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J S Afr Vet Assoc. 2003 Dec;74(4):104-10.

Cervical spondylomyelopathy (wobbler syndrome) in the Boerboel.

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  • 1Department of Companion Animal Clinical Studies, Faculty of Veterinary Science, University of Pretoria, Private Bag X04, Onderstepoort 0110, South Africa.


The Boerboel is a South African large-breed dog resembling a Bullmastiff. The records of Onderstepoort Veterinary Academic Hospital were searched for dogs that had presented, between 1998 and 2003, with symptoms indicative of wobbler syndrome and had undergone survey radiographic and myelographic studies. Ten cases fitted the inclusion criteria. Dogs presented within the first 2 years of life, often with acute onset of symptoms. All presented with pelvic limb and 6 with concomitant thoracic limb ataxia or paresis. Treatment varied and included none (4), prednisolone (2), and dorsal laminectomy (2). Two dogs were euthanased at the time of diagnosis. The breed appears to be affected with a form of spondylomyelopathy that comprises bony malformation of cervical and/or thoracic vertebrae. In 8 dogs, malformations were evident on survey radiographs and were characterised by enlarged, irregular articular facets and associated medial deviation of the pedicles. These changes resulted in axial compression of the spinal cord best seen on ventrodorsal or dorsoventral myelographic studies. Multiple vertebrae were affected in some dogs and lesions were not confined to the caudal area of the cervical spine. Three dogs were alive and without symptoms at follow-up. Four were euthanased as a result of the disease and 1 died as a result of post-operative complications. Two additional dogs presenting with wobbler clinical signs are also described. One had medial deviation of the T5 and T6 caudal pedicles and 1 dog suffered from multiple cervical articular facet synovial cysts.

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