Canine Spongiform Leukoencephalomyelopathy, also known as simply Leukodystrophy or SLEM, is a severe degenerative neurological disease that causes weakness, spastic movement and paralysis. In the Australian Cattle Dog and the Shetland Sheepdog the disorder is caused by a mutation in the gene CYTB.

Affected puppies usually begin presenting with whole-body tremors at approximately 3 to 4 weeks of age, this is also referred to as ‘shaking puppy’. They are initially able to walk, but this deteriorates over a couple of weeks. Other symptoms include spastic twitches of the limbs, jaw drop, difficulty swallowing, excessive salivation and failure to grow. The disease is progressive, and euthanasia is ultimately necessary.

Leukodystrophy in the Australian cattle dog and Shetland sheepdog can be tested with our new Leukodystrophy test (test number H708), but also as part of the CombiBreed pack Shetland Sheepdog (test number H586).