Inherited Polyneuropathy in Dogs: Unraveling the Genetic Nerve Disorder Affecting Canine Mobility

Inherited Polyneuropathy is a hereditary nerve disorder that affects the peripheral nervous system in dogs. This condition is characterized by the progressive degeneration of nerves, leading to impaired communication between the brain, spinal cord, and muscles. Inherited Polyneuropathy is primarily seen in specific canine breeds and often manifests with symptoms like weakness, muscle atrophy, and gait abnormalities. Understanding the genetic basis, symptoms, diagnosis, treatment, and management of this condition is essential for dog owners and veterinarians to provide appropriate care and support for their affected canine companions. In this in-depth article, we delve into Inherited Polyneuropathy in relation to dogs, shedding light on its significance and the measures necessary to improve the quality of life for affected breeds.

Genetic Basis of Inherited Polyneuropathy

Inherited Polyneuropathy is believed to have a genetic basis, meaning it is passed down from generation to generation within certain dog breeds. The condition is typically inherited in an autosomal recessive manner, meaning that both parents must carry the mutated gene for their offspring to be affected. Breeds such as the Alaskan Malamute, Siberian Husky, and Boxer have been identified as being more susceptible to Inherited Polyneuropathy.

Symptoms of Inherited Polyneuropathy

The symptoms of Inherited Polyneuropathy can vary depending on the breed and the stage of the disease. Common signs include:

  1. Gait Abnormalities: Dogs may have an uncoordinated or wobbly gait, known as ataxia.
  2. Weakness: Muscle weakness, especially in the hind limbs, is a hallmark of Inherited Polyneuropathy.
  3. Muscle Atrophy: Progressive muscle wasting or atrophy may occur over time.
  4. Loss of Reflexes: Dogs may exhibit reduced or absent reflexes in the affected limbs.
  5. Difficulty Rising: Affected dogs may have difficulty getting up from a lying position or struggle to climb stairs.

Diagnosing Inherited Polyneuropathy

Diagnosing Inherited Polyneuropathy involves a combination of physical examination, genetic testing, and ruling out other potential causes of similar symptoms. A thorough neurological examination is crucial to assess the dog’s reflexes, muscle tone, and coordination. Genetic testing can confirm the presence of specific gene mutations associated with Inherited Polyneuropathy in susceptible breeds.

Treatment and Management Options

As of now, there is no cure for Inherited Polyneuropathy. The focus of treatment and management is on providing supportive care and improving the affected dog’s quality of life. Measures may include:

  1. Physical Therapy: Physical therapy and rehabilitation exercises can help maintain muscle tone and improve mobility.
  2. Assistive Devices: Mobility aids such as slings or carts may be used to help dogs with severe weakness or paralysis.
  3. Pain Management: Medications may be prescribed to manage any discomfort or pain associated with the condition.
  4. Dietary Support: Providing a balanced and appropriate diet is essential for overall health and well-being.

Breeding Considerations

Because Inherited Polyneuropathy is a hereditary condition, responsible breeding practices are crucial to reduce its prevalence. Breeding dogs should undergo genetic testing to identify carriers of the mutated gene and avoid mating carriers with affected dogs.


Inherited Polyneuropathy is a challenging nerve disorder that affects specific canine breeds. Understanding the genetic basis, symptoms, diagnosis, treatment, and management of this condition is essential for dog owners and veterinarians to provide the best care and support for their affected canine companions. Early detection, supportive care, and responsible breeding practices can contribute to improving the quality of life for dogs with Inherited Polyneuropathy and potentially reduce its occurrence in susceptible breeds. As responsible pet owners, awareness of this genetic condition is essential in ensuring the health and well-being of our beloved four-legged friends throughout their lives.