Frequently asked questions
Why does the disc have early degeneration in chondrodystrophic dogs?
IVD degeneration is thought to occur because of loss of notochordal cells which produce proteoglycans which “hold water” in the disc. Chondrodystrophic dogs (characteristically have disproportionably short and curved limbs), for example the Bassett Hound, Dachshund, Lucas terriers, Sealyhams and Shih Tzus, are predisposed to intervertebral disc disease. This is due to a primary deficiency of notochordal cells associated with being chondrodystrophic.
Research found that large notochordal cells in the nucleus pulposus of chondrodystrophoid dogs formed 13% of the cell population in young dogs and fell to 0.4% in adults, whereas they were the predominant cell type in the nonchondrodystrophoid dogs at all ages (Cappello and others 2006). Thus chondrodystrophoid dogs suffer early degenerative changes in the disc and a concomitant reduction in proteoglycan content, increased collagen, and loss of water content making the discs likely to herniate (Cappello and others 2006). When discs of chondrodystrophic dogs degenerate they also calcify making the discs visible on radiographs.
The consequence of disc herniation is pain and in more severe cases there may be difficulty walking - ranging from poor control of the hindlimbs to complete paralysis.