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Canine Multiple Systems Degeneration (Discovered in the Chinese Crested Dog)

Canine Multiple Systems Degeneration (CMSD) is a neurodegenerative disorder that has an early onset and progressively affects walking and motor skills. The associated genetic variant has been identified in the Chinese Crested Dog.

Found in

1 in 7,600 dogs

in our testing

Key Signs

Progressive neurologic signs, Intention tremors, Exaggerated high-stepping gait, Irregular gait, Poor balance, Decreased coordination

Age of Onset

0 to 2 yrs

Juvenile onset


Autosomal Recessive

For autosomal recessive disorders, dogs with two copies of the variant are at risk of developing the condition. Dogs with one copy of the variant are considered carriers and are usually not at risk of developing the disorder. However, carriers of some complex variants grouped in this category may be associated with a low risk of developing the disorder. Individuals with one or two copies may pass the disorder-associated variant to their puppies if bred.

Likelihood of the Condition

High likelihood

At risk dogs are highly likely to show signs of this disease in their lifetime.

What to Do

Here’s how to care for a dog with CMSD

Partner with your veterinarian to make a plan regarding your dog’s well-being, including any insights provided through genetic testing. If your pet is at risk or is showing signs of this disorder, then the first step is to speak with your veterinarian.

For Veterinarians

Here’s what a vet needs to know about CMSD

Canine Multiple Systems Degeneration has an early onset with affected dogs often showing clinical signs by 3 to 6 months of age. Initially, affected dogs may show cranial intention tremors and cerebellar ataxia. Hypermetria, sometimes referred to a "goose stepping" gait, and infrequent falling may also be observed. Typically by 6 to 8 months of age, the disorder progresses to include more frequent falling and the affected dog’s gait changes to a hurried, irregular pattern (known as festination with dysmetria). Unfortunately, euthanasia is often elected by 13 to 18 months of age as clinical signs tend to progress to frequent falling, complete loss of voluntary movement (akinesia), and inability to control posture.

Treatment of affected dogs is limited to supportive care. Due to the severe and progressive nature of the disorder, euthanasia is typically elected before two years of age.

For Breeders

Planning to breed a dog with this genetic variant?

There are many responsibilities to consider when breeding dogs. Regardless of test results it is important that your dog is in good general health and that you are in a position to care for the puppies if new responsible owners are not found. For first time or novice breeders, advice can be found at most kennel club websites.

This disorder is autosomal recessive, meaning two copies of the variant are needed for a dog to be at an elevated risk for being diagnosed with the condition. A carrier dog with one copy of the Canine Multiple Systems Degeneration (Discovered in the Chinese Crested Dog) variant can be safely bred with a clear dog with no copies of the Canine Multiple Systems Degeneration (Discovered in the Chinese Crested Dog) variant. About half of the puppies will have one copy (carriers) and half will have no copies of the variant. Puppies in a litter which is expected to contain carriers should be tested prior to breeding. Carrier to carrier matings are not advised as the resulting litter may contain affected puppies. Please note: It is possible that disorder signs similar to the ones associated with this CMSD variant could develop due to a different genetic or clinical cause.

Technical Details

Variant Deletion
Chromosome 1
Coordinate Start 47,647,259
Coordinate End 47,647,262

All coordinates reference CanFam3.1

References & Credit

Credit to our scientific colleagues:

Zeng R. Molecular genetic studies in canine inherited diseases including neonatal cerebellar ataxia, degenerative myelopathy and multiple system degeneration. 2013. Dissertation, University of Missouri.