The Condition

Olivia X-ray from the side.jpg

The basics

Kyphosis is a type of spinal deformity. This condition can be found in both dogs and humans, among other species. Many people have heard of scoliosis, which is somewhat similar to kyphosis. The difference is that scoliosis is a lateral (side to side) curvature of the spine, while kyphosis is a posterior (up and down) curvature of the spine, specifically in the upper, or cervical, portion of the spine. This curvature can cause nerve damage, which is the reason behind many, if not all, of the symptoms presented. 

There are MANY spinal malformations that can be found in dogs. Although they are all unique, if your dog has a spinal deformity that is not kyphosis, you may still find some of the information on this website to be helpful. 



There are two major causes of kyphosis in dogs. You can deduce the cause based on the age at which he/she presents with symptoms:

In older dogs, the condition can be caused by trauma (like a spinal fracture) or wear-and-tear on the spine (which could lead to arthritis or osteoporosis). 

In younger dogs (less than 1 year old), the condition is most likely congenital, meaning it was inherited by the individual at birth, as was the case for Olivia, so this is the type of kyphosis of focus throughout this website. 

If you suspect your dog's kyphosis was inherited, it is important to get in contact with his/her breeder (if possible) to let them know. They will want to make sure to not keep breeding your dog's biological mother/father so as to stop these defective genes from passing on to any more offspring. 

Red flags

The first sign of the condition and its major symptom is ATAXIA, defined and the loss of control over certain muscles and movements. In Olivia's case, this presented with major loss of movement in her hind legs. Basically she just used her front legs to move around and her back legs would drag behind her.

Please click on the photo to be directed to a video link (for computers: photo on the left, for mobile: photo above). 


other symptoms

- Atrophy (loss of muscle tone in affected areas)

Loss of sensation

- Incontinence (loss of control over bladder/bowel )