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Dwarf Cattle Breeds

Updated on November 20, 2016

Dwarfism is generally considered an undesirable trait in production cattle and now occurs quite rarely.

Dwarfs may be selectively bred as hobby, pet or "curiosity" animals.However in most cases preference should be given to "true" miniature breeds that do not carry dwarfism genes.

Dwarfism may be accidentally propagated during periods when it is fashionable for show cattle to have a stocky appearance.

Dwarfism in cattle can be caused by a number of different genetic conditions.

Dwarf Dexter Bull
Dwarf Dexter Bull | Source
snorter dwarf
snorter dwarf

"Snorter" Dwarfs

Achonroplastic dwarfism became common in Herefords during the 1950s due to large-bodied and short legged bulls being favored. It is named after the sound it made while breathing due to having short noses. This form of dwarfism was also reported, to a lesser extent, in the Angus and American shorthorn.

It took a determined effort to identify the genetic basis for this condition and largely weed it out of the gene pool for this breed. This task was made more difficult by the lack of an anatomical method for distinguishing non-carriers from heterozygous carriers--with only homozygous carriers being dwarfs.

Snorters are still sometimes produced in modern herds and an ongoing effort is needed to completely eliminate this condition from production herds.

"Bulldog" Dwarfs

Homozygous Lethal Chondrodysplasia is a version of dwarfism often found in Dexter cattle causes very short legs for offspring that carry one copy of the gene, and is lethal to those with two copies.

"Long Head" Dwarfism

Long Head dwarfism (dolichocephalic dwarfism) affects the legs but not the head and is a problem in Angus cattle.

"Dwarf" Breeds

There are a number of cattle breeds that are very small in stature. These are often traditional breeds, useful to small agrarian household because they require relatively little feed. The degree to which these breeds are dwarf versus miniature is not always clear.


Environmental Dwarfism

Dwarfism may also be produced in genetical standard calves by a number of toxins.


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    • profile image

      Judy 19 months ago

      The Dexter breed is a dwarf breed. If you wish to see a beautiful prize herd do a search for Brish Pathe, then dexter Cattler and Lady Loder.

      Many of us raise these amazing and worthwhile cattle.

    • Elsie Hagley profile image

      Elsie Hagley 2 years ago from New Zealand

      Living on a farm all my life I have seen many small animals when born, but as the years go by they usually grow to the normal size, thank goodness. None ever stayed dwarf size.

      At least you made me stop and think about it, which is good as we take normal size for granted, but it can always happen as it does with humans.

    • Eiddwen profile image

      Eiddwen 5 years ago from Wales

      So interesting but I am not sure if I agree with all these dwarfed mammals.

      Great hub though and it left much food for thought.

      I now look forward to many more by you.


    • Ann1Az2 profile image

      Ann1Az2 5 years ago from Orange, Texas

      Good grief - who would have thought of a dwarf cow! I never even heard of such a thing. Interesting and voted up.