What Is Wobblers In Great Danes?

Great Danes develop health problems in their lifetime and one of these is Wobblers Syndrome or simply Wobblers.

In this article, we will aim to show you what the health problem is, the symptoms, causes, and treatment. 

What Is Wobblers In Great Danes?

Wobblers in Great Danes refers to Wobblers Syndrome which is a neurological disease that affects a Great Dane’s spinal cord region in the neck. The disease is a result of compression of the spinal cord and nerves in the neck which affects the neurological system causing a Great Dane to have neck pain and difficulty in walking by having a wobbly walk, thus the name wobblers.

The “ wobblers” disease is common in large dog breeds and the Great Dane is at a high risk of developing it. It is more common in Great Danes 3 years and younger.

The disease starts mildly and progresses, becoming severe overtime.

The disease is also commonly referred to as cervical vertebral malformation (CVM), cervical vertebral instability(CVI), cervical spondylopathy, and cervical vertebral malformation malarticulation (CVMM). 

What are the symptoms of Wobblers?

what-is-wobblers-in-great danes

The symptoms of Wobblers Syndrome are obvious especially when a dog walks. The symptoms include:

  • Neck pain
  • Stiffness of the neck
  • Stiffness of the thoracic limbs
  • Lameness
  • Weak and uncoordinated walk, that is, wobbling when walking or standing
  • Paralysis can be partial or complete in all four legs
  • Difficulty in getting up or lying down with limb weakness
  • Difficulty in walking and there is stumbling
  • Head hanging down when walking due to pain.

What causes Wobblers in Great Danes?

The exact cause of Wobblers has not exactly been established, however, the following are associated with the development of the disease:

Genetic predisposition

Certain dog breeds are at high risk of developing the disease. It is mainly developed by large and giant breed dogs than small breed dogs. The Great Dane being a giant breed dog is at a high risk of developing the disease.

Related: Great Dane having seizures: Is it common for Great Danes to have seizures?

Nutritional factors

Nutritional factors have been linked to the development of the disease. Feeding a Great Dane with excess protein, calories, and calcium has been linked to the disease development in the breed.


The main age categories of a dog that are at a high risk of the disease development are the young adult large breed dogs and middle-aged or older dogs.

Young adult large breed dog’s physical structure is that of a narrowing vertebral canal and together with their rapid growth, this increases the risk of spinal cord compression.

In middle-aged or older dogs, the degeneration of the vertebral column, joints, and ligaments as they age results in the narrowing of the vertebral canal.

This physical change due to aging leads to compression of the spinal cord which results in pain and also affects the neurological system which in turn affects a dog’s movement.

Diagnosis of Wobblers Syndrome

The diagnosis is provided by a vet following a physical and neurological examination.

Recommended Reading: What is Bloat in Great Danes?

How do you treat Wobblers in dogs?

Treatment options for Wobblers include medical management through the administration of medication and surgical options.

What determines the type of treatment provided is based on the severity of the disease in a dog. The vet discusses these options with you.

Medical Management

Non-surgical treatment involves the management of pain and restriction of activity.

The medication provided includes anti-inflammatory and pain drugs which help to relieve the pain experienced and decrease the pressure on the spinal nerves and spinal cord.

In addition to medication, the activity of a dog is restricted.

A harness is best recommended when you walk your dog. Leashes and collars are prohibited because they hurt the neck and cause more pain.

Surgical Options

Several surgical options are available, 21 to be exact,  which provide a higher success rate of recovery from Wobblers Syndrome compared to the medication option.

The vet discusses these options with you and the best option is selected in consideration of the severity of the disease and other factors.

The management of a dog after surgery includes physical therapy to prevent the deterioration of muscles.

Restriction of movement of a dog is also advised, which means activities such as exercise running and jumping are off-limits.

The vet may also recommend a catheter to restrict the movement of your dog from going outside to relieve themselves.

Through the guidance of your vet, the diet is also adjusted to reduce the amount of protein, calories, and calcium.

Recommended Reading: Why is my Great Dane puppy so skinny?

How do you prevent Wobblers Syndrome?

Wobblers Syndrome cannot be prevented because it is a genetic disease. However, a degree of preventive measure can be implemented around a dog’s diet to prevent fast growth which increases the risk of development of the disease and its severity. 

How long can a dog live with Wobblers?

A dog with Wobblers can live an average of 4 years with medication or after surgical treatment.

The prognosis after surgery is usually good, however, this depends on the individual dog’s condition such as their age, weight, the type of and the number of spinal cord compressions, the duration of the presentation of the symptoms before diagnosis, presence of other medical conditions among other factors.


The Great Dane is at a high risk of developing certain health conditions. It is important as their owner to be aware of these conditions so that you may know how to best care for your dog to either prevent occurrences or seek immediate medical help when you spot the symptoms. This will ensure you provide your Great Dane the best care for a healthy life. 

I hope this article has helped you understand what Wobblers Syndrome is in Great Danes and what treatment options are available for it. If you have any concerns about your Great Dane, talk to your vet for further guidance.

If you liked this article you may also like to learn more from the below resources on Great Danes.

Related Posts