Presence of cervical vertebral malformation in Dobermann puppies and the effects of diet and growth rate

Research output: Journal Publications and Reviews (RGC: 21, 22, 62)21_Publication in refereed journalpeer-review

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)814-818
Journal / PublicationAustralian Veterinary Journal
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - Dec 1999
Externally publishedYes


Objective: To investigate the relationship between diet, growth rate and the presence of caudal cervical malformation in Doberman puppies. Design: A prospective study of 15 Dobermann puppies from three unrelated litters, aged from 0 to 16 weeks. Procedure: The growth rate in terms of body weight gain and increase in ulna length were measured weekly for all puppies. In addition the nutritional quality of the diets was assessed. Radiographs of the cervical spine were taken at 6 and between 12 and 16 weeks of age and examined for the presence of caudal cervical vertebral malformation. A mixed model for repeated measures data was used to investigate the relationship between the growth rate of the puppies and the fixed effects age, dam, diet, gender and presence of caudal cervical malformation. Results: Five of the puppies had changes consistent with caudal cervical malformation. The diets fed were either balanced or transiently deficient in protein, calcium, phosphorus and/or magnesium. There was no significant association between growth rate and the variables dam, gender and the presence of caudal cervical vertebral malformation. There was no significant association between diet and increase in ulna length, but a trend existed between body weight gain and the feeding of a balanced diet (P = 0.0672). Conclusion: Caudal cervical vertebral changes can be detected radiographically as early as 6 weeks of age in some Dobermann puppies. A balanced diet and growth rate are not significant factors in its initial development.

Research Area(s)

  • Cervical caudal malformation, Dobermann, Dog, Growth rate