Shaking Puppy Syndrome (Discovered in the Border Terrier)

Spongiform LeucoEncephaloMyelopathy (SLEM) is a disorder commonly known as shaking puppy syndrome. Affected pups show severe body tremors, which are generally first noted when the puppy begins to try to walk.

Key Signs

Severe generalized tremors, uncoordinated movement

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 Shaking Puppy Syndrome

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 Shaking Puppy Syndrome

Clinical signs are apparent as soon as affected puppies begin to support weight and attempt to walk at approximately 2 weeks of age, although occasionally clinical signs do not appear until 8-10 weeks of age. Affected puppies exhibit severe generalized body tremors that are most severe in the hind limbs and result in a side-to-side swinging or a “rocking horse” movement. Tremors disappear when asleep or at rest. Affected pups also tend to have difficulty feeding, and may not gain weight as quickly as their unaffected littermates.

Many affected puppies with this condition are euthanized at an early age due to reduced quality of life. Some puppies have shown improvement over time with extensive supportive care.

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 disease is autosomal recessive meaning that two copies of the mutation are needed for disease signs to develop. A carrier dog with one copy of the Shaking Puppy Syndrome mutation can be safely bred with a clear dog with no copies of the Shaking Puppy Syndrome mutation. About half of the puppies will have one copy (carriers) and half will have no copies of the Shaking Puppy Syndrome mutation. 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 disease signs similar to the ones caused by the Shaking Puppy Syndrome mutation could develop due to a different genetic or clinical cause.

Technical Details

Technical details are not available at this moment.