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Sacrocaudal Dysgenisis in Dogs… Symptoms, expectations and costs!

While we’re probably sure that most folks have no idea what the medical condition known as sacrocaudal dysgenesis is, we’re even more sure that if you don’t own a “tailless dog” there is probably zero chance of you knowing what this medical condition is.

And why should you…

After all, Sacrocaudal Dysgenisis is a medical condition that is found in tailless breeds.  And while it can occur in both cats and dogs the cause for the condition is pretty much the same so throughout this article we really won’t make much of a distinction about whether or not we’re talking about a cat or a dog.

The reason for this is…

Because the affected pet has no tail formation it prevents the spine from being able to naturally “balance itself” out with.  And while, it’s hard to deny the fact that some of these tailless breeds are super cute, the development of sacrocaudal dysenisis is just another example of how human interference and selective breeding have caused malformations in our pets.


In this case it is a certain area of the spine which is underdeveloped and this can lead to a lifetime of dangerous incontinence for your dog.

But that’s not all…

You see, there are actually four main conditions that can arise from breeding tailless animals. The first is Hemivertebrae, the second Spina Bifida, the third Sacrocaudal Agenisis and the last Sacrocaudal Dysgenesis, which we will look at today.

So, without further ado let’s take a closer look at this horrible (and man-made) disease and find out what it is, where it comes from and if there is anything we can do to correct it to avoid further damage to our beloved pets.

What is Sacrocaudal dysgenesis and what does it do?

Sacrocaudal Dysgenesis is basically what your pet ends up with when the Sacrocaudal vertebrae of the spine has not formed properly. This happens because the dog has no tail and therefore has not got the usual bone and tissue matter that help to support the hind section of the body. The spinal cord in these tailless dogs and cats then becomes twisted to compensate, or grows with extra bone or some other malformation. This condition is particularly prevalent in the tailless Manx cat.

Now where this…

Problem really starts to cause trouble is in your dog or cat’s rear end. His hindquarters and flanks, as well as his hind legs can all be put at risk. Clinical signs of this condition can include:

  • Urinary incontinence or fecal incontinence,
  • A drooping back end’
  • And other not very nice symptoms.

The thing is…

That by itself this condition can be treated, managed, and will have barely any terrible side effects. When you mix it with a neurological defect, however, you have a pet that is likely to be incontinent for life.

And what might…

Surprise you are that this incontinence can prove fatal. Just like a human; a dog that does not know that it needs to go to the toilet can get into all sorts of trouble when it gets constipated. Too much backing up and the poor dog will need to be put to sleep, so it is important to regularly monitor your dog’s bowel movements if they have been diagnoses with this condition.


Dogs suffering from Caudal Regression Syndrome are those which suffer from problems around the lower end of the spine. It is thought that Caudal Regression is actually what causes the spine to become malformed while it is still in the womb. In a dog with a fully functioning tail you tend not to find this problem at all, making it specific to these breeds and therefore thankfully rare.

This disease affects…

The area of the spine below the Lumbosacral region, where the nerve roots attach to the spinal cord. This might go some way as to explaining the pup’s incontinence once this condition has taken hold. There is hope, even although the outcome looks bleak. One only needs to look at the story of Bonsai the puppy to see that recovery from this condition is possible, it is just a long and slow process that is care intensive and requires a committed owner.

Affected Breeds

Any breed that is born without a tail, or that has had its tail docked in early life is at risk from this condition. Although the cruel practice of tail docking has been banned in most countries, it does still exist. Your dog will have it from puppy hood, but it might never get diagnosed if they don’t have the accompanying mental problems, too. That being said, here is the list of breeds that we know are at risk from this condition:

  • The Boston Terrier
  • The Boxer
  • The English Terrier
  • The Old English Sheepdog
  • The Pug

Interestingly, because of its strong association with the Manx Cat, it is also sometimes known as ‘Manx Disorder’.

Treatment Options

If your pet has the benign form of this disease then you might never notice anything wrong with them, though they may have an increased tendency to have little accidents in the house when they are older.


If your pet has both forms of this condition then there is no treatment. Therapies can be used to ease suffering and build muscle strength and adaptive carts can be built to help your pet get around. Unfortunately, the incontinence is so severe that many pet owners will have their dog euthanized to save the stress. It is unpleasant, it does leave your poor pup in pain and it does make a terrible mess of the house.


the only way we know to prevent it is to stop breeding tailless animals – particularly if the animal in question was given a tail before birth. If it doesn’t have one that’s fine – but for goodness sake don’t lop it off to make your pet ‘look cooler’… that is just about the lowest form of cruelty that exists.

And while…

This condition cannot be treated your vet will be able to make your pet’s short stay on Earth bearable with soothing treatments and possibly topical creams to ease any rashes that may present.

The problem is…

Many of these treatments can be pricey, especially when you know you won’t be able to hold on to the animal, no matter what you do. This is why it is so important to be sure to work with a reputable breeder who will be able to give you a full and complete medical history of your new pet’s parents and guarantee the health of all his or her animals.

And while…

We would love to recommend that folks also purchase a pet insurance policy to ensure that if their animal does need treatment to manage any issues they may develop as a result of having Sacrocaudal Dysgenesis the truth is, this will likely be considered a pre-existing condition which would not be covered by a pet insurance policy.

For more information on who we feel currently offers the “best” pet insurance policies out there and what medical conditions they will and won’t cover, we would encourage you to check out our Best Pet Insurance Policies article.

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