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German Shepherd with No Neck

You’re one of the few people on earth dealing with a German Shepherd short spine, a very rare kind of spinal abnormality. You’re worried about your GSD’s health and don’t know how to take care of it! Read this guide to give you tips and pointers on why German Shepherd short spine syndrome happens and how to take care of it.

What is German Shepherd short spine disorder?

Short spine disorder is a shortening and compression of a dog’s spine that severely limits a GSD’s growth. Typically, this results in a German Shepherd with no neck. Over the years, research has led most experts and professionals to believe that German Shepherd short spines are a result of generational inbreeding and can only be inherited by the offspring of the affected GSD.

Dogs that are affected by short spine disorder will have a short spinal column with much of the vertebrae missing, cartilaginous or fused together. While not necessarily life-threatening, you may need to make special accommodations and preparations for your precious quasimodo German Shepherd.

What are some hunchback German Shepherd medical problems I can expect?

The following list of complications are what you may expect and should prepare for if your GSD is diagnosed with German Shepherd short spine syndrome.

Lumbosacral syndrome

Also known as cauda equina syndrome, hunchback GSDs may be more vulnerable to this disorder than normal GSDs. If pressure from an infection, a narrowed spinal canal or spinal instability affects your GSD’s sacral nerves, your GSD may suffer pain, difficulty standing or sitting, muscle atrophy in their hind legs or even fecal and urinary incontinence.

Typically, longer rest periods, weight loss and a prescription of anti-inflammatory drugs and painkillers are necessary for GSDs to cope with this medical problem.

Intervertebral disc disease (IVDD)

This spinal condition happens when the discs that cushion your GSD’s short spine rupture and cause immense pain. Additional symptoms include weakness, muscle spasms in the back and neck area, an unwillingness to play or diminished interest in active exercise and paralysis.

Non-invasive treatment such as prescribing anti-inflammatory drugs or painkillers and confining your GSD to sleeping in a cage for a few weeks are options. However, if the spine is badly affected, surgery to remove a portion or an entire vertebra may be necessary.

Single puppy syndrome

Because of the nature of short-spined GSDs, having a litter of two or more may prove problematic for your hunchback GSD. However, a litter of one may increase your GSD’s risk of stillborn births, premature births or even death of the puppy fetus while still inside its mother’s womb.

It is highly advisable to keep your short-spined GSD from becoming pregnant to avoid any serious complications regarding its health. If your hunchback GSD is expected to have a single puppy litter, your vet may prescribe a list of hormonal medications and may need to perform a C-section on your GSD during birth.

Screw-tail

Hunchback GSDs are also prone to contracting screw-tail; a condition where their tail folds inwards because of their lack of a complete vertebrae. Serious conditions that may result in neglect or oversight of screw-tail include dermatitis, skin infections and obstruction of the rectal canal.

Mild screw-tail may require regular shampooing and disinfecting of the affected area or by taking antibiotics. Severe screw-tail may require partial or complete amputation of your GSD’s tail.

What other accommodations will my short-spined GSD need?

Consider modifying your GSD care habits by taking note of the following changes.

Feeding time

You will want to elevate your hunchback GSD’s feed bowl as their short spines make it difficult for them to properly lower their heads to the ground. 

In addition, you may want to give only about ⅔ or ½ of your normal dog meal servings during feeding time to prevent overfeeding and other weight problems.

Shorter walks and play time

Short-spined GSDs tend to get tired a lot easier than normal GSDs. Because of this, you can expect less time outside and more time resting for your GSD. Expect about 1 hour to 1 ½ hours maximum play time and engaging in walks less than 4 km in distance.

As much as possible, avoid exercises or games that require a lot of jumping from your GSD as this may leave them more vulnerable to back issues and problems in the future.

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