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Dwarfism in Beagles

Chondrodystrophy or osteochondrodysplasia is more commonly, though erroneously, called dwarfism. It occurs in a number of different breeds including Alaskan Malamutes and Beagles. Some breeds, such as the Basset Hound and Dachshund have been created around chondrodysplastic dogs. But the disease has to be carefully managed to create a breed around it that doesn’t suffer from severe deformities and health issues and in most cases, barring breeds like the Basset Hound, it is an unwelcome problem.

Symptoms of Chondrodysplasia

The signs that a dog may be chondrodysplastic appear quite young. These dogs are often abnormally small and may be considered runts. As they grow, deformities of the legs and spine may become more apparent. The legs tend to be shorter than would otherwise be expected, thick, and crooked. Affected puppies may have difficulty learning to walk and may go through periods of pain when the legs are growing. Although the front legs are most commonly affected, there can also be signs of chondrodysplasia in the rear legs, skull and spine.

It is a disease that can be anywhere from mild to severe in how it presents. In mild cases, the dog may live a normal life and simply look a bit odd. More moderate cases may require anti-inflammatories and other measures to delay onset of arthritis and joint issues. The dog will likely be less active than a normal Beagle but can still live a reasonably good life. In severe cases though there are often multiple deformities and the pain the puppy experiences as a result can be severe. In these cases, euthanasia is often considered the most humane option.

Genetics of Chondrodysplasia

There have been no formal studies looking into the mode of inheritance of chondrodysplasia in Beagles. However, it has been extensively studied in Alaskan Malamutes and they have a developed a gene test for it to see if potential breeding dogs carry the gene. It is inherited through a simple autosomal recessive gene pairing. This means that an affected dog will carry two recessive genes for the issue, one from each parent. A carrier will not have the disease or any symptoms of it but can pass the gene on to his offspring and produce affected puppies if bred to another carrier or an affected dog.

It is believed that it is inherited in the same manner in Beagles although a gene test has not yet been developed to help identify carriers. Affected dogs should not be bred, regardless of how mild the symptoms are. If a dog has produced affected offspring, they can safely be considered a carrier and extra care should be taken to ensure that they are not bred to another carrier to avoid producing more chondrodysplastic puppies.

Pocket Beagles

A pocket Beagle is not a chondrodysplastic dog. Although the true line of pocket Beagles disappeared quite some time ago some breeders have attempted to produce a smaller than normal sized Beagle. Breeding to reduce size can cause other health issues but these dogs should not be confused with chondrodysplastic Beagles.

Be Safe

With no gene test to assist in identifying carriers, a chondrodysplastic Beagle may sometimes appear in a litter despite the best efforts of the breeder. In most cases, the individual can be readily identified as having a health issue before they are ready to go to their new home. A mildly affected puppy may seem a little odd or “funny” but not necessarily crippled or deformed and someone less familiar with the breed and the disease may not recognize it as being chondrodysplastic. A good breeder stands behind their dogs and offers a written health guarantee that covers genetic issues like chondrodysplasia. For this and many other reasons, you should always seek out a responsible breeder that takes pride in their dogs and backs it up with written sales contracts and health guarantees.

Should you have a concern regarding the health of your Beagle(s), you should contact your veterinarian. All information on this site is presented solely for educational and informational purposes and should not, at any time, be considered a substitute for seeking or receiving veterinary care for your Beagle(s).