Glossopharyngeal Defect, Microglossia in Dogs

Glossopharyngeal defect, also known as microglossia ("small tongue") and bird tongue, is a hereditary defect resulting in a small, narrow, curled tongue that is ineffective for nursing. The defect has been reported in the Miniature Schnauzer. Signs are often similar to those seen in "fading puppy syndrome." Puppies have no interest in suckling and often are unable to swallow when milk is placed on their tongues. As a consequence, the puppies die of starvation. With intensive nursing care, puppies may survive up to seven weeks of age, but other abnormalities far beyond the tongue problem become evident as they age, including nervous system, musculoskeletal, and eye abnormalities. There is no treatment for this condition and euthanasia is usually recommended out of concern of quality of life.


  1. Heidi B. Lobprise. Blackwell's Five Minute Veterinary Consult Clinical Companion
  2. Roy Robinson. Genetics for Dog Breeders
  3. Microglossia in three littermate puppies. Wiggs RB, Lobprise HB, de Lahunta A. In: J Vet Dent. 1994 Dec;11(4):129-33
  4. Robert B. Wiggs, Heidi B. Lobprise. Veterinary Dentistry

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