Disturbances of the γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA) neurotransmitter system have been implicated in chronic degenerative neurological disease. Cognitive dysfunction and neuron loss are features in older dogs. GABAergic neurons also show immunoreactivity for specific calcium-binding proteins. Immunohistochemistry was used to study the neuronal expression of calbindin D-28k and parvalbumin in different areas of the brain in 13 dogs, aged between 2 and 13.5 years. Calbindin expression was found only in the cerebellum. There were significant differences in the quantity and distribution of neurons expressing these proteins between geriatric and adult brains. Parvalbumin- and calbindin-expressing neurons are relatively sensitive to degeneration in the cerebellum of older dogs. Parvalbumin labelling was associated with dystrophic structures that are commonly associated with ageing. © 2002 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.