Hereditary Diseases in Welsh Corgis (Part I)

24 July 2011 ~

Corgis are pretty healthy and the Welsh Corgi breeds are considered two of the healthiest breeds of dogs in the Herding group. But unfortunately, they are not untouchable, and are prone to several hereditary diseases, including hip dysplasia, degenerative myelopathy, progressive retinal atrophy, and sadly, a few more that I will describe in a following post.

Hip Dysplasia: is the condition resulting from the separation of the ball from the socket within the hip joint. With time, hip dysplasia can also trigger osteo-arthritis of the joint, which is painful, and also the dog will get weak in the rear end.
Although there is no cure for hip dysplasia, the pain caused by this disease can be alleviated with the help of anti-inflammatories, acupuncture and nutriceuticals. In some cases, if the pain is too severe and no other medicine is working, the vet can suggest surgery, or euthanasia.
In order to prevent, or rather to hold off the onset of hip dysplasia, Corgi owners, as well as other medium to giant breeds owners, need to make sure that they don’t over-feed their dogs, since it is believed that an overweight dog is more likely to develop this condition.
If your Corgi already has hip dysplasia, then exercises, such as jumping and running, should be avoided.

Degenerative Myelopathy (DM): is a progressive illness of the spinal cord, for which an exact cause and a cure have not yet been determined. DM has been seen is dogs 5 to 14 years old, but it most often occurs in dogs over 8 years old.
DM is a progressive disease that develops slowly and can be wrongly diagnosed as hip dysplasia. A dog sick with DM will gradually loose its ability to move his hind legs. Some of the first signs of this disorder are “knuckling over” of the back paws and also dragging of the hind claws.
This disease progresses until the dog loses all control of his back legs and becomes incontinent, at which point the owner has to consider euthanasia.
There is no treatment for Degenerative Myelopathy, but exercise, vitamins and therapy have been shown to slow the progression of this terrible disorder.
Some of the breeds that can suffer from DM are: Cardigan Welsh Corgi, Pembroke Welsh Corgi, German Shepard, Chesapeake Bay Retrievers and Irish Setter.

Corgi with DM

Welsh Corgi with DM

Progressive Retinal Atrophy: is an inherited disorder that destroys the pigment cells in the middle of the retina. Both eyes of the dog can be affected, and at first, the dog won’t be able to see immobile objects. As the illness advances, the dog is likely to develop night blindness and will begin bumping into stationary objects.

Annual veterinarian check ups are important, since they can help detect any disorder your dog might have. Also, if your dog is acting different than the usual, get him to the vet as soon as possible.

to “Hereditary Diseases in Welsh Corgis (Part I)”

  1. Debora Smith 30 January 2012 at 11:51 am Permalink

    Hi there, I’m glad to see that you are posting information on hereditary diseases. Like other reputable breeders,I test all of my dogs for these diseases, so that we don’t pass them on down the line.
    The one that we really need to get the word out on is DM (Degenerative Myelopathy) The gene that causes the disease was discovered back around 2007 and there is a DNA test avail. to see if your Corgi is “at risk, a carrier or Clear”. I DNA test all of my adult dogs and puppies, so that I can do my part in stopping the spread of DM.
    Right now according to OFA (Orthopedic Foundation for Animals) 52% of Pembroke welsh Corgis are “At Risk” for developing this disease in their later life. So Sad!!! Only 9% of Corgis do not carry the gene and therefore will Never pass the disease on to their puppies. Approx. 39% are Carriers of one copy of the “bad” gene, but will never get the disease. So, if your dog is a carrier, they won’t get the disease but, they can pass it on to their puppies if bred to another carrier or at risk Corgi. We as a kennel are doing what we can by selectively breeding and testing for DM to try and eventially have a line of dogs that will never have to worry about having their life cut short by this disease. If you are going to purchase a Corgi puppy PLEASE ask the breeder if they test their dogs for DM and then ask to see the certificate proving that they test their dogs. We CAN make a difference in the fight to stop DM!

    • Dawn 30 July 2013 at 4:48 pm Permalink

      I think that before everyone starts panicking about DM and running out to have all your dogs tested someone should point out that In studies only 1.5% of Pembroke corgis presented at USA veterinary teaching hospitals were found to be affected and that the only way to get a definitive diagnosis of DM is via ( necropsy ) post-mortem examination with microscopic examination of the spinal cord. Only a tentative diagnosis of DM can be made while the dog is alive, and it can only be made by a veterinary surgeon through elimination of all other possible causes of the signs. This may well involve diagnostic procedures including radiographs, blood tests, analysis of the cerebrospinal fluid (the fluid around the spinal cord and brain) and computerised tomography (CT) or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans.

      DNA testing can be undertaken to identify animals at risk of developing the disease and carrier animals, but one should remember that being at risk does not necessarily mean your dog will become affected and that those whom are carriers only have a copy of the mutated gene but which are unaffected by the disease themselves. While Dm is serious and something we should do more research on it is more likely that a incidence of IVDD is likely higher than the rate of DM.

      As well the elimination of a recessive gene with incomplete penetrance for which DM is, from a breed is not as straightforward as one would assume if its prevalence is high because removing all carrier animals, that possess a copy of the gene, may significantly affect the number of animals suitable to breed from, and hence the size of the gene pool. To avoid such a problem, careful breeding of carrier animals to known healthy non-carrier individuals is recommended with slow replacement of carrier breeding animals by non-carriers over time.

  2. Angela Kline 24 March 2012 at 8:11 am Permalink

    I Googles Corgie diseases and came across your site and was interested to see the symptoms DM our 14 /12 year old Corgi is showing symptoms of ie knuckling over” of back paws over the past two weeks. You mention “therapy” and “vitamins” could delay the disease. What what that entail, please?

    • hxaxsg 28 March 2012 at 6:56 am Permalink

      I am not very familiar with DM, and as far as I know, sadly, there is no cure discovered for it yet. If you think your Corgi is suffering from this disease, your vet is qualified to diagnose him and then he/she can recommend physical therapy and vitamins, but as it is mentioned in that article, this will not cure DM, it will only delay it.

      • Laurel 12 June 2012 at 4:21 pm Permalink

        I just lost my corgi of 12 years back in January. She lost the use of her hind legs and the vet said it was from a compressed disk. After researching, Ive come to the conclusion she had DM.She used a cart to walk for about a year and a half, but eventualy the paralisis spread and she couldnt move at all.

        • hxaxsg 19 June 2012 at 6:23 am Permalink

          I am very very sorry for your loss! 🙁

  3. Martha Bubel 23 April 2013 at 7:55 pm Permalink

    I have a 10 year old female Corgi. When standing, her hind legs tremble. She has been doing this for years but otherwise she is fine and appears to have no pain. What cause this?

    • Andreea 24 April 2013 at 4:43 am Permalink

      Hi, Martha. It might be arthritis. Senior Corgis usually have joint problems. What does your vet say about it? I suggest giving her a Glucosamine supplement, but ask the vet before, just to be sure. We have a 4 year old, and we’re giving him this supplement for his joints. Andreea

  4. Deb 22 December 2013 at 7:49 pm Permalink

    My corgi is only about 3. Yet she is showing signs of a disease that seems similar to what is being described. Weakness in the legs, specifically on the left side. She is scootching more than walking these days. Yet when she can – she can still run like the devil. but actually hops like a rabbit. I took her to the vet, and although the vet game me a name, it was not something that I remember. But she did say that there is surgery that can be done, that cuts the ball of the leg bone off that goes into the hip socket, which gets rid of the part of the bone that is causing all the pain. That doesn’t sound the same as DM. Vet has suggested some x-rays after the first of the year. And am thinking about that. I have started giving her some Cetryl Myristolate Joint Response stuff. It did wonders for my black lab with hip displasia. But Delilah doesn’t seem to be responding too well with these supplement yet. Just been on them for 4 days. I’m considering getting her cart so she can still get some exercise while she can. Any info would help in making some hard decisions.

    • Andreea 23 December 2013 at 12:55 pm Permalink

      Deb, I’m sorry Delilah isn’t feeling well. I suggest you get a 2nd opinion from another vet. Our Toby has some difficulties walking after laying down (he’s almost 5), and we got Cosequin glucosamine supplements, and they worked for him – no more limping.
      All the best & happy Holidays!

  5. mhikl 22 December 2015 at 6:05 pm Permalink

    My Sadie, Pem, started to have what now looks like DM symptoms late age 14, about three months ago. She has been on the BARF diet since she turned 10. She started to develop hip problems when she was about 12 and by 13 she was having trouble getting up and down stairs. I had been feeding her broth from ligaments and tendons, beef, hoping this would help but it did not. Then I just started chopping them up raw, quite fine, two summers ago (2014) and within 3 days she was running up the stairs. I started taking them raw (they taste like elastic bands) and it quickly improved my hip pain.
    I have her on NaturVet, Hip & Joint senior care (Glucosamine, chondroitin, Hyalyronic Acid, MSM) and I supplement her diet with the same and other nutrients. Her diet is a mix of raw beef: heart, tongue, green tripe, and liver; a few bits of ground up greens (kale, broccoli), a bit of pineapple; egg shells and chicken feet chopped up for calcium. She also gets a sprinkle of Hemp seeds and oil for her Omegas. I no longer feed her nor do I touch fish (See Brian Peskin PEOs—the danger of fish oils & rancidity-regardless their freshness; cancer, diabetes & heart disease).
    She weighs 33 lbs and the vet says she is not over weight—she has a waist and the ribs are very detailed. She got good exercise thoughout her life, but not over done; I have been told she had the strongest heart from a number of vets. She has no other symptoms of illness. She is always hungry.
    I will not put her down until she loses the will to eat. She does not seem to be in pain, and she is a ‘baby’ about any small injury or hurt.
    My last dog was a mix, and looked like she had Corgi in her. She lost her hearing 2 years prior to my Pem. Moh was on the best commercial food the vet could prescribe yet developed a rare form of liver cancer; and had to be put down around her 14th birthday. Sadie has been healthier than Moh’s last year and I believe the BARF diet is responsible for this. She will be 15 in one month. I was hoping to have her around for another two or three years. I am very sad over this discovery.
    Namaste and care,

  6. Marilyn hoffman 7 November 2016 at 12:41 pm Permalink

    I have a one year old pem corgi who limps on all four legs alternately when she first gets up. She is too young for arthritis so what could be the problem? My last corgi had type two diabetes rx with insulin and was ten yrs old.

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