Monday, September 30, 2019

Hind Leg Weakness in German Shepherd Dogs

Does Your GSD Suddenly Start Showing Signs of Hind Leg Weakness?

Rear Limb Weakness (RLW) or hind leg weakness is commonly seen in large breeds including GSD. A German Shepherd that used to run around without missing out even a single step may suddenly exhibit signs of Rear Limb Weakness (RLW) and pain in the hind leg(s). This condition of sudden and progressive weakening of your GSD's hind limbs may go worse day by day, and its sudden onset will put wrinkles on the owner's forehead. This post is aimed at helping you with detailed information about the probable reasons of the condition.

Degenerative Myelopathy

Among the several neurological disorders that manifest themselves with RLW and hind part pain, degenerative myelopathy is commonly found in dogs - irrespective of breed type, size and genders. In worst cases DM in your dog may eventually lead to paresis - partial loss of voluntary movement of the hind limbs. DM starts with malfunctioning of the spinal cord, where the signals are not properly carried to the brain and the dog gradually loses strength and control of the hind legs.

Spinal Cord Injury

Another major reason - quite common - for weakness in hind legs is spinal cord injury, caused by both traumatic and non-traumatic reasons. Any kind of bruise or inflammation in the spinal cord eventually lead to weakness in the rear legs. Severe injury to the spinal cord, and/or vertebral fractures leads to paralysis of rear limbs.

Common traumatic causes of spinal cord injury in dogs:

• Animal abuse (hit by humans)
• Automobile accidents
 • Accidental falls
• Violence - mainly from Gunshot wounds - common in police and war dogs
• Medical/ Surgical Complications

Common non-traumatic causes of spinal cord injury in dogs:

While non-traumatic spinal cord injuries are not as frequently seen as traumatic spinal cord injury, but they are still prevalent.

• Osteoporosis
 • Spinal tumors and cancer
• Multiple sclerosis (disabling disease of spinal cord and brain - the central nervous system(CNS))
• Inflammation of the spinal cord
• Arthritis
• Spinal Stenosis
• Blood Loss

Cushing's Diseases

Cushing's Disease is quite common in dogs of 6 years or above. Cushing's disease
(hyperadrenocorticism caused by an ACTH-secreting tumor of the pituitary gland) is the excess production of cortisol hormone by adrenal glands that are located near the kidneys. The hyper-secretion of Cortisol adversely affects the functioning of many organs and is often accompanied by hind leg weakness, excessive shedding and baldness, pot-bellied appearance, excessive thirst and hunger and general weakness.

Diabetes Mellitus

If your dog has high blood sugar, he/she may exhibit signs of back leg weakness. Overweight canines that are kept on high sugar diets and diets containing grains are more prone develop Diabetes Mellitus. The most common complication that arises from high blood sugar in dogs is diabetic neuropathy, where a temporary or permanent damage of nerve tissues. Such nerve damage usually progresses as a neuropathic problem resulting in weakening of hind legs. This condition eventually progresses either to pain or numbness, and finally the dog will stop movement.

Intervertebral disk disease (IVDD)

Non-Chondrodystrophic breeds like German Shepherd Dog, Doberman Pinscher and Labrador Retriever are prone to the risk of IVDD (Intervertebral disc degeneration). Also called Degenerative Disc Disease or disc rupture, the obese dogs are more exposed to the risk of this condition where the dog loses strength of hind legs, accompanied by mild pain. IVDD often leads to partial to total paralysis of back legs.


Another reason for your GSD's back leg weakness may be arthritic pain. Older dogs may suffer arthritis, weak joints and hip joint pain, which may severely compromize the dog's normal mobility. Arthritis in dogs may also lead to change in attitude and behavior.


Treatment completely depends on the cause of RLW. There is no single treatment for all causes of the condition. Your veterinarian may want you to perform and x-ray for your dog to ascertain the cause of weakness and/or pain the back legs. More than that, the vet may also ask you to perform blood tests and urinalysis of your dog that can help him in proper diagnosis. Sometimes general weakness along with RWL may be triggered by the altered (rise or fall) level of minerals like sodium, potassium, calcium, magnesium, or phosphorous in the blood. Electrolytic imbalance can be treated easily.

Note: Sometimes genetics are responsible for RLW. Unscientific breeding without keeping anatomy in focus cause puppies to grow with RLW. YOu will suddenly notice your adolescent pup or the adult GSD showing weakness in his hind, and losing motor function of his hind legs. Over time, the weakness grows into pain and may even get worsen. Proper breeding is hence highly desirable.

Buzz this


Shanon Sandquist October 13, 2019 at 3:02 PM  

Thank you for sharing! This is an awesome blog
about dogs!

Last Year's Most Read Out Posts

Advertise with us

About This Blog

All you need to know about German Shepherd Dogs. Read out what I have to share with you regarding the amazing German Shepherd Dog breed. Are Alsatian dogs and German Shepherd Dogs same? Who was Max Von Stephanitz and What is SV? Also learn a bit more in depth on German Shepherd Dog training tips, German Shepherd puppy care tips, German Shepherd Dog behavior, German Shepherd instinct, German Shepherd Dog standard and history of German Shepherds.

  © Our Blogger Template for Aringsburg's German Shepherd Dogs

Back to TOP