Short Spine Syndrome

a.k.a. Baboon Dog Syndrome

'Pig' the Dog Turns Heads-When She Can't


Short Spine Syndrome is very rare and those with it have a varying prognosis for quality of life.

  • The earliest documentation regarding this disease was in 1668. The animal afflicted was referred to as "monster of wolf and dog" it is thought that it was a hybrid of the two species.
  • The above documentation was used as historical evidence for the malformation when it was documented in Japanese breeds of dog in 1956.
  • There has also been documentation of these dogs in South Africa. There they are called Baboon Dogs.
  • There are reports of this disease affecting other species. It is seen in cattle, goats, pigs, horses, turkeys and fish.
  • In cattle and turkeys this disease is fatal.
  • Other documentation of this disease through the years exists, and currently there are 16 dogs living with this disease.

What we know

  • Dogs with short spine sydrome can live relatively normal lives.
  • Puppies born to a littler with an afflicted litter mate will not necessarily have this disease. It is postulated that the primary cause of the deformity appeared to be cartilaginous degeneration and disturbance in the ossification process during intrauterine and early postnatal life.
  • It is not known what plays a role in the disturbance because although all puppies in a litter are exposed to similar intrauterine conditions not all puppies establish this problem.
  • This is thought to be inherited via genetics. There is documentation of a short spine mother having a litter of puppies with a heterozygous male, and the litter was mixed with both short spine and regular puppies. There are not many examples of these dogs reproducing though so there is limited evidence.
  • Currently this problem is being seen mostly in mixed breeds. Many with Staffordshire terrier mixed in.
  • Other breeds have been found with this condition including Greyhounds, German shepherds, hound type breeds and Border Collies.
Quasi The Hunchback Hound


Short Spine Syndrome is characterized by a compressed spine. It is different than dwarfism in that the head and limbs are of normal size but the back is compressed. Typical conformation associated with this disease is:

  • Head: Almost normal Except for slight lateral inclination.
  • Dorsal line: Wavy appearance of the vertebral column due to striking kyphosis in the anterior part of the thoracic segment and in the lumbar segment; alternate scoliosis in several parts with light inclination of the pelvic region.
  • Cervical region: Neckless appearance due to the extreme shortening and closeness of the manubrium sterni to the larynx and of the shoulder joint to the caudal part of the mandibula.
  • Lumbar region: Shortening, and sinking of the tail-root and its adjacent region.
  • Anal orifice: Opening to the dorso-posterior direction in comparison with that of normal dogs.
  • Abdomen: Shortening, and distension of the cranial abdominal part.
  • Tail: Shortening and twisting. Tufty tail hair.
  • Extremities: Almost normal with the exception of the abnormal postures.
  • These dogs have internal organs often arranged a little differently, and the organs can be rather crowded because of the compression of these animals abdomens .
  • They may also have a hard time breathing because they lack a true neck.


Short Spine Syndrome is thought to be very rare. I have qualms about whether or not it truly is rare. Today there are only 16 dogs known to be living with it, but there are unknown numbers that have either been euthanized or died at a young age. There are currently no means of tracking or controlling for this disease other than destroying those that have it. Because of the complexity of their conformation many vets are not comfortable anesthetizing to perform spaying or neutering on these animals. Do you feel that it is appropriate to destroy these animals regardless of the fact that they can live normal happy lives?


Gwyther, S. (2002). Disorder- Short Spine. Retrieved from Spine

Hansen, H. (2008). Historical Evidence of an Unusual Deformity in Dogs ("Short-Spine Dog"). Journal of Small Animal Practice, 9(3), 103-108. doi:10.1111/j.1748-5827.1968.tb04597.x

Hutt, F. B., & Asmusen, B. A. (1982). Animal Genetics. Wiley.

T. U. (1961). A PATHOLOGICAL STUDY ON DEFORMATION OF THE VERTEBRAL COLUMN IN THE "SHORT-SPINE DOG'' Japanese Journal of Veterinary Research, 9(4), 155-176. Retrieved from

Semigran, A. (2016, February 04). Meet Quasimodo, a Dog with Rare Short Spine Syndrome Who is Thriving. Retrieved April 29, 2016, from