This article is from the Canine Medical Information FAQ, by Cindy Tittle Moore with numerous contributions by others.
Cervical Vertabral Instability "Wobblers" is the common term for a
spinal condition called cervical vertebral instability (also caudal
cervical spondylomyelopathy). It has not been proven genetic, but it
is widely considered to be as it is quite prevalent in the Doberman
There are several different types, but in sum the neck vertabrae are unstable,
which causes the vertabrae to move or causes the disks in between to swell.
Some dogs have no pain but are paralyzed; other dogs are in extreme pain but
are mobile and some dogs are both.
Not very much is known about this disease. The mode of inheritance is unknown
(and it is only suspected to be inherited, not proven). There is no cure. As a
stopgap, surgical or medical intervention to reduce the swelling or stabilize
the vertebrae can be tried. There is no easy, safe method of diagnosis. The
only method of diagnosis is by myelogram which in itself can paralyze or even
kill the dog.
(Thanks to Robin Nuttal for the basic information on this disorder.)