Tibial bone deformities in GSDs. - Page 1

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by LionQueen on 05 July 2009 - 22:07

After noticing my GSD puppy was walking strangely, throwing his hind feet outwards like a duck and was knock-kneed, he was diagnosed as having tibial bone deformities in both his hind legs with subsequent surgery (osteotomy/TPLO) done on his left hind leg first, the most severe one. We did the surgery when is was 10.5 months old. He is now 10 weeks out of surgery and doing better, but will never be 100% normal.

Of course, my dog will never be able to be shown, bred, or participate in any GSD activites such as schutzhund, or agility because of this.

Recently, I met someone else whose dog appears to have the same deformity and he purchased his dog from the same breeder as I did. Interesting though, the dogs had different sires and dams.

Has anyone else had any experience with this type of deformity?  I was wondering how common this is, if it is becoming more prevalent as a GSD issue (similar to dysplasia), what may cause it, if it's genetic, etc?  I am trying to find out as much information
as possible as this has been a major problem to overcome. 

Thanks, for any info you may have.


by Sunsilver on 05 July 2009 - 23:07

Personally, I've never heard of this before. Were these German or American bloodlines?


by DebiSue on 05 July 2009 - 23:07

Sounds like Rickets...did you ask your vet what he thought could have caused it?  I have no idea what it is, Rickets is the first thing that popped into my mind and it is caused by a lack of vitamin C if I remember correctly.

by Sunsilver on 05 July 2009 - 23:07

DebSue, wrong vitamin. It's vitamin D, the sunshine vitamin, which is why rickets is more common in the northern hemisphere.


by DebiSue on 05 July 2009 - 23:07


Thanks for setting me straight!  I had Scurvy mixed up with Rickets.  Am I wrong in thinking that a treatment with vitamin D can reverse some of the damage?


by Sunsilver on 05 July 2009 - 23:07

Okay, I've checked Fred Lanting's book, Canine Orthopedic Disorders, and there's a condition called Genu Valgum (knock knees).  It is
....caused by insufficient growth rate of the lateral portions of the femur or tibia or both. [It] might lead to or be found concurrently with OCD of the stifle. The pup of 3 to 6 months, typically, may be reluctant to play, rise or lie down, and may arch their back and draw the rear legs further forward and/or together under the torso when walking. Sometimes a noticeable medial (inward) bowing can be seen. Hocks frequently remain rather extended (straight, vertical, like a Chow's), althought the pup resists efforts to extend his full leg....

What initiates the abnormal growth pattern? Genes of course, but the more immediate cause might be poor blood and nutrient supply. Between these two there is not enought experimental data to build a good etiology, but since the condition is seen primarily in large dogs with fast growth rates, nutrition and rapid weight gain almost surely must be implicated. The wise breeder would stay well away from such dogs and their nearest relatives.

by malshep on 05 July 2009 - 23:07

Different litter, different bred dogs, but probably the same line. Seems to be the very large breed dogs that have this issue, very fixable and they can live a good life, make sure you follow the orthopods instructions for the rehab therapy.

by Sunsilver on 05 July 2009 - 23:07

Hmmm...I don't have time to look that up right now, but since the bones of young, growing animals are very plastic, yes, I think that it might.

I used to work in the osteology lab at the University of Toronto. One of the specimens was the skeleton of a young ocelot that had suffered from rickets. The weight bearing bones were bowed outward, similar to the curve you see on an archery bow. The owner had fed it only raw hamburger meat, with no vitamin or mineral supplements.  That's one reason I caution people to REALLY research what they're doing when they decide to feed raw!


by Sunsilver on 06 July 2009 - 00:07

BTW you might want to contact Fred for advice. He is an expert on canine orthopedic disorders, and his company actually designs replacement joints for dogs! (He's an engineer by profession, but also got his license as a veterinary assistant, so he could work in the OR, and see orthopedic surgeries being done firsthand.)

Here's his website:  http://www.fredlanting.org/   You can contact him at mr.gsd@netscape.com.

by LionQueen on 06 July 2009 - 00:07

Both my dog and the other dog are of German bloodlines. I got my pup at 8 weeks of age and kept him on the same diet he was on when whelped (Royal Canin).  I raised him as carefully as one can raise one of these precious dogs so I was bewildered when the condition began manifesting itself.

Interesting, though, he was never uncomfortable getting up or laying down, nor was he unwilling to play.  I did begin to notice his "funny" walk when he was about 4-5 months of age, and that's when I started to consult with the specialists. I notified the breeder of the situation at the same time.

The surgeon who performed the osteotomy said he has seen this before several times and believes it is due to genetics.

Unfortunately, my dog's sire has been bred again and is still a breeding dog, as is the other dog's sire.  I did tell the breeder they should consider refraining from breeding the two dogs until further testing or research is done, but it's not my call.  :-(

They said they'd never seen this before, yet within a 4-5 month period another dog from them is manifesting the same conditions.  This whole thing just has me out of sorts. 

I'm hoping because I had the surgery on him when still young enough, he will recover and be able to live a happy and full life. It is a long road of recovery.

I'll check out Fred Lanting's website. Thanks for that info. 

My dog goes back in on Thursday for a follow-up so we'll see what the vet says and see how his recovery is going.  I just pray we don't have to do surgery on the right leg as well.  It was tough enough doing the left. :-(

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