Shaky Poodle Syndrome

Small white dogs such as poodles are prone to shaking syndrome.
i Pretty serious woman and her pet poodle image by Allen Penton from

It's so common to see a small dog trembling, it's almost expected. If your previously normal small white poodle suddenly develops the shakes, though, it could be due to a shaking syndrome that mainly affects smaller dog breeds. Early diagnosis and treatment has shown to have positive effects.

Coat Color Significance

You may have heard the term "shaky poodle syndrome" used in reference to the condition that causes a small poodle to shake. Although the disorder affects poodles, it also affects other small white breeds. The common term for idiopathic tremor syndrome is white dog shaker syndrome. It isn't known why small white dogs tend to be the ones to have this condition.


The onset of white dog shaker syndrome can happen suddenly, typically between 1 and 6 years of age. The dog will experience constant tremors when awake, although the shaking may ease or disappear when the dog is relaxed or sleeping. The severity of the shaking may be mild or can become pronounced enough to interfere with standing and walking and the eyes might exhibit quick, uncontrollable movement. Stimulation and stress may cause the tremors to become more severe.

Cause Unknown

In "Canine Medicine and Disease Prevention," the veterinarians who authored the book explain that, because testing usually reveals normal brain function and nervous systems, the cause of white dog shaker syndrome hasn't yet been pinpointed. Diagnosis is usually made based on normal test results and by ruling out other illness. Testing for the condition may include blood tests, CT scans, MRIs and spinal taps.


The good news about shaking syndrome is that it is treatable and most cases see total recovery. Some dogs may even recover without treatment, although relapses can occur with or without treatment. The common medications for this condition are steroids, such as Prednisone, and may include Valium. Recommendations for helping your poodle recover from white dog shaker syndrome include restricting exercise until the shaking diminishes, keeping him away from stairs and off places from which he can fall, and placing his food and water in an easily accessible area that is open to accommodate tremors and shaking when he is trying to eat or drink.

Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.

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