Boogie Shoes looking dapper in a pink and white bow-tie.

Picture courtesy of Alicia X. Bailey of Little Boogie, a dog with CH.

Cerebellar Hypoplasia (CH) is a condition caused by a portion of the brain called the Cerebellum not developing properly in a puppy. It can either be hereditary, meaning it was passed down through genetics, or caused by an injury to the puppy in the womb.

Injuries that can cause Cerebellar Hypoplasia include lack of nutrition during pregnancy, infections of the womb, or toxin exposure while the mother is pregnant.

The Cerebellum

The cerebellum is located at the back of the dog’s brain and helps the dog coordinate complex movements. This means things like balancing while walking, jumping up on the couch, or even getting a drink are all tasks the Cerebellum helps with.

Symptoms of Cerebellar Hypoplasia

When the Cerebellum is not formed correctly, it can lead to problems in coordination. Dogs with CH tend to display the following symptoms:

  • Head Bobbing
  • Tremors
  • Exaggerated movement
  • Wide Stance when Standing

Dogs with Cerebellar Hypoplasia appear to be dancing when they walk around. They may appear to be prancing or jiggling as they walk. This is out of their control and is caused by the improperly formed Cerebellum.

There are a few other disorders that look very similar to CH, a diagnoses by a neurologist should be conducted to make sure this is the issue the dog is facing.

Treatment Options

There are no treatment options currently available for Cerebellar Hypoplasia. Management is the best solution for these dogs. The good news is, as long as the dog with CH has enough control to carry out the basic needs of life, they can live a full and happy life.

Dogs with CH do need some special care however. They can suddenly fall down, so need to be kept away from concrete, sharp and pointy object, and anything else that may cause them injury if they suddenly bang into them.

Caution may be needed when introducing a dog with CH to unfamiliar animals as well. According to the owner of Nixie Pearl, a chihuahua with CH, other dogs may not know how to interpret the tremors of a CH dog and the tremors could provoke a reaction.

Dogs with extreme cases may need some help steadying themselves when they go potty or for exercise. According to the owner of Boogie Shoes, also a chihuahua with CH, a soft sling is a great way to give dogs the support they need for these situations.

Some dogs may need a little help with food and water, if their coordination is so poor they can’t keep control long enough to reach in a bowl.

Apart from needing some special supports, dogs with CH can live full and happy lives. The only difference may be their unusual style of getting around. CH does not shorten lifespan, nor does it seem to cause other ill effects.

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By Andrea

Andrea is a dedicated dog mom of three chihuahuas. She has over a decade of experience as a dog groomer, chihuahua owner, and more recently as a dog trainer. She loves all things canine, particularly chihuahuas.

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