Skip to main content
  • Meeting abstract
  • Open access
  • Published:

Canine chondrodystrophic intervertebral disc disease (Hansen type I disc disease)

Intervertebral disc disease (IVDD) is the most common spinal disease in dogs. Chondrodystrophic dogs, which have disproportionably short and curved limbs, are predisposed to Hansen type I IVDD and of these the miniature Dachshund is over represented [1, 2], is more likely to be presented at an earlier age [3] and is at greater risk of a severe spinal cord injury [4]. The tendency for IVDD in Dachshunds is inherited [5, 6] and a major locus on chromosome 12 harbours genetic variations affecting the development of intervertebral disc calcification [7]. Hansen type I disc degeneration is thought to occur because of loss of notochordal cells which produce proteoglycans which “hold water” in the disc. Chondrodystrophic dogs have a primary deficiency of notochordal cells, a study found that large notochordal cells in the nucleus pulposus of chondrodystrophoid dogs formed 13% of the cell population in young dogs and fell to 0.4% in adults, whereas they were the predominant cell type in the nonchondrodystrophoid dogs at all ages [8]. Thus chondrodystrophoid dogs suffer early degenerative changes in the disc and a concomitant reduction in proteoglycan content, increased collagen, and loss of water content making the discs likely to herniate [8]. Certain lifestyle factors may increase or decrease risk of IVDD and this is currently under investigation. There is a suggestion that exercise (including stair climbing) reduces the incidence of disc calcification [9]. By contrast it has been hypothesized that obesity/lack of postural muscle strength may increase risk. Dachshunds with intervertebral disc extrusion had significantly smaller cross sectional area and greater fat infiltration in the epaxial muscles (muscles which lie dorsal to the horizontal septum of the vertebrae which mobilize and globally stabilize the trunk [10]) compared to dogs presenting with fibrocartilagenous embolism (another acute onset intervertebral disc related spinal disease) [11]. In addition chondrodystrophic dogs may have increased risk of IVVD if they have a more extreme conformation e.g. Dachshunds that have a longer back and shorter limbs are more at risk [12] and breeds with a comparatively heavy head such as the Bassett Hound may be more at risk of cervical disc disease. Breeds with a tendency for kyphoscoliosis such as the French Bulldog may be more at risk of IVDD in the IVDs adjacent to a vertebral malformation [13, 14]. This presentation details the pathogeneis, clinical presentation, diagnosis and treatment of IVDD in chondrodystrophic dogs.


  1. Bergknut N, Egenvall A, Hagman R, Gustas P, Hazewinkel HA, Meij BP, Lagerstedt AS: Incidence of intervertebral disk degeneration-related diseases and associated mortality rates in dogs. J Am Vet Med Assoc. 2012, 240 (11): 1300-1309. 22607596, 10.2460/javma.240.11.1300

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  2. Stigen O: Calcification of intervertebral discs in the dachshund: a radiographic study of 115 dogs at 1 and 5 years of age. Acta Vet Scand. 1996, 37 (3): 229-237. 8996869, 1:STN:280:DyaK2s7ltVWisg%3D%3D

    CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  3. Itoh H, Hara Y, Yoshimi N, Harada Y, Nezu Y, Yogo T, et al: A retrospective study of intervertebral disc herniation in dogs in Japan: 297 cases. J Vet Med Sci. 2008, 70 (7): 701-706. 18685242, 10.1292/jvms.70.701

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  4. Olby N, Levine J, Harris T, Munana K, Skeen T, Sharp N: Long-term functional outcome of dogs with severe injuries of the thoracolumbar spinal cord: 87 cases (1996-2001). J Am Vet Med Assoc. 2003, 222 (6): 762-769. 12675299, 10.2460/javma.2003.222.762

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  5. Jensen VF, Christensen KA: Inheritance of disc calcification in the dachshund. J Vet Med A Physiol Pathol Clin Med. 2000, 47 (6): 331-340. 11008442, 1:STN:280:DC%2BD3cvltlWguw%3D%3D, 10.1046/j.1439-0442.2000.00297.x

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  6. Stigen O, Christensen K: Calcification of intervertebral discs in the dachshund: an estimation of heritability. Acta Vet Scand. 1993, 34 (4): 357-361. 8147287, 1:STN:280:DyaK2c7pslSrsA%3D%3D

    CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  7. Mogensen MS, Karlskov-Mortensen P, Proschowsky HF, Lingaas F, Lappalainen A, Lohi H, et al: Genome-wide association study in Dachshund: identification of a major locus affecting intervertebral disc calcification. J Hered. 2011, 102 (Suppl 1): S81-S86. 21846751, 10.1093/jhered/esr021

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  8. Cappello R, Bird JL, Pfeiffer D, Bayliss MT, Dudhia J: Notochordal cell produce and assemble extracellular matrix in a distinct manner, which may be responsible for the maintenance of healthy nucleus pulposus. Spine (Phila Pa 1976). 2006, 31 (8): 873-882. 10.1097/01.brs.0000209302.00820.fd

    Article  Google Scholar 

  9. Jensen VF, Ersboll AK: Mechanical factors affecting the occurrence of intervertebral disc calcification in the dachshund--a population study. J Vet Med A Physiol Pathol Clin Med. 2000, 47 (5): 283-296. 10932525, 1:STN:280:DC%2BD3M%2FhtVGnug%3D%3D, 10.1046/j.1439-0442.2000.00296.x

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  10. Schilling N, Carrier DR: Function of the epaxial muscles in walking, trotting and galloping dogs: implications for the evolution of epaxial muscle function in tetrapods. J Exp Biol. 2010, 213 (Pt 9): 1490-1502. 20400634, 10.1242/jeb.039487

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  11. Bostrom AF, Hielm-Bjorkman AK, Chang YM, Weller R, Davies ES: Comparison of cross sectional area and fat infiltration of the epaxial muscles in dogs with and without spinal cord compression. Res Vet Sci. 2014, 97 (3): 646-651. 25294251, 10.1016/j.rvsc.2014.09.006

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  12. Packer RM, Hendricks A, Volk HA, Shihab NK, Burn CC: How long and low can you go? Effect of conformation on the risk of thoracolumbar intervertebral disc extrusion in domestic dogs. PLoS One. 2013, 8 (7): e69650-23894518, 1:CAS:528:DC%2BC3sXht1ert77N, 3722130, 10.1371/journal.pone.0069650

    Article  CAS  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  13. Aikawa T, Shibata M, Asano M, Hara Y, Tagawa M, Orima H: A comparison of thoracolumbar intervertebral disc extrusion in French Bulldogs and Dachshunds and association with congenital vertebral anomalies. Vet Surg. 2014, 43 (3): 301-307. 24433331, 10.1111/j.1532-950X.2014.12102.x

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  14. Faller K, Penderis J, Stalin C, Guevar J, Yeamans C, Gutierrez-Quintana R: The effect of kyphoscoliosis on intervertebral disc degeneration in dogs. Vet J. 2014, 200 (3): 449-451. 24745767, 10.1016/j.tvjl.2014.03.027

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Rights and permissions

This article is published under license to BioMed Central Ltd. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.

Reprints and permissions

About this article

Check for updates. Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Rusbridge, C. Canine chondrodystrophic intervertebral disc disease (Hansen type I disc disease). BMC Musculoskelet Disord 16 (Suppl 1), S11 (2015).

Download citation

  • Published:

  • DOI: