Lately we have seen quite some French Bulldogs diagnosed with Syringomyelia and Chiari Malformation. Too much in our idea. We think it is irresponsible to not test on this anymore.
Syringomyelia is one of the many conditions that can occur in French Bulldogs.
It is also called ‘ scratching disease’, because scratching in the air is one of the symptoms. Since a couple of years it is know that the deformity is present in the breed, only people did not know what it was. Many French Bulldogs got diagnosed with allergies of neck problems while there war no evidence of it. Veterenarians were not know with Syringomyelia at the time. Now many know of the existence of the disease.
Unfortunately this condition can not be seen from the outside. Only through MRI scans you can get a diagnosis. By scanning you can make a responsible combination. But guarantees are not given unfortunately. The inheritance is very complicated. Two MRI-clear parents can produce offspring that is not clear. But also two affected parents can produce clear offspring, although that is not so commom. A breeder that scans can never guarantee a clear puppy because the parents are clear. Of course it is obvious that chances are greatly reduced when buying a puppy from tested parents.
What is Chiari Malformation (CM) and Syringomyelia (SM)?
Below is a short explanation of the diseases:
The problem arises because of a small backside of the skull and, therefore, too small of a hole in the back. This is called the Chiari Malformation (CM) malformation. Chiari Malformation in most cases does not cause any problems, but can also cause serious symptoms without the presence of SM, but in almost all cases it is the Syringomyelia that causes the pain.
The Chiari Malformation forces the brain to fall into the backhole. As a result, the fluid normally circulating through the brain and the spinal cord can be blocked, causing fluid pressure to rise, causing the formation of voids filled with liquid (syrinx) in the spine.
This is called Syringomyelia. In most cases, these animals remain completely free of symptoms, despite the fact that SM is detected by an MRI scan. It is estimated that a small percentage of the dogs with SM detected via MRI also actually show physical symptoms or show them. The exact percentage is not known. Of course, every dog who has pain is one too much!
The cavities (syrinx) and the pressure that exert the cavity on the nerve endings can cause neurological side effects that can be very painful.
The most common is scratch on one side, but it can occur on both sides. There are no abnormalities visible on the skin or ear. Affected dogs are also sensitive to head, neck and forelegs and often scream for pain without clear reason. The pain can be related to the positioning of the head and some dogs eat and sleep preferably with the head up. Some seriously affected young dogs develop a scoliosis, this is a spinal curve. Finally, seriously injured dogs walk wobbly with the hind legs and/or experience weakness of the front legs.
The phenomena usually arise from the age of six months. Many dogs lead a relatively normal life, but some dogs are deteriorating and are euthanized around middle age. There are therefore clearly different degrees of severity of the disease.
In other small breeds, the CM/SM condition also occurs, such as the King Charles Spaniel, Yorkshire Terrier, Mopshond, Chihuahua, Griffon, Shih Tzu, Bichon Frisé, Maltese, Dwarf Pinscher, Staffordshire Bull Terrier, Boston Terrier, Japanese Spaniel, Havanezer, Toy- and Dwarf Poodle, Dachshund, Jack Russel Terrier
The only certain way to determine the diagnosis of Syringomyelia and deformity of the hindhole is a MRI scan. MRI is Magnetic Resonance Imaging. Several genes probably play a role. Further DNA research is required to determine the genes involved, but no DNA marker has been found.