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Dwarfism associated with chondrodysplasia in a red deer (Cervus elaphus)
  1. J. W. Simpson, BVM&S, MPhil, SDA, FHEA, MRCVS,
  2. R. W. Else, BVSc, PhD, FRCPath, DipECVS, MRCVS,
  3. D. Butowski, DMQ and
  4. T. J. Fletcher, BVMS, PhD, Hon FRCVS
  1. Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies, University of Edinburgh, Easter Bush Vet Centre, Roslin, Midlothian, EH25 9RG, UK
  1. E-mail for correspondence jimmy.simpson{at}

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OSTEOCHONDROSIS is a developmental orthopaedic disease characterised by the failure of endochondral ossification and premature closure of the growth plates. Chondrodysplasia and dyschondroplasia are descriptive terms implying a primary defect in cartilage maturation affecting especially the limbs and vertebrae (Thompson 2007, Mez 2009).

The disease is most common in juveniles where joint effusion and lameness are observed. The tarsocrural and femeropatellar joints are most often affected although any joint may be involved. Shortening of the long bones is common, hence the term dwarfism. In all cases, the condition appears to be associated with an autosomal recessive gene.

Chondrodysplasia is well documented in the human literature (Richette and others 2008). It is also recorded in the Dexter and other breeds of cattle (Usha and others 1997) and in several breeds of dog (Breur 1989, Bingel and Sande 1994, Martinez and others 2007). However, despite an extensive literature search, the authors can find no record of chondrodysplasia in wild deer anywhere in the world.

Anecdotal reports have been received from wildlife managers in Scotland suggesting that the dwarf red deer have been observed in the wild population. However until now, no pictorial evidence or actual postmortem …

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  • T. J. Fletcher is also at Reedie Hill Farm, Achtermuchty, Fife, UK

  • This article has been republished from Veterinary Record 2011;169:637

  • Provenance not commissioned; externally peer reviewed

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