Spinal Cord Degeneration in Rottweilers

Leukoencephalomyelopathy in Rottweilers

Leukoencephalomyelopathy is a progressive, degenerative, and demyelinating disease which primarily affects the cervical spinal cord of Rottweilers. A type of material that form a layer (mylein sheath) around the spinal cord and brain nerve cells, myelin is vital for electrical impulses and resistances in the region.

This disease affects Rottweilers of either sex; typical onset in adults begin between the ages of 1 ½ and 3 years.

Symptoms and Types

The following symptoms are subtle and are generally seen without any history of injury or illness:

  • Unsteady walk
  • Weakness involving all four limbs
  • Exaggerated spinal reflexes
  • Unable to stand or walk (in advance cases)


The exact cause of leukoencephalomyelopathy is currently unknown.


You will need to give a thorough history of your dog’s health to your veterinarian, including the onset and nature of the symptoms. He or she will then perform a complete physical examination as well as a detailed examination of the dog's nervous system. X-rays of the cervical spine are usually non-descriptive, and therefore MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) scans are best used to rule out other causes of symptoms. 

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