Institute of Genetics

Cerebellar ataxia in the Belgian Shepherd

Several hereditary diseases of the nervous system are known in Belgian Shepherd dogs (mostly in Malinois). They include several distinct forms of cerebellar ataxia with monogenic autosomal recessive interhitance. Affected dogs show neurological symptoms such as uncoordinated movements and difficulties with normal gait at a few weeks of age. As the signs quickly get worse, affected dogs have to be put down when they are 3-6 months old. Together with Prof. Kleiter from the Vet School in Vienna and neorologists and neuropathologists from all over the world we already solved one of these diseases, the so-called "spongy degeneration with cerebellar ataxia, subtype 1 (SDCA1)" and developed a genetic test, which allows the reliable detection of carriers. In the future, we would like to solve also the other existing forms of cerebellar ataxia in Belgian Shepherds and to develop genetic testing for them. For our research we need EDTA blood samples from affected dogs, ideally together with their parents and siblings. We therefore ask breeders and owners to donate samples for our research. If you own a Belgian Shepherd with neurological problems, please do not hesitate to contact us to discuss further options for diagnosis and research.