Spasm of the Rear Legs in Dogs

Veterinary reviewed by: Michele K.

Spasm of the Rear Legs in Dogs - Signs, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment, Recovery, Management, Cost

Veterinary reviewed by: Michele K.

Spasm of the Rear Legs in Dogs - Signs, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment, Recovery, Management, Cost

What are Spasm of the Rear Legs?

Spasm of the rear legs as a behavior is uncontrollable, but can be exacerbated by sensory stimuli (neurological syndrome). The hyperactive reflexes lead to progressive muscle wasting in the rear legs, and eventually affect your dog’s ability to control movement in the rear legs. This condition is rare and affects the Doberman Pinscher breed more commonly. It is often referred to as Dancing Doberman Disease, or DDD. Onset can occur from six months to seven years of age, with no preference between sexes.

Spasm of the rear legs in dogs refers to uncontrollable and hyperactive tendon reflexes caused by a neurological syndrome. The behavior will first appear in just one rear leg and progress until both rear legs are affected.


This type of spasm is different from that caused by arthritis, nerurologic or muscular diseases, or other systemic diseases.  These conditions would need to be diagnosed by your veterinarian to be sure the correct problem is being treated.  

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Spasm of the Rear Legs Average Cost

From 78 quotes ranging from $1,500 - $5,000

Average Cost

$2,200

Symptoms of Spasm of the Rear Legs in Dogs

At the onset, a dog may hold one leg up, bent, while standing. Progression to the second limb can take several months, and once it has, the dog will alternate legs, hopping in a movement that can make him look like he is dancing. In further advanced cases, muscle wasting and atrophy will set in (likely on the leg used less often for standing), and affected dogs can begin to lose control over the muscle movement in the affected legs.

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Causes of Spasm of the Rear Legs in Dogs

There is no known cause for Dancing Doberman Disease, although it is believed to be the result of an inherited recessive trait.

Alternative causes for rear leg spasms are:

  • Lumbosacral stenosis (the narrowing of the end of the spinal canal)
  • Lumbosacral disc disease
  • Spinal arthritis
  • Spinal tumors
  • Epileptic seizures
  • Degenerative myelopathy
  • Canine stress syndrome
  • Hypoglycemia
  • Distemper
  • Brain tumors and encephalitis
  • Swelling of the brain
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Diagnosis of Spasm of the Rear Legs in Dogs

Your pet’s breed will go a long way in determining if your dog’s rear leg spasms are the result of Dancing Doberman Disease or another possible condition. Also, the presence of severe discomfort or pain will point away from DDD, as it does not seem to cause pain. Additionally, a complete blood count, blood chemistry profile, and urinalysis will likely be recommended to rule out other causes.  If your dog has DDD, those tests should all yield normal results. If you have a Doberman with the symptoms, your veterinarian may conduct an electromyography, a test that records electrical currents in your dog’s muscles and examines uncontrolled muscle and nerve behavior. Motor and sensory nerve conduction velocity will be measured either by your veterinarian or a nerve specialist, in order to determine how far the disease has progressed. If caught later in the progression of the disease, a biopsy of the muscles behind your dog’s  knees may be examined in order to detect muscle disease and nerve loss.

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Treatment of Spasm of the Rear Legs in Dogs

There is no treatment for Dancing Doberman Disease to control the symptoms or affect its progression.

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Worried about the cost of Spasm Rear Legs treatment?

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Recovery of Spasm of the Rear Legs in Dogs

Despite the fact that DDD cannot be treated, most affected dogs can live happily with the disease for many years. Your dog will likely be able to remain active; however, over the years may increasingly prefer to sit or lie down between activity rather than stand.

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Spasm of the Rear Legs Average Cost

From 78 quotes ranging from $1,500 - $5,000

Average Cost

$2,200

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Spasm of the Rear Legs Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

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King Charles Cavalier

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Nine Years

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2 found helpful

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2 found helpful

Has Symptoms

Walking With A Twitch In His Back, Panting

Jakes back seems to be twitching when we walks, looks like he’s doing a doggy twerk

Sept. 26, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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2 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. . Jake may have a back or neck sprain or strain, and if he is still having problems, It would be best to have your pet seen by a veterinarian, as they can examine them, see what might be going on, and get treatment for them.

Oct. 17, 2020

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Dachshund

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7 years

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11 found helpful

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11 found helpful

Has Symptoms

Rear Leg Muscle Spasms

my dachshund exhibited a muscle spasm in her left rear leg yesterday. It first happened out in the grass so I thought she stepped on something. She was holding her rear leg up and I could see her left hind muscles spasming. I carried her inside after she did her business and as she was eating the left rear leg spasmed again this time for approx a minute. She didn't eat fast like she normally does so I'm assuming it bothered her. Later she ran towards the front door and then held up her right front paw as if she hurt it. No spasms noted. Then she was fine the rest of the night. I know about ivdd

Aug. 26, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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11 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. You are right, dachshunds are prone to back problems, but they are also prone to problems with the knee joints or hips or elbows. If this is something that continues, it would probably be best to have her seen by your veterinarian, as they can assess her confirmation and see if there are things that are bothering her. If it was a short-term problem and she had a muscle twinge or something, then it may not be something that you need to worry about. I hope that all goes well for her.

Aug. 26, 2020

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Spasm of the Rear Legs Average Cost

From 78 quotes ranging from $1,500 - $5,000

Average Cost

$2,200

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