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Hereditary, Non-Inflammatory Muscular Disease in Dogs

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

Muscular Dystrophy is a genetic, progressive, and non-inflammatory degenerative muscular condition caused by a shortage of dystrophin, a vital muscle-membrane protein. This widespread muscle disorder primarily affects newborn dogs or those under one year of age. Males are more vulnerable than females, and certain breeds such as golden retrievers, Irish terriers, Pembroke Welsh corgis, Samoyeds, rottweilers, Belgian shepherds, rat terriers, Brittany spaniels, Labrador retrievers, German short-haired pointers, and miniature schnauzers are frequently affected due to dystrophin deficiency.

Symptoms and Types

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


Deficiency of dystrophin resulting from an inherited defect.


You should provide a detailed history of your dog’s health, including when the symptoms began and their characteristics, to your veterinarian. They will then conduct a thorough physical examination along with tests such as a biochemistry profile, urinalysis, and complete blood count (CBC). Elevated levels of creatine kinase enzyme may indicate dystrophin deficiency, and liver enzyme levels may also be raised in affected dogs.

However, the most definitive diagnostic test involves obtaining a muscle biopsy. The muscle tissue sample is sent to a veterinary pathologist to confirm abnormal levels of dystrophin.


There is no confirmed effective treatment for this condition. Glucocorticosteroids are commonly prescribed for dogs with non-inflammatory muscular dystrophy, but their efficacy varies, and how exactly they work in this disease remains unclear.

Living and Management

Dogs affected by this condition are at risk of developing aspiration pneumonia or cardiac issues and should be regularly monitored for such complications. Stay alert for any signs of problems and promptly consult your veterinarian if any arise. In some cases, symptoms may stabilize after six months in Golden retrievers.

Unfortunately, the overall prognosis for dogs with non-inflammatory muscular dystrophy is very unfavorable. Your veterinarian may advise against breeding the animal due to the genetic nature of the disorder.

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