Characteristics of compulsive tail chasing and associated risk factors in Bull Terriers

J Am Vet Med Assoc. 2011 Apr 1;238(7):883-9. doi: 10.2460/javma.238.7.883.


Objective: To evaluate and define the characteristics of tail chasing in Bull Terriers and explore the association between tail chasing and other behavioral and physical characteristics.

Design: Survey and case-control study.

Animals: 333 Bull Terriers (145 dogs with tail-chasing behavior and 188 unaffected dogs).

Procedures: Owners of Bull Terriers with tail-chasing behavior were surveyed regarding the age of onset, triggers, frequency, duration, interruptability, degree of disruption to the dogs' normal functioning and the owners' relationship with the dog, and associated medical and physical consequences. Associations of tail chasing with various behavioral and physical characteristics were examined by comparison of dogs with tail-chasing behavior with unaffected dogs.

Results: Phenotypic and developmental descriptions of tail chasing in Bull Terriers were defined. Associations of tail chasing with sex, trance-like behavior, and episodic aggression were found. Males were at an 8% greater risk for the diagnosis of tail chasing than females. Phobias and owner-directed aggression did not significantly associate with tail chasing in the final log-linear model, but did have significant associations in earlier analyses that did not include the behaviors of episodic aggression and trance-like behavior.

Conclusions and clinical relevance: In Bull Terriers with tail-chasing behavior, there was a slight increase in the susceptibility of males to develop tail-chasing behavior, compared with females. A close association of tail chasing with trance-like behavior and episodic aggression was identified.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Behavior, Animal / physiology*
  • Compulsive Behavior / psychology*
  • Data Collection
  • Dogs / genetics
  • Dogs / physiology
  • Dogs / psychology*
  • Female
  • Male
  • Sex Characteristics
  • Surveys and Questionnaires