Cerebellar Abiotrophy - Signs And Breeds At Risk

Abiotrophy literally means loss of vital nutritional substances. Cerebellar abiotrophy is a degenerative disorder of the central nervous system characterized by premature degeneration of fully formed cerebellar neurons. The disease has been described in most of the domestic animals, including cattle, horses, sheep, cats, and dogs. Neurological signs are not seen immediately after birth and become apparent at a few weeks to a few months of age, progressing either slowly or rapidly. Signs have been well characterized in many breeds and are similar to those seen in the degenerative cerebellar disease: inability to control the distance, power and speed of movement; overreaching a desired object, and lack of menace response. The cause of cerebellar abiotrophy is currently unknown, but it is presumed to be an inherited genetic abnormality. No treatment is available. Cerebellar abiotrophy is suspected to be inherited in the Airedale Terrier (rare), American Staffordshire Terrier (rare), Australian Kelpie, Beagle, Bernese Mountain Dog, German Boxer, Brittany, Border Collie, Bull Terrier, Bullmastiff, Collie (rough), English Springer Spaniel, Gordon Setter, Kerry Blue Terrier, Labrador Retriever (rare), Lagotto Romagnolo, Miniature Poodle, and Old English Sheepdog.

Coordination of movement is governed by the portion of the brain called cerebellum. An animal with cerebellar disease can move voluntarily and the movements are strong, but they are jerky and often excessive. The animal may sway when standing, stagger and fall, pick its feet up too high when walking (high-stepping), quickly bob its head up and down when attempting to eat, and tilt its head. In the Rough Collie, signs of movement incoordination begin 1t 1 to 2 months of age; in the Gordon setter clinical signs begin around 6 to 30 months and slowly progress for several years; in the Kerry Blue Terrier signs may begin at 8 to 16 weeks of age.

Beagle puppy


  1. Rodney Bagley. Fundamentals of Veterinary Clinical Neurology
  2. Michael Schaer. Clinical Medicine of the Dog and Cat
  3. Late Onset of Cerebellar Abiotrophy in a Boxer Dog
  4. Cerebellar granuloprival degeneration in an Australian kelpie and a Labrador retriever dog

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