Footpad disorder in the German shepherd

What is ... ?: 

In this condition the pads of the feet are softer than normal. Swelling and ulceration can develop, leading to tenderness and  lameness. The condition occurs in young German shepherd dogs and the cause of the abnormality is unknown.

How is ... inherited?: 

unknown. Typically, several dogs in a litter are affected.

What does ... mean to your dog & you?: 

The condition develops in German shepherd puppies of a few weeks to a few months in age. Usually multiple pups in the litter are affected. The pads of the feet are soft, and swelling, ulceration and crusting may develop on some of the pads causing variable pain and lameness.

How is ... diagnosed?: 

The diagnosis is made based on the clinical signs and a skin biopsy. This is a simple procedure, done with local anesthetic, in which your veterinarian removes a small sample of your dog's footpad for examination by a veterinary pathologist. The biopsy will show changes characteristic of this condition.

How is ... treated?: 

There is no specific treatment for the softness of the footpads. Avoid surfaces that will be harder on your dog's feet. Your veterinarian will work with you to care for any ulcers that develop. Usually lesions clear up by about 1 year of age, although the footpads will remain soft. 

Breeding advice: 

Although little is known about the inheritance of this condition, affected dogs and their parents should not be bred.


Scott, D.W., Miller, W.H., Griffin, C.E. 1995. Muller and Kirk's Small Animal Dermatology. p. 790  W.B. Saunders Co., Toronto.

What breeds are affected by ... ?