Part of the official UK Kennel Club testing scheme in Collie (Rough), Collie (Smooth), French Bulldog, Retriever (Chesapeake Bay) and Retriever (Nova Scotia Duck Tolling)
Important: Degenerative Myelopathy is a rare disease that presents most commonly in German Shepherd Dogs and Boxers, sporadically in Pembroke Welsh Corgis, Cardigan Welsh Corgis, Bernese Mountain Dogs, Rhodesian Ridgebacks, Borzoi and Chesapeake Bay Retrievers. It is rarely diagnosed in other breeds or mixed-breed dogs. DM is considered genetically complex and will have more than one contributing genetic variant. The variant targeted by this test is widespread and found in more than 120 breeds. However, association of this variant with the disease has only been shown in very few breeds and should never be used to inform breeding decisions, except where close relatives have been clinically diagnosed.
Canine degenerative myelopathy (previously also known as chronic degenerative radiculomyelopathy) is a progressive disease of the spinal cord in older dogs. Most dogs are at least 8 years old before clinical become apparent. DM usually starts with a muscle weakness, loss of muscle and loss of coordination (ataxia) in the hind limbs. Progression is generally quote slow, but dogs will eventually be crippled within approximately 3 years of the onset of disease.
The initial hind limb ataxia often causes a staggering effect that may appear to be arthritis. In addition, affected dogs may drag one or both rear paws walking, which can cause the nails of one foot to be worn down and may lead to extensive paralysis of the back legs. If allowed to progress, front limb involvement will become apparent and extensive muscle atrophy will occur. Eventually cranial nerve or respiratory muscle involvement necessitates euthanasia.