Chinese Beagle Syndrome Revisited
(Article Published in the March 2005 Show Beagle Quarterly) -reprinted with permission

Chinese Beagle Syndrome, a debilitating condition was reported in “The New Beagle” written by Judy Musladin and Ada Leuke, and again in the Supporting Membership Newsletter, National Beagle Club, Summer, 1992, in an excerpt from the book.   That same research appears in part on the AKC and other websites.   It is the ONLY definitive written literature on this specific subject that we have been able to find in an extensive search.
Without quoting too extensively from that article, it is notable that it was believed to be a “particular manifestation of familial neuronal abiotrophy (inherited malformation of nerve cells) has not been reported in the veterinary literature (personal communication from H.W. Leipold, DVM, Professor of Pathology, College of Veterinary Medicine, Kansas State University, Manhattan, KS).  Only cerebellar abiotrophy (an inherited degenerative disease of the balance portion of the brain) has been described.”


“Typically these puppies are recognizable at birth by their broad skulls and wide-set slanted eyes.  As the puppy grows, short outer toes on all four feet (at least in the nineteen documented cases) become obvious.  With further growth, stiffening of the legs develops, resulting in restriction of flexion and extension at the joints.  These little beagles stand on their center two toes and run with a "bunny hop."  When they sit, the hindquarters are flexed at the hips and the legs are extended forward in contrast to the flexed stifle and hock joints  in the normal sit position.  Tight skin with little flexibility has been reported by some owners.  These little beagles feel stiff all over.”   “X-rays of the legs of some show only the shortened outer toe with otherwise normal bony and joint development, in contrast to the Xray findings in pups with chondrodystrophy.  Electromyography (testing of the electrical potential of muscles mediated through the nerves which supply these muscles) on two showed a generalized abnormality suggestive of spinal cord, spinal nerve root, and/or peripheral nerve disorder.”
The article goes on to describe neuronal abiotrophies:


Put simply, the term is a general one which means an alteration of the nervous tissue resulting in a gradual impairment of muscular function.  The term "familial" is added when the degenerative process is inherited.  Not all abiotrophies are of primary central nervous system (brain and spinal cord) degenerative disease.  Some are the result of storage disease (failure of the body to supply essential enzymes critical to normal body function) which affects the nerve, cells.  Some of the abiotrophies have specific names based on the unique feature of the cellular degeneration.  Exposure to toxins can also lead to abiotrophy.


The significant difference in the Chinese Beagle Syndrome from the abiotrophies in other breeds is that the disease appears to stabilize by about one year of age.  Characteristically in other breeds the course is progressive, resulting in increasing debility and disability and death.  Not so in our little affected beagles....”  (Note that this is only a small part of the work printed by Musladin/Leuke and the full text can be seen in “The New Beagle”.

It is significant, we believe, that now, in 2005, this is still the ONLY published article on this syndrome.   A puppy born in 2004, which clearly suffers from Chinese Beagle Syndrome (CBS), has caused the breeder and owner and their friends and colleagues to search far and wide for more answers.   This research has provided some new thought and insight, which is shared here for what it is worth.    A CASE STUDY