Limber tail primarily affects large working breeds of dogs, and especially Labrador Retrievers. It is a painful condition where the tail goes limp. It was initially thought to be a result of swimming, also known as “swimmers tail.” However, the researchers found that dogs who did not swim also suffered from this condition.
Another thought was that the condition resulted from exposure to the cold. Since many of the dogs studied lived in colder regions, it lends support to this theory. However, what researchers did find was that many of the dogs who suffered from limber tail were related, making genetics a strong suspect.
The researchers hope to expand the study to learn what genetic connection there is to this painful condition in dogs. By doing so it will help breeders avoid breeding dogs that carry the gene.
Fortunately, the condition only lasts from a few days to a few weeks. But that means that many cases are not reported.
The study was conducted by Dr. Carys Pugh, at the University’s Roslin Institute and Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies in Edinburgh. This was the first large-scale study of limber tail, using over 6000 Labrador Retrievers across the UK.
The study was published in the Veterinary Record and was funded by the Kennel Club Charitable Trust. The Roslin Institute receives strategic funding from the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council.
(thank you to Ron Hix and Jeff Dentler for letting me use photos of their dogs)