Capital scientists discover why dogs tails lose their wag

Researchers have shone fresh light on a painful condition that causes dogs' tails to lose their wag.

Tuesday, 2nd August 2016, 2:58 pm
Updated Tuesday, 2nd August 2016, 4:03 pm
Dogs lose their wag. Stock image
Dogs lose their wag. Stock image

A team at Edinburgh University has carried out the first large-scale investigation of limber tail, an illness that causes the tail to become limp and painful. The condition mostly affects larger working dog breeds such as Labrador retrievers and the study compared 38 cases of dogs with the condition with 86 which had no symptoms.

It found that dogs with limber tail were more likely to live in northern areas, supporting anecdotal reports the condition is associated with exposure to cold.

Labradors that had suffered the illness were more likely to be related to each other than unaffected dogs, possibly indicating an underlying genetic risk. The condition is sometimes known as “swimmers’ tail” and some, but not all, of the affected dogs had been swimming before the onset of symptoms.

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Dogs lose their wag. Picture; Paul Wilkinson

The Roslin Institute study was conducted as part of the Dogslife project.

Dogs lose their wag. Picture; Paul Wilkinson