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Brain Tissue Undervelopment in Dogs

Cerebellar Hypoplasia in Dogs

Cerebellar hypoplasia refers to an underdevelopment of certain parts of the cerebellum, a significant region of the brain located beneath the cerebrum, toward the rear and above the brainstem. This condition can arise from either intrinsic (genetic) factors or extrinsic factors such as infections, toxins, or nutritional deficiencies. Signs of cerebellar hypoplasia typically become evident when puppies start standing and walking, usually around six weeks of age. Notably, cerebellar hypoplasia is known to be hereditary in specific breeds including Airedales, Chow Chows, Boston Terriers, and Bull Terriers.

Symptoms and Types

Symptoms and types of cerebellar hypoplasia include:

  • Head bobbing
  • Limb tremors
  • Aggravation during movement or eating
  • Symptoms diminish during sleep
  • Unsteadiness or clumsiness characterized by a wide-based stance
  • Inability to judge distance and disequilibrium leading to falling or flipping over
  • Slight improvement may occur as the puppy adapts to its deficits


  • Hereditary in some breeds
  • Infection of the body and/or brain
  • Environmental toxins, ingested toxins
  • Nutritional deficiencies


Diagnosing cerebellar hypoplasia in your dog involves providing a detailed history of your dog’s health, including symptoms and any potential incidents that may have triggered the condition. Information about your dog’s birth and the mother’s condition can also aid the veterinarian in determining the cause of the defect. Your veterinarian will perform a thorough physical examination along with various diagnostic tests including a blood chemical profile, complete blood count, electrolyte panel, and urinalysis.

Cerebellar hypoplasia typically manifests signs either at birth or shortly thereafter, with affected puppies displaying a gradual progression of symptoms over weeks to months. Once signs of cerebellar hypoplasia appear postnatally, there should be no further progression. Diagnosis is usually based on factors such as age, breed, history, and the presence of typical non-progressive symptoms.


There are currently no treatments available for cerebellar hypoplasia. Although the symptoms are permanent, they generally do not deteriorate, and dogs affected by the condition can live normal lifespans.

Living and Management

Due to developmental disabilities, your dog won’t have the capacity to make protective decisions like other dogs. Consequently, it’s crucial to limit your dog’s activity and movement to prevent injuries and accidents, such as climbing, falling, or unrestricted roaming in parks. In situations where severely affected animals cannot feed, groom themselves, or be house trained, euthanasia may be considered as a possible option.

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