DM is likened to multiple sclerosis which is an unresolved auto immune problem.
DM occurs when the myelin sheath surrounding the nerve cells fail.
Three percent of GSD’s in the USA have DM. This represents between 14,000 to 42,000 dogs, which is less than 0.1% of all dogs. The percentage of dogs with DM in Great Britain is unknown. There are too many factors involved, such as feeding, mechanical handling and vaccinations to say whether DM is a genetic disorder.

There appear to be different types of DM. Some progress very rapidly to total paralysis, others take years, progression being so slow that the owner does not notice any difference until the problem is well established. 

DM is on the increase, we wish to know why!

Various experts studying the problem have suggested that the dog should be tested for Vitamin B and Vitamin E deficiencies. Doses of the vitamins should be given if necessary.


Methods of keeping the muscles in fairly good working order have been established, but we need a method of keeping the precious myelin sheath sound from degeneration.

DM is most common between the ages of 5 and 14 years old. It is a problem associated with middle to old age. It is important to distinguish this disease from other potentially curable diseases, such as lumbeosacral disease/cauda equina syndrome and disc problems.

 The clinical signs of DM are:
Non painful
Knuckling paws
Wearing down of the toe nails
Stumbling
Goose-stepping
Hind -Limb weakness.
Increase Tendon Reflexes

A myelogram can help identify if a dog is suffering from DM. It involves an X-ray of the back, after special dye is injected  around the spinal cord. This will show if a disc is compressing the spinal cord. If this is normal DM has been confirmed. This has to be performed at a Veterinary Teaching Hospital.

Exercise to keep the muscles firm and supple must be increased, swimming is a good way of establishing a routine, and this can help your pet cope and extend its life. There are a number of physiotherapists who treat  animals, they can give you hands on exercise programmes, from which you’re pet can benefit.

A pack is available with information collected at a small charge.

The GSD Owners Information Group is entirely voluntary. The group is in touch and works with experts throughout the GSD world.

Further, more recent information on DM may be found on the 'Research' page