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So, you have decided to get a Beagle? Before bringing a dog home, it is important to research the breed and to learn as much as possible about it, and once you start reading up on Beagles – you will soon come across something referred to as “dwarfism.”
The Beagle is sometimes affected by a genetic condition causing them to develop incorrectly, with shorter limbs and other bone deformities as a result. While it is not likely that your Beagle will turn out to have dwarfism, there are signs to look out for to get an affected dog the right help as soon as possible.
Canine Dwarfism – What Is It?
The term ‘dwarfism’, when talking about the canine health condition that produces short-legged dogs with bone deformities, is not entirely correct, and the preferred name would be Osteochondrodysplasia or Chondrodystrophy. Canine dwarfism, however, is the term you are most likely to encounter, and we are going to have a look at what it is and how it could affect a Beagle.
Chondrodystrophy affects a variety of dog breeds, such as the Beagle, the Alaskan Malamute, Samoyeds, Labrador Retrievers, and the Great Pyrenees. It is an abnormal development of the bones and cartilage, that causes the dog to look odd and deformed, often with shorter legs and a crocked spine.
One variety of Osteochondrodysplasia is Achondroplasia, which is where the dog’s bones fail to grow to what would be considered normal size, usually resulting in abnormally short legs.
The explanation for this condition is hidden right in the name – Osteochondrodysplasia – where the word ‘osteo’ refers to the bone, ‘chondro’ means cartilage, and ‘dysplasia’ is the word used for any type of abnormal bone growth.
Without proper training and experience, it can be hard to spot the signs of Chondrodystrophy in Beagle puppies, and unless you buy your Beagle puppy from a licensed breeder – you run the risk of bringing home a dog with a significant genetic defect.
A dog with dwarfism may look cute and funny, but in severe cases, it could lead to having to euthanize the puppy, due to its deformities causing pain and unnecessary suffering. The following are symptoms of dwarfism (Chondrodystrophy) in dogs:
+ Bent front legs with outward-pointing elbows.
+ Joints that appear larger and more protruded.
+ A head that is larger than normal.
+ A short snout and an underbite.
+ Crooked teeth caused by the deformed jaw.
+ Failure to grow normally.
+ The spine curving to the left or right.
This is a condition that is genetic, and it does not have anything to do with the environment the Beagle has been brought up in. You can feed your Beagle puppy the best dog food for Beagle dogs that is available. It won’t prevent or cure this disorder, and it is important to contact a veterinarian if you think your dog might be suffering from dwarfism.
What is tricky about this condition is that the gene that causes the mutation can be carried by either the male or the female dog, and it can be passed onto the puppy by either of the two. Only one of the parent animals need to carry the gene for it to potentially affect the offspring, and a dog can be a carrier without having any signs of canine dwarfism themselves.
Life Quality & Prospects of Life
This is a complex question, as some Beagles with mild dwarfism may be able to live close to normal lives; they may be less active than a healthy Beagle but could possibly reach the same age as any other Beagle without any major health concerns.
A moderately severe case could require the dog to be given medication throughout his or her life, to delay the possible onset of arthritis and other painful secondary conditions – caused by deformed bones and joints. If so, your Beagle should be able to live a somewhat normal life and enjoy some – but not all – activities usually associated with dogs and dog ownership.
In more severe cases, where the deformities are extreme, the dog might have to be put down to prevent it from suffering. These will be the dogs that cannot live a normal life due to pain and/or physical limitations, and a veterinarian can help determine what is right for your dog. It is one of those situations when it is important not to be selfish, and to do what is best for your Beagle, instead of for yourself.
There is no need for new Beagle owners to worry because while the condition is more commonly occurring in Beagles than in some other breeds, it does not make it common.
There is currently no way of testing a parent animal to see if they are carrying the gene, which is why a puppy might be affected also in litters coming from responsible breeders, but breeders are working to minimize this by paying close attention to symptoms and signs of the Chondrodystrophy gene. Always talk to your veterinarian if you are concerned about your Beagle’s health.
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