Short spine syndrome is a rare, congenital anomaly that causes shortening of the spine and ligaments, elongated front legs and hocked rear legs. These dogs usually have no tail or a bobbed tail. As previously reported by the Dodo, it is thought to be caused by inbreeding.
We now know that these dogs can live long and healthy lives. The oldest known dog with short spine syndrome recently passed away at the age of 14. The remaining dogs - there are 17 known to be living now, including Emyu - range in age from 2 to 12.
I happen to be quite familiar with short spine syndrome because I have a dog named Cuda who has it. I adopted her six years ago when she was a puppy who was given away by a backyard breeder. She is happy and pain free, and looks like Emyu and the others.