinary practices.

The more severe the case, the less chance for the dog to recover. Once the dog has lost deep pain reflex, the chances of recovery are basically nil.   Recovery from the various surgeries can take 3 to 10 months of crate rest, walking on leash, and feeding from an elevated source.

No one can say definitively what causes C.V.I.    Conformation of the neck-shoulder tie in has been looked at, as has nutrition and dog foods, injuries, as well as heritability. There have been nutritional studies that show bone, and the spinal support system is bone, can be affected by adverse, inadequate, or
improper nutritional supplementation.   However, Veterinarians usually see more of this disease in certain breeds, so this leads us to believe there must be some type of hereditary basis to this, perhaps with an environmental component.

Most DPCA Breeders will look backwards thru pedigrees with an eye to trying to reduce the risk of C.V.I. in future animals.   This studying of the pedigrees, with an in depth knowledge of dogs present AND long past, is one reason why you want to go to a DPCA breeder for your Doberman Pinscher.

Gold bead implant therapy

Collection of information about wobblers syndrome

submitted by
Suzanne McDonald
DPCA Public Education Committee

edited by
Helayne Silver
DPCA Public Education Committee