Mutations in the small heat shock protein B8 gene (HSPB8/HSP22) have been associated with distal hereditary motor neuropathy, Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease, and recently distal myopathy. It is so far not clear how mutant HSPB8 induces the neuronal and muscular phenotypes and if a common pathogenesis lies behind these diseases. Growing evidence points towards a role of HSPB8 in chaperone-associated autophagy, which has been shown to be a determinant for the clearance of poly-glutamine aggregates in neurodegenerative diseases but also for the maintenance of skeletal muscle myofibrils. To test this hypothesis and better dissect the pathomechanism of mutant HSPB8, we generated a new transgenic mouse model leading to the expression of the mutant protein (knock-in lines) or the loss-of-function (functional knock-out lines) of the endogenous protein Hspb8. While the homozygous knock-in mice developed motor deficits associated with degeneration of peripheral nerves and severe muscle atrophy corroborating patient data, homozygous knock-out mice had locomotor performances equivalent to those of wild-type animals. The distal skeletal muscles of the post-symptomatic homozygous knock-in displayed Z-disk disorganisation, granulofilamentous material accumulation along with Hspb8, alpha B-crystallin (HSPB5/CRYAB), and desmin aggregates. The presence of the aggregates correlated with reduced markers of effective autophagy. The sciatic nerve of the homozygous knock-in mice was characterized by low autophagy potential in pre-symptomatic and Hspb8 aggregates in post-symptomatic animals. On the other hand, the sciatic nerve of the homozygous knock-out mice presented a normal morphology and their distal muscle displayed accumulation of abnormal mitochondria but intact myofiber and Z-line organisation. Our data, therefore, suggest that toxic gain-of-function of mutant Hspb8 aggregates is a major contributor to the peripheral neuropathy and the myopathy. In addition, mutant Hspb8 induces impairments in autophagy that may aggravate the phenotype.