The science behind this adorable puppy’s forehead tail

Heads or tails? Yes.

dog with second tail on forehead
Narwhal's second tail, a congenital birth defect, probably won't ever wag but also won't cause him any harm.Mac's Mission via Facebook

Narwhal—a 20-week old dachshund mix—acts like any other puppy. He chews shoe strings and takes frequent naps on his owners’ lap. Except there is one feature of the dachshund mix that makes him unlike other pups—the tiny tail hanging between his two eyes.

Narwhal’s veterinarian, Dr. Brian Heuring, has never seen a dog with a second tail in his 16-year career, let alone with one sprouting from the middle of its head.

“We see other congenital defects like cleft palates, extra toes, and what not, but nothing like this,” he says.

Congenital defects are conditions that are present from birth. While some may result in physical, intellectual, or mental disabilities, Narwhal’s miniature unicorn horn, it appears, won’t cause him any issues. Heuring is unsure what caused the second tail to emerge as it could be anything from genetics to environmental factors to toxins.

After completing an X-ray of the pupper’s noggin, Heuring confirmed that the tail lacked bony attachments. Sadly, without any of these bony bits, the extra appendage cannot wag like a normal tail. For Narwhal, its essentially just some extra skin that is short enough to avoid interfering with his vision.

“If it was to cause any problems or complications, I would recommend we remove it,” says Heuring who says any surgery right now would be entirely cosmetic. “But as of now, Narwhal is fine. He is one of the sweetest puppies. He is just outstanding.”

Narwhal was found on Saturday in rural Missouri along with another older dog. Both dogs were transferred to the care of Mac’s Mission, a special needs dog rescue, after the director, Rochelle Steffen, was tagged in a social media post about Narwhal. According to Steffen there is an epidemic of dumped dogs in rural Missouri, which is what she believes happened to Narwhal and his companion. Besides some minor frostbite on Narwhal’s back paw, both dogs were discovered in relatively good condition.

“I don’t know how long they would have survived since we just had a lot of snow and it is cold out,” says Steffen who founded Mac’s Mission eight years ago. The organization now has foster homes across the country. “I think they probably would have frozen to death.”

As of this week, Mac’s Mission has received over 150 applications to adopt Narwhal. However, Steffen plans to hold onto the one-of-a-kind doggo for about two more months to make sure his miniature antler doesn’t develop into a full blown elephant tusk. She hopes that those who are not lucky enough to call Narwhal their own consider adopting one of their other special dogs or a pet from their local shelter.

Meanwhile, Heuring has high hopes for Narwhal’s future: “I think Narwhal has the opportunity to go into schools or hospitals and show people of all ages that sometimes being different is okay.”