Chondrodystrophy is a condition that affects different breeds of dog, one of which is the Beagle. Dogs affected by chondrodystrophy, which is also known as osteochondrodysplasia, are often unusually small in size in addition to being plagued by skeletal deformities. These conditions have actually played a role in the breeding of dogs such as the Basset Hound, but the related deformities are not desirable in the Beagle breed and it is desirous that they be avoided.
Photo: AlaDar Beagles
Chondrodysplasia is a condition that often presents from a very young age with more obvious signs becoming apparent by weaning time. Dogs that are small enough to be dubbed runts could actually have chondrodystrophy. Though it may not be clear initially other than through observing the small size of affected dogs, it does tend to present in more obvious ways as puppies grow. This is generally when the associated deformities of chondrodysplasia become more obvious. Some examples of what you might see in an affected dog include legs that are unusually short as well as squatty with this typically occurring in the front legs but sometimes in the back as well. Additionally, those legs may be crooked, causing the paws to point in an unnatural direction, such as toeing out or appearing pigeon toed. The spine and skull may show signs of deformity and puppies may have difficulty walking as well as enduring pain throughout the growth process. Depending on the severity of the condition, it may be manageable with anti-inflammatories or euthanasia may be recommended. Dogs with mild cases can live a mostly normal life although early onset arthritis is likely and a career as a rabbit dog may not be in the cards.
Responsible breeding of rabbit dogs as well as all other types and breeds of dogs is something that should always be practiced. Healthy, correct specimens are those whose genes should be passed on, but in the case of chondrodysplasia, that can be easier said than done. A dog can be a carrier of this disease without showing any physical signs and studies on the probability of inheritance are lacking for the Beagle breed. Research on other breeds, however, indicates that the disease appears in pups that are the offspring of parents who each carry a recessive copy of the gene. Carriers of this recessive gene will not appear to have any outward issues and all it takes is the breeding of two carriers to bring it out in their offspring; the condition is currently verified via x-ray of affected dog as no DNA test for Beagles is available. Any offspring bearing this condition should not be bred even if the condition is mild or manageable with supportive care. Similarly, dogs who at any time produce affected offspring should be retired from breeding immediately to prevent chondrodysplasia from being passed on once again.
Photo: American Beagler
Though breeding should always be conducting with the intention of improving the breed, this is one scenario that is difficult if not impossible to predict due to inavailability of DNA testing. Once it becomes obvious that a dog is a carrier, breeding can be halted, but in the meantime breeding Beagles can be a bit of a roll of the dice. If you are shopping for a rabbit dog, asking breeders if their stock has ever produced a dog with chondrodystrophy is important, especially if you plan on breeding rabbit dogs of your own via that dog in the future.
Have you ever experienced a Beagle with chondrodystrophy? Was that dog able to live a normal, productive life? Let us know in the comments.