Canine Disease Information: Disorders of Sexual Development - Sexual Reversal



  • Type Disease
    Urinary and Reproductive
  • Name
    Disorders of Sexual Development - Sexual Reversal
  • Abbreviation
    DSDSRx
  • Description
    At fertilization, the sex chromosomes are established as XX (the animal will be female) or XY (male). During development of the embryo, ovaries develop if the chromosomes are XX, and testicles if XY. An abnormality can occur in chromosome differentiation (to produce XXY, XXX, XO). This is rare in dogs and is not thought to be inherited. Gonadal intersex refers to developmental abnormalities in the gonads (ovaries and testicles) despite a normal set of sex chromosomes. In some cases (pseudo hermaphrodites), the sex chromosomes in these dogs match the sex of the gonads, but the genitals are abnormal. This is only seen (rarely) in females, and is generally due to excess exposure to male sex hormones during development - ie. environmental factors rather than an inherited condition.\n\nSexual reversal describes the condition where the chromosomal and gonadal sex differ. Only XX sexual reversal has been seen in dogs. The dog may be a XX true hermaphrodite (female chromosomes in a dog with both ovaries and testicles), or XX male (female chromosomes, with testicles).
  • How Transferred
    XX sex reversal is an autosomal recessive trait in the breeds listed below. It has been reported sporadically in several other breeds where the inheritance is not understood.
  • What to Look for
    Affected animals are infertile (so that your apparently female dog will not come into heat), and may have chronic irritation in the genital area, which may look abnormal to you.
  • Diagnosis
    Your veterinarian will typically suspect one of these conditions when s/he notices an abnormality such as clitoral enlargement or an abnormal penis during physical examination of your dog, or if a breeding dog is being examined for infertility. To diagnose the specific condition requires your veterinarian to evaluate both internal (generally at the time of spay) and external sex organs, and send away a blood or other cell sample from your dog for karyotyping, which identifies the chromosomes.
  • Treatment
    Affected animals should be neutered.
  • Veterinarian Information
    Dogs with XX sexual reversal may be XX true hermaphrodites or XX males. These dogs can appear in the same family, and result from the same genetic defect. XX true hermaphrodites have both ovarian and testicular tissue. The degree of masculinization of internal and external genitalia depends on the proportion of testicular tissue in the gonads. XX males have a uterus, bilateral (usually undescended) testes, and a prepuce that is located abnormally.
  • Breeding Considerations
    Affected animals, their parents (carriers) and siblings (potential carriers) should not be used for breeding.\n\n
  • Known Breeds Affected
    American Staffordshire terrier\nBeagle\nCocker spaniel, American\nGerman shorthaired pointer\nMiniature pinscher\nNorwegian elkhound

Type Disease

Known Breeds Affected

Type Disease

Known Breeds Affected