Definition of Dwarfism
Dwarfism is defined as underdevelopment of the body, or the state of being short in stature. Most dwarf dogs have a condition called “osteochondrodysplasia,” which refers to an abnormality in the growth and development of bone, cartilage, or both. Dwarfism almost always affects the long bones of all four of a dog’s legs. Some breeds, like Dachshunds and Corgis, have been selectively bred to be genetic dwarfs; they have skeletal defects in their legs, and sometimes in their skulls and spines, but these abnormal conformational traits are considered desirable. Unfortunately, dogs in breeds that have not been selectively bred for short stature can also be born as dwarfs. Dwarfism almost always has a strong genetic component. Dogs with skeletal defects can suffer discomfort and pain, depending upon the nature and severity of their deformities. It is not difficult for a veterinarian to diagnose dwarfism in a breed not bred to be short in stature.