NEONATAL CEREBELLAR CORTICAL DEGENERATION
"DRUNKEN" OR TUMBLING PUPPY SYNDROME
The Animal Health Trust in the UK has identified a genetic marker and developed a genetic test for Neonatal Cerebellar Cortical Degeneration and this is considered to be cause of this syndrome. If you have an affected puppy then both parents are carriers. Any normal littermates can be tested to see if they are clear or carriers genetically. This test is available from many labs offering genetic testing for dogs.
Detailed information on puppies with this disorder and the effort to develop the genetic marker--Overview on FACEBOOK VIDEO OF AFFECTED PUPPIES
A puppy is slower to walk than its
littermates. It is very unsteady on its feet and often circles to
the same side or falls to the same side. You notice a head tilt
and odd side to side movement of the eyes. By the age of 10-12
weeks the odd behaviors of circling, falling and being off balance are
"just how this puppy moves". The puppy acts uncoordinated,
like a drunk person-it staggers and falls!! Sometimes with
maturity the puppy can walk straight, but when trying to move at a fast
pace such as a trot, the uncoordinated side motions returns. The
puppy seems to fall over its own feet and runs to one side. Going
up or down stairs is a challenge.
This syndrome was first reported
in 1991. Ada Lueke included it in her book "The New
Beagle". As of the printing of that book (1998) there had been 13
cases reported, all with the same symptoms. While the numbers affected
were low the pedigrees were suggestive of a genetic nature to the
problem. There have been more cases reported since then with most
of those puppies being euthanized at an early age. A couple
of beagles affected have lived well into adult hood and senior
years. One was euthanized due to arthritis and pain secondary to
There appears to be a range of
"affectiveness". Some cannot even get up and others just stagger or
fall when moving fast. Puppies surviving to adult hood seem to
stabilize and even improve mildly. But, care must be taken to
protect them from challenges such as stairs, holes, or unlevel
surfaces. Homes with flat yards and limited obstacles and no
stairs are best suited for these puppies. Spaying and neutering
is essential and with protective care the mildly and some moderately
affected beagles can live out a happy life. These beagles are not
deaf and it does appear to be a different syndrome than the bilateral
vestibular disease reported in some breeds.
VIDEO #1 OF AN ADULT VIDEO #2
A thorough examination by a veterinary is the first and most important
step in treating these puppies. Other problems such as
hydrocephalus can present with similar symptoms.
Link with Additional Information
necropsy report from a litter with three affected puppies. They
were 4-5 weeks of age when necropsy was done.
Nothing significant. Puppies are considered to
be in good nutritional condition.
MICROSCOPIC FINDINGS:The microscopic
findings are nearly identical between
the puppies with only minor insignificant differences.
BRAIN: There is a greater than expected
cellularity of the outer molecular layer of the cerebellum. There
occasional single cell loss of cerebellar Purkinje cells with
necrosis. Scattered bilaterally through the brainstem, at the
the seventh cranial nerve, are small foci of increased fibrillar
thickening and disorder.
CERVICAL SPINAL CORD: No significant lesions.
LIVER: No significant lesions
LUNG: No significant lesions
In the most
affected puppy, this statement was added
to the BRAIN section: Of the three puppies, the degree of
change is slightly greater in this pup.
Mild, subacute, Purkinje cell
vacular degeneration and necrosis
Moderate, diffuse molecular layer
Mild, bilateral, multifocal,
lesions in each of these puppies are similar in
regard to localization, degree and progression. The findings
developmental and degenerate processes acting in tandem and strongly
common genetic-based metabolic derangement. Attempts to further
the derangement by specific histochemical stains (Sevier-Munger.
Sevier-Munger/Luxol Fast Blue, Beilh-Sikowski, Toluidine Blue) have
unsuccessful. There is no indication of a viral (distemper) or
(vaccinal) etiology in the tissues examined. Slides have been
to another testing place for further staining procedures. Should
stains yield any additional information an addendum will be
has been received since this report was issued.)
If you have a puppy or puppies that may
have this disorder please contact Darlene
Stewart. Please consider submitting DNA swabs to the DNA Data bank available through the Canine Health Information Center (CHIC) and to the Animal Health Trust before the puppies
are euthanized or placed into homes.