What Is Cerebellar Hypoplasia?

Cerebellar Hypoplasia is a neurological condition, where the Cerebellum under-develops or is missing. Cerebellar Hypoplasia affects balance and coordination and increases the risk of falls and tumbles.


Please always get veterinary advice – there are many different neurological conditions that can affect puppies and dogs.  If a puppy or dog is showing the symptoms listed, please contact your vet as soon as possible.
Disclaimer:   We are not veterinary professionals – the information provided has been gathered through our own reading as we look to support Holly.

What does Cerebellar Hypoplasia Mean?

The word ‘Cerebellar’ refers to the complex part of the brain that controls the range, rate and force of movements [1].
The Cerebellar detects subtle shifts in balance and sends messages to other parts of the dog’s body, so to maintain balance and keep upright.
Coordinates muscles to work together so that the body moves intentionally and smoothly.
The Cerebellar coordinates eye movement.
Helps the body learn fine and gross motor skills. [2]

The word ‘Hypoplasia’ refers to the under-development of an organ or tissue.

The cerebellum is situated at the back of the brain and is responsible for sending fine-tuned motor signals from the brain to the muscles, allowing for balance and coordination [3]. For puppies with CH, like Holly the Labrador, this means that a physical part of the brain is underdeveloped and therefore certain symptoms will be observed early in the puppy’s life.

Holly the Lab UK was diagnosed with CH when she was eight weeks old after a full examination by a vet.  An MRI can be performed to confirm a case of Cerebellar Hypoplasia, however, in Holly’s situation this was not deemed necessary. Although, we can’t be certain of the reasons why Holly is affected by CH it is likely to be a genetic issue.  Other causes of CH can be a blood clot or an infection whilst in the uterus (the latter is mainly found in cats and extremely rare in dogs).

Facts about Cerebellar Hypoplasia

CH doesn’t cause pain.
CH symptoms do not get worse over time, they stay the same.
Some puppies get better as they adjust to their cerebellar challenges.[4]
CH affects walking, coordination and balance.
CH dogs can live happy contented life with the right support.
Cerebellar Hypoplasia doesn’t impact a pet’s lifespan.
Cerebellar Hypoplasia is a rare disease in dogs.
CH Dogs are more at risk of falls and injuries.

Causes of Cerebellar Hypoplasia

Viral or Bacterial Infection in utero. Parvovirus is seen widely in cats but is less likely to be the cause in dogs.
Damage or trauma whilst the fetus is developing
Unknown Causes [5].

References:[1] GreatPetCare [3] Canine Hereditary Ataxia–The Hunt for the Genes   [1} [2] & [4] greatpetcare.com [5] VetBio