What Is Dancing Doberman Disease? A Strange Condition Only Doberman Pinschers Get

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Has your dog been hopping from one hind leg to another lately? Well they're definitely not trying to play hop scotch. This symptom is sometimes related to a disease that only Doberman Pinschers seems to get, which is called Dancing Doberman Disease. Find out more here to better understand how it can affect your dog.

Dogs might enjoy music, but if you have a Doberman Pincher and notice that they hop back and forth between their hind legs, it might be a sign of Dancing Doberman Disease (DDD). This problem is relatively rare and only affects Doberman Pinschers. As far as we know, this progressive disorder hasn't been seen in any other breed.

What begins with standing with one hind leg in the air often progresses into alternating between hind legs and muscle atrophy on the non-preferred leg. While there is currently no treatment, many dogs still live normal lives. It is important to identify and diagnose DDD to ensure your Doberman isn't having a different spinal or muscular problem that may be treatable.

Causes of Dancing Doberman Disease

Little is known about the cause of the disease, but it appears to be genetic since no other breed has been reported to have the same symptoms. There is also evidence that it might be neuropathic, meaning that a portion of the nervous system has been damaged. This could cause abnormal sensations when the dog steps on their hind leg. In humans, neuropathic disorders can cause people to feel a burning or prickly sensation in their foot when they put weight on it. The same might be happening to Dobermans with DDD.

DDD can affect both male and female Doberman Pinschers, and often begins between six months and seven years old. What's most important about DDD is ruling out any other causes of the flexing or shifting behavior. DDD-like symptoms could actually indicate a slipped disc, spinal arthritis, Wobbler's Syndrome, or hip dysplasia, which will all require different treatments.

What Are the Symptoms?

DDD usually begins with the flexing or lifting of a hind leg while the dog is standing. Over a couple months, this may also spread to the other hind leg, causing the Doberman to shift their weight between legs, which explains the “dancing” term. Eventually, the dog may prefer to sit instead of stand when stationary, but this disorder usually does not affect walking or running.

There appears to be no pain from the disorder, but some kind of sensation or discomfort makes the dog prefer to flex or hold up their foot. Your vet may look for signs of pain as an indication that the behavior is caused by a different disease. Due to lack of use, muscles in the unused legs will eventually atrophy and lose sensation.

Treating Dancing Doberman Disease

There is currently no treatment for DDD, but it is important to get an accurate diagnosis. If the symptoms are actually from a spinal condition, your dog will likely need treatment to avoid further injury. Your vet should give your Doberman a complete physical including blood work. If it is in fact DDD, all tests should come back normal, and you may need to visit a neurologist. Veterinary Neurologists will be able to do a special test to stimulate abnormal nerves and check for DDD.

Luckily most dogs with DDD live long and healthy lives, even with the slow progression to muscle atrophy in one or both hind legs. While it may seem strange, DDD shouldn't interfere much with their lives or cause any pain.

Can other breeds get dancing Doberman disease?

No, Dancing Doberman disease, or canine reflex myoclonus, is primarily associated with the Doberman Pinscher breed. It is a rare genetic disorder that has been reported in Doberman Pinschers of both sexes and typically manifests between the ages of four months and nine years. The condition is characterized by involuntary muscle contractions or myoclonus, often triggered by excitement or stress. It is important to note that while this condition is primarily observed in Doberman Pinschers, other breeds may also experience similar symptoms related to myoclonus, albeit under different names. However, the specific term "Dancing Doberman disease" is most commonly used in reference to Dobermans.

What is the most common disease in Dobermans?

Dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) is one of the conditions that Doberman Pinschers are most frequently found to have. DCM is a chronic heart ailment that worsens with time and causes the heart's chambers to expand and become less effective. Dobermans are genetically predisposed to DCM, which commonly affects them between the ages of 4 and 10 years. However, it can happen at any age. Although the precise origin of DCM in Dobermans is unknown, it is thought to be a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Exercise intolerance, fatigue, coughing, breathing issues, and periods of collapse are typical symptoms. Early detection and diagnosis are crucial for managing the disease. Veterinary examinations, including cardiac auscultation, chest X-rays, electrocardiograms (ECGs), and echocardiograms, are essential for assessing heart health and confirming the presence of DCM. Treatment focuses on improving heart function, reducing symptoms, and managing complications. Therapies may involve medications such as ACE inhibitors, beta-blockers, diuretics, and pimobendan. 

Why is my dog's hind leg twitching?

Electrolyte imbalances, such as low levels of calcium, potassium, or magnesium, can lead to muscle spasms or twitches in a dog's rear legs. These imbalances may be brought on by a number of things, such as dietary deficits, the use of particular drugs, or underlying medical disorders. Another possible reason for muscular spasms in the back legs is toxicity consumption. Certain toxins or poisons, such as certain plants, drugs, chemicals, or pesticides, can have an adverse effect on the neurological system and cause tremors or muscular twitching. Muscle spasms can be a symptom of neurologic conditions, such as Dancing Doberman illness (canine reflex myoclonus), especially in the back legs. These neurological disorders may cause tremors or involuntary muscular spasms. Muscle spasms in the back legs can also be brought on by orthopedic conditions such as disc disease, arthritis, or joint or muscle trauma. Pain or discomfort associated with these conditions can result in involuntary muscle contractions or twitching. Furthermore, neuromuscular issues, which encompass a range of conditions affecting the nerves and muscles, can lead to muscle spasms in the rear legs. Examples include conditions like myasthenia gravis or polyneuropathy. It is important to consider these potential causes when observing muscle spasms in a dog's rear legs.

How do you treat dancing Doberman disease?

Canine reflex myoclonus, often known as Dancing Doberman disease, is treated by treating the symptoms and enhancing the quality of life for the sick dog. Although there is no known treatment for this hereditary condition, there are a number of methods that can be used to lessen the frequency and intensity of muscular spasms. To help lessen muscle spasms and uncontrollable movements, vets may prescribe medications such as sedatives, muscle relaxants, or antiepileptic medicines. These drugs work to control aberrant muscle activity and regulate the nervous system's excitability. The specific choice and dosage of medications may vary depending on the individual dog's response and tolerance. To choose the best medication and create an effective treatment plan, you should consult a veterinarian. Controlling the dog's surroundings is also essential. The dog's comfort can be increased by reducing stress, establishing a steady routine, and avoiding situations that can cause muscular spasms to flare up. For a dog's general well-being, it is imperative that they get regular physical activity and cerebral stimulation that is catered to their specific talents. Muscle tightness management and relaxation promotion may also benefit from physical therapy procedures like massage and stretching exercises. Even though Dancing Doberman illness cannot be totally cured, afflicted dogs can enjoy a decrease in the frequency and intensity of muscular spasms, leading to a better quality of life, with the right care and management. Regular monitoring and follow-up visits with a veterinarian are required to evaluate the dog's reaction to therapy, modify drug dosages as needed, and handle any emergent issues.

What is the Doberman dancing disease?

Dancing Doberman disease, also known as distal polyneuropathy or canine reflex myoclonus, is a genetic neurological disorder that affects certain Doberman Pinscher dogs. Peripheral nerve degeneration, particularly in the rear limbs, is one of its defining features. Peripheral nerves that are impacted by Dancing Doberman illness in dogs gradually suffer damage as a result of carrying messages from the brain to the muscles. The hind legs' muscles lose their ability to coordinate and be under control as a result of this nerve injury. As a result, the dog may appear to be dancing or high-stepping due to uncontrollable flexion or bending of the hind legs. Doberman Pinschers often develop the condition between the ages of six months and seven years. At first, there can be slight changes in gait or sporadic bending of the back legs. As the disease progresses, muscle coordination worsens, leading to more frequent and pronounced leg movements.

How long can a Doberman live?

On average, a Doberman typically lives between 10 and 13 years. However, it is not uncommon for some individuals to live beyond this range, while others may live shorter years. For a Doberman to remain healthy and potentially live longer, proper nutrition, consistent activity, and routine veterinary checkups are needed. Responsible breeding procedures that aim to lower the frequency of hereditary health concerns, such as Dilated Cardiomyopathy (DCM) and hip dysplasia, can also contribute to a longer life expectancy. It's important to keep in mind that there are individual variances, and depending on their particular circumstances, some Dobermans may live shorter or longer lifetimes. Owners of Dobermans can improve their pet's overall health and increase the likelihood that they will live a long and happy life by providing a loving and caring environment, in addition to the proper medical care and a healthy lifestyle.

More on Dobermans

Doberman Pinscher Health Information
How to Feed a Doberman Pinscher
Doberman Pinscher Dog Training

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