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The BTNDR

This poll ran from July 8, 2004 to December 17, 2004 on this site. The purpose was to determine if there was any link between 'trancing' behavior and neurological abnormalities. Below are the final results.

  • Overall, 86% of the 300 dogs entered were identified as normal and 14% as having neurological issues.

  • 73% of all dogs in this poll (both normal and those with neurological issues)  trance, and 27% do not.

  • Out of the 258 dogs described as normal, the statistics are the same as above: 73% exhibit trancing behavior and 27% do not.

  • Out of the 42 dogs described as having neurological issues, 71% exhibit trancing behavior and 29% do not.

Initially, it looked as if there was a connection; it appeared that more neurologically affected dogs tranced. This was probably because the first few votes all came from BTNeuro list members; as we started get more votes from Internet visitors from around the world, the percentages leveled off to what is shown above and stayed in that range through the duration of the poll. When the final results were tallied, it actually showed the opposite of what we had anticipated: that, if anything, a slightly greater percentage of 'normal' Bull Terriers indulge in this strange habit. We did not find any link between neurological issues such as spinning and Sudden Onset Aggression and trancing (a result that, incidentally, concurs with more scientific research conducted based on behavioral surveys at Tufts Behavioral Clinic) but we did learn that a surprisingly large percentage of Bull Terriers in general -- nearly three quarters of them if this poll is reasonably accurate -- do trance.

We have not come across a lot of articles or other references to trancing. It seems to be mostly a Bull Terrier trait but we have found one or two mentions of it also in Jack Russell Terriers, Basset Hounds, and there has even been a video clip shown on a television 'Funniest Videos' show that showed a black Labrador Retriever trancing under some overhanging bushes. Dr. Alice Moon Fanelli of Tufts Behavioral Clinic made the following comment in a post (the entire text of the post can be found on our "Spinning Facts" page) to the Bull-Terriers Yahoo group:

"I should mention that an extraordinarily large number of Bull Terriers trance. Some tail chase while others do not. While trancing is an abnormal behavior, I now view it as separate from tail chasing. In other words, if any of you have a Bullie that's currently walking in slo-mo under your Norfolk Pine as you read this---don't panic that this will eventually evolve into tail chasing!"

For those who come to this site worried that their dog's trancing behavior is a precursor to serious neurological issues, it appears that there does not seem to be any reason to believe this is true. Whether the trancing behavior itself is abnormal or simply a quirky breed trait is something we can't answer, but in and of itself, it at least appears to be harmless; something the dogs do deliberately for the purpose of some sort of enjoyment. 

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