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.