Meet Quasimodo, a Dog With Rare Short Spine Syndrome Who is Thriving

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PetMD Editorial
Published: February 4, 2016
Meet Quasimodo, a Dog With Rare Short Spine Syndrome Who is Thriving

A dog lovingly named Quasimodo has captured the fascination and admiration of the internet thanks to his unique frame due to Short Spine Syndrome.

The 4-year-old German Shepherd was found as a stray in Kentucky and has since been taken to a non-profit animal rescue in Eden Prarie, Minn., called Secondhand Hounds.

Since arriving at the facility, Quasimodo has racked up tens of thousands of supporters on his very own Facebook page, which chronicles how Quasi is doing in his day-to-day life and after undergoing surgery. Rachel Mairose, the Executive Director of Secondhand Hounds, tells that he is doing well and likely won't require any more surgeries. 


Having become something of an online sensation, there have been requests from dog lovers across the country who want to give this sweet, playful, and loving special-needs dog a forever home, but Mairose assures us that the decision will take careful consideration. "We want to make sure we understand all facets of his personality and make sure that he recovers fully from surgery, so it will be at least a few weeks."


If Quasi has his way, the affectionate pup will get to hang out with all kinds of other dogs. "He wants to play with my dogs so badly ... now that he realizes how great it is to be around people, he really prefers not to be alone," Mairose tells petMD. 


So, what exactly is Short Spine Syndrome? Well, for one thing, it is incredibly rare. In fact, Quasimodo is just one of 14 known dogs that has the congenital disorder. Short Spine Syndrome is most often reported in hound dog breeds.


"The condition has many characteristic abnormalities, with the vertebral bodies remaining in a relative cartilage state instead of transitioning to traditional bone. This leads to compression of the vertebral bodies and shortening of the entire length of the vertebral column," explains Dr. Steve J. Mehler, DVM, DACVS, a staff surgeon at Hope Veterinary Specialists in Malvern, PA. This compression of the vertibrae "gives the appearance of the patient not having a neck." 

"Typically, the lumbar spine slopes downward towards the pelvis and the tail is often in a corkscrew appearance. Because the limbs are often normal length, the patient will appear to be compressed in nose to tail direction but maintain a relatively normal height," said Dr. Mehler.

Dogs with Short Spine Syndrome may be missing ribs, they can have "vertebral body instability," herniated discs, and "compression of the spinal cord or nerve roots." 

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X-ray of Quasimodo's twisted spine, from his Facebook page

Still, in spite of their conditions, for canines like Quasi they can still lead normal lives and have long lifespans. Dr. Mehler says that dogs with the syndrome "may require vertebral body stabilization procedures or removal of the abnormal tail, but overall can live comfortable lives." He adds that "luckily for Quasimodo, he has found a loving group of people to provide him with everything he needs to be comfortable and happy." 


Mairose echoes that sentiment. Quasi does not appear to be in any pain, she said, and he "comes out of his shell more each day ... he is a healthy happy guy." 

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