• axonal degeneration;
  • canine;
  • Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease;
  • demyelination;
  • polyneuropathy


A spontaneous distal, symmetrical polyneuropathy in related Leonberger dogs with onset between 1 to 9 years of age was characterized clinically, electrophysiologically, histologically, and morphometrically. Exercise intolerance and weakness was associated with a high-steppage pelvic-limb gait, a loss or change in the pitch of the bark, and dyspnea. Neurological examination revealed marked atrophy of the distal limb muscles, depressed spinal and cranial nerve reflexes, and weak or absent movement of the laryngeal and pharyngeal muscles. Electrophysiological evaluation was consistent with denervation and was characterized by loss or marked attenuation of compound muscle action potentials and slowed motor nerve conduction velocity. Muscle biopsy specimens showed neurogenic atrophy. Chronic nerve fiber loss associated with decreased myelinated fiber density and a shift of the axonal size–frequency distribution toward smaller fibers was the predominant finding in peripheral nerve specimens. Pedigree analysis of a large multigenerational family, including nine sibships with at least one affected individual, suggested X-linked inheritance. Mutational and linkage analysis of this family may aid in identification of the chromosomal loci and gene responsible for this inherited axonal neuropathy. Further characterization of this inherited axonal neuropathy may establish the Leonberger dog as a spontaneous animal model of inherited axonal neuropathy and possibly lead to the discovery of a new gene or genes associated with axonal variants. Muscle Nerve 27: 471–477, 2003