Lissencephaly is a rare brain disorder where a portion of the brain fails to grow to the proper size and shape. It also fails to develop the wrinkles that are apparent in a normal dog's brain as he grows and learns. Instead, the brain remains smooth. The cerebrum is the portion of the brain affected by this disorder with the cells of the cerebral cortex growing in an anomalous fashion.
Symptoms of Lissencephaly
During the first year of the dog's life, odd behaviors are detected as well as on again, off again aggression. The affected dog growls at non-existent threats, gets confused easily, is hyperactive and depressed at the same time. The animal's walking gait is normal but when running, he shows a distinctively uncoordinated gait. The dog may have poor eyesight and seizures, as well as impaired motor skills and mental retardation, which causes difficulty when training the dog.
Treatments for Dogs with Lissencephaly
There is no cure for this condition, and the treatment covers only one aspect of the disease. Anticonvulsant medications are given to control seizures but the other symptoms remain. The main "cure" for lissencephaly is prevention. Dogs with this condition should not be bred. Dogs that are blind from this disease should be kept where they won't run into a lot of objects and should not be moved to unfamiliar locations.
Dogs That are Most Commonly Affected
Lissencephaly is a rare condition but it can be found in just about any breed of dog. However, there are a few dog breeds who seem to be more prone to developing this disease. Lhasa apsos, wire-haired fox terriers, Irish setters, and Samoyeds are all included in that category. When these dogs in particular are bred, the breeder must be fully aware of the family history and personal health of each breeding animal before breeding begins.
Symptoms begin around the age of seven weeks in puppies who display abnormal brachycephalic skulls. This means their faces are shortened, but out of sync with the breed. Keep in mind though, if a dog has shortened facial features that doesn't mean he has lissencephaly. As a pup the dog displays fewer symptoms, appearing almost normal, but as he grows, the symptoms become more apparent. His learning ability deteriorates and he develops poor motor control and behavioral issues.