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Is there really such a thing as a naturally bobtailed Catahoula? Yes, there is!
The bob-tailed Catahoula has been the subject of many discussions by both breeder and owner. The subject of where the bob-tail originated and by what means are very difficult questions to answer.
I've researched this area, but not to the degree it needs to be, and the closest I've come to an answer is Vernon Traxler. Most of the bobtailed Catahoulas lead back to his line in one way or
another. I'm not saying that he developed the bobtails, although that is a possibility, but he was the most well known breeder of bobtails.
There are a few breeders that like the look of the bob-tail and continue to breed for this appearance. Most breeders try to avoid bob-tailed dogs. Not because it affects the dog, but because the
extended tail, and question mark carry of the tail is more likened to the appearance. In addition to this, most registries and/or show organizations view the bob-tail as a fault. The bob-tailed dogs
are accepted and registered, but still suffer being faulted in the Show Ring. Tom D. Stodgehill of the Animal Research Foundation in Quinlan, Texas, was the first to register the bobtailed
When questioning why the bob-tail is considered a fault, two explanations are generally given. The first is that most breeders don't like the look of the bobtails. The second is that it causes
spinal problems and/or imbalance. I don't have an explanation as to why breeders dislike the bob-tail. That's just a matter of choice, and nothing can be done about that. I personally like the look
of the Catahoula with a tail, but I disagree with the reasoning and mis-information stated for faulting a bob-tailed Catahoula.
When questioned about bob-tailed Catahoulas, one of the answers for their not being accepted is that a Catahoula without a tail does not have any balance. If they are referring to the look of the
dog, then, yes, there is a lack of balance in the overall appearance, especially by those that like the question mark tail. But, if they are referring to the dog's not being able to hold itself
upright or work, they are wrong.
The explanation that the tail aids the dog in maintaining balance while it is working has been excised from the explanation given for large cats. Leopards, Jaguars, and Cougars utilize their long
and heavy tails as a counter-balance when they are in pursuit of prey. Now let's consider the following. These cats move upwards of 50-60 miles per hour when in pursuit of their prey. The tail,
acting as a rudder or counter-balance aids in their ability to make sharp cuts or turns at these high speeds. The fastest moving dogs are the Greyhound and Whippet. These move at a top speed of 35
miles per hour. Most other mid-range to large dogs travel at a top speed of 25 miles per hour, but is not sustained over any long distance. In other words, dogs are mostly sprinters and not long
distance runners. The use of a tail for balance is minor at best.
If this balance theory were true, wouldn't it stand to reason that other breeds that have no tails would have this very problem? There are other bob-tailed and tailless breeds that are performing
ranch work and hunting game. I haven't seen any of them fall over in the process of doing their jobs. Wouldn't there be some documentation listed somewhere that would lend credence to this? I have
researched the libraries and spoken to those that use Bob-Tailed Catahoulas, as well as owners of other breeds of tailless dogs. They will swear by their dogs. They like the look, and the dog does
What about skeletal structure or spinal failure? Dogs that are considered "Agenesis", meaning no tail at all, are at risk of skeletal structure failure. An example of this is the Pembroke Welsh
Corgi. Although this breed appears to have no tail, there is a protrusion of the spine. Caution must be observed when breeding these dogs as the offspring tend to suffer a shortening of the spinal
skeletal structure and may develop spina bifida. A determination is first made by feeling the bony end of the spine between the rear legs. If an indentation, rather than a protrusion is felt, there
is reason to believe there may be impending trouble. X-rays can be taken to prove whether there is a problem or not. Keep in mind, this is in reference to dogs that do not have any appearance of a
Dogs that have a protruded tail or "nub" are referred to as bobtailed. The tail is generally 1½ - 2 inches in length. There is no scientific evidence to show that this would cause any
spinal problems. Since there is a nub, it serves to prove that the spinal skeleton has been extended to form a tail, albeit short. It is there. According to geneticists, breeding these types of dogs
does not present any spinal problems. It is, however, recommended that they be bred back to a full tailed dog if there is ever a problem of the nub's not being present. If the nub begins to manifest
itself as becoming nonexistent, the breeder should take the proper steps to eliminate this occurrence.
The difference between the Natural bob-tailed dogs and those that have had their tails removed can be determined by x-ray or feel. The boney part of a naturally bob-tailed dog can be felt and will
taper toward the end. The tail of a dog that has had his tail bobbed will be blunt on the end. It's just a matter of feeling the boney structure to determine if the dog is a Natural Bob-Tail or if
the tail has been removed.