Help! Severe down pasterns! - Page 1

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by xoxogsd on 01 March 2020 - 23:03

Help please! We are desperate! 

My 6 month working line GS pup has severe down pasterns. We didn’t really notice it until he was around 3 months old. We always thought he just had big paws but we were wrong. One of my Schutzhund club members pointed it out at first and he told us to go see an ortho specialist right away. (The club member that pointed it out is a working line GSD breeder and he knows this to be primarily genetic) We were so scared and worried. 

We went to the Ortho specialist and she said it could be carpal laxity or carpal subluxation, but that he definitely has down pasterns, not weak pasterns. She believes it to be due to his genetics after I showed her baby pictures of our boy less than 24 hrs of having him, which shows his pasterns to be weak. She believes this is something he was born with. 

We got x-rays done as well and nothing was wrong with his pastern area. He has never had an injury before, never had worms either, so we have no idea why he has down pasterns. The specialist was also worried about his elbows as he showed pain during range of motion. X-rays of his elbows were taken but no signs of dysplasia. However, she was still worried about his elbows and said it is likely that his down pasterns are impacting his elbows. She said our boy has a high risk of early arthritis and can impact other parts of his body; like how it is impacting his elbows.

After doing tons of research and talking to others with knowledge on this defect, we were recommended we change his diet to a lower protein food (21-23%), although it was still low before. No improvements. We give him daily supplements as well including, whole food Vit C sources, pure MSM powder, homemade bone broth, glucosamine etc. He gets plenty of exercise as well, including walks, free roaming on a long leash and hikes. He is not allowed to jump, run or go up/down the stairs. His movements are always on soft surfaces, such as grass, mud, dirt and sand. We do not allow him to walk on man-made surfaces. 

We feel like we have done and tried everything to get his pasterns to go up, and we are losing hope. Almost all the people I have talked to believe it to be primarily genetic but I have not met our boy’s parents, only pictures. We have talked to the breeder who says it’s never been in her lines. We love our boy so much and it is just so so heart breaking to see him with this defect. We just really want to continue Schutzhund training because that was our plan with our boy but we’re not sure he would even be able to continue with his pasterns in that condition. 

Please, if anyone here has any experience with this whatsoever, I would like to hear what you did about it and what your results were. At this point, having him just be able to play normally and do regular dog things without restrictions is my goal.

ALSO, how do I post pictures on here? I can't seem to add the photos.

Thank you so much for reading! 


by bantam7 on 02 March 2020 - 01:03

To add photos click the "Enable Editor" button while writing a post and hit the "image" icon.

I have no personal experience with this issue but I recall Fred Lanting having a regimen he's had success with. You can email him at

by jillmissal on 02 March 2020 - 09:03

Honestly there's nothing you can do if the dog has poor conformation. Lower protein food is in general a good idea as is supplementing with Cosequin or Dasuquin but all those will do is work to keep his joints a bit more comfortable.

Vitamin C, "bone broth" etc. all pointless, sorry.

That said, he's a 6 month old puppy and he does need to jump, run, and go up and down stairs to develop musculature properly. I don't know where this whole "keep puppy in a bubble for two years" thing started but it's way more harmful to a dog's development than normal puppy and young dog running and playing. Let him have fun and develop some strength- that's possibly the best thing you could possibly do for him.

by old shatterhand on 02 March 2020 - 11:03

Place him to good home, there is no hope for him. He will never come out of this, and thinking breeding, training, showing he is done will all of that.

by Rik on 02 March 2020 - 12:03

I saw this issue several times when showing ASL. I did see a few that were flat on their pasterns come up with age, 2 that finished AKC Championships, pasterns always looked "soft" even on the ones that came up.

lower protein may help, I knew one guy that built a run filled with sand to provide low impact surface and strengthen pasterns.

it's a heart breaker to see. I really don't think any of the "miracle" cures that were offered back then (of course by breeders who never had this in their line} ever worked.

they will improve some or they won't. I know that's not what you are hoping to hear, but that is pretty much what I have seen. and I have seen it pretty up close.


by Hundmutter on 02 March 2020 - 13:03

I'm not sure what difference your Ortho specialist sees between 'down' and 'weak' ? Any pasterns at the wrong angle clearly have a genetic origin, and some dogs may have bone development / growth problems that force the foot into an inappropriate position; but it is also true that some dogs with very < weak > ones have seen some improvement as they have grown, particularly if the owner has made the effort to exercise them on a variety of surfaces, especially sand, to get the feet to flex properly. Swimming is good, also. I think the others are correct, sadly the dog is probably never going to be good enough in this regard for a successful Conformation Show career, and it is very possible he will never come right enough for a busy Working life either. But he can probably have a nice enough life as a companion / family dog. IF he does not get other things going wrong with his joints because of unusual pressure from not walking so well - I think your fears in this regard are justified, but time will tell. My mentor once produced a very odd GSD male who was different from the rest of his litter in that he had a normal size body but very short legs; and his pasterns were really down as part of this odd physique. [There was debate about whether he was an achondroplastic dwarf or whether for some reason he did not metabolise his nutrients properly and this was Ricketts.] His diet was changed to include raw minced beef, which she did not normally feed, and he was exposed to as much sunlight as possible. He had a lovely glossy coat but his legs did not improve hugely ! He would never have done a day's real work, nor won any beauty prizes, but he went to an owner who did not mind his odd looks and cosseting him a bit, and I believe he had a fairly normal life.

by Rik on 02 March 2020 - 17:03

by xoxogsd on 03 March 2020 - 22:03

Thank you all for the advice!


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