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Hereditary Muscle Disease (Non-inflammatory Myopathy) in Labrador Retrievers

Hereditary, Non-inflammatory Myopathy in Labrador Retrievers

Labrador Retrievers, particularly yellow Labs, are known to exhibit a hereditary, non-inflammatory myopathy. This condition manifests as a muscular disease wherein the muscle fibers fail to function properly, leading to generalized muscular weakness.

Symptoms and Types

Signs and manifestations typically arise between three to four months of age, with many intensifying in colder temperatures, during periods of excitement, and with physical exertion. Conversely, improvements may become apparent when the dog is given adequate rest. Common symptoms encompass:

  • Weakness in muscles
  • Arching of the back
  • Drooping of the head and neck
  • Irregular positioning of joints
  • Increased propensity for lying down (observed in certain dogs)
  • Abnormal walking patterns
  • Unexpected collapses


The cause of this condition lies in the genetics of Labrador Retrievers.


To diagnose this condition, provide your veterinarian with a detailed history of your dog’s health, including when the symptoms first appeared and their characteristics. Your veterinarian will then conduct a thorough physical examination and order tests such as a complete blood count, biochemistry profile, and urinalysis. Elevated levels of the creatine kinase enzyme, typically found in muscle, brain, and other tissues, may be detected.

Additionally, your veterinarian may opt to perform a muscle biopsy, sending the sample to a veterinary pathologist for further analysis. This procedure can reveal any abnormalities associated with muscle cells.


The treatment for this form of myopathy is not specific and focuses on managing the symptoms. For enhancing muscle strength, your veterinarian may prescribe L-carnitine supplements for your dog.

Living and Management

The prognosis for Labradors affected by this type of myopathy varies; however, most clinical symptoms tend to stabilize by the time the dog reaches approximately one year of age. It’s important to avoid exposing your Labrador to cold environments, as this could worsen the symptoms. Furthermore, because this disease is genetic in nature, your veterinarian may advise against breeding the affected dog, its parents, or littermates.

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