Hereditary, Non-Inflammatory Muscular Disease in Dogs

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Non-inflammatory Myopathy—Hereditary X-Linked Muscular Dystrophy in Dogs

Muscular Dystrophy is an inherited, progressive, and non-inflammatory degenerative muscular disease caused by a deficiency of dystrophyin, a muscle-membrane protein. This generalized muscle disorder is primarily seen in newborn dogs or those less than one year old. Male dogs are also more susceptible than females, as are golden retrievers, Irish terriers, Pembroke Welsh corgis, Samoyeds, rottweilers, Belgian shepherds, rat terriers, Brittany spaniels, Labrador retriever, German short-haired pointers, and miniature schnauzers -- all of which often suffer from dystrophin deficiency.

Symptoms and Types

  • Vomiting
  • Excessive drooling (ptyalism)
  • Exercise intolerance
  • Abnormal gait
  • Muscle wasting
  • Increased muscle mass of some muscles (e.g., tongue)
  • Aspiration pneumonia (caused by choking on vomit material)
  • Hunched back
  • Sway back
  • Ineffective suckling in newborns
  • Heart failure


Dystrophin deficiency due to inherited defect.


You will need to give a thorough history of your dog’s health, including the onset and nature of the symptoms, to your veterinarian. He or she will then conduct a complete physical examination as well as a biochemistry profile, urinalysis, and complete blood count (CBC). Creatine kinase enzyme levels may be elevated due to the dystrophin deficiency. Liver enzymes are also elevated in dogs with this disorder.

The most hopeful test for reaching a definitive diagnosis, however, involves taking a muscle biopsy. The muscle tissue sample is sent to a veterinary pathologist to verify abnormal levels of dystrophin.


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