Dancing Doberman Disease
By Carla Douple, DVM
** Permission of author is required for use of this article.**
No, this is not an April fools article. Dancing Doberman Disease is a truly recognized disease unique to the Doberman pincher. Affected dogs appear to “dance” back and forth on their hind legs, but a ballet audition is not their intent.
Typically this disease affects both male and female dobies between the ages of six months to seven years. The condition starts with the dog holding only one back leg up in the air, but usually within three to six months, the dog alternates each leg in the air; therefore portraying the appearance of dancing. The progression of the disease is typically slow, but muscle tone breakdown and neurological sensitivities involving the hind legs can result. Sometimes these dogs walk somewhat unbalanced on the hind legs and cross their feet or knuckle over on their toes. Typically, these dogs do not experience pain.
To get an absolute diagnosis of this disease, other neurologic diseases affecting the spinal cord such as narrowing of the spinal canal (wobblers syndrome), tumor of the spine and intervertebral disc disease must be ruled out. Veterinary neurologists can confirm Dancing Doberman disease by running an electromyography test (EMG). This electrode type test can measure abnormal nerve impulses that stimulate the muscles to contract.
Unfortunately, there is not a treatment for this disease, but most dogs can still have excellent quality of life and remain happy pets with no pain. Owners with a special sense of humor might find their dobie a new career on David Letterman or the Rockets.
© 2002 Carla Douple, DVM. All rights reserved. For permission to reprint contact author at Landisville Animal Hospital, 3035 Harrisburg Pike, Landisville, PA 17538