Hello fellow corgi-fans, 

I have often read about Corgis tend to have bad backs because of their short legs and long body.  And yet of all the people I met who currently have or used to have corgis, not one ever described their corgis with bad backs.  So is this true or just folk lore? 

If it is true, what can I do to reduce the likelihood of this happen to my corgis?



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Don't let them get overweight of form the habit of jumping off high furniture. Esp. if you have smooth floors, provide nonskid throw-rugs on landing/takeoff zones. This is as much for their knees (ACL injury) and wrists (growth plate injury in young dogs < 1 y.o.).
Read about "Intervertebral Disk Disease".
check out Joanna Kimball's blog blacksheepcardigans.com
thanks for the tip
Thankfully, corgis are less affected by intervertebral disc disease than dachshunds (in doxies there seems to be an additional genetic component that nobody really understands yet, but I know they're working on gathering data) but yes, any dwarfed dog is going to be at greater risk because the dwarfism "works" by making the connective tissue odd. That's what makes the growth plates not work right and so the long bones don't grow and the legs stay short.

In the back, the discs between the vertebrae age more quickly, moving from squishy gel to cartilage, and then can dry and crack and pretty much literally explode. It's comparable to what happens in very elderly dog in every breed, but in dwarfed dogs it happens in the prime of life. When the failed disc material gets lodged in the spinal cord or in the blood vessels around the spinal cord, the cord below that point will die within a short time, leaving the dog permanently at least somewhat paralyzed.

It's not so much that corgis have "bad backs" like we'd talk about it in humans, as a chronically painful condition; it's that there's a greater chance for them to do what most of us call "go down in the back" (have a sudden onset of paralysis) and require either surgery or other intervention to recover.

One of my good friends just had surgery on her Ch. male yesterday. He's not elderly, he's in great shape; she noticed him a few weeks ago acting like his rear end was weaker. He never went into paralysis but it was obvious that a disc was either failing or bulging. So he went in to get all the disc material carefully removed from between those vertebrae and hopefully can make a full recovery.

It's one of the things that you just have to be aware of in this breed; the short legs have beneficial qualities too, and they're wonderful dogs and I don't ever worry that they shouldn't exist or something - but you do need to know about it.

There are all kinds of rules we have - don't jump down from heights, etc. - and those are good rules, but they don't change the physical predisposition and a dog can injure a disc doing just about anything if they twist or bounce a little bit wrong. You just keep them healthy and fit, THIN, consider a joint supplement, and don't obsess about it too much after that.
Wow, very informative and very helpful. Thank you!
John and Joanne have said it all!
My understanding is they are much less likely than Dachshunds to go down behind. IVDD can be a problem for all the reasons Joanna says, and there are some who think there is a genetic component not related to the dwarfism. There is also a rarer problem called Degenerative Myelopathy.

But, many, probably most, Corgis will live well into old age without a bad back. Keep them thin and keep them fit; a lot of hillwork is great for the muscles and therefore the spine.
can you explain what you meant by hillwork? thanks.
Yes, I'm curious as well. Beth, do you mean like hiking through hilly areas?

Also, I realize jumping off heights is bad but how high are we talking? Is it okay to let Stanley jump on/off the couch? And for the bed, do ya'll have those stairs or just lift your corgis on/off (for those of you who allow your corgis on the bed:))
Walking your dog up a slight incline helps work the back end more. We try to do this with Finn since he has bad hips and we want to build up his leg muscles. We have a water retention park near us where we take him and since the park slopes down we use that to our advantage.
Jenny, Robin, Stanley,

I mentioned this in another thread, but I have a 2 piece ramp from Drs. Foster & Smith that has lasted me thru a sick dog, an old dog, and now a corgi, since she was a puppy. It's by the bed, and has been for years. When we get our next pup, whatever it is, the ramp will help that baby as well, no matter how big he grows later.

Can you recommend a good joint supplement? We're doing our part with the diet and exercise, but after losing Bors (English Mastiff) to a spine problem some 10 years ago, I want to do all I can to avoid having to go through something like that again.
Personally, I want it to have glucosamine, chondroitin, MSM, perna mussel, and hyaluronic acid (and it has to have about 20 mg of HA for them to absorb any, because HA is very poorly absorbed in the stomach). Glyco-Flex II or III is good, but you have to add a HA gel or other supplement. So far the closest I've found without spending $100 a month just on joint supplements is actually a horse med called Total Joint Care by Ramard; it has everything but the perna mussel but you can get that cheap at any human health food store.

Each of the dogs gets 1/10 of the horse scoop once a day, and about a teaspoon of salmon oil, a pinch of kelp, and some perna. That's their supplement load for the day, over their raw food (usually chicken and bone and organs, plus whatever veggies I have left over from supper).


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