What Is Dwarfism In Dogs?

What Is Dwarfism In Dogs?

Author WDF Staff


When we hear the word dwarfism, we all know what this means, but did you know that dogs can also suffer from this health problem? Dogs that are diagnosed with dwarfism will have shorter legs and bulging eyes. For the most part, this issue will happen because the dog's body doesn't produce enough growth hormones.

Today you are going to learn all about dwarfism in dogs, what dog breeds are prone to it, and if there is a way to treat these dogs to full recovery. Let start.

What is dwarfism in dogs?

Dwarfism in dogs is a rare condition that occurs when there is insufficient growth hormone. This type is usually called pituitary dwarfism. This problem will occur because of a cyst in the pituitary gland located in the brain that is responsible for the growth hormone.

Because of this cyst, growth hormone production is decreased, which leads to dwarfism.

IMPORTANT: Dwarfism is a result of a genetic condition, and this problem will occur as a genetic abnormality.

dwarf Dachshund

Causes of dwarfism in dogs

As we said, dwarfism is a health problem closely connected to genetics. However, there could be situations where the dog will be diagnosed with dwarfism, although it is not genetically related. These cases include different tumors, infections, cysts, and the lack of overall development.

You must understand that these reasons are so minor, and the majority of dwarfism in dogs is related to genetics.

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How to recognize dogs diagnosed with dwarfism?

Dogs that are diagnosed with dwarfism are pretty easy to recognize due to their different appearances and lack of growth.

Here are all the things you can notice in dogs diagnosed with dwarfism:

  • Head bigger than usual
  • Short legs
  • Longer body
  • Bulging eyes
  • Short jaw
  • Lack of teeth
  • Lack of hair
  • Dark skin
  • Swollen joints
  • Feet turned outward

If the dog is diagnosed with dwarfism, that doesn't mean that he will show all of these mentioned symptoms, but he will for sure show some.

dwarf welsh-corgi-pembroke

What are the symptoms and signs?

To diagnose dwarfism in dogs, dogs need to be at least three months old. After three months, it can be confirmed that the dog is suffering from this condition. Dogs diagnosed with dwarfism can experience other health issues, and these are the most common clinical signs that can be associated with dwarfism:

  • Hair loss
  • Lack of appetite
  • Cryptorchidism
  • Decreased activity
  • Decreased energy

Some dog breeds can even have spinal problems and other limb and joint health issues. Because of the lack of growth hormone, the dog diagnosed with dwarfism will never reach its full skeletal maturity.

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Are there any breeds prone to dwarfism?

Although dwarfism is mostly a genetic problem, some dog breeds can be prone to this health issue.

Dog breeds prone to dwarfism are

  • Different types of bulldogs
  • Dachshunds
  • Corgis
  • Basset Hounds
  • Pekinese
  • German Shepherds
  • Pugs
  • Miniature Pinscher
  • Finnish Spitz

When searching for dogs, the breeder must always show you all the certificates and health tests of his breeding dogs. Dwarfism is a genetic mutation, and dogs diagnosed with this issue shouldn't be bred. In reality, that isn't always the case, and many unethical breeders will still breed dogs diagnosed with dwarfism to make money.

To get the healthiest dog possible, you must research and find a good and responsible breeder that regularly tests their breeding dogs.

dwarf pekingese

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Are there any treatment options for dwarfism in dogs?

Since dwarfism is a genetic disease, this is not fully treatable, and dogs will have to live with this problem. There are a few treatment options, but you must understand that this will not completely cure the dog. Treatment options include

  1. Growth hormone supplements
  2. Progesterone therapy
  3. Thyroid hormone supplements

IMPORTANT TO KNOW: Adding too many growth hormones can cause one different health problem for the dog – diabetes. This is also one serious health condition, and if you decide to treat dwarfism, you must be very careful with the treatment.

With this treatment, most dogs will not gain weight, but it can help with their overall health and other symptoms caused by dwarfism.

IMPORTANT: Dogs that don't receive treatment for hormone growth will, in most cases, need to be euthanized between three and five years old.

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How long can a dog live if he is diagnosed with dwarfism?

The lifespan of a dog diagnosed with dwarfism greatly depends on whether you decide to undergo treatment. Dogs not receiving any treatment for this problem will usually live from 3-5 years.

Dogs that receive proper and regular treatment will live longer than that but usually no more than 10 years. The best thing you can do as a dog owner is to provide your dog with all the things he needs and allow him to live a happy and healthy life.

World Dog Finder team

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