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Cerebellar Hypoplasia in Dogs

Cerebellar hypoplasia is one of those medical conditions where if you’ve ever seen a dog that has it, you’re not likely to forget what it looks like for the rest of your life.

You see…

Cerebellar Hypoplasia is a disease (or a medical condition) in which an affected dog’s brain fails to develop normally in utero leaving him or her with an under developed or smaller than normal cerebellum.  Which is really bad!


The cerebellum is a part of the brain (located in the brainstem) that is responsible for helping the body coordinate movement from impulses in the brain to precise and fine tuned movements in the body.

Which is why…

In cerebellar hypoplasia cases, affected dogs (or cats) will demonstrate a variety of symptoms or clinical signs (many of which will closely resemble another neurological disorder known as Dandy-Walker syndrome (DWS) or cerebellar vermian hypoplasia, which will likely include one or all of the following:

  • An abnormal walk or gait,
  • A broad stance,
  • Difficulty standing or remaining still,
  • Muscle tremors or “shakes”,
  • Involuntary tremors (as opposed to intention tremors),
  • Vestibular ataxia, or poor coordination skills,
  • Abnormal posturing,
  • Etc.

Causes of Cerebellar Hypoplasia in Dogs

While it is often difficult to determine the exact cause of why some puppies (or kittens) may suffer from this disease, data does seem to indicate that it may be linked to:

  • Genetic traits found in certain dog breeds.
    • Breeds such as:
      • Airedales
      • Boston Terrier
      • Chow Chows
      • Irish Setters
      • Wirehaired Fox Terriers
    • Certain infections that a pregnant mother may contract while her puppies are in utero.
    • Reactions to vaccinations given to a pregnant dog (Always inform your veterinarian that your dog may be pregnant before he or she receives any kind of medications).
    • Exposure to certain chemicals or toxins while in utero.
    • As well as nutritional deficiencies suffered by the mother while pregnant.

Diagnosing of cerebellar hypoplasia in dogs or cats

Most dogs or cats won’t actually be diagnosed with cerebellar hypoplasia right away.  This is because most puppies or kittens won’t actually appear ill until several weeks after they’re born when they being walking and crawling on their own.

This is why…

It will become pretty obvious that there is a problem simply because the affected animals will begin having difficulty standing, walking and generally keeping up with his or her siblings.


Your veterinarian will likely want to perform a neurological examination of your pet to catalog all of his or her clinical symptoms so that they’ll have a better opportunity to rule out any other possible causes for your pet’s condition.

This will be done primarily for two reasons:
  • First, your vet will want to get an idea of what the long-term prognosis of your pet will be.
  • And second, you vet will likely want to avoid ordering an MIR, which is expensive and the only definitive way to diagnose cerebral hypoplasia in a living patient.

This is usually when…

We like to remind folks that we aren’t medical professionals and we’re certainly not veterinarians.  All we are is a bunch of folks who just happen to be really passionate about animals and only want to help people do what’s best for their pets.


If you believe that you may have a puppy or a kitten suffering from cerebellar hypoplasia, or any medical condition for the matter… QUIT READING THIS ARTICLE and go take your furry little companion to your local vet and have him or her checked out!


Ok good, now let’s get back to our discussion and talk about what treatment options might be available for you and your pet if he or she does in fact have cerebellar hypoplasia.

Treatment of cerebellar hypoplasia

First off, there really isn’t all that much one can do to “cure” an animal who has been diagnosed with cerebellar hypoplasia.  This is a disease where once the damage is done, it’s done.

That said… It’s quite possible that your vet may be able to prescribe medications that might help alleviate some of the symptoms associated with having cerebellar hypoplasia, and its quite possible that in a “loving” and “caring” environment you pet may be able to make improvements on his or her own.

You see…

What new parents of a pet with cerebellar hypoplasia need to understand is that while their pet may have “issues” he or she isn’t sick, weak or in pain, they’re just a bit clumsy!

It’s also important to…

Understand that their condition is not contagious and depending on the actual severity of their condition, it’s quite possible that the may be able to live a completely normal, be that a bit clumsy life!

Especially if…

You, as their owner, make efforts to modify your home into a safer environment for them by:

  • Blocking any staircases you may have in your home,
  • Keep other potentially aggressive animals away,
  • And possibly choosing feeding bowls which will accommodate your pets needs based on how severe his or her tremors are.


For those of you who may just be learning that your dog or cat may have cerebellar hypoplasia and you’re feeling a bit overwhelmed, we would encourage you to take a look at some of the videos on YouTube.

In these videos, you’ll see that cerebellar hypoplasia comes in all shapes and sizes and in most of the videos you’ll find, we think you’ll see that most of the folks behind the camera seem to enjoy being a proud parent to one of these truly unique animals.

And who knows, maybe you will too!

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